Menstrual cramps are extremely common.
Very few women reach menopause without experiencing this throbbing, cramping signal that your period has arrived. For a small percentage of women, this time of the month means missing work or school and spending the day in bed. Some women can have symptoms that go beyond pain to include nausea, vomiting, loose stools, and bouts of profuse sweating.
Some menstrual cramps are caused by an underlying condition such as endometriosis, uterine fibroids, or pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). These cramps usually disappear only when the condition is corrected, e.g., surgery to remove the uterine fibroids.
More commonly, the cramps result from the involvement of hormone-like substances called prostaglandins. These chemicals are released by the body to help expel the built-up uterine lining each month when a fertilized egg does not implant. Higher prostaglandin levels are seen in women with severe cramps. Some experts say that cramps are severe contractions of the blood vessels supplying the uterus.
Menstrual pain can usually be controlled with over-the-counter pain medications. Exercise may also ease the pain and dietary supplements that contain fatty acids and B vitamins can help if taken regularly. If menstrual cramps are affecting your ability to function, make an appointment with Dr. Amy Siegel to determine the cause for your cramps or rule out any issues such as endometriosis, fibroids, or PID. She’ll help you stay on your feet all month long.