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Dysmenorrhea (Menorrhalgia)
(GY004)

Introduction


Dysmenorrhea, or painful menses, is one of the most common gynecological complaints in young women, thought to affect 50% of all menstruating women. Ten percent of women have severe enough symptoms to necessitate missing work, school or other responsibilities. Peak incidence is between 20 and 24 years of age.

Primary dysmenorrhea is due to the secretion of prostaglandin (PG) F2a in the lining of the uterus. PGF2a stimulates uterine contractions. It is also thought that chemicals called leukotrienes heighten sensitivity of pain fibers in the uterus.

The goal of treatment of primary dysmenorrhea is the minimization of discomfort and preservation of fertility. If efforts to treat primary dysmenorrhea are unsuccessful after a few months, then the diagnosis, and the possibility of secondary causes, should be reconsidered.

Treatment methods include medications for pain and oral contraceptive pills to regulate the menstrual cycle. Nutritional and lifestyle medications play an important role, as well. Several complementary and alternative therapies have been utilized in the management of the discomfort of dysmenorrhea, although there are few or no studies to support their effectiveness or safety. Surgery is required only when the dysmenorrhea is found to be secondary to an underlying cause.

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