Tuesday 18 April 2017

Gain Control Over Menstrual Pain

Painful menstruation without secondary causes, is a common condition (also known as primary dysmenorrhea in medical terminology) experienced by a lot of women. It is characterized by spasmodic or constant, low abdominal pain which may be felt radiating even to the back and thighs.

Painful menses (primary dysmenorrhea) often start to occur shortly after the start of menstruation in young women (in most cases 1 year after the start of menses). This pain usually begin at the start of menses or 2-3 days before menses and lasts for about 2- 3 days.

Associated symptoms with painful menstruation includes; nausea and vomitting, fatigue, headaches and low back pain.These symptoms could range from being mild to very severe.

Causes Of Menstrual Pain

Menstrual pain of primary origin (primary dysmenorrhea) as seen in young women is as a result of the action of a hormone (called prostaglandin) which initiates contractions of the uterine muscles so as to shed the outer lining of the uterus. The pain in particular is caused when uterine muscle contraction squeeze on tiny blood vessels and decrease or stop up blood flow to surrounding uterine tissues. There is also inflammation along with this pain.

Menstrual pain can also have secondary causes (secondary dysmenorrhea). This type of menstrual pain is caused by an underlying pelvic abnormality such as endometriosis, ovarian cysts, fibroids, intrauterine devices (used for contrception), pelvic inflammatory diseases and uterine adenomyosis. These underlying disorders often times end up producing the secondary symptoms of menstrual pain.

Relieving Menstrual Pain

Successfully providing prompt relief and adequate control of menstrual pain of primary origin involves resolving an ongoing bout of cramping pain. It should also help prevent poor control of subsequent, monthly episodes.

The following ways are useful in resolving and controlling menstrual pain:

(1)   Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. These drugs are useful in providing relief from muscle, bone and tissue pain with inflamatory component. They are readily available and examples includes Aspirin, Ibuprofen, piroxicam, naproxen etc

These drugs quickly stop the uterine muscular contraction and reverse inflamation. To get maximum use from them in period pain, they should be started at about 24 - 48hrs before menses and continued till about 24 - 48hrs after menses.

A word of caution though, these drugs are not for use in women with ulcer and asthma.

 (2) Diet. Improving on diet helps relieve menstrual pain and reduce its frequency. A diet rich in vegetables and low in fat reduces the propensity for inflammatory responses as this has a direct, positive response in menstrual pain relief.

(3) Get Exercise. The body releases a certain type of hormone during and just after an exercise. These hormones are called Endorphins. Endorphins are described as the "Feel Good' hormones as they make the body feel well and nullify body pain. Use these endorphins to control menstrual pain by having regular work out regimens.

(4) Rest. Get adequate rest. This helps in reducing the severity of menstrual pain.

(5) Apply Heat. Studies have shown that applying heat therapy to the lower abdominal region during menstrual pain provides great pain relief comparable to that obtainable when using painkilling drugs alone. Simply place and secure the heat pad or hot water bottle (filled with hot water) over the lower abdomen for 6 to 8 hours on average daily. Do this right from the first day of menstrual pain all through to day 1 or 2 after menses.

(6) Nutritional Supplements. Results from studies show that certain nutritional supplements play useful roles in controlling and eliminating mentrual pain. These include:
  • Omega 3 acids. These help to lower the inflammation associated with menstrual pain.
  • Magnesium. This mineral helps ease menstrual pain. Recommend diatary intake for women around the ages of 19 - 50 years is 320mg daily.
  • Vitamin E. A daily dose of about 500 - 800 IU of Vitamin E, begun 2 days just before the start of menses  all through to 3 days after menses, has been shown to provide good menstrual pan relief. .
(7) Oral Contraceptives. For problematic menstrual pain, suppression of ovulation with oral contraceptives(birth control pills) becomes a veritable therapy option in achieving pain relief. Low dose therapy with estrogen/progestin oral contraceptives would prove sufficient for this.

(8) Electromagnetic Pulse Therapy (PEMF). Pulsed electromagnetic fields presents a potent, alternative therapy for menstrual pain relief. Electromagnetic pulse generating devices for menstrual pain relief therapy now come in portable devices that can be worn comfortably and discreetly at the pelvic region, just under the underwear.

Not only do they provide relief from menstrual pain they also help alleviate other associated symptoms such as abdominal pressure, referred pain to hips, lower back and inner thighs along with associated bloating.

Electromagnetic pulse therapy is especially useful for women who want menstrual pain relief therapy without the use of drugs as it is potent, drug free with high safety profile.

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