Period cramps are normally occurring in the low area of the abdomen, called the pelvis, many women experiencing such pains shortly before and during the menstruation.
For some women is only a matter of discomfort which can easily be ignored, while for other women it can be severe enough to interfere with their daily activities for at least 3 or 4 days each month. Mild cramps are normal during the period, but what bad period cramps can tell you about your fertility is another topic of discussion, because bad period cramps can be caused by some diseases that can lead to infertility.
These cramps can be produced by many causes that may be identified, such as endometriosis or uterine fibrosis. Cramps caused by illnesses are called secondary dysmenorrhea and occur after the first day your period starts, but they will disappear by treating these illnesses. Period cramps that are not caused by illnesses are called primary dysmenorrhea. They are due to severe abnormal uterine contractions, and they tend to diminish as you age, or to completely disappear after the first birth.
Symptoms of the period cramps
Most common symptoms may include:
- Pain of dull, throbbing, or cramping characteristics in the pelvis area
- Pain which radiates in the lower back area and in thighs
Some more severe symptoms may occur in some women:
- Nausea and vomiting
Risk factors for period cramps
Most common risk factors of the period cramps are:
- Age of fewer than 20 years
- Early menstruation: the first period occurs at under 11 years of age
- Menorrhagia: abundant bleeding during menstruation
- Irregular menstrual bleeding (metrorrhagia)
- Not yet giving birth.
- Family history of dysmenorrhea
Possible causes of period cramps
During menstruation, the uterus contracts to help to remove the uterine lining. Some hormones-like lipids called prostaglandins are the substances which are involved in triggering contractions of the uterine muscle and may cause pain and inflammation. In the case of primary dysmenorrhea, higher levels of prostaglandins are associated with bad period cramps.
Many experts believe that bad period cramps are caused, mainly, by the strong uterine contractions that cause constriction of blood vessels of the uterus. The resulting pain can be compared to angina that occurs when the coronary arteries are obstructed and no longer provide oxygen and nutrients to the areas of the heart.
Bad period cramps can be produced by:
- endometriosis: this is a very painful condition, in which the tissue that forms the uterine lining, is implanting outside the womb, most often in the fallopian tubes, ovaries, or in the lining of the pelvis.
- uterine fibrosis: these benign tumors developing in the walls of the uterus can cause bad period cramps.
- Adenomyosis is a condition in which the tissues that line the uterus begin to grow in the muscular wall of the uterus.
- Pelvic inflammatory disease is an infection of the female genitalia that is usually caused by sexually transmitted diseases.
- cervical stenosis causes the opening of the cervix to be so slow that it can prevent the menstruation blood flow, causing painful increasing pressure in the uterus.
- adhesions in the abdominal cavity are the abnormal fibrous connections between organs
- intrauterine device (IUD) installation.
You have to go to the doctor if the menstrual cramps affect your daily activities for a few days every month. In normal conditions, your doctor will prescript you anti-spastic medications or mild pain killers.
What bad period cramps can tell you about your fertility
While mild period cramps are common and are not a sign of severe illnesses, infections, or disorders, some bad period cramps can tell you that you’re suffering from a reproductive system illness or disorder. One of the most drastic reproductive system disorder is endometriosis, which causes really bad period cramps, and, eventually, may lead to infertility. If you think you’re at risk for endometriosis, a visit to the gynecologists could save yours for a lot of troubles.
Uterine fibrosis is another illness that may cause infertility, and one of its symptoms is the occurrence of bad period cramps. Uterine fibrosis is characterized by the development of several benign tumors on the uterine walls and surgery could be the only way to get rid of those tumors.
Mild period cramps, on the other hand, are a sign of fertility. Gynecologists explain that the mild period cramps are occurring when the period is accompanied by ovulation, and that’s a normal thing for fertile women. Mild period cramps may get reduced in intensity by anti-spastic medications, or after giving birth. Also, birth control pills may diminish mild period cramps.
Getting enough rest and a proper nutrition may relieve from the period cramps discomfort. Some doctors say that the drugs are not the only important method to relieve from period cramps, but also a lifestyle change may be helpful. Women who go through such a discomfort should rest, have a balanced diet, do moderate physical exercises, and stop smoking if possible. All these can help to reduce the severity of the period cramps. From a diet full in fruits and vegetables, the grains must not miss, otherwise, women suffering from period cramps may get constipated, which will cause an increased pressure in the abdominal area, leading to more cramps.
Other methods to reduce the period cramps intensity are reducing the consumption of coffee, introducing calcium and magnesium supplements in the daily diet, taking warm baths, and applying warm pads on the pelvic area.
Anyhow, keep in mind that every human being is absolutely unique, and each individual is more or less sensitive to different pain levels, so if you’re thinking that the cramps you feel during menstrual periods are hiding an illness or disorder you should visit your gynecologist, because what bad period cramps can tell you about your fertility might not always be good news, and untreated reproductive system illness, infection, or disorder may lead to infertility.
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