Dysmenorrhea: Managing Painful Periods

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Dysmenorrhea is a common gynecological condition that refers to pain such as uterine cramps and pelvic pain that is associated with your menstrual period. While some people only experience brief episodes of mild pain during their periods, others experience severe and debilitating pain that is associated with nausea and vomiting. Dysmenorrhea can be idiopathic, meaning that the cause is unknown, or it can be caused by conditions such as uterine fibroids and endometriosis. Before your gynecologist can recommend a treatment for your dysmenorrhea, they need to determine the cause. While you are waiting for your OB/GYN appointment, consider the following interventions to help manage your painful periods.

Dietary Interventions

For a safe and effective treatment option for dysmenorrhea, consider dietary interventions such as increasing your intake of magnesium. This essential nutrient helps promote smooth muscle relaxation and may help decrease the strong uterine contractions responsible for menstrual cramps and pelvic pain.

Foods high in magnesium include nuts, dark chocolate, and kale. Other foods that can help relieve your dysmenorrhea symptoms include sardines and mackerel. These foods are rich in healthy fats known as omega-3 fatty acids. Sardines are mackerel can help relieve your cramps by decreasing inflammation and promoting optimal blood flow.

It is important to note, that while getting your magnesium and omega-3 fatty acids through the foods you eat is considered very safe, talk to your OB/GYN before you start taking magnesium and omega-3 supplements because they can cause side effects and interact with certain medications.

Block Prostaglandin Release

Prostaglandins are substances that can increase inflammation, promote pain, and cause uterine contractions. Inhibiting the release of prostaglandins can dramatically ease your dysmenorrhea symptoms, especially if you take steps to block their release before you get your period.

Certain over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen sodium can help inhibit prostaglandin release as can exercising and increasing your intake of vitamin D by eating low-fat dairy foods. Inhibiting prostaglandin release may also help prevent diarrhea during your menstrual period by easing contractions of your colon.

In addition to relieving your menstrual cramps, blocking prostaglandin release may also help reduce the incidence of hormonal-related migraines that can occur right before and during your period.

If you suffer from dysmenorrhea, consider the above interventions and make an appointment with your OB/GYN. After a complete gynecological examination, your doctor will recommend the best treatment plan to help manage your menstrual symptoms. For more information, contact an OB/GYN near you.