Most women experience pain during menstruation. But when the pain gets so severe that it limits your normal activities, this means you are experiencing dysmenorrhea. Dysmenorrhea sometimes requires medication.
There are two kinds of dysmenorrhea, namely primary and secondary. Primary dysmenorrhea is when there is no disease, disorder, or structural abnormality either within or outside the uterus that is the underlying cause of the pain you experience during menstruation. Secondary dsymenorrhea on the other hand, is when a disease, disorder, or abnormality either within or outside the uterus causes the pain you feel during menstruation. Dysmenorrhea may even be made worse when you experience excessive blood loss, called menorrhagia, with it. Whichever kind of dysmenorrhea you are experiencing, here are some tips on how to alleviate pain during your menstruation.
- Nutritional Supplements. Studies show that dysmenorrhea can be caused by the imbalance between anti-inflammatory, vasodilator eicosanoids and proinflammatory, vasoconstrictor eicosanoids. This can be reversed by taking omega-3 fatty acids. Flax oil is the major source of omega-3 fatty acids. Other nutritional supplements that can be taken to alleviate pain during menstrual cycles are magnesium, vitamin E, zinc, and thiamine.
- NSAIDs. NSAIDs or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can also alleviate pain during your period. NSAIDs can cause side effects though such as nausea, dyspepsia or indigestion, peptic ulcer or ulcer in the gastrointestinal tract, and diarrhea. If any of these symptoms persist, go and see a doctor so that you can be prescribed a drug that better suits you. Approved NSAIDs in the United States are aspirin, celecoxib (Celebrex), diclofenac (Voltaren), diflunisal (Dolobid), etodolac (Lodine), ibuprofen (Motrin), indomethacin (Indocin), ketoprofen (Orudis), ketorolac (Toradol), nabumetone (Relafen), naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn), oxaprozin (Daypro), piroxicam (Feldene), salsalate (Amigesic), sulindac (Clinoril), and tolmetin (Tolectin).
- Hormonal Contraceptives. Birth control pills that act on hormonal systems can also be used to alleviate dysmenorrhea. Commonly used hormonal contraceptives for alleviating pain during menstruation are Norplant and Depo-provera since these two often induce the absence of a menstrual period during ovulation. Another commonly used treatment is the IUD or the Intrauterine Device. There are a lot of kinds of hormonal contraceptives, namely the pill, injectable hormones, birth control patches, the etonogestrel ethinyl estradiol vaginal ring, and emergency contraceptive pills. There are some side effects, though, that you might experience when using hormonal contraceptives, such as blood clotting in the heart or stroke for women who smoke, weight gain, abnormal or irregular periods, increase in blood pressure, and adverse effects on cholesterol and lipid levels.
- Non-drug Therapies. Some people find non-drug therapies effective in treating dysmenorrhea, for instance behavioral therapies, acupuncture, acupressure, chiropractic care, and TENS or transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medical technique of inserting fine filiform needles into specific points on the body, called acupuncture points, to relieve pain or for therapy. Acupressure is a traditional Chinese medical technique of applying physical pressure to acupuncture points. Chiropractic care is a medical technique of manipulation of the spine, joints, and the body's soft tissues. TENS is a medical technique of applying electrical current through the skin for pain control.
- Herbal Therapies. Some people find herbal medicines helpful during dysmenorrhea. Commonly used are Chinese herbal medicines, and Japanese herbal medicines containing glyceryl trinitrate.
If you are experiencing pain during menstruation, it is better to see a doctor first. The doctor knows which method to use or what drugs to prescribe to help alleviate your pain. Do not take any drugs without the doctor's prescription, for this may make matters worse.