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Menstrual pain or something more?

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By Bimpe Ade
It’s the all too familiar pain nine out of 10 women suffer during their “time of the month.”

Aching pain in the abdomen, feeling of pressure in the abdomen, pain in the lower back, hips and inner thighs, nausea, and those frequent trips to the toilet are some of the torment women face monthly.

People have described how the pain feels in various ways, for me, I feel like someone is stabbing my womb repeatedly, and all my organs are about to fall out.

Menstrual pain is caused by contractions in the uterus. Also adding to the discomfort is the lack of oxygen in the womb. What happens is— the blood vessels in the uterus are compressed by the contractions, which cuts off blood supply to the womb. So basically the body reads this lack of oxygen delivery as pain.

Dysmenorrheal is the medical term for pain with menstruation, and it generally falls into two camps.

Primary dysmenorrheal is the common menstrual pains that are recurrent and not due to other diseases. The pain usually starts a day or two before bleeding starts, and can last from anywhere between 12 to 72 hours. Primary dysmenorrheal usually subsides with age, and childbirth.

Nine out of 10 women suffer period pains that is sometimes crippling—but many say their problem is dismissed. Former beauty queen Nike Osinowo made headlines during the week while discussing her battle of 30 years with severe period pains. In an interview with Vanguard she revealed that she lived with the pain for many years before being diagnosed with Endometriosis.

Oshinowo explained “Living with endometriosis is a challenge. When you see your doctor, your doctor just tries to treat the symptoms and assumes the pain revolves around your menstrual cycle. But this is not so. This pain affects every single aspect of your life.” This revelation left some women startled going ENDO-WHAT?!

Often times, women suffer from the excruciating pain of endometriosis but are not even aware of the condition due to gross misinformation so they simply dismiss it as severe menstrual pain. Ms. Oshinowo’s brave interview about her struggles with the disease spurred me to do some research and I found that Endometriosis is a form of Secondary dysmenorrheal, which is severe menstrual pain caused by a disorder in a woman’s reproductive organs.

Endometriosis: is a condition where cells that normally line the uterus are found at other sites of the body—usually the ovaries and fallopian tubes.

Some other forms of secondary dysmenorrheal include: Adenomyosis: a condition where the lining of the uterus grows into the muscle of the uterus, and the usual suspect; Uterine fibroids: growths on the inner wall of the uterus.

Severe period pain could also be a symptom of an infection such as PID (Pelvic Inflammatory Disease), an infection caused by bacteria that starts in the uterus and can spread to other reproductive organs.

The only way to know if your menstrual cramps are normal is by contacting your health care provider early. All women experience some form of pain or discomfort during their period, but severe pain could be warning signs of potential infertility issues.

It’s widely unpopular, and it could be frowned upon to request a doctor’s appointment over menstrual cramps, but a simple pelvic exam is all you need and you will be on your way.

Generally both primary and secondary menstrual cramps can be treated so it’s important to get checked early.

There’s no surefire way to relieve period pains as I have found over the years that what works for some women absolutely aggravates other women’s pains. Recently a friend of mine suggested that I drink some cranberry juice, but that would have kept me in bed an extra day. So whether you are experiencing mild or severe pain only your doctor can help manage the pain effectively.


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