Dysmenorrhea refers to menstrual cramps during menstruation. It is a pathological condition when it interferes the day to day activities. The other common symptoms associated with dysmenorrhea are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, and lumbago. This condition occurs due to the uterine contractions.
Dysmenorrhea is of two categories – Primary and Secondary
Primary dysmenorrhea occurs when people experience pain 1 or 2 days before or during menstrual cycle and the pain subsides or mild discomfort is felt in lower abdomen, thighs and lower back. The pain may last for 12 t0 72hrs and may be accompanied with other symptoms like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and fatigue. The menstrual cramps become less painful as the age progresses and can even totally disappear after delivery.
Secondary dysmenorrhea can happen due to any underlying pathology to reproductive organs such as endometriosis, adenomyosis, fibroids in uterus, PCOD or uterine infections. The pain begins earlier than the menstrual bleeding and can last long than the usual cramps. It need not be associated with other typical symptoms.
The main cause of primary dysmenorrhea is imbalance in the amount of prostaglandins (PGs) secretion during menstruation from the endometrium. Higher the level of PG, more would be the menstrual cramps.
Menstrual cramps can be a result:
• Endometriosis – Endometrium is a uterine lining inside. When this is implanted outside the uterus, it results in endometrium. It also get lodged outside the ovaries or fallopian tubes.
• Uterine fibroids – Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous growths that occurs on the walls of uterus. These can generate severe pain.
• Adenomyosis – The tissue inside the uterine lining grows into its muscular walls results in adenomyoma.
• Pelvic inflammatory disease – PID is an infectious condition to the female reproductive organs. The common chance for occurrence is through sexually transmitted bacteria.
• Cervical stenosis – In few cases, the opening of cervix will be smaller than usual which creates pressure within the uterus.
• Throbbing or cramping pain which can be intense and affect the day to day work.
• Pain that starts 1 to 2 days before the period, and the intense pain at 24 hours after the onset of bleeding and subsides gradually.
• Radiating pain to lower back and thighs
• Nausea – vomiting
• Loose stools
Ayurveda mentions dysmenorrhea as Kashtarthava. Rather than a disease, it is considered to be a symptom. Charka explains that, Kashtarthava happens due to aggravation vata dosha and other related factors.
There is a specific treatment protocol that is followed in Ayurveda for treating Kashtarthava. After the shodhana karma, anuvasana and uttara vasthi is done using particular oils. All these treatments are followed by set of internal Ayurvedic medications.
• Green, leafy vegetables: The veggies like spinach, moringa etc. are rich in iron, calcium, potassium, and magnesium, as well as vitamins K, C, E. Vitamin B rich food items also helps to the symptoms of dysmenorrhea.
• Fruits: They are rich sources of fiber, vitamins and minerals and are very helpful for managing dysmenorrhea. Keep in mind, to consume less sugar and few fruits with optimum sweetness are cherries, plums, grapefruit, apples, pears, dried apricots, grapes, kiwi fruit, oranges and prunes.
• Healthy fats can be taken but its best to avoid the taking heavy non-vegetarian food during the cycles.