Menstrual Cramps -
Menstrual cramps - mild or severe - occur before and / or during the menstrual period and are accompanied by nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, headache, dizziness or lightheadedness. These may begin 2 or 3 days prior to the start of the menstrual cycle and last till the cycle ends. The contraction of the uterus when the blood flows out of the uterus during the menstrual cycle causes these cramps. Substances called 'prostaglandins' released by the uterus lining during menstruation cause the contractions resulting in the above mentioned symptoms accompanying the cramps. Pain is usually experienced in the abdomen and back. Cramps may not be seen during the first menstrual cycle and once when the cycles become regular, the hormone system develops fully, the cramps can get more severe.
Menstrual cramps and PMS -
Menstrual cramps and PMS are not the same. PMS happens before the start of the menstrual cycles and improves as the cycles begin. Menstrual cramps occur only before and during the menstrual cycle and are painful only during these few days. Cramps have a different cause and treatment.
What can be done if one gets menstrual cramps?
Talking to parents or a doctor helps to a great extent. In case of severe cramps, 'antiprostaglandins' available over the counter of the drug stores can be taken. Ibuprofen (Advil, Mortin or Nuprin) or Naproxen Sodium (Aleve) can also be taken, however, before taking any medications; it is advisable to consult the doctor. Also the instructions on the label have to be read carefully. Those who are allergic to these medications or have other problems like stomach ulcers have to consult a doctor for alternative treatments.
A heating pad or a warm bath may relieve the pain to some extent. Every woman has to decide what suits best for her - exercising or no exercising during the menstrual cycle. A healthy diet, lots of water and fluids, sufficient rest during the period also helps.
Bad cramps -
If the menstrual cramps still persist in spite of adopting the above mentioned measures, or if the pain worsens, and does not respond to the medications, a doctor has to be consulted. Doctors may sometimes suggest birth control pills for those who have severe cramps, nausea and vomiting. These pills stop the ovulation resulting in lighter menstrual flow.
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