Northwestern Women’s Health Associates, S.C
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Painful Menses

Most women experience at least a slight amount of discomfort during menstruation. The condition of painful menstrual cycles is referred to as dysmenorrhea, and may ease with specific treatment from your gynecologist in Chicago, IL.

As many as half of all women will experience pain within the menstrual cycle, with primary dysmenorrhea developing early after an adolescent girl begins menstruating. The reason that pain occurs during the time when a woman has her period is the release of prostaglandins, chemicals that increase right before menstruation. The level of prostaglandins remains higher during the first day or two of menstruation and then steadily declines along with bleeding. As a woman gets older, the discomfort of menstruation may improve. Additionally, many women notice that dysmenorrhea eases after childbirth.

Primary dysmenorrhea explains only a portion of the cases of painful menstruation. For some women, an issue in the reproductive system may prompt the onset of uncomfortable cramping. When pain is related to reproductive problems, it is likely to become worse rather than better over time. Unlike primary dysmenorrhea, the secondary type may begin just before the menstrual period and may linger for days after bleeding has stopped.

Treating painful menstrual cycles appropriately

When dysmenorrhea is associated with the production of prostaglandins in the uterus, pain-relieving medications may be the appropriate course of treatment for improved comfort. You can start with non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID). Professional care from your experienced gynecologist is necessary in order to quickly identify the cause of discomfort. While certain medications may ease the symptoms of secondary dysmenorrhea, further treatment may be necessary to address the underlying cause.

Secondary dysmenorrhea may occur in response to fibroids, endometriosis, or adenomyosis, all conditions for which a gynecologist has solutions. Proper diagnosis may be reached with a thorough consultation and review of medical history and a pelvic examination. To gain further information, an ultrasound or laparoscopy may also be scheduled.

Birth control for dysmenorrhea

Many women are prescribed birth control that contains estrogen and progestin as a form of treatment for dysmenorrhea. Oral contraceptives, an implant, injections, or vaginal rings containing both hormones may all be effective solutions for painful menstruation provided that discomfort is the result of prostaglandin. Secondary dysmenorrhea will require specific treatment based on the cause of pain.

The physicians and team at Northwestern Women's Health Associates, S.C. provides outstanding care to women in and around Chicago. Call to discuss your gynecological concerns or to schedule your well-woman checkup.

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