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ntegrative Medicine

What are Menstrual Cramps?

© Susan M. Lark MD

Treatments for endometriosis vary depending on the woman's age, severity of symptoms, and her childbearing status. Supportive therapy often includes antiprostaglandin medication such as Motrin and Ponstel. Stronger painkilling medication may be used if symptoms are severe. Pregnancy is actually a treatment for endometriosis, since it relieves monthly menstruation. In fact, doctors have traditionally recommended that women with endometriosis consider pregnancy to alleviate the problem. Unfortunately, women with endometriosis suffer from a higher level of infertility than the general population because of the scarring and other structural damage that endometriosis creates in the reproductive tract. In some cases, physicians recommend treatments including the use of birth control pills and other hormonal therapies that inhibit normal menstruation and reverse the stimulation of the endometrial implants. These therapies can be quite effective in reversing the process, but their use requires care because of the many possible side effects that can occur. In advanced cases, endometriosis may culminate in a hysterectomy.

In summary, this chapter has given you information on the dif-ferent types, causes, and symptoms of menstrual cramps. As you can see, menstrual cramps can arise from a variety of conditions. To identify your specific type of menstrual cramp pattern, go on to the next chapter. Chapter 2 contains a self evaluation workbook that will help you pinpoint the risk factors and lifestyle habits that contribute to your symptoms.

Types of Menstrual Cramps

Primary Spasmodic Dysmenorrhea
Severe viselike pain, backache, tightening and pain sensations in the inner thighs, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, faintness, dizziness, fatigue, headaches

Primary Congestive Dysmenorrhea
Dull aching in low back and pelvis, bloating, weight gain, breast tender- ness, headaches, irritability

Secondary Dysmenorrhea
Pelvic and back pain, spotting, pain during or after sexual intercourse, fever, chills, puslike vaginal discharge, urinary frequency, bowel changes

Risk Factors for Menstrual Cramps

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About The Author
Dr. Susan M. Lark is one of the foremost authorities on women's health issues and is the author of nine books. She has served on the faculty of Stanford University Medical School...more
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