Menstrual Cramps (cont.)
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
In this Article
- What are menstrual cramps?
- How common are menstrual cramps?
- What is dysmenorrhea?
- What causes menstrual cramps?
- Why are some cramps so painful?
- Can menstrual cramps be measured?
- What other factors influence menstrual cramps?
- What are the symptoms of menstrual cramps?
- How are menstrual cramps diagnosed?
- What is the treatment for common menstrual cramps (primary dysmenorrhea)?
- What if the cramps are very severe?
- Are there surgical solutions?
- What is the treatment of secondary dysmenorrhea?
- What is the long-term outlook (prognosis) for menstrual cramps?
- Menstrual Cramps At A Glance
- Find a local Obstetrician-Gynecologist in your town
What is the treatment of secondary dysmenorrhea?
The treatment of secondary dysmenorrhea depends on its cause. There are a number of underlying conditions which can contribute to the pain including:
- endometriosis (cells from the uterine lining tare located in other areas of the body);
- uterine fibroids (non-cancerous uterine growths that respond to estrogen levels);
- adenomyosis (a benign condition in which the cells of the inner uterine lining invade its muscular wall, the myometrium);
- pelvic inflammatory disease (PID);
- Adhesions (abnormal fibrous attachments between organs); or
- use of an intrauterine device (IUD) for contraception.
All of these conditions should be first diagnosed by a physician who will then recommend the optimal treatment.
If a woman begins to experience changes in her menstrual cramps, such as in their severity, timing, or location, she should consult her physician, especially if the changes are of sudden onset.
What is the long-term outlook (prognosis) for menstrual cramps?
In general, a woman's menstrual cramps do not worsen during her lifetime. In fact, the menstrual cramps of primary dysmenorrhea usually diminish with age and after pregnancy.
When there is secondary dysmenorrhea with an underlying condition contributing to the pain, the prognosis depends on the successful treatment of that underlying condition.
As women have learned more about their bodies and how to maintain them in optimal health, menstrual cramps have become less of a debilitating illness, and more often, merely a minor monthly inconvenience.
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