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Definition of Endometriosis
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Endo Colon and Bowel
Painful Periods
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Uterine Fibroid
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Painful Periods - Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

The condition of painful periods is called dysmenorrhea and it refers to experiencing pain and discomfort when menstruating. Dysmenorrhea is not a very serious condition but it can be an indicator of more serious problems. Some discomfort can be expected just before and during the first day or two of each period; this is not dysmenorrhea. A woman who suffers dysmenorrhea is often unable to continue her normal activities for anything from a few hours up to several days.

As the term 'painful periods' infers, the most obvious symptom is the pain, described by sufferers as a dull, cramp-like ache in the lower abdomen that radiates through to the lower back. The pain can be felt a few days before her period starts, gets worse on the day the bleeding starts and then subsides over the next few hours or days. No two cases are the same; often, no two periods are the same. The pain can vary from mild, moderate or severe to debilitating. It is caused by prostaglandins, which are like hormones, and cause the uterus to contract in order to dispel the build-up of blood and tissue from the endometrium or lining of the uterus.

The pain of dysmenorrhea can be accompanied by nausea and vomiting, headaches, diarrhea, constipation or fainting. Some women experience several of these symptoms, others just have the pain. Many women can continue through their normal day, perhaps with the help of analgesics to dull the pain; other women are completely debilitated by the pain and other symptoms and have to go to bed and rest.

The first treatment offered by doctors is usually analgesic medication, either over-the-counter or by prescription. This could be one of the Non Steroidal Anti Inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen or acetaminophen, or other pain killers like paracetamol, codeine or aspirin. If this simple treatment does not relieve the symptoms, you might be prescribed an oral contraceptive which reduces the hormone levels in the body which helps with symptoms of dysmenorrhea.

Your doctor may want to investigate the cause of painful periods, especially if medication doesn't bring you relief. There are various causes of the condition, such as endometriosis, Pelvic Inflammatory Disease and cancer, and an accurate diagnosis needs to be made to determine the correct treatment.

As well as taking the medication your doctor has recommended or prescribed, there are a number of strategies and lifestyle changes that you can implement to relieve the severity of the pain and discomfort of dysmenorrhea. When your body is otherwise fit and healthy, it is better able to cope with pain. So, it is important to make sure that you eat predominantly nutritionally balanced food and avoid too much fast food, sugary drinks, highly processed food and other 'junk'.

The majority of your diet needs to be fruit and vegetables, lean protein foods (including low-fat dairy), wholegrains, nuts, pulses and plenty of plain water to drink. Regular moderate exercise increases your fitness, strengthens muscle, improves your mood, increases your energy and helps you cope better with your painful periods.

When you experience the pain, a hot water bottle or heat pack, placed over the abdomen, will often bring you some relief. Try and anticipate when the pain is going to be bad, and take some medication before it strikes. Take the medication for as long as your pain lasts, following the directions on the pack; stop when your pain is manageable or subsides. Learning some relaxation techniques like meditation, yoga or tai chi can be helpful in managing the pain.

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