Dysmenorrhoea is the medical term for painful, crampy sensations in the lower abdomen and back, associated with menstrual periods, usually caused by uterine contractions. The quality and the severity of the period pain can vary from period to period and from one woman to another.
Primary dysmenorrhoea is painful menstrual periods, not due to other diseases, and often occurs soon after menarche. Secondary dysmenorrhoea is due to an underlying pelvic abnormality, such as endometriosis, and can be either new-onset or a change in the nature of the dysmenorrhoea (e.g intensity, duration) over time.
Bowel complaints often aggravate dysmenorrhoea. The bowels tend to be affected by hormone changes just as much as the uterine muscles. Many women become constipated premenstrually, which worsens the sensation of congestion and fullness felt with dysmenorrhoea. Irritable bowel syndrome aggravates dysmeorrhoea, but is also aggravated by it.The uterus and the bowels share a similar nerve supply and when either organ is in spasm , the other will react as well.
Sometimes even severe dysmenorrhoea will respond to dietary changes and exercise.
Reducing animal fats and increasing essential fatty acids can reduce period pain. Period pain can be aggravated by cold foods, iced drinks, ice cream and refrigerated food.
Foods at room temperature or hotter, or even adding warming spices such as ginger, cardamon, coriander, cinnamon and turmeric can improve pain.
When diet and exercise don’t help then herbs (such as uterine tonics, antispasmodics, emmenagogues, anodynes, relaxing and warming herbs etc) or supplements can be used; these can be prescribed by your naturopath.
Acupuncture can be helpful with dysmenorrhoea. The treatment is given twice weekly and may involve moxibustion.
A Doctor needs to be seen if
· Pain is unilateral or radiating
· Pains characteristics have changed
· Normal pain control methods are becoming ineffective
· Pain is worst towards end of period
· Pain is aggrevated by bowel motion, presuure or sexual activity.
Stir-Fried Asparagus with soba Noodles
2 bundles asparagus, trimmed, and cut into bite-size pieces
1 tbsp olive oil
3 tsp fresh ginger, minced
2 garlic cloves, slivered
1 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tbsp sugar
4 tbsp vegetable stock
150g soba noodles
Heat oil in a wok and stir-fry ginger and garlic for a minute or two, then add asparagus.
Combine soy sauce, sugar, and stock in a small bowl and pour over asparagus. Simmer until asparagus is tender, about 3-5 minutes.
Cook noodles according to package directions and serve with stir-fried asparagus.