Dysmenorrhea is painful menstruation. It may include pain in the abdomen, back and legs, abdominal cramps, headache, and fatigue. Most women have painful periods at some time in their life. In some women, the pain is severe enough to interfere with normal activities.
There are two types of dysmenorrhea:
- Primary dysmenorrhea—painful regular (ovulatory) menstrual cycles; the pain is caused by utrine muscle contractions caused by high levels of prostaglandins produced in the lining and body of the uterus after ovulation.
- Secondary dysmenorrhea—painful periods due to an underlying condition, such as endometriosis (a condition involving the lining of the uterus or womb) or infection, that can begin at any age
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