Menstruation is a monthly occurrence for women in which the body sheds the lining of the uterus (womb), which is then passed through a small opening in the cervix and out through the vaginal canal.
Some pain, cramping, and discomfort during menstrual periods is normal. However, excessive pain that causes you to regularly miss work or school is not.
The medical term for painful menstruation is dysmenorrhea. Primary dysmenorrhea occurs in women who experience pain just before and during menstruation, but who are otherwise healthy. Women who have had normal periods that later become painful may have secondary dysmenorrhea. This condition is usually accompanied by a problem affecting the uterus or other pelvic organs.
What Are the Causes?
There may not be an identifiable cause of your painful menstrual periods. Certain women are at a higher risk for having painful menstrual periods. Risk factors include:
- being under age 20
- having a family history of painful periods
- having heavy bleeding with periods
- having irregular periods
- never having had a baby
- having experienced early puberty, which is puberty before the age of 11