Menstrual Glossary A to Z

Dysmenorrhea (Cramps)

Pain during menstruation that occurs in the lower abdomen just before or during menstruation; menstrual cramps.

Primary dysmenorrhea is menstrual pain occurring because of one's menstrual period and not as a result of a disease. It results from the production of prostaglandins, which are made by cells in the inner lining of the uterus. Prostaglandins make the uterine muscles contract to help the uterus shed the endometrial lining that has built up during the menstrual cycle.

Secondary dysmenorrhea is menstrual pain that is the result of an underlying medical condition or disease of the uterus, fallopian tubes or ovaries. The pain appears similar to menstrual cramps, but often last longer than the menstrual period, or may occur at other times of the month when one is not menstruating.

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