Dysmenorrhea

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Introduction

Women who have pain during the menstrual periods are said to suffer from dysmenorrhea. Such women complain of cramp like, intermittent or aching pain in the lower abdomen during their periods. They may also suffer from back pain at the same time. Mild-to-moderate cases of dysmenorrhea that are not associated with any underlying disorders can be effectively treated with over-the-counter (OTC) medications. Dysmenorrhea associated with some pathology requires prompt medical attention and needs to be evaluated thoroughly.1,2

OTC Medications

The common OTC medications for dysmenorrhea belong to the group of nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and include the following:1–4

  • Aspirin.
  • Ibuprofen.
  • Ketoprofen.
  • Naproxen.

These NSAIDs reduce the pain by decreasing the formation of a hormone like substance known as prostaglandin, which has a vital role in the occurrence of pain and inflammation. These OTC drugs are available as a single medication or as a combination with other drugs in order to increase their efficacy. These drugs may also interfere with the functioning of other drugs and a doctor’s advice should be taken in cases where one is already taking some prescription medications.

For effective relief, NSAIDs need to be taken 1 or 2 days before the onset of menstruation. The medications need not be continued after the end of the periods.

Aspirin

The chemical name of aspirin is acetylsalicylic acid and is known for its potent antiinflammatory and pain reducing properties. The common OTC brand names include:

  • Anacin.
  • Disprin.

Dosage

Aspirin 0.3–0.6 gm thrice-daily.

Contraindications

  • Known allergy to the drug.
  • Liver disorders.
  • Bleeding disorders.
  • Pregnancy.
  • Not to be taken without a doctor’s advice in individuals with asthma, diabetes and gout.

Side-Effects

  • Vomiting sensation (nausea) or vomiting
  • Stomach discomfort
  • Dizziness

Ibuprofen

Ibuprofen has actions similar to aspirin. The common OTC brand names of ibuprofen are:

  • Brufen.
  • Ibuflamar.
  • Ibugesic.

Dosage

Ibuprofen 200–600 mg thrice-daily.

Contraindications

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  • Known allergy to the drug.
  • Active peptic ulcers.
  • Pregnancy.
  • Bleeding from the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Breastfeeding mothers.
  • Not to be taken without a doctor’s advice in individuals with asthma, bleeding disorders and heart disorders.

Side-Effects

  • Stomach discomfort.
  • Rashes.

Ketoprofen

This belongs to the same class as ibuprofen. One of the OTC drug is maxigesic plus.

Dosage

Ketoprofen 50 mg twice- or thrice-daily.

Contraindications

  • Known allergy to the drug.
  • Active peptic ulcers.
  • Pregnancy.
  • Bleeding from the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Breastfeeding mothers.
  • Not to be taken without a doctor’s advice in individuals with asthma, bleeding disorders and heart disorders.

Side-Effects

  • Stomach discomfort.
  • Rashes.

Naproxen

This belongs to the same class as ibuprofen. Some of the OTC naproxen drugs are:

  • Naprosyn.
  • Naprelan.
  • Napryn.

Dosage

Naproxen 250 mg twice-daily.

Contraindications

  • Known allergy to the drug.
  • Active peptic ulcers.
  • Pregnancy.
  • Bleeding from the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Breastfeeding mothers.
  • Not to be taken without a doctor’s advice in individuals with asthma, bleeding disorders and heart disorders.

Side-Effects

  • Stomach discomfort.
  • Rashes.

When to Seek Medical Help

Prompt medical attention should be sought in the following cases:

  • The amount of vaginal discharge during the periods is increased.
  • The pain is severe and is associated with fever.
  • OTC drugs do not relieve pain even after taking them for three consecutive periods.
  • The pain occurs suddenly.
  • Pain is not associated with menstrual periods or continues even after the periods.

References

  1. Reddish S. Dysmenorrhoea. Aust Fam Physician. 2006; 35(11): 842–844, 846–849.
  2. Harel Z. Dysmenorrhea in adolescents and young adults: Etiology and management. J Pediatr Adolesc Gynecol. 2006; 19: 363–371.
  3. French L. Dysmenorrhea. Am Fam Physician. 2005; 71(2): 285–291.
  4. Gokhale LB. Curative treatment of primary (spasmodic) dysmenorrhoea. Indian J Med Res. 1996; 103: 227–231.

Written by: healthplus24.com team
Date last updated: May 10, 2015

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