Menstrual cramps, medically known as dysmenorrhea, can be caused by problems that can be identified in a lab test, such as endometriosis or uterine fibroids. Sometimes there is no identifiable underlying cause, in which case treatment will have to come in the form of pain management. But the good news is that this usually is not a permanent condition and the menstrual cramps usually disappear after a woman gives birth.
The pain and discomfort from having menstrual cramps vary from woman to woman. Some will feel only a minor discomfort that is mostly annoying because the sensation is always at the back of their heads. For others the pain is intense enough that they need to take pain relievers in order to block the pain out. There will also be cases wherein the pain will be so severe that a woman will have to take time off work or will have to stay in bed. These episodes can also vary from month to month.
There are a number of risk factors for having dymenorrhea and these include: family history, age (below 20), early onset of puberty (below age 11), heavy menstrual bleeding, smoking, irregular menstrual cycles, and never having had a baby.
If the pain is severe, you might want to consult with a doctor so he can perform tests to find out if there is an underlying medical condition causing the cramps. If a condition like endometriosis is found, surgery might have to be performed to remove any problems and relieve you of pain. On the other hand, if there is no underlying cause, you might just be prescribed over the counter pain relievers such as NSAIDs or perhaps hormonal birth control pills that prevents ovulation and therefore reduces the severity of the monthly periods.
Some women use home therapies in relieving menstrual cramps such as soaking in a hot tub or using a hot water bottle on their lower abdomen. Many also turn to exercise and studies have proven that exercise can help ease the pain brought about by menstrual cramps.