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What is Dysmenorrhea? 

Dysmenorrhea, also known as excessively painful menstrual periods, is a medical condition characterized by severe uterine pain during menstruation. While many women experience minor pain during menstruation, dysmenorrhea is diagnosed when the pain is so severe as to limit normal activities, or require medication.  The discomfort makes it difficult to perform normal household, job, or school-related activities for a few days during each menstrual cycle. Painful menstruation ranks as the leading cause of lost time from school and work among women in their teens and 20s. 

There are two general types of dysmenorrhea:

  • Primary dysmenorrhea refers to menstrual pain that occurs in otherwise healthy women. This type of pain is not related to any specific problems with the uterus or other pelvic organs.
  • Secondary dysmenorrhea is menstrual pain that is attributed to some underlying disease or structural abnormality, either within or outside of the uterus.

Activity of the hormone prostaglandin, produced in the uterus, is thought to be a factor in primary dysmenorrhea. This hormone causes contraction of the uterus and levels tend to be much higher in women with severe menstrual pain than in women who experience mild or no menstrual pain. 

Possible Causes of Dysmenorrhea:

  • Endometriosis
  • Ovarian cysts
  • Fibroids
  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
  • Intrauterine Device (IUD)
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Stress and anxiety



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