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What is dysmenorrhea?

Dysmenorrhea is a menstrual condition characterized by severe and frequent menstrual cramps and pain associated with menstruation. Dysmenorrhea may be classified as primary or secondary.

What causes dysmenorrhea?

The cause of dysmenorrhea depends on whether the condition is primary or secondary. In general, females with primary dysmenorrhea experience abnormal uterine contractions as a result of a chemical imbalance in the body (particularly prostaglandin and arachidonic acid - both chemicals which control the contractions of the uterus). Secondary dysmenorrhea is caused by other medical conditions, most often endometriosis (a condition in which tissue that looks and acts like endometrial tissue becomes implanted outside the uterus, usually on other reproductive organs inside the pelvis or in the abdominal cavity - often resulting in internal bleeding, infection, and pelvic pain). Other possible causes of secondary dysmenorrhea include the following:

Who is at risk for dysmenorrhea?

While any female can develop dysmenorrhea, the following females may be at an increased risk for the condition:

Consult your physician for more information.

What are the symptoms of dysmenorrhea?

The following are the most common symptoms ofdysmenorrhea. However, each adolescent may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

The symptoms of dysmenorrhea may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your physician for a diagnosis.

How is dysmenorrhea diagnosed?

Diagnosis begins with a gynecologist evaluating a female's medical history and a complete physical examination including a pelvic examination. A diagnosis of dysmenorrhea can only be certain when the physician rules out other menstrual disorders, medical conditions, or medications that may be causing or aggravating the condition. In addition, diagnostic procedures for dysmenorrhea may include:

Treatment for dysmenorrhea:

Specific treatment for dysmenorrhea will be determined by your physician based on:

Counseling with your physician regarding symptoms may increase understanding and lead to activities for stress management. Other possible treatment protocols for managing dysmenorrhea symptoms in young women may include the following:

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Online Resources of Adolescent Medicine

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