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It is not uncommon for women to experience some cramping with menstruation. However, there are a large number of women, some estimates are up to 50%, that experience extremely painful periods. Dysmenorrhea is the clinical name for abnormally painful menstrual periods and is often a symptom of an underlying condition. Dysmenorrhea can be divided into two categories, primary and secondary.
Primary dysmenorrhea is caused by the excessive production of the hormone prostaglandin.
Secondary dysmenorrhea is caused by underlying conditions such as:
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- Ovarian cysts
- Malpositioning of the uterus
- Cervical stenosis
- IUD use
- And many more, including a diet low in calcium and magnesium!
Menstrual Cramps are common but not necessarily normal. Women with regular cycles will bleed a total of 12-13 times per year and if there is pain 1, 2, 3, or more days of that period it can add up to an entire month every year in pain, missed days of work, and the overuse of pain medications for some.
Treatment is based on the cause of the pain. Conventional treatment favors the use of oral contraceptives and pain medication to block prostaglandin synthesis and dull pain. Unfortunately, this is just masking symptoms and not getting to the real problem. Treating a possible imbalance in prostaglandins, improving uterine muscle tone, attending to hormonal imbalances, decreasing inflammation, and of course, treating any underlying pathology are key to treating dysmenorrhea.
Dr. Schulz uses a blend of nutritional therapy, physical support exercises, hydrotherapy, and botanical medicine when treating patients with painful periods. Conventional lab testing is used to rule out underlying pathologies, and patients are given options on treatment plans that will work best for their particular situation. Whether you are looking to increase fertility, or simply want to be in an optimal state of health without pain, the focus of treatment will be on your therapeutic goals.