More Than A Period
Dysmenorrhea, commonly known as severe menstrual cramps, impact more than 20% of American women. From a young age, some women get severe pain and discomfort during periods. This cramping can affect daily life and often needs treatment. In some cases, these cramps could signify something more serious. Ovarian cysts are one such condition, and menstrual cramps could be an unexpected side effect.
The two crucial facts about cramps
Doctors diagnose dysmenorrhea in two ways. Primary dysmenorrhea is the most common, affecting mainly young women. As the uterus contracts, debilitating cramps can happen in each cycle. With primary dysmenorrhea, there is no sign of an underlying condition. Secondary dysmenorrhea brings similar symptoms but can occur in older women. This pain is a result of a condition like fibroids, endometriosis, or the most common cause, ovarian cysts.
Understanding ovarian cysts
Cysts are small sacs that form in and around the ovaries. These sacs vary in size and number and can come and go during reproductive cycles. In some cases, cysts can stick around, causing varying degrees of pain during menstrual cycles. If left untreated, ovarian cysts can stop pregnancy and even become cancerous. Doctors use these 3 common methods to deal with cysts and dysmenorrhea.
1. NSAIDs for pain management
Most ovarian cysts are harmless and can naturally go away. But cysts are not always pain-free. So a doctor will prescribe NSAIDs for these benign cysts. These non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen reduce pain and other symptoms. More than 50% of women taking NSAIDs will show improvement in symptoms. Painkilling drugs work well for doctors who prefer to wait before treating ovarian cysts. In most cases, cysts disappear within a few months. So pain management is the first step to improving both conditions.
2. Taking a chill pill
Oral contraceptives are the most common form of birth control. However, birth control pills can double as a treatment for dysmenorrhea. As these pills stop ovulation from happening, contraceptives stop menstruation altogether. By extension, more ovarian cysts fail to develop as there are no more cycles. Studies suggest that contraceptives would not stop existing cysts from forming. However, in terms of pain management, contraceptives are an excellent choice.
3. Under the knife
In some cases, a simple laparoscopic procedure treats cysts. About 10% of women need surgery to fix the issue. Laparoscopy requires a surgeon to make a small incision in the stomach or pelvis. Then a microscopic camera goes into the body. From there, the surgeon can see the cysts on an external monitor. With everything in place, miniature tools can go in the incision to remove the cysts. If the cysts are large, doctors may need to do a laparotomy and send the growth for testing. Surgery can bring immediate relief to dysmenorrhea and ovarian cysts.
Take the pain out. Period.
Menstrual cramps may be a natural occurrence, but women should not ignore the pain. Pain could be a sign of ovarian cysts, which can cause fertility complications if left untreated. If pain persists, cramps could be the sign of an even deeper issue. Consult a gynecologist or specialist to discuss dysmenorrhea and decide on the best course of action.