Dysmenorrhea(painful menses) is a medical condition of pain in females during menstruation that interferes with daily activities. Dysmenorrhea can feature different kinds of pain, including spasmodic,cramp like,sharp, throbbing, dull, nauseating, burning, or shooting pain. Dysmenorrhea may precede menstruation by several days or may accompany it.
The prevalence of Dysmenorrhea is estimated to be approximately 25% of women. Reports of Dysmenorrhea are greatest among individuals in their late teens and 20s, with reports usually declining with age. The prevalence in adolescent females has been reported to be 67.2% by one study and 90% by another.
Dysmenorrhea may be thought of as either primary or secondary.
- Primary Dysmenorrhea occurs in young females with no pelvic pathology. It often begins with the onset of ovulatory cycles six months to one year after the menarche.The pain begins with the onset of the period and may last for 24-72 hours. It is thought to be due to an excess or imbalance of prostaglandins and leukotrienes in the menstrual fluid, which in turn produces vasoconstriction in the uterine vessels, causing the uterine contractions which produce the pain. The prostaglandin release may also be responsible for the symptoms of diarrhoea, nausea, headache and light-headedness which may occur in association with Dysmenorrhea.
- Secondary Dysmenorrhea occurs in association with some form of pelvic pathology. Secondary Dysmenorrhea may occur as a result of:
- fibroids – benign tumours that develop within the uterine wall or are attached to it
- adenomyosis – the tissue that lines the uterus (called the endometrium) begins to grow within its muscular walls
- a sexually transmitted infection (STI)
- endometriosis – fragments of the endometrial lining that are found on other pelvic organs
- pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which is primarily an infection of the fallopian tubes, but can also affect the ovaries, uterus, and cervix
- an ovarian cyst or tumour
- the use of an intrauterine device (IUD), a birth control method.
- Developmental abnormalities