Dysmenorrhea, or painful menses, is one of the most common gynecological complaints in young women, thought to affect 50% of all menstruating women. Ten percent of women have severe enough symptoms to necessitate missing work, school or other responsibilities. Peak incidence is between 20 and 24 years of age.
Primary dysmenorrhea is due to the secretion of prostaglandin (PG) F2a in the lining of the uterus. PGF2a stimulates uterine contractions. It is also thought that chemicals called leukotrienes heighten sensitivity of pain fibers in the uterus.
The goal of treatment of primary dysmenorrhea is the minimization of discomfort and preservation of fertility. If efforts to treat primary dysmenorrhea are unsuccessful after a few months, then the diagnosis, and the possibility of secondary causes, should be reconsidered.
Treatment methods include medications for pain and oral contraceptive pills to regulate the menstrual cycle. Nutritional and lifestyle medications play an important role, as well. Several complementary and alternative therapies have been utilized in the management of the discomfort of dysmenorrhea, although there are few or no studies to support their effectiveness or safety. Surgery is required only when the dysmenorrhea is found to be secondary to an underlying cause.
The Medifocus Guide on Dysmenorrhea provides answers to the following important questions and medical issues:
What are the most common symptoms of dysmenorrhea?
Are there any recognized risk factors for developing dysmenorrhea?
What kinds of medical tests are used to establish the diagnosis of dysmenorrhea?
What is the current standard of care for the treatment of dysmenorrhea?
What treatment options are available for the management of dysmenorrhea?
Are there any promising new developments or potential breakthroughs in treatment?
Who are the most notable medical authorities who specialize in dysmenorrhea?
Where are the leading hospitals and centers of research for dysmenorrhea?
What are the most important questions to ask my doctor about dysmenorrhea?
What Your Doctor Reads:
This MediFocus Guide contains an extensive listing of citations and abstracts of recent journal articles that have been published about this condition in trustworthy medical journals. This is the same type of information that is available to physicians and other health care professionals. A partial selection of journal articles that are abstracted in this MediFocus Guide includes:
Dysmenorrhea. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 2000
Leukotrienes in gynaecology: the hypothetical value of anti-leukotriene therapy in dysmenorrhoea and endometriosis. Human Reproduction Update. 2000
Dysmenorrhea. Journal of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. 1999
Primary dysmenorrhea. American Family Physician. 1999
Dysmenorrhea and pelvic pain in adolescents. Pediatric Clinics of North America. 1999
Dysfunctional uterine bleeding and dysmenorrhea. European Journal of Contraception & Reproductive Health Care. 1997
Dysmenorrhea. Current Therapy in Endocrinology & Metabolism. 1997
Dysmenorrhea and dysfunctional uterine bleeding. Primary Care; Clinics in Office Practice. 1997
Exercise and primary dysmenorrhoea. British Journal of Sports Medicine. 1999
High nocturnal body temperatures and disturbed sleep in women with primary dysmenorrhea. American Journal of Physiology. 1999
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