Tag Archives: menstruation

Is Dysmenorrhea Cramping your Style?

Dysmenorrhea is the fancy medical term for intense period cramping caused by the release of prostaglandins. These chemicals trigger inflammation accompanied with monthly uterine contractions. These contractions can be so severe it may feel like one’s uterus being squeezed in some invisible giant’s hand like a stress ball. Not all women experience such miserable menstruation, some are lucky enough to have light, pain-free periods. But the unfortunate reality is that many women do go through this stress-ball ordeal monthly. So, what can be done to help ease the distress of dysmenorrhea? Let’s have a looksee…

Exercise? Are You Serious?!

While some studies on exercise and dysmenorrhea are inconclusive, other studies seem to show that exercise can help ease period cramping. It may seem counterintuitive to head to the gym or walking track when you just feel like curling up in a ball until the pain subsides, however, science seems to tell us time and again that exercise incites the release of feel-good endorphins which can help ease pain. Ergo, exercise may be beneficial to some women experiencing dysmenorrhea. So, why not see for yourself if it helps? The next time you’re cramping to the max, try heading out for a brisk walk or do some yoga and take note of how you feel afterwards!

Home Remedy Heaven

There are many non-medicinal remedies that have been used for years as dysmenorrhea relief including:

  • Certain foods such as chamomile tea may provide some cramping relief. Ginger and other anti-inflammatory spices like basil have also shown promise when it comes to easing cramps.
  • Massage helps trigger the release of endorphins as well as relax the muscles around the lower belly. Back and hip massages may help, as many dysmenorrhea sufferers also experience related hip and back discomfort.
  • Vitamins and nutrients such as vitamin D, magnesium or omega-3 capsules have been linked to cramping relief (only try these once you’ve spoken with your doctor to ensure they are safe for you and don’t conflict with any medications or medical conditions).
  • Heat helps relax the muscles of the uterus, helping ease cramping. Invest in a good heating pad if you experience bad cramping!
  • Cuddles or any pleasurable physical contact can help promote the release of natural analgesics in the brain that will help combat the pain of menstruation.

Avoid These Antagonists

Caffeine, alcohol and cigarettes have all proven to be exacerbators of menstrual cramping. Try to avoid these substances if you’re experiencing dysmenorrhea. Try to stick to a healthy diet, avoiding excess salt or fatty foods. Unfortunately, you should also resist the urge to eat too much chocolate, as it may actually aggravate dysmenorrhea symptoms.

Medications May be Necessary for Some

Women who experience moderate period cramping that doesn’t seem to respond to remedies may find relief from with OTC medications like Midol or Advil. However, some women have severe menstruation-related pain or accompanying reproductive conditions like endometriosis may require prescribed NSAIDS like naproxen or other medications to obtain some relief. Some moderate-to-severe sufferers are prescribed birth control to help ease serious dysmenorrhea. Talk to your doctor (or one of ours) about prescription options if you fall into this category.

If All Else Fails…

Round up all of the chocolates, your cuddliest PJ’s and Netflix for a day or two of comfortable distraction until the worst is over! Thanks for visiting DocChat!



The Skinny on Irregular Periods

Not every women has a clock-work monthly visitor, some have more erratic menstruation. An abnormal period can be relatively harmless or can indicate or lead to other health complications. Here are some facts about abnormal menstruation, underlying causes and when to see a pro.

Fast Facts About Abnormal Menstruation:

  • A normal menstrual cycle occurs every 28 days, but can range between 21-35 days apart.
  • Amenorrhea is a condition marked by an absence of menstruation for more than 90 days or by a female who is 15 or older and has not started her period.
  • ‘Natural ammenorhea’ is most often caused by pregnancy, menopause and breast feeding.
  • Oligomenorrhea refers to infrequent periods that don’t quite qualify as amenorrhea but are not normal and can lead to issues.
  • While most women have some discomfort, dysmenorrhea is a condition marked by severely painful or incapacitating cramping during menstruation.
  • Menorrhagia refers to an excessively heavy period. A fairly common complication of menorrhagia is anemia (iron deficiency) from excessive blood loss.
  • Another type of abnormal menstruation includes women who ‘spot’ (bleed between cycles) frequently, bleed during sex or after menopause.

Causes of Abnormal Menstruation

According to the Cleveland Clinic, some common causes of abnormal menstruation include:

  1. Stress can cause serious strain on the body. Chronic elevation of the stress hormone cortisol can suppress progesterone and estrogen output, stalling menstruation for months or longer.
  2. Lifestyle habits – drastic weight changes, diet or activity changes or general illness can adversely impact the menstruation cycle. Women who exercise excessively sometimes experience ammenorhea.
  3. Hormone treatment – hormone altering medications such as birth control can give your cycle a complete 180’. Instead of your usual week long regular-to-heavy periods, you may get very light ones that last only a couple days. The pill generally (not always) lessens the duration and flow of a woman’s period. In some cases, it can cause oligomenorrhea or amenorrhea.
  4. Reproductive health problems – reproductive health issues such as endometriosis, uterine fibroid tumors, polycystic ovaries or STIs such as pelvic inflammatory disease can all adversely affect the menstruation cycle. In some cases chronically abnormal periods can be an indication of serious health problems like uterine cancer so it is important to keep an eye on any changes or irregularities in your cycle.
  5. Medications – medications such as steroids can severely impact menstruation. Similarly to the previously mentioned effects of chronically elevated cortisol, medications like prednisone can suppress menstrual function.

When To See A Doctor

You should contact your primary care doctor (or one of our highly qualified DocChat physicians) for a pap smear or check up if there have been significant changes to your cycle, if you experience excessive pelvic pain or cramping, unusual spotting or heavy bleeding, or if your periods have stopped.