Primary dysmenorrhea is the most common cause of painful menstruation and appears at the beginning of the menstrual periods, a period doctors know as menarche, or after a short time. According to Dr. Rubén Betoret, head of Gynecology and Obstetrics at the Vinalopó University Hospital, managed by the Ribera health group, there is no pathology that is the direct cause of this pain. Because in some cases it is discomfort, yes, but in others it is pain, and a strong one, in the abdominal area which, at times, can be accompanied by dizziness, anxiety and headache.
And we are not talking about extraordinary cases. Dr. Betoret recalls that primary dysmenorrhea “is the most frequent gynecological symptom in women, especially in adolescents and young women.” Specifically, he adds with official data, between 30 and 60% of women of reproductive age suffer from it to a greater or lesser degree, with a severe nature between 7 and 15% of cases.
How to reduce period pain
Among the advice provided by this specialist from the Ribera health group are a healthy diet and moderate physical exercise. “For the acute moment of pain, in addition to medication, local heat can be applied to the area”, he adds. Dr. Betoret does point out that being overweight, having a family history of dysmenorrhea and stressful situations “favor the possibility of suffering painful periods”.
With regard to medication, the head of the Gynecology Service at Hospital del Vinalopó explains that “the first therapeutic resource is prostaglandin synthesis inhibitors, that is, the analgesics known as NSAIDs: Ibuprofen, Naproxen, Dexketoprofen and mefenamic acid which, in addition to reducing pain, decrease menstrual flow”. “Its greatest effectiveness is achieved by taking the medication when the first symptoms begin, specifically at the beginning of bleeding or the first pains, even a few hours before, without waiting for the symptoms to be intense.” When it hurts a lot it is more difficult to achieve the desired effect against the pain.
An alternative, in case of failure or intolerance to the above, he explains, are leukotriene inhibitors, such as celecoxib or rofecoxib.
Why the cases in which dysmenorrhea is called secondary is more defined. Its origin is in pathologies such as endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, genital malformations, genital tumors such as fibroids or ovarian cysts, and digestive or muscular disorders. “In other words, there is a cause that justifies the pain and it can get worse over time,” explains the specialist.