This guest blog post was written by Sabina Braverman, MPA, with tips from a group of wonderful practitioners from around the world.
Disclaimer: the information in this article is for educational purposes only and is not designed to replace individualized recommendations from a practitioner. Always check with your doctor before adding supplements or making changes to your treatment plan.
We’ve all been there before: doubled over in pain, frantically searching for anything that will stop the feeling of a million knives incessantly stabbing our uterus in tandem. In these moments, perhaps we seek the comfort of a warm water bottle or a strong dose of Midol. This is the moment, perhaps, we turn to a decadent bar of chocolate for some sweet relief.
Did you know that this phenomenon has a name? It’s called dysmenorrhea and it’s defined as pain associated with menstruation due to severe cramps. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, dysmenorrhea is the most commonly reported menstrual disorder, with more than half of menstruating women reporting some pain for one to two days per month.
Read on to learn more about the two types of dysmenorrhea and to discover some tips for pain relief from a group of amazing and empowering practitioners.
"Dysmenorrhea can be broken down into two distinct types."
The Two Types of Dysmenorrhea
Secondary Dysmenorrhea is an indication of an underlying reproductive system disorder. The pain from secondary dysmenorrhea typically lasts longer than normal menstrual cramps. With secondary dysmenorrhea, the pain will start a few days before the menstrual cycle and will continue to get worse as the cycle continues.
Unlike with primary dysmenorrhea, secondary dysmenorrhea will often begin later in life and the associated pain tends to get worse over time.
The disorder that most commonly causes secondary dysmenorrhea is endometriosis. With endometriosis, the tissue which lines the uterus (endometrium) is found in areas outside of the uterus, such as the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and bladder.
As our hormones fluctuate, these tissues begin to act as they would within the uterus and they break down and bleed. Not only can this bleeding cause a great deal of pain on its own, it also promotes the growth of scar tissue (adhesions) which can cause organs to painfully stick together.
Other causes of secondary dysmenorrhea include:
- Adenomyosis: a condition in which uterine lining begins to grow in the muscle of the uterus
- Uterine Fibroids: benign tumors that can form on the inside, outside, or the walls of the uterus
- Pelvic Inflammatory Disease: an infection caused by bacteria in the uterus that spreads to other surrounding reproductive organs
How to Test for Dysmenorrhea
This is your daily reminder that just because something is common, does not mean that it is normal.
If you are experiencing dysmenorrhea, be sure to see your provider so that they can rule out any other potential causes and give you a definitive diagnosis.
When you see your provider, they will likely start by asking you about your overall health history, as well as your menstrual history. They will also typically perform a physical exam and a pelvic exam.
Some additional tests may include:
10 Things You Can Do To Soothe Dysmenorrhea
In case you missed it, be sure to download our “How to Have Happy Hormones” guide today for some more tips about topics like Amenorrhea, Endometriosis, Hormonal Acne, PCOS, Perimenopause, and PMS.
Thank you to the wonderful women that made this booklet possible!
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