Dysmenorrhea — What you need to know about it and learn how you can ride the crimson wave

So you have been plagued by mind-numbing cramps during your time of the month and sometimes a visit from Aunt Flo turns mildly annoying and painful. So what do you do? Bunk college or skip office to nurse the aching belly. Chat up with a BFF over a hot cuppa or just slide in bed to get over the period pain. Interestingly, menstrual cramps are becoming a major cause for loss of school or college time and even absence from work for women across the globe.

But first up, let’s understand what causes menstrual cramps. Menstruation is the process wherein the womb sheds its uterine lining. The cramps are caused by chemical called prostaglandins which makes the muscles of the uterus contract. The contraction of uterine muscles pushes the blood out through vaginal canal during periods.

While for most girls, some discomfort and cramps during periods is perfectly normal, for others it could be a cause for alarm. In scientific terms, periods are accompanied by a condition called ‘primary dysmenorrhea’ – common menstrual cramps which are recurring and not a result of any abnormality. On the other hand, secondary dysmenorrhea is certainly worrisome. It is due to a disorder such as endometriosis, uterine fibroids, or infection.

If a person is suffering from secondary dysmenorrhea, the pain usually begins a bit early and lasts longer than the usual cramps. Some of the most common symptoms of dysmenorrhea are severe pain in the abdomen, pain in the hips and lower back and sometimes thighs as well.

How can I relieve severe menstrual cramps?

Don’t want to let painful cramps sneak up on your daily lifestyle? There are ways you can keep the pain at bay with some home remedies.

  • Massaging your lower back or abdomen can help in easing the pain

  • Use a hot water bottle or a heating pad to relieve pain

  • Go for a warm shower bath

  • Lose weight if you are overweight. Go for regular aerobic exercises

  • Become physically active, go for a brisk walk to feel better (exercise releases endorphins, chemicals that help you feel good)

  • Eat well to say bye-bye to cramps. Go for a diet comprising carbohydrates such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables and low in caffeine, sugar and salt.

  • Practice some relaxation techniques such as meditation or yoga.

If you experience severe and painful menstrual cramps that last for more than three to four days, you must contact a health provider. Remember, menstrual cramps are treatable and you can take over the counter drugs to relieve pain. Get yourself checked in case you experience excessive discomfort.

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