The term dysmenorrhea is Greek for painful menstruation. It is generally
classified into two groups: Primary and Secondary.
Primary dysmenorrhea is the most common form of menstrual cramps and is
due to the production of a natural substance called prostaglandin. This is made
by cells in the inner lining of the uterus. Prostaglandins make the uterine muscles
contract in order to help the shedding of the lining that is built up during the
menstrual cycle. If too much prostaglandin is made, painful menstruation ensues.
Excessive prostaglandin can also cause headaches, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea
Secondary dysmenorrhea is less common, occurring after a woman has already
had normal menstrual cycles for some time. The pain is caused by an abnormality
or infection of the uterus, tubes or ovaries. The pain, although similar to menstrual
cramps, lasts longer and can even occur at other stages of the menstrual cycle.
Treatments for this form of dysmenorrhea may, but not necessarily, involve surgery.
Menstrual Pain (dysmenorrhea): Does TENS work?
Treatments have traditionally involved over-the-counter drugs such as aspirin,
ibuprofen, etc. However, they have contraindications such as ulcers, asthma, pregnancy
and allergic reactions.
TENS or Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation is a non-invasive, drug-free
method of pain relief. It is ideal for the treatment of painful menstruation.
Pads are placed on or near the area of pain. TENS uses soothing pulses that are
sent via the pads through the skin and along the nerve fibres. The pulses suppress
pain signals to the brain. TENS also encourages the body to produce higher levels
of its own natural pain killing chemicals called Endorphins and Encephalins.