Menstrual Cramps Are Not Normal
Menstrual cramps, although frequent, are not normal.
During the bleeding period, it is normal or physiological to perceive discomfort in the lower abdominal area, as a result of uterine contraction, responsible for the detachment and removal of the endometrium. Pain during menstruation is an alteration and is called dysmenorrhea. There are two types of dysmenorrhea, primary (in the absence of pathology) and secondary (as a result of a pathology).
In this post, we will talk about Primary Dysmenorrhea.
Primary dysmenorrhea or menstrual cramps in the absence of pathology are one of the most frequent gynecological disorders in menstruating women. This condition determines the daily life of many women, whose monthly planning revolves around the arrival of bleeding.
Menstrual cramps in primary dysmenorrhea usually appear during menstruation, located at the level of the abdomen, lower back, and even at the level of the lower limbs. It is usually associated with abdominal swelling, heaviness, fluid retention and digestive disorders.
Why Cramps Appear in Primary Dysmenorrhea?
During the menstrual cycle, the growth of the endometrium causes the uterus to increase in size, generating inflammation and edema. This increase in size produces a compression of neighbouring tissues, including blood vessels, which lead to ischemia (lack of vascularization and oxygenation in the tissues). This is a physiological process, but there are situations in which your body has no capacity to manage and solve this inflammatory process.
Most Common Causes of Primary Dysmenorrhea
Prostaglandins are substances responsible for controlling inflammation. They are synthesized through the fatty acids that we eat in the diet, so the control of our diet is very important.
There are two large groups of prostaglandins, those that increase inflammation and those that decrease it. Both are necessary because the inflammatory process is essential for our health, but both must also be in balance, to avoid exacerbated inflammatory processes.
- Proinflammatory prostaglandins: they are synthesized from Omega 6, present in foods such as meat, sausages, processed foods, sunflower oil.
- Anti-inflammatory prostaglandins: they are synthesized from Omega 3, which we find in bluefish, flax seeds, chia, nuts.
An increased concentration of pro-inflammatory prostaglandins perpetuates physiological inflammation.
Musculoskeletal and Visceral Disorders
The uterus has a muscular layer (called myometrium) that contracts to achieve detachment of the endometrium during menstruation. To perform this function, you need to have freedom of movement. The uterus is a viscera that is related to multiple structures, such as the pelvis (composed of the iliac and the sacrum), the spine, ligaments, muscles, fascia, etc. This whole system must be in balance so that the position and uterine movement are not affected.
If there is stiffness in our pelvis, musculature or in the ligaments that join the uterus and the other viscera to the pelvic bones, for the uterus it will be a little hard to move.
Which can be the causes:
- Tension in the pelvic floor musculature.
- Muscle imbalance, especially of the buttocks, abdominals, pelvic floor.
- Loss of pelvic movement.
- Stiffness at the level of the lumbar spine.
- Loss of mobility or inflammation of neighbouring viscera, such as the bladder or intestine.
- Increased intra abdominal pressure, for example by inflammatory bowel processes.
For this, it is essential to perform sports, move our pelvis etc. you can perform:
- Flexibility of the pelvis: the best way is through stretching or belly dancing (this is a great option!).
- Work muscle balance: through pilates, yoga or hypopressives.
- Work your buttocks: a very easy way is to always take the stairs!
- Consult with a physical therapist or a specialized trainer whenever you need it.
In many occasions, there are several factors, such as stress or lack of sleep, which by themselves or together with the previous ones, determine the presence of menstrual cramps.
In this case, you can put yourself in the hands of a psychologist to help you solve this problem.
Give yourself a moment to reflect and be aware of this, why menstrual pain appears every month, and ask yourself the following questions:
Do I have a good diet?
Do I exercise enough?
Do I spend too much time sitting or in the same position, for example at work?
Do I rest well and enough?
Is stress taking hold of me?