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- Menstrual cramps facts
- 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?
Quick GuidePremenstrual Syndrome: A Visual Guide to PMS Symptoms, Causes and Treatments
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 outside of the uterus)
- 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)
- Use of a copper 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 debilitating, and more often, merely a minor monthly inconvenience.
Medically reviewed by Wayne Blocker, MD; Board Certified Obstetrics and Gynecology