Menstrual pain

El dolor menstrual

Young woman suffering from strong abdominal pain while sitting on sofa at home

Luckily we can read more and more that menstrual pain is not normal and it is not. What is normal? It is normal to have some discomfort on the first and/or second day of menstruation and this discomfort can vary from month to month, for example: one menstrual cycle you have to resort to some anti-inflammatory and the electric blanket but the next menstrual cycle you practically don’t even know you have your period.

When the pain becomes continuous, month after month, and it is a pain that needs medication to control it, then we can say that it is not normal. We call this pain dysmenorrhoea.

What is dysmenorrhoea?

Dysmenorrhoea can be divided into two groups: primary and secondary.

Menstrual pain in primary dysmenorrhoea usually occurs during menstruation, located in the abdomen, lower back and even in the lower limbs. In addition, the pain can sometimes include other symptoms such as constipation, bloating, nausea and vomiting or headaches.

It is important to emphasise that in primary dysmenorrhoea there is an absence of pathology. On the other hand, secondary amenorrhoea is associated with some pathology, such as, for example:

  • Uterine fibroids
  • Endometriosis
  • Adenomyosis
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Cervical stenosis

In this article we will focus on primary dysmenorrhoea which is usually what occurs in most cases of menstrual pain.

Why does primary dysmenorrhoea occur?

The cause of primary dysmenorrhoea is unknown, but has been suggested to be related to excessive release of prostaglandins, which trigger uterine contractions and lower abdominal pain.

Prostaglandins are substances that control inflammation in the body and are synthesised from fatty acids. Specifically, during the menstrual cycle, they induce the contraction of the uterine muscle to facilitate the detachment of the endometrium when fertilisation has not taken place.

Although these prostaglandins can work against us by producing more pain than they should, they are very important for our bodies as they regulate blood pressure, blood clotting and are involved in various functions in the digestive system.

What can we do to improve menstrual pain?

As mentioned above, prostaglandins are synthesised through fatty acids, so we can differentiate between:

  • Pro-inflammatory prostaglandins which are synthesised from Omega 6.
  • Anti-inflammatory prostaglandins which are synthesised from Omega 3.

Both prostaglandins are necessary for the body, but when there is no balance, the balance can shift towards the pro-inflammatory prostaglandins, which is why diet is so important for a healthy menstrual cycle!

The range of nutrients that can be used for the treatment of severe menstrual pain is wide and varied. Nature provides the solution for dysmenorrhoea. We just have to start taking the best it has to offer. If considering supplementation, try the alternative that best suits your preferences while still including food sources of other nutrients and consult a professional.