What Are the Causes of Menstrual Cramp?Do you experience menstrual cramps during your period? Menstrual cramping, a common symptom of menstruation, is pain from contractions of the uterus and from constricting blood vessels in uterine muscles. Some women experience no cramps, while some have mild ones and others have severe pain that greatly affects their lives. What are some causes of menstrual cramp?
Is Your Cramping a Regular Part of Menstruation – or From Another Cause?Many women experience menstrual cramps since they first get their periods. This type is known as primary dysmenorrhea. It is a normal part of menstruating for many – although not all – women. Other women experience pain from a health condition in the reproductive area. This is called secondary dysmenorrhea. It is best to see your gynecologist to find out the cause of the cramping.
Off-Kilter Body ChemicalsA woman’s body makes prostaglandin chemicals during menstruation, which cause the uterine muscles to contract. While this is a natural process, some women create too much of this chemical and experience more severe contractions. A doctor can help you determine if this is the cause for you and can suggest some treatment options available to you.
Reproductive System Health ConditionsA number of health conditions in the reproductive organs can cause cramping, which is why it is a good idea to talk to your gynecologist about ongoing or severe cramping. Some of the causes can include:
- endometriosis (uterine tissue outside the uterus)
- fibroids (uterine growths)
- an ovarian cyst
- a narrow cervix
- an abnormal pregnancy
- pelvic inflammatory disease
- an infection
- An intrauterine device, a device used for birth control, can also cause cramping.
Certain Factors Can Increase Risk of Menstrual CrampsSome factors can make one woman more likely to have menstrual cramping than another. These are all factors that a woman cannot change. Those who are more likely to experience cramps include:
- women who experience long periods over five days
- women who have not been pregnant
- women who got their first period at a very young age
Lifestyle FactorsOn the other hand, a woman is capable of changing other factors that can cause or worsen menstrual cramps:
- Smoking, drinking alcohol and consuming caffeine can lead to cramps.
- Being obese or overweight can contribute to cramping. This factor can generally be prevented or treated through diet and exercise.
- Diet and exercise can also affect cramping on their own, as a healthy diet and exercise can prevent cramps or reduce the pain and an unhealthy diet can do the opposite.
Do You Have to Deal with Menstrual Cramps?Just because cramps often accompany menstruation does not mean that you have to deal with them. There are many options to prevent and treat cramps, including:
- pain killers
- anti-inflammatory medication
- the birth-control pill
For a more natural approach, methods that often have positive results include:
- heating pads
Doctors generally advise that some cramping can be a normal part of a period, while severe cramping is generally cause for concern.