Your doctor will review your medical history and perform a physical exam, including a pelvic exam. During the pelvic exam, your doctor will check for any abnormalities in your reproductive organs and look for signs of infection.
If your doctor suspects that your menstrual cramps are being caused by an underlying disorder, he or she may recommend other tests, such as:
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- Ultrasound. This test uses sound waves to create an image of your uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes and ovaries.
Other imaging tests. A CT scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) provides more detail than an ultrasound and can help your doctor diagnose underlying conditions. A CT scan combines X-ray images taken from many angles to produce cross-sectional images of bones, organs and other soft tissues inside your body.
MRI uses radio waves and a powerful magnetic field to produce detailed images of internal structures. Both tests are noninvasive and painless.
- Laparoscopy. Laparoscopy usually isn't necessary for the diagnosis of menstrual cramps, but it can help detect an underlying condition, such as endometriosis, adhesions, fibroids, ovarian cysts and ectopic pregnancy. During this outpatient surgery, your doctor views your abdominal cavity and reproductive organs by making tiny incisions in your abdomen and inserting a fiber-optic tube with a small camera lens.
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- Dysmenorrhea. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Health Care Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/gynecology_and_obstetrics/menstrual_abnormalities/dysmenorrhea.html#v1062408. Accessed Jan. 17, 2014.
- Smith RP, et al. Treatment of primary dysmenorrhea in adult women. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 15. 2014.
- Cunningham FG, et al. Williams Obstetrics. 23rd ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2010. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=46. Accessed Jan. 15, 2014.
- South-Paul JE, et al. Current Diagnosis & Treatment in Family Medicine. 3rd ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2011. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=52. Accessed Jan. 15, 2014.
- Rigi SN, et al. Comparing the analgesic effect of heat patch containing iron chip and ibuprofen for primary dysmenorrhea: A randomized controlled trial. BMC Women's Health. 2012:12:25.
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- Smith CA, et al. Acupuncture for dysmenorrhoea. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD007854.pub2/abstract. Accessed Jan. 15, 2014.
- Khan KS, et al. How effective are non-drug, non-surgical treatments for primary dysmenorrhoea? BMJ. 2012;344:e3011.
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