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Painful Periods

Painful menstrual periods, also called dysmenorrhea, are the leading cause of lost time from school and work among women in their teens and 20s. But there are treatments for painful periods, and the experienced doctors at Winnie Palmer Hospital can help.

Painful periods may include pain in the pelvis, abdomen, back and legs; abdominal cramps; headache; and fatigue. There are two types of dysmenorrhea:

  • Primary dysmenorrhea is caused by high levels of prostaglandins in the uterus. Prostaglandins are hormone-like substances normally found throughout the body.
  • Secondary dysmenorrhea can be caused by endometriosis, ovarian cysts, pelvic inflammatory disease, uterine fibroids, inflammatory bowel disease, tumors or intrauterine device (IUD).

Diagnosis and Treatment

At Winnie Palmer Hospital, we have the most advanced imaging technology available to diagnose the cause of your dysmenorrhea. Diagnostic options your doctor may consider include:

  • Pelvic ultrasound exam – A noninvasive exam that produces images of the pelvic organs from sound waves sent into the body from a probe placed on your body.
  • Hysteroscopy – A procedure that utilizes a thin, lighted tube called a hysteroscope to examine the inside of the uterus.
  • Hysterosalpingogram – An X-ray procedure performed to assess whether the fallopian tubes are open or blocked. During this procedure a radio-opaque dye is infused into your uterus by using a small tube placed into your cervix. This dye is then seen by the X-ray as the dye spreads into your fallopian tubes.
  • Pelvic laparoscopy – A procedure that uses an instrument called a laparoscope to view the reproductive organs.

To relieve the pain of primary dysmenorrhea, your doctor may recommend medications and certain lifestyle changes. The treatment of secondary dysmenorrhea varies depending on the underlying condition. The gynecologists at Winnie Palmer Hospital will work with you to find the best solution for your individual condition.