what is dysmenorrhea period pain

The Unbearable Period Pain: What Is Dysmenorrhea and How Do We Treat It?

Every menstruator has experienced some level of discomfort in the lower abdomen before or during their monthly cycle, but for some, an extremely painful period is something they regularly deal with. 

The medical term for this intense pain is dysmenorrhea, though most menstruators know it as period cramps. Find out what causes period cramps and how to reduce menstrual pain instantly. 

We Need to Speak Louder About Period Cramps

Many menstruators with unbearable period pain suffer through it thinking that it is a normal part of being a woman. The idea that severe period pain, or even just period discomfort, is something that menstruators are meant to tolerate is likely related to a long history of doctors dismissing women’s pain.

Due to the gender pain gap, women in pain are more likely than men in pain to suffer through untreated pain, whether it’s ovarian pain, extremely painful periods, or other pain not related to the reproductive system. To close the pain gap and make more solutions for period cramps available, we need to openly discuss period pain! 

What Causes Dysmenorrhea aka Painful Period Cramps?

Dysmenorrhea occurs when prostaglandins cause more contractions than usual of the muscles and blood vessels in the uterus, cutting off the oxygen supply to the muscle and resulting in painful period cramps. Prostaglandins are naturally occurring chemicals produced by the body for a variety of essential functions. Unfortunately, when it comes to dysmenorrhea, these can also cause intense pain.

What are the Symptoms of Dysmenorrhea That You Need to Flag?

Most menstruators experience period pain or at least some period discomfort from month to month. But if you have extremely painful periods every month that prevent you from going about your routine, you should inform your gynecologist so that you can investigate the cause of the intense pain. 

Every menstruator’s experience may be different, but symptoms of dysmenorrhea that you should flag include severe period pain that is accompanied by diarrhea or nausea, at least three painful periods, fatigue, and period cramps that cause pain to radiate down the legs.

What’s the Difference Between Primary and Secondary Dysmenorrhea?

Dysmenorrhea type 1

Before discussing how to help period cramps, it’s useful to know the dysmenorrhea definition for primary and secondary dysmenorrhea. Primary dysmenorrhea refers to period cramps that regularly occur during menstruation, month after month and are not caused by other reproductive health issues.

Secondary dysmenorrhea refers to period cramps that occur due to an infection or other issues in your reproductive organs, such as fibroids, endometriosis, or adenomyosis. In other words, dysmenorrhea is secondary to another issue that is causing an extremely painful period. This intense pain tends to last longer than normal period cramps and can get worse over time.

The good news is that both primary and secondary dysmenorrhea can be treated.

Unfortunately, This Is What’s Available Now for Period Cramp Relief

When it comes to how to help period cramps, there is a variety of things that women in pain can try, ranging from physical therapy and acupuncture to medicine for period cramps.

Medicine for Period Cramps

The first line of treatment for severe menstrual pain is usually medicine for period cramps. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) lessen the effects of prostaglandins on the body, which can provide period cramps relief. 30% of women found no relief using NSAIDs in a study from Western Australia

While medicine for period cramps can be effective, NSAIDs come with risks for menstruators with certain conditions, including ulcers, liver damage, stomach problems, asthma, and bleeding disorders.

But Also, Fortunately, There are Natural Period Pain Relief Options

Some menstruators may find alternative therapies helpful for relieving unbearable period pain. These non-pharmaceutical ways to handle severe period pain include:

  • Physical therapy or massage that focuses on abdominal trigger points
  • Acupuncture (with needles) or acupressure to encourage blood flow and relaxation
  • Applying a heating pad or hot water bottle to the abdomen
  • Yoga or other gentle physical exercises to help with period cramps
  • Relaxation or breathing exercises
  • Soaking in a warm bath

AIMA is excited to add to the options for relieving period discomfort.

AIMA Wants to Be Part of the Best and Most Natural Ways That Can Help With Period Cramps and Dysmenorrhea

When doctors downplay women’s health concerns, it leads to untreated pain. We’re breaking the silence around period pain so that menstruators no longer have to suffer through period discomfort wondering if they are alone.

Fueled by our values of accountability, transparency, scientific evidence, and person-centric solutions, we are passionate about developing natural ways to help support menstruators with period discomfort.

The OVY Vaginal Suppository is an innovative new CBD-Enhanced option for period relief. By providing natural active agents at the localized level in the vaginal tract, you bypass the liver and allow the CBD to be delivered directly to cannabinoid receptors in the female reproductive system.

If you suffer from dysmenorrhea or any other condition that causes unbearable period pain, please get on the waitlist today. We’d also love to hear your story to work towards breaking the silence around period pain (#myperiodstory)!


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