The incidence of menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhoea) is high and increases with age.
What are menstrual cramps?
A complex of clinical pathological symptoms, which appear in the second phase of the menstrual period, and are manifested by neuropsychological, vascular, endocrinologic-metabolic disorders and localized pains in the lower region of the abdomen, in the form of strong muscle cramps, which radiate up to the kidneys and over thighs. They usually disappear with the occurrence of menstruation.
Menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhoea) are classified into primary and secondary.
Primary dysmenorrhoea – during your menstrual period you have the feeling of some pains (muscle cramps) in the lower region of the abdomen, but organically there is no pathology related to the reproductive system. It is often encountered by teenage girls, occurring one day before menstruation and lasting up to 48-72 hours.
Secondary dysmenorrhoea â€“ it occurs due to a disease (cervical muscular tumour, endometriosis, endometrial polyps, post-surgery scars etc.). It manifests in women over the age of 30 years, occurring a few days before menstruation; it can last even after your menstrual period.
The symptoms are diverse, depending on age and may affect:
The nervous system – headache, irritability, fatigue (tiredness), exhaustion, depression, fear, nervousness, insomnia;
Gastrointestinal system – vomiting, nausea, constipation or diarrhoea, increase or loss of appetite, bloating of the abdomen;
Genital system – pains in the lower region of the abdomen, in the form of muscle cramps;
Dermatologic symptoms – itching skin, acne, increased pigmentation.
What are the causes of primary dysmenorrhoea?
There have been many studies relating to menstrual cramps, and the conclusions of the occurrence of these pains are the following:
1. Hormonal imbalance - it is considered that the hormone progesterone, whose concentration increases after ovulation, would have a role in triggering the pain. Also, an imbalance between oestrogen-progestin may be responsible for the appearance of pain;
2. Increased secretion of prostaglandin – chemical mediators responsible for triggering the smooth muscle contractions (which can be found in the uterus, intestine, stomach). Too high concentration of these substances leads to stronger contractions of the uterus, which is manifested by muscle cramps in the lower region of the abdomen.
3. Female genital disorders – endometriosis, uterine muscular tumour, developmental abnormalities of the genital tract, inflammatory processes of the pelvic organs, etc.
How can you diminish the pain?
â€¢ resting, by avoiding physical exertion;
â€¢ drinking smaller quantities of salt help reduce fluid in the body;
â€¢ a diet rich in vitamins of the B group, vitamin E, antioxidants, Q10, calcium and magnesium;
â€¢ exercising helps reduce pain: in young women (causing the release of certain chemicals, called endorphins that have calming effect), improving mood swings;
â€¢ consuming vegetables, grains, nuts, and fruits;
â€¢ avoiding smoking, drinking coffee, alcohol.