Dysmenorrhea

What is a painful period?

Painful periods are menstrual
periods with severe and frequent cramps and pain. They may start with your first period
and continue through your life. Or they may happen later in life. This is often because
of a endometriosis.

What causes painful periods?

A painful period is often caused
when the uterus contracts abnormally. This is because of a chemical problem in the body.
For example, the natural chemical prostaglandin controls the contractions of the
uterus.

When an underlying condition causes
painful periods, it’s often endometriosis. This is a condition where tissue from the
lining of the uterus shows up outside the uterus. Endometriosis often causes internal
bleeding, infection, and pelvic pain.

Other causes of painful periods
include:

  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
  • Uterine fibroids
  • Abnormal pregnancy such as a
    miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy
  • Infection, tumors, or polyps in the
    pelvic cavity

Who is at risk for painful periods?

Any woman can have painful periods.
But these women may be at an increased risk for the condition:

  • Women who smoke
  • Women who drink alcohol during their
    period. Alcohol tends to make menstrual pain continue.
  • Women who are overweight
  • Women who started their periods before
    age 11
  • Women who have never been
    pregnant

What are the symptoms of a painful period?

These are the most common symptoms
of painful periods. But each woman may have slightly different symptoms. Symptoms may
include:

  • Cramping in the lower belly
  • Pain in the lower belly
  • Low back pain
  • Pain spreading down the legs
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Fainting
  • Headaches

The symptoms of a painful period
may look like other health problems. Always talk with your healthcare provider for a
diagnosis.

How are painful periods diagnosed?

To diagnose painful periods, your
healthcare provider will ask about your health history. He or she will do a physical and
pelvic exam. Other tests may include:

  • Ultrasound. This test uses
    high-frequency sound waves to create an image of the internal organs.
  • MRI. This test uses large magnets,
    radio waves, and a computer to make detailed images of organs and structures within
    the body.
  • Laparoscopy. This minor procedure
    uses a laparoscope. This is a thin tube with a lens and a light. It is put into a cut
    (incision) in the belly (abdominal) wall. The healthcare provider uses this tool to
    see into the pelvic and abdomen area. He or she may find abnormal growths.
  • Hysteroscopy. This test looks at the
    canal of the cervix and the inside of the uterus. It uses a viewing tool
    (hysteroscope) put through the vagina.