Consult Your Pharmacist - Dysmenorrhea: How to Relieve Cramps

W. Steven Pray, Ph.D., R.Ph., Professor of Nonprescription Products and Devices,School of Pharmacy, Southwestern Oklahoma State University, Weatherford, OK

US Pharmacist. 2000;25(9) 

In This Article

Introduction & Prevalence

Two syndromes related to the menstrual cycle for which patients seek the help of a pharmacist can be self-treated. These are PMS, which occurs prior to the onset of flow, and dysmenorrhea, which usually occurs at the onset of flow.

Dysmenorrhea is almost a fact of life for many adolescent females. It is among the most common causes of absence from work and school.[1] An estimated 40%-70% of all women of reproductive age suffer from dysmenorrhea, according to one paper.[1] A survey found that 60% of adolescents experienced it, and 14% elected to miss school because of menstrual symptoms.[2] In another survey, 73% of adolescent females reported pain or discomfort during menses, 60% reduced their activity levels, and 46% missed school or work.[2] British authors report a prevalence of 15%-58%, with 15% of females reducing their workload as a result.[3]

Primary dysmenorrhea usually begins within a year or two of menarche. Some women suffer from dysmenorrhea throughout their fertile years, but most find it subsides gradually by their mid-20s or after pregnancy. This article focuses on primary dysmenorrhea.

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