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Painful menstrual periods, also called dysmenorrhea, may include pain in the pelvis, abdomen, back and legs; abdominal cramps; headache; and fatigue. Most women have painful periods at some time in their lives. In some women, the pain is severe enough to interfere with normal activities.
There are two types of dysmenorrhea:
Primary dysmenorrhea—painful regular menstrual cycles caused by uterine muscle contractions
Secondary dysmenorrhea—painful periods due to an underlying condition, such as
endometriosis, which is a condition involving the lining of the uterus, or infection
The pain associated with either primary or secondary dysmenorrhea may be sharp and throbbing or dull and aching. It is most typically located in the lower abdomen and may spread to the low back or thighs. Other symptoms may include:
Heat therapy—Heating pads, warm baths, or continuous low-level heat patches may help to ease discomfort.
Exercising regularly may help to reduce menstrual cramps.
Find out if alternative treatments are a good option for you, for example:
Some herbs and supplements may be helpful, such as
Chinese herbal medicine. Talk to your doctor before taking any herbs and supplements. They may interact with your other medications and conditions.
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This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.