Dangers of Normalising Period Pains

Dysmenorrhoea, or more commonly known as ‘period pains’ has been thought to affect up to 95% of women. Pain experienced has been seen to decrease quality of life amongst those suffering, with up to 51% of sufferers unable to attend work, school or daily activities. With that said many women and adolescents choose to self-medicate, with few seeking proper medical attention.

Dysmenorrhoea is split into 2 categories: Primary and Secondary. Primary dysmenorrhoea symptoms include painful menstrual cramps- Back and thigh pain, headache, diarrhoea, vomiting etc.. The causes of these are difficult to establish as there is no 'organic' disease.

Secondary dysmenorrhoea symptoms include painful menstrual cramps- Back and thigh pain, headache, diarrhoea, vomiting etc.., however the cause for these could possibly be due to endometriosis, uterine fibroids or ovarian cysts.

Can you spot the difference between the symptoms for primary and secondary? No. What about the differences the cause of Primary and Secondary Dysmenorrhea? Yes.

As a result the danger lies in normalizing ‘period pains’, as there is no clear distinction between the symptoms of Primary and Secondary dysmenorrhea. This means without proper consultation one could be compromising your health and future fertility prospects.

Treatment for Primary dysmenorrhea

Primarily over the counter analgesics like aspirin and paracetamol are used to treat the symptoms of Dysmenorrhea. Whilst, NSAIDs (pain relief and anti-inflammatory medicines) like Naproxen and Ibuprofen have been tested to achieve a mean 67% pain relief. Hormonal contraceptives have also shown a clinical prevalence in reducing pain.

Diet, stress and alcohol have been noted to intensify the symptoms of Dysmenorrhea. This may explain the increase in the use of ‘Herbal Remedies’ to treat Primary Dysmenorrhea. These ‘Herbal Remedies’ include the likes of Magnesium, Thiamine and Fish oils. 87% of patients are cured after 2 months of daily 100 mg thiamine dosages.

Most importantly, if the treatments listed above are tried but are unsuccessful, then proper medical attention should be sought after.


Milad Rouf Final Year Medical Student, Cardiff University.

Davis, W., 2001. Primary Dysmenorrhea in Adolescent Girls and Treatment with Oral Contraceptives. Journal of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology, 14(1), pp. 3-8.

Harada, T., 2013. Dysmenorrhea and Endometriosis in Young Women. Journal of Medical Sciences, 4(56), pp. 81-84.

Mueleman, V. F. S. T. D., 2009. High prevalence of endometriosis in infertile women with normal ovulation and normospemric partners. Fertility and Sterility, 92(1), pp. 68-74. Proctor, F., 2006. Diagnosis and managemnet of dysemnorrhoea, London: BMJ.