Menstrual cramps

Also known as: Menstrual Cramps, Painful Menstruation, Dysmenorrhea
Dysmenorrhea is painful menstruation. It is classified as either primary or secondary. Primary dysmenorrhea generally occurs within a couple of years of the first menstrual period. The pain tends to decrease with age and very often resolves after childbirth. Secondary dysmenorrhea is menstrual pain caused by another condition, commonly endometriosis. It starts later in life and tends to increase in intensity over time.

As many as half of menstruating women are affected by dysmenorrhea, and of these, about 10% have severe dysmenorrhea, which greatly limits activities for one to three days each month.1

Dysmenorrhea includes symptoms of abdominal bloating, frequent and intense cramps, pain below the waistline, or a dull ache that may radiate to the lower back or legs. There may also be symptoms of headache, nausea, diarrhea or constipation, frequent urination, and, occasionally, vomiting. The symptoms usually occur just before or during the menstrual period.
A woman’s monthly cycle may include several days of pain and discomfort due to cramps, also known as dysmenorrhea. How do you find relief? According to research or other evidence, the following self-care steps may be helpful.
  • Mix in magnesium

    Take a supplement containing 360 mg a day of this essential mineral to help keep uterine muscles relaxed

  • Don’t forget the fish oil

    Take a supplement containing 1,800 mg a day of EPA and DHA to help prevent menstrual symptoms

  • Take vitamin E in advance

    To help prevent severe pain, take 400 to 600 IU of vitamin E a day for five days, beginning two days before menstruation

  • Make time for a checkup

    See your healthcare provider to find out if your dysmenorrhea could be caused by a treatable medical condition