The Fundamentals

Dysmenorrhea is the pain associated with menstruation. Approximately 50% of menstruating women live with this disorder, and about 10% of those are incapacitated for several days each period. It usually begins just before or right at the start of menarche. The pain of dysmenorrhea, or cramps, can be from pelvic inflammation, excessive fluid in the pelvis, or severe spasmodic dysmenorrhea accompanied by the passage of a cast or partial cast of the uterine cavity. Most women complain of the pain being located in the lower abdomen, but many also feel it deeply in the lower back and thighs. Occasionally, cramps are accompanied by nausea, diarrhea, headache, and dizziness.

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Info on Menstrual Cramps

hile dysmenorrhea is common among most menstruating women, there are steps that can be taken to relieve the discomfort and pain. Using a calendar, keep track of your periods by marking the first day of each period. The week before your period begins, it is a good idea to eat moderately and try to limit your intake of salt. This helps reduce water retention, bloating, and headaches. Keeping active, especially during the first few days, is helpful, as is resting with your feet up, taking warm baths, and using a heating pad on your abdomen. Additionally, many herbs are available to alleviate pain, swelling, water retention, and other symptoms of dysmenorrhea. Cramp Bark is the best herb for menstrual cramps as it relaxes the smooth muscle tissue. Taken at the first sign of symptoms, it is effective in reducing cramping. Chamomile, an antispasmodic, has proven to relax the muscles and bring relief from pain, as does Dong Quai. The constituents in Dong Quai stimulate the central nervous system, helping to relieve some symptoms of menstrual disorders, such as cramps, lower back aches, bloating, and irritability. Chaste Tree Berry is also helpful as it stimulates hormones during menstruation, thereby relieving some symptoms of PMS. Other useful herbs are Juniper, which stimulates the uterine wall, Red Raspberry, Maca Root, and Nettles.
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