Dysmenorrhea Symptoms

Last Updated: March 16, 2022

Dysmenorrhea is the clinical term for the painful cramps that many women experience around the time of their period.


Dysmenorrhea[1] is the clinical term for the painful cramps that many women experience around the time of their period. There are two main types: primary dysmenorrhea, which is pain in the absence of a clear disease that’s causing it, and secondary dysmenorrhea, which is caused by an identifiable underlying illness. Dysmenorrhea impacts a large majority of women; around two-thirds of young women worldwide[2] experience it.

One of the main chemical culprits for primary dysmenorrhea is a rise in prostaglandins[3] (especially PGF), which can reduce blood flow to the uterus while also strengthening contractions. This combination lowers oxygen availability in the uterus, resulting in cramping and pain. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen can stem this rise in prostaglandins, which is probably why they are effective for treating dysmenorrhea[4] and are recommended[5] as a first-line intervention.

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  1. ^Proctor M, Farquhar CDiagnosis and management of dysmenorrhoeaBMJ.(2006 May 13)
  2. ^Armour M, Parry K, Manohar N, Holmes K, Ferfolja T, Curry C, MacMillan F, Smith CAThe Prevalence and Academic Impact of Dysmenorrhea in 21,573 Young Women: A Systematic Review and Meta-AnalysisJ Womens Health (Larchmt).(2019 Aug)
  3. ^Dawood MYPrimary dysmenorrhea: advances in pathogenesis and managementObstet Gynecol.(2006 Aug)
  4. ^Marjoribanks J, Ayeleke RO, Farquhar C, Proctor MNonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for dysmenorrhoeaCochrane Database Syst Rev.(2015 Jul 30)
  5. ^Osayande AS, Mehulic SDiagnosis and initial management of dysmenorrheaAm Fam Physician.(2014 Mar 1)
Examine Database References
  1. Boron - Nikkhah S, Dolatian M, Naghii MR, Zaeri F, Taheri SMEffects of boron supplementation on the severity and duration of pain in primary dysmenorrheaComplement Ther Clin Pract.(2015 May)
  2. Vitamin E - Ziaei S, Faghihzadeh S, Sohrabvand F, Lamyian M, Emamgholy TA randomised placebo-controlled trial to determine the effect of vitamin E in treatment of primary dysmenorrhoeaBJOG.(2001 Nov)
  3. Vitamin E - Ziaei S, Zakeri M, Kazemnejad AA randomised controlled trial of vitamin E in the treatment of primary dysmenorrhoeaBJOG.(2005 Apr)
  4. Melatonin - André Schwertner, Claudia C Conceição Dos Santos, Gislene Dalferth Costa, Alícia Deitos, Andressa de Souza, Izabel Cristina Custodio de Souza, Iraci L S Torres, João Sabino L da Cunha Filho, Wolnei CaumoEfficacy of melatonin in the treatment of endometriosis: a phase II, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trialPain.(2013 Jun)
  5. Vitamin D - Abolfazl Mehdizadehkashi, Samaneh Rokhgireh, Kobra Tahermanesh, Neda Eslahi, Sara Minaeian, Mansooreh SamimiThe effect of vitamin D supplementation on clinical symptoms and metabolic profiles in patients with endometriosisGynecol Endocrinol.(2021 Jan 29)
  6. Vitamin D - Fariba Almassinokiani, Sepideh Khodaverdi, Masoud Solaymani-Dodaran, Peyman Akbari, Abdolreza PazoukiEffects of Vitamin D on Endometriosis-Related Pain: A Double-Blind Clinical TrialMed Sci Monit.(2016 Dec 17)
  7. Lavender - Apay SE, Arslan S, Akpinar RB, Celebioglu AEffect of aromatherapy massage on dysmenorrhea in Turkish studentsPain Manag Nurs.(2012 Dec)
  8. Vitamin E - Kashanian M, Lakeh MM, Ghasemi A, Noori SEvaluation of the effect of vitamin E on pelvic pain reduction in women suffering from primary dysmenorrheaJ Reprod Med.(2013 Jan-Feb)
  9. Vitamins E And C - Nalini Santanam, Nino Kavtaradze, Ana Murphy, Celia Dominguez, Sampath ParthasarathyAntioxidant supplementation reduces endometriosis-related pelvic pain in humansTransl Res.(2013 Mar)
  10. Ginger - Ozgoli G, Goli M, Moattar FComparison of effects of ginger, mefenamic acid, and ibuprofen on pain in women with primary dysmenorrheaJ Altern Complement Med.(2009 Feb)
  11. Yarrow - Jenabi E, Fereidoony BEffect of Achillea Millefolium on Relief of Primary Dysmenorrhea: A Double-Blind Randomized Clinical Trial.J Pediatr Adolesc Gynecol.(2015-Oct)