Menstrual Cramps are a common problem affecting adolescent girls and women all around the world. The medical term for menstrual cramps or painful menstruation is “Dysmenorrhea.” Dysmenorrhea can range from mild to severe and in some cases can be so painful that it interferes with normal daily activities such as work, school and sports. Menstrual cramps affect about 50% of all menstruating women and of these women, 15% report that their menstrual cramps are severe. Adolescent girls are especially affected by painful menstruation. It is estimated that as many as 90% of adolescent girls experience menstrual cramps during their periods.
Treatments for menstrual cramps include getting an adequate amount of rest and sleep as well as an adequate amount of exercise. Mild menstrual cramps may be treated using non-prescription, over-the-counter medications such as aspirin and acetaminophen. For moderate menstrual cramps, NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as Ibuprofen, Naproxen and Motrin may be used. There are also prescription NSAIDs available for the treatment of menstrual cramps: mefenamic acid (Ponstel) and meclofenamate (Meclomen). Finally, low-dose birth control pills may be prescribed to alleviate the painful cramps associated with menstruation.
If you have tried treating your menstrual cramps with the options listed above and still have not found relief, your doctor may suggest that you undergo a procedure called an endometrial ablation. However, an endometrial ablation should only be used if you are sure that you do not want to become pregnant in the future. In the most severe cases, a Hysterectomy may be used to alleviate the symptoms of Dysmenorrhea. Again, this treatment would only be appropriate for women who do not want to become pregnant in the future. If you are currently experiencing menstrual cramps, talk to a qualified Gynecologist in your local area. He or she can help determine the best course of treatment based on your lifestyle, your medical history and your future plans for having a family.