Home Symptoms Menstrual pain (dysmenorrhea): what to do?

Menstrual pain (dysmenorrhea): what to do?

by Josephine Andrews
Published: Last Updated on 352 views

Most women know menstrual pain (dysmenorrhea) from their own experience. The monthly complaints are usually bearable. But sometimes they become so strong that they severely impair well-being and performance in everyday life. Read here what causes menstrual pain, what you can do yourself about the symptoms and when you should consult a doctor.

quick overview

  • Causes: Primary menstrual pain (not related to illness): early onset of the first menstruation, low body weight (BMI below 20), family predisposition, psychological factors, particularly long menstrual cycle. Secondary menstrual pain (based on an underlying condition): endometriosis, fibroids, polyps, cancer, inflammation of the genitals, contraceptives such as the IUD .
  • Treatment: In the case of secondary menstrual pain, treatment of the underlying disease. For primary menstrual pain: home remedies such as exercise, warmth, medicinal plants (e.g. lady ’s mantle , yarrow , chaste tree, St. John’s wort), also acupressure, acupuncture, a diet rich in magnesium, hormonal contraceptives, pain-relieving and antispasmodic medication, hormone preparations.
  • When to the doctor? In the event of sudden menstrual pain, painful bleeding after menopause, noticeable changes in the intensity and duration of menstrual pain and altered bleeding.
  • This is what the doctor does: interview with the patient (anamnesis), gynecological examination, if necessary imaging procedures such as ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging (magnetic resonance imaging, MRT).

Menstrual pain: causes

Many women suffer from labour-like stay-at-home cramps just before and during menstruation. Sometimes the pain even radiates to the back. There are often additional symptoms such as headaches , diarrhea , nausea and vomiting . The pain is triggered by contractions of the uterine muscles. During menstruation, this contracts spasmodically in order to shed the monthly newly formed uterine lining if fertilization has not occurred.

Menstrual pain can be divided into:

  • Primary menstrual pain : It occurs as early as the first menstrual period (menarche) and accompanies the affected women until the menopause. There is no physical illness.
  • Secondary menstrual pain: It usually only appears from the age of 30 or 40 and is based on a gynecological disease. Endometriosis is usually behind it. The lining of the uterus settles outside the uterus (“spreading of the lining of the uterus”). Polyps, fallopian tubes and contraceptives such as the IUD can also cause secondary menstrual pain.

Causes of primary menstrual pain

Young, very slim women are particularly affected by primary menstrual pain from the first period. It is estimated that between 30 and 50 percent of all women of childbearing age suffer from this menstrual pain.

The following factors favor primary dysmenorrhea:

  • early onset of the first period (from around twelve years of age)
  • Low body weight: Very slim women (BMI under 20) suffer more often from primary menstrual pain.
  • familial predisposition: If the mother or sisters also suffer from menstrual pain, this speaks for itself.
  • a particularly long menstrual cycle
  • psychological stress such as anxiety or stress

Causes of secondary menstrual pain

Organic diseases are responsible for secondary menstrual pain, for example:

  • Endometriosis: It is the most common cause of secondary menstrual pain. Sufferers have scattered lining of the uterus, particularly in the pelvis. The pieces of mucous membrane, like the mucous membrane inside the uterus, are subject to hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle. When menstruation occurs, they begin to bleed. Severe menstrual cramps and painful intercourse indicate endometriosis. Other signs are cycle fluctuations and spotting.
  • Fibroids and polyps : These are benign growths of the muscular wall of the uterus (uterine fibroids) or the lining of the uterus (uterine polyps). They can cause spotting and menstrual cramps.
  • Cancer: Malignant tumors of the sex organs such as cervical cancer or ovarian cancer often grow unnoticed and painlessly at first. At some point, however, the first complaints appear. If you have long-lasting, unusual bleeding or brown discharge after menopause, you should be vigilant and definitely consult a gynecologist – such symptoms can be a sign of cancer.
  • Inflammation of the genitals : An ascending vaginal infection (colpitis) can lead to chronic fallopian tube inflammation, which causes severe menstrual pain and discomfort during ovulation.
  • Contraceptives: A common side effect of the spiral (intrauterine device, IUD) is menstrual cramps. These include period pain and increased bleeding.

Menstrual pain: treatment

In the case of secondary menstrual pain, the underlying disease must always be treated.

There are a number of things you can do yourself against primary menstrual pain. Various home remedies and herbal preparations have proven effective. There are also painkillers and antispasmodic medications for severe symptoms.

Medication for period pains

  • Painkillers: The group of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs, NSAIDs) in particular, with active ingredients such as ibuprofen , paracetamol and acetylsalicylic acid, effectively relieves pain. However, these drugs can attack the lining of the stomach. It can therefore make sense to take a preparation that protects the stomach at the same time.
  • Antispasmodics: So-called spasmolytics such as butylscopolamine relax the muscles and thus relieve menstrual pain.
  • Hormone preparations: Women who currently do not want to become pregnant can be treated well with hormonal contraceptives such as the pill with the active ingredient chlormadinone acetate (CMA). The artificial hormones slow down the build-up of the lining of the uterus during the menstrual cycle. During the monthly bleeding, correspondingly less mucous membrane is shed, so that the bleeding is significantly weaker. They often even completely eliminate menstrual pain.

Menstrual pain: home remedies

There are several home remedies that can help with menstrual pain. You can use these at home without much effort.

Heat relieves period pain

Many women find warmth to be a pleasant remedy for menstrual pain. Because heat relaxes the cramping muscles in the abdomen. A hot bath can already help relieve menstrual cramps. Bathe in water at about 38 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes – it relaxes you.

Apart from that, various warming home remedies are suitable for use on the stomach.

Belly pad with chamomile

A moist, hot abdominal pad with chamomile has a pain-relieving, cramp-relieving and relaxing effect. To do this, pour half a liter of boiling water over one to two tablespoons of chamomile flowers. Leave the brew covered for a maximum of five minutes and then strain off the plant parts.

Then place a rolled up inner towel in a second towel and roll the whole thing up into a wrap. Soak it in the hot tea with the ends hanging out and then wring it out (caution: risk of scalding!).

Then place the damp inner cloth around your stomach without any creases. Fix the cloth with a dry towel. Take off the pad after 20 to 30 minutes and rest for half an hour after application.

You can read more about the effects of chamomile in the Medicinal Plants article about chamomile .

potato wrap

A potato wrap on your stomach can also help against menstrual pain. Potatoes store heat particularly well and release it for a long time.

You can find out how to prepare and use a potato wrap here .

Dry warmth

A warm grain pillow (cherry stone pillow) or a hot water bottle are also suitable home remedies for menstrual cramps.

Only use these home remedies for as long as the heat is comfortable. Individuals with heart disease or neurological conditions should always consult their doctor before using heat.

Tea for menstrual pain

What to do with period pain? To drink tea! Because many medicinal plant teas have a pain-relieving effect, relieve cramps and relax. Teas made from the following medicinal plants are particularly suitable for menstrual cramps:

You can find out how to prepare and use the teas correctly in the relevant medicinal plant articles.

Home remedies have their limits. If the symptoms persist over a longer period of time, do not get better or even get worse, you should always consult a doctor.

More tips for menstrual pain

Abdominal massage : A gentle abdominal massage can stimulate the natural movement of the intestines, relieve tension and thus also help against menstrual pain. To do this, use both hands to gently rub your stomach in a clockwise direction for several minutes.

Movement : The painful contractions of the uterus are associated with reduced blood flow to the organ. This can increase the pain. Gentle sports such as yoga, Nordic walking or cycling stimulate blood circulation, relax the muscles in the small pelvis and thus help against pain.

Even a walk is often enough to alleviate acute menstrual cramps.

Nutrition : There is a particularly large amount of magnesium in legumes, whole grain rice and nuts, which prevents cramps of all kinds.

Sex: When you have an orgasm, your body releases endorphins. In addition, during sexual climax, the pelvic muscles relax and blood flow to the entire abdomen increases.

Acupressure : Acupressure could also relieve menstrual pain. A study provides evidence of the effectiveness of three acupressure points against menstrual pain. These sit

  • a hand’s breadth below the navel
  • on the inside of the knee, about a hand’s breadth below the knee joint
  • on the lower back in the region of the lumbar dimples

Apply gentle pressure to these points with your hand and massage the areas. If you have any questions, contact your doctor or alternative practitioner.

According to the study, acupressure can prevent menstrual pain. Massage the points regularly a few days before menstruation begins.

There is evidence that acupressure can help against various ailments. However, the concept itself and the specific effectiveness have not been clearly proven by studies.

What helps with severe menstrual pain?

Sometimes period pain is particularly intense. Home remedies can help here too. Rather, they have a supporting effect, for example to reduce the dose and number of conventional painkillers.

If you have repeated severe menstrual pain, possibly accompanied by increased menstrual bleeding, then it is advisable to consult a doctor you trust. There could be an illness behind it.

Menstrual pain: when should you see a doctor?

If you have been suffering from menstrual pain for a long time, there is usually nothing to worry about. However, you should definitely have any new menstrual pains checked out by a gynaecologist. If the duration or intensity of the pain or the bleeding changes, you should also consult your gynaecologist. This is because vaginal infections in particular can be detected and treated at an early stage without causing secondary diseases.

Women beyond the menopause should be particularly careful if they suffer from sudden bleeding. Because these can indicate a tumor of the genital organs.

You should also see a gynecologist if you have unusually severe menstrual pain that affects you in everyday life. Endometriosis or another disease may be behind it.

Menstrual pain: That’s what the doctor does

First, the gynecologist will speak to you and ask you in detail about your symptoms and medical history (anamnesis).

During the subsequent gynecological examination , the doctor examines the mucous membrane, vagina, uterus and ovaries to rule out a physical illness as the cause of the menstrual pain. He also checks that contraceptives such as the spiral are properly seated.

Further examinations such as blood tests, an ultrasound examination or a laparoscopy may follow . If necessary, magnetic resonance imaging (magnetic resonance imaging, MRI) or computed tomography (CT) may be necessary – for example, if endometriosis is suspected. This is often difficult to diagnose, because the small foci of uterine lining outside the uterus are not always easy to find. MRI and CT can then help

Once the doctor has identified the cause of your menstrual pain, he initiates the appropriate therapy.

You may also like

Leave a Comment