Menstrual cramps are treatable. Your doctor may recommend:
May 08, 2014
Pain relievers. Your doctor may suggest taking over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) or naproxen sodium (Aleve), at regular doses starting the day before you expect your period to begin. Prescription nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as mefenamic acid (Ponstel), also are available. If you can't take NSAIDs, acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) may lessen your pain.
Start taking the pain reliever at the beginning of your period, or as soon as you feel symptoms, and continue taking the medicine as directed for two to three days, or until your symptoms have gone away.
- Hormonal birth control. Oral birth control pills contain hormones that prevent ovulation and reduce the severity of menstrual cramps. These hormones can also be delivered in several other forms: an injection, a patch you wear on your skin, an implant placed under the skin of your arm, a flexible ring that you insert into your vagina, or an intrauterine device (IUD).
- Surgery. If your menstrual cramps are caused by an underlying disorder, such as endometriosis or fibroids, surgery to correct the problem may help reduce your symptoms. Surgical removal of the uterus also may be an option if you're not planning to have children.
- Smith RP, et al. Primary dysmenorrhea in adult women: Clinical features and diagnosis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 15, 2014.
- 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.
- Dieltjens T. Towards evidence-based emergency medicine: Best BETs from the Manchester Royal Infirmary. Emergency Medicine Journal. 2012;29:853.
- Rahbar N, et al. Effect of omega-3 fatty acids on intensity of primary dysmenorrhea. International Journal of Gynaecology and Obstetrics. 2012;117:45.
- Rakel D. Integrative Medicine. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2012. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Jan. 15, 2014.
- Ju H, et al. The prevalence and risk factors of dysmenorrhea. Epidemiologic Reviews. In Press. Accessed Jan. 15, 2014.
- 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.
- Jiang HR, et al. Systematic review of randomized clinical trials of acupressure therapy for primary dysmenorrhea. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2013;169692:1. http://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2013/169692/. Accessed Jan. 15, 2014.
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