What to do with menstrual cramps

What to do with menstrual cramps

I wondered why menstrual cramps happen to many women and why some women experience intense pain while others just feel a mild discomfort. In order to understand this phenomenon among women, I did a little research about menstrual cramps, the causes and the remedies. Here's what I found.

My friend Loise goes through severe pain every time she has her menstrual period and she wouldn’t be able to get out of bed for most of the day. I had experienced that when I was younger but when I got older and have given birth to 3 children, the menstrual cramps are not as painful anymore. I also have other friends who go through the same dilemma every month. I wondered why menstrual cramps happen to many women  and why some women experience intense pain while others just feel a mild discomfort. In order to understand this phenomenon among women, I did a little research about menstrual cramps, the causes and the remedies.

Reading through different references, I found that menstrual cramps or otherwise known as dysmenorrhea is of two types. One is primary dysmenorrhea which entails no problem in the reproductive system of a woman. It is more painful among younger women but the pain becomes lesser when they reach their mid-20s. The other one is secondary dysmenorrhea which is caused by an abnormality in the reproductive system. This abnormality may be due to ovarian cysts, fibroid tumors, endometriosis or other conditions which has to be diagnosed by a physician.

What causes menstrual cramps and why does women feel different levels of pain? One cause is the muscular contractions of the uterus. Based on the menstrual process, this contraction is needed so that the the old lining of the uterus will be replaced with a new one since the egg was not ovulated and no implantation in the uterus occured. This contraction is caused by a natural substance known as prostaglandin. It has been thought that the diffent levels of prostaglandin cause women to experience different levels of pain. Those with higher levels of prostaglandin experience greater pain and those whose levels are low, experience little or no pain at all. This is because when there is more prostaglandin, the more that the muscles of the uterus contracts as if in labor. Another factor is that menstrual cramps become severe when blood clots or tissues pass through a narrow cervix. Other reasons being considered are the lack of exercise and the high levels of emotional stress among women. But it has also been found that menstrual cramps decrease as a woman grows older and/or gives birth.

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What to do with menstrual cramps?  Knowing the type of menstrual cramps is vital in knowing what to do with pain. If it is primary dysmenorrhea, then try some these solutions that I have also tried:

  1. Take an over-the counter pain reliever which will restrict the release of prostaglandins and lessen the pain. This could be ibuprofen, sodium naproxen or mefenamic acid.
  2. Take a warm bath or apply heating pad to the abdominal area or your back part where you feel greater pain. This would somehow lessen the symptoms.
  3. Exercise regularly to keep your body in shape.
  4. Eat food or take food supplements with zinc and calcium which are believed to reduce cramps.
  5. Avoid or reduce stress in your life. Have adequate rest and sleep. Enjoy life as it comes your way and don’t let stressful situations dampen your day.
  6. If the cramps are too much to bear, then you can ask your doctor for an oral contraceptive which contains estrogen and progestin known to decrease the release of prostaglandins.

If you have been experiencing severe pain and you have tried using all or almost all of these solutions yet the pain is still there, then it might be time for you to see a doctor for a thorough check-up for any abnormality in your reprodcutive system.

For menstrual cramps due to secondary dysmennorhea,  the underlying condition dictates the treatment. You need to talk over with your doctor the possible remedies.

Menstrual cramps can really be a cause of discomfort and even suffering for many women every month.  The good news is that it can be treated.  Not only that, but menstrual cramps go away with age and childbirth. So all the ladies out there, don’t despair.

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Written by

Karen Mira

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