Background

Dysmenorrhea is defined as difficult menstrual flow or painful menstruation. The term dysmenorrhea is derived from the Greek words dys, meaning difficult/painful/abnormal, meno, meaning month, and rrhea, meaning flow.
Dysmenorrhea is one of the most common gynecologic complaints in young women who present to clinicians.The optimal management of this symptom depends on an understanding of the underlying cause. Dysmenorrhea is classified as primary (spasmodic) or secondary (congestive).

Primary dysmenorrhea is defined as menstrual pain not associated with macroscopic pelvic pathology (ie, absence of pelvic disease). It typically occurs in the first few years after menarcheand affects up to 50% of postpubescent females.

Secondary dysmenorrhea is defined as menstrual pain resulting from anatomic and/or macroscopic pelvic pathology,such as that seen in women with endometriosis or chronic pelvic inflammatory disease. This condition is most often observed in women aged 30-45 years.

The following risk factors have been associated with more severe episodes of dysmenorrhea:

  1. Earlier age at menarche
  2. Long menstrual periods
  3. Heavy menstrual flow
  4. Smoking
  5. Positive family history

Obesity and alcohol consumption were found to be associated with dysmenorrhea in some (not all) studies.Physical activity and the duration of the menstrual cycle do not appear to be associated with increased menstrual pain.

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