Dysmenorrhea Symptoms & Causes

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In-Depth

What are the symptoms of dysmenorrhea?

Every young woman experiences dysmenorrhea differently. Some common symptoms include:

  • dull, throbbing or cramping pain in her lower abdomen
  • pain that radiates to her lower back and thighs
  • nausea and vomiting
  • loose stools
  • sweating
  • dizziness

What causes dysmenorrhea?

When menstruation happens, your uterus contracts to oust its lining. Hormone-like substances, particularly prostaglandin and arachidonic acid, trigger these contractions. Young women with primary amenorrhea experience abnormal uterine contraction as a result of an imbalance of those chemicals.

Secondary amenorrhea is caused by other conditions. Common conditions include:

  • endometriosis
    • This condition is the most common causes of secondary amenorrhea.
    • When the endometrium, the normal lining of the uterus, grows in other places, it continues its normal menstrual duties of thickening, breaking down and bleeding away each month. Since there is nowhere for this blood to go, it stays trapped in the body, and can cause painful cysts, cramping and scar tissue.
  • pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
    • Usually caused by sexually transmitted bacteria
  • uterine fibroids
  • abnormal pregnancy (i.e., miscarriage, ectopic)
  • infection, tumors, or other growths in the pelvic cavity
  • cervical stenosis
    • In some women, the opening of the cervix may be too small to accommodate the menstrual flow, causing pressure and pain in the uterus.

Who is at risk for dysmenorrhea?

Any young woman can develop dysmenorrhea, but factors that may predispose her include:

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