MENSTRUAL CRAMPS

AN OVERVIEW OF MENSTRUAL PAIN:

Menstrual pain is a very common problem amongst women. Pain is typically spasmodic in nature and is often strongest above the pubic bone but can radiate to the back or the inner thighs. It is not uncommon for women to have additional symptoms such as nausea and vomiting, fatigue, diarrhea, low backache, or headache. Symptoms often last from a few hours to a day. It is uncommon for women to have symptoms that last beyond 2-3 days.

A relationship has been noted between painful periods and the following:
  • Age: The most severe pain is typically experienced by women ages 20-24
  • Marital status: The incidence of painful periods tends to decrease with age, however it decreases more rapidly in married women possibly due to pregnancy and childbearing.
  • Age of first menses: Pain is typically more intense in women who start menses at a younger age and have longer menses in general.
  • Smoking: Cramping will last longer in smokers
  • Weight: Being overweight or underweight increases the risk of having painful periods
Menstrual cramps may be caused by several factors including lack of blood flow to the uterus, and increased release of uterine prostaglandins. Increased prostaglandins occur due to declining progesterone levels. When ovulation does not occur in a menstrual cycle, a rise and subsequent decline of progesterone does not result and therefore there is no increase in prostaglandins and no pain at the onset of menstruation.

Why seek advice from a Naturopathic Doctor for menstrual cramps:

  • An ND will investigate whether the cramping stands alone or is caused by another pathology (the most common cause would be endometriosis).
  • Hormone testing can be ordered through a ND to identify imbalances that may be contributing to symptoms.
  • Treatment will focus on the whole person, not just on menstrual pain. Drug free pain solutions are available and treatments may include supplements, acupuncture, and necessary dietary or lifestyle changes. An ND will check supplement interactions with current medications before prescribing to ensure there are no interactions.