What Is Dysmenorrhea? - Definition, Symptoms & Treatment

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  • 0:00 What Is Dysmenorrhea?
  • 0:36 Symptoms and Types
  • 1:21 Treatment
  • 2:18 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Bethany Lieberman

Bethany is a certified OB/GYN nurse who has a master's degree in Nursing Education.

In this lesson, you will learn about dysmenorrhea, which many women experience around the time of their menstrual cycles. Discover the symptoms and treatment methods associated with dysmenorrhea and test your knowledge with a quiz.

What Is Dysmenorrhea?

Most women dread getting their monthly cycle. The symptoms and feelings a woman experiences during her period will differ from person to person. Some women feel minimal or no pain at all. For others, their period can be seriously painful to the point where they cannot perform their daily routines. The medical term for excessive pain felt during your period is called dysmenorrhea. Though some pain or cramps are normal, severe pain, such as the kind felt with dysmenorrhea, is not normal. Painful periods are actually the leading cause of lost time from work and school among young women.

Symptoms and Types

Symptoms of dysmenorrhea include an aching pain in the abdomen that may become severe, abdominal pressure, and pain in the thighs, hips, and lower back.

There are two kinds of dysmenorrhea: primary and secondary. Primary dysmenorrhea occurs when a woman has pain during her period caused by prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are natural chemicals found in the lining of the uterus. Secondary dysmenorrhea occurs when a woman who hasn't had dysmenorrhea before develops it later in life due to problems with her reproductive tract. Examples of problems that can cause secondary dysmenorrhea are uterine fibroids, copper IUDs, endometriosis, sexually transmitted infections, PMS, and emotional factors, such as stress and anxiety.

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