Every month it is the same old story. You feel like someone is stabbing in your lower abdomen and back. There is nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, headache, irritability while nervousness are also associated. It compels you to spend most of the day curled up in the bed from the first day of your menstrual period. Cramps in your lower abdomen get worse with time and it happens again in next month.
If you are experiencing the condition, you are not alone. Millions of adolescents and teens are living with this painful condition called menstrual cramping or dysmenorrhoea (painful menstruation).
Dysmenorrhoea — a menstrual disorder that is characterised by painful cramps in the lower abdomen, sometimes accompanied by vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness or fainting — affects 20 to 90 percent of adolescent girls in some way and severely impacts another 14 to 42 percent. Many teenagers with severe cramps suffer for years before they seek treatment because they think painful periods are just part of growing up.
But simply nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and low-dose oral contraceptives can help alleviate debilitating cramps.
Despite an era of sophisticated drugs and diagnostic tests, dysmenorrhoea remains the leading cause of school absences among teenage girls, beating out even the common cold. Only a small percentage of those affected actually seek medical treatment.
Today experts say that the problem is simply a lack of awareness among teenagers, parents, school nurses and even some physicians that dysmenorrhoea is a condition that needs medication attention, rather than just a natural part of growing up.
An estimated 5 to 10 percent of women with severe pain who suffer from what doctors refer to as secondary dysmenorrhea — painful periods that are caused by an underlying medical condition like uterine fibroids, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) or most commonly endometriosis.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) like ibuprofen and naproxen are more effective. When over-the-counter medications fail, most physicians recommend a low-dose oral contraceptive, which can prevent the production of prostaglandins altogether. But many parents are concerned about putting their daughters on the pill at such a young age and some consider it as a license to have sex. But the pill, which experts say is medically safe, can also work wonders.
Dr Md Rajib Hossain
Source: The Daily Star, December 06, 2008