Menstrual Cramps (cont.)

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What if the cramps are very severe?

If a woman's menstrual cramps are too severe to be managed by these strategies, her doctor might prescribe low doses of birth control pills (oral contraceptives) containing estrogen and progestin in a regular or extended cycle. This type of approach can prevent ovulation (the monthly release of an egg) and reduce the production of prostaglandins which, in turn, reduces the severity of cramping and causes a light menstrual flow.

Use of an IUD that releases small amounts of the progestin levonorgestrel directly into the uterine cavity, has been associated with a 50 percent reduction in the prevalence of menstrual cramps. In contrast, IUDs that do not contain hormones, such as those containing copper, may worsen menstrual cramps.

Are there surgical solutions?

In the past, many women with menstrual cramps had an operation known as a D & C (dilation and curettage) to remove some of the lining of the uterus. This procedure is also sometimes used as a diagnostic measure to detect cancer or precancerous conditions of the uterine lining. Some women even resorted to the ultimate solution to menstrual problems by having a hysterectomy, surgery that removes the entire uterus.

Today, when a woman has abnormally heavy and painful uterine bleeding, her doctor may recommend endometrial ablation, a procedure in which the lining of the uterus is destroyed by various devices.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/31/2014

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Menstrual Cramps - Effective Treatments Question: What kinds of treatments have been effective for your menstrual cramps?
Menstrual Cramps - Experiences Question: How often do you experience menstrual cramps?
Menstrual Cramps - Other Causes Question: Do foods, stress, daily activities or other factors worsen menstrual cramps? How do you manage and treat these other causes or triggers?
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Menstrual Cramps - Adolescent Girls Question: If you are under age 18, describe your experience with menstrual cramps.

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