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Menstrual Cramps: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Treatment

Sep 06, 2023

Menstrual Cramps: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Treatment

Menstrual cramps, also known as Dysmenorrhea, are severe, stabbing pains in the lower abdomen. Women frequently experience menstrual pains before and during their periods.

Some females may only find the discomfort irritating while others may experience severe menstrual cramps that prevent them from going about their normal life for a few days each month.

Menstrual cramps can be brought on by conditions such as endometriosis or uterine fibroids. The key to relief pain is to address the underlying cause. Menstrual cramps generally improve with age and frequently disappear completely after childbirth, if they are not brought on by another condition.

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Causes Of Menstrual Cramps

During your menstrual cycle, the uterus contracts to help the ejection of its lining. The hormone-like chemicals known as prostaglandins, which are linked to pain and inflammation, are what induce the contraction of the uterine muscles. 

Painful menstruation cramps are linked to higher prostaglandin levels. Menstrual cramps could be caused by:

  • Endometriosis. The ovaries, fallopian tubes, and the tissue lining your pelvis are the places where tissue that resembles the lining of the uterus grows, most frequently outside of the uterus.
  • Tumors in the womb. These uterine wall benign tumors can be uncomfortable.
  • Adenomyosis. The lining of your uterus and the uterine muscles begin to merge together.
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Stenosis of the cervical region. The pressure inside the uterus is increased when the cervix's opening is so small in certain women that it prevents menstruation from happening.

Symptoms Of Menstrual Cramps

The following symptoms are related to menstrual cramps:

  • Intense, throbbing, or cramping lower abdominal pain
  • Dull, continuous pain  that starts one to three days prior to the start of your period, peaks 24 hours later, and subsides in two to three days
  • Pain in lower back and thighs

Also, some females experience:

  • Loose stools
  • Sickness
  • Headaches
  •  Vertigo

Risk Factors For Menstrual Cramps

Below are mentioned some of the risk factors for menstrual cramps:

  • You're a young adult under 30.
  • When you experienced puberty at the age of  11 or younger
  • Menorrhagia refers to excessive bleeding during your period.
  • 'Metrorrhagia,' irregular menstrual bleeding.
  • Dysmenorrhea (cramps during your period) runs in your family.
  • Smoking.

Diagnosis Of Menstrual Cramps

Your doctor will examine your pelvis as part of a physical exam and will also look over your medical history. Your pelvis will be examined by your doctor to check for infections or any abnormalities in the reproductive organs.

In addition, your physician might advise that you undergo tests like:

  • Ultrasound. The ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus, and cervix are all visualized utilizing sound waves during this test.
  • Further imaging examination. A computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan can help your doctor find underlying problems, but neither can an ultrasound because it can give more information about the situation. Cross-sectional images of the bones, organs, and other soft tissues in your body are produced with a CT scan by combining multiple X-ray images.
  • In MRI, radio waves are coupled with a strong magnetic field to produce very accurate images of internal structures. Each exam is non-invasive and painless.
  • Laparoscopy. Even while a laparoscopy is normally not necessary to diagnose period discomfort, it can help discover an underlying issue, such as endometriosis, adhesions, fibroids, ovarian cysts, and ectopic pregnancy.

 During this outpatient procedure, your doctor will make a few tiny incisions in your belly and insert a fiber-optic tube with a tiny camera lens to view your reproductive organs and abdominal cavity.

Treatment Of Menstrual Cramps

To ease period cramps, your healthcare provider may advise the following:

  • Painkillers. Onset taking ibuprofen or naproxen sodium on a regular basis the day before to when you anticipate the onset of your period. A prescription is also required to purchase nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
  • Take the pain reliever as directed for the subsequent two to three days, or until the discomfort is gone, starting at the beginning of your period or as soon as you begin to notice symptoms.
  • Birth Control Pills. Oral contraceptive hormones prevent ovulation and lower the intensity of menstrual cramps. These hormones can be delivered by an intrauterine device (IUD), an injection, a skin patch, an implant under your arm, a flexible ring that you insert into your vagina, or by any other technique.
  • Surgery. If you have endometriosis or fibroids, surgery to cure those conditions may be able to relieve your period cramps. Having your uterus surgically removed may be an option if other therapies are ineffective for your symptoms and you don't want to become pregnant.

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