Ladies, you’re probably no stranger to it. Like clockwork, you may get it every month, signaling the coming of “Aunt Flo”. If you’re lucky (and I’m sure your female friends secretly hate you for it), you don’t know exactly how it feels – you don’t have the foggiest idea what dysmenorrhea feels like and you’re guessing maybe it’s almost like that night when you ate too many oysters.
One thing’s for sure: We can argue that dysmenorrhea, referring to the symptom of painful menstruation, is even more common than the common cold. After all, it’s something that about nine out of every ten women experience at least once before they celebrate their 45th birthday, reported Dr. Denise Jamieson and Dr. John Steege in a study published in Obstetrics and Gynecology.
6 Things you didn’t know about dysmenorrhea
If you haven’t sought medical help about your symptoms yet, here’s to hoping that when you read this, you will have a change of heart.
1. Smoking ups your chances of getting menstrual cramps
This just in: Lighting up can make you suffer a little more than you should when your Red Cousin comes to town.
In a relatively new study involving more than 9,000 women, smokers who lit their first cigarette in their teens had a much higher risk of suffering from chronic pelvic pain related to menstruation. Out of every 10 women who started smoking early, about six experienced dysmenorrhea later in life, according to a 2014 study of Dr. Hong Ju and colleagues, published in Tobacco Control.The younger a girl starts smoking, the more her chances of period-related pain. The highest risk belongs to those who smoked before the tender age of 13.
2. Dysmenorrhea may occur without any disease
Your doctor calls it primary, or spasmodic, dysmenorrhea – there’s no apparent disease causing your pain. It’s common in teens, affecting about one out of two girls during their first few years of menstruation.
3. But dysmenorrhea may be a red flag that shouldn’t be ignored
And it’s called secondary, or congestive, dysmenorrhea. Yes, this time around, your doctor-knows exactly where the blame falls.Secondary dysmenorrhea is more common in women ages 30 to 45. It can be cause by a long list of diseases, including endometriosis and pelvic inflammatory disease.
Both endometriosis and pelvic inflammatory disease can lead to scarring and adhesions. These changes may not be life-threatening, but they are definitely debilitating because they may affect your chances of getting pregnant in the future.
4. Eating sour fruits are not proven to worsen your pelvic pain
“You ate green mangoes yesterday? No wonder you’re having menstrual cramps today!”Sounds familiar? When it comes to dysmenorrhea, sour fruits have gotten such a bad rap. Unfortunately, they don’t deserve it.
There is no evidence pointing to the role of green mangoes, pineapples, and other sour fruits in dysmenorrhea. This misconception may seem harmless, but it can discourage others from seeking medical help if they choose to blame their pain on the fruits they eat.
5. Having girly pains? Meet exercise, your newest BFF!
If you’re not exactly the CrossFit kind of girl, I don’t blame you. But you don’t have to push too hard to make the most of this fact: Physical activity helps quell the pain.
The evidence is strong, too. A 2006 systematic review of more than 100 revealed that women who exercised cut their chances of having dysmenorrhea. Published in the British American Journal, the review involved almost 65,000 women.
Even simple stretching exercises helped in alleviating symptoms, revealed a more recent study published this year in the Journal of Family Planning and Reproductive Health. The randomized control trial by FaridehVaziri and team involved more than 100 females who were diagnosed with primary dysmenorrhea.
6. Pregnancy has pain-relieving perks
The next time a friend announces that she’s pregnant, you can congratulate her for another reason: Her pregnancy may put an end to her monthly menstrual cramps.
You’ve probably heard your own relatives tell you that their dysmenorrhea stopped after they got pregnant with their first child. Whether or not the different hormonal profile of a pregnant women plays a role in alleviating pain remains theoretical. What we do know is that these anecdotes about pregnancy and chronic pelvic pain are now backed by research.
They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. However, what doesn’t kill you just might maim you – unless you choose to do something about it.A pain-free period does not have to be wishful thinking! If you’re suffering from dysmenorrhea, no matter what your age, there’s no need to suffer in silence. Please visit a gynecologist.