Aside from over-the-counter medication, would there be any foods that I should eat or avoid? Or exercises that I could do? What about using a heating pad?"
Painful menstrual cramps or dysmenorrhea is a common condition affecting 40-80% of all women.
Dysmenorrhea can be mild or severe depending on the degree of pain and cramping produced. The etiology is thought to be secondary to a biochemical process involving the uterus around the time of menstrual cycles. In brief, a combination of over sensitivity of the nerve fibers within the uterus and muscle spasm results in the symptoms.
The mainstay of medical treatment of dysmenorrhea includes non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents, such as ibuprofen, and hormonal suppression, such as oral contraceptives.
It is recommended to start non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents a few days prior to the onset of the menstrual cycles in order to prevent (as opposed to treat) the symptoms.
Heating pads have been shown to be helpful, so has exercise. With exercise, the blood circulation to the uterus increases, which may alleviate the pain and discomfort.
It is unclear as to the effectiveness of certain foods or ingredients on this condition.
Acupuncture may be considered, as it has been shown to be effective in to management of dysmenorrhea.
If you have never had dysmenorrhea before and this is a new condition, it may be worthwhile to investigate the possible reversible causes of dysmenorrhea.
— Dr. Ali Ghomi
Dr. Ghomi is the Director of Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery and Chair of The Robotic Surgical Committee at Sisters of Charity Hospital. He is the only physician in Western New York who performs Sacrocolpopexy Prolapse surgery using the da Vinci® robot. Sacrocolpopexy is a proven “gold standard” procedure worldwide to repair severe pelvic prolapse. Click here to learn more about Catholic Health's OBGYN services.
Dr. Ghomi sees patients at the M. Steven Piver, M.D. Center for Women’s Health & Wellness in Buffalo.
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