Dysmenorrhea is the medical term for pain with menstruation. There are two types of dysmenorrhea: "primary" and "secondary".
Primary dysmenorrhea is common menstrual cramps that are recurrent (come back) and are not due to other diseases. Pain usually begins 1 or 2 days before, or when menstrual bleeding starts, and is felt in the lower abdomen, back, or thighs. Pain can range from mild to severe, can typically last 12 to 72 hours, and can be accompanied by nausea-and-vomiting, fatigue, and even diarrhea.
Secondary dysmenorrhea is pain that is caused by a disorder in the woman's reproductive organs, such as endometriosis, adenomyosis, uterine fibroids, or infection. Pain from secondary dysmenorrhea usually begins earlier in the menstrual cycle and lasts longer than common menstrual cramps. The pain is not typically accompanied by nausea, vomiting, fatigue, or diarrhea.
Menstrual cramps are caused by contractions (tightening) in the uterus (which is a muscle) by a chemical called prostaglandin. The uterus, where a baby grows, contracts throughout a woman's menstrual cycle. During menstruation, the uterus contracts more strongly. If the uterus contracts too strongly, it can press against nearby blood vessels, cutting off the supply of oxygen to the muscle tissue of the uterus. Pain results when part of the muscle briefly loses its supply of oxygen.
Secondary dysmenorrhea is caused by a disease in the woman's reproductive organs.
Conditions that can cause secondary dysmenorrhea include:
One of the main functions of acupuncture is to enliven the flow of energy and blood, and blood carries oxygen to all the tissues in the body. Therefore, it’s easy to understand why acupuncture has such a beneficial effect in reducing pain in women suffering from dysmenorrhea. I’ve been treating dysmenorrhea for twenty years with acupuncture and herbal medicine and have seen remarkable results. Pain caused by endometriosis and adenomyosis are very responsive to acupuncture and herbal medicine.
Pelvic inflammatory disease, cervical stenosis, and fibroids must be attended to by your gynecologist.