What are the clinical features of primary dysmenorrhea?

Updated: Sep 23, 2019
  • Author: Karim Anton Calis, PharmD, MPH, FASHP, FCCP; Chief Editor: Michel E Rivlin, MD  more...
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Primary dysmenorrhea should be distinguished from secondary dysmenorrhea on the basis of clinical features. Clinical features of primary dysmenorrhea include the following:

  • Onset shortly after menarche (typically within 6 months)

  • Usual duration of 48-72 hours (often starting several hours before or just after the menstrual flow)

  • Cramping or laborlike pain

  • Background of constant lower abdominal pain, radiating to the back or the anterior or medial thigh

  • Often unremarkable pelvic examination findings (including rectal)

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