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Oouch! my tummy!: Menstrual cramps in women causing duty absconding

 Woman with menstrual pain. [Getty Images]

When the end of the month approaches, Alice, a 26-year-old woman, dreads the impending menstrual cramps that will disrupt her life for four agonising days.

“From my first period in eighth grade, I have never had peace during those four days each month. The pain is unexplainable, and it can drive you insane,” says Alice.

Despite numerous treatments recommended by her gynecologist, Alice still suffers from debilitating pain.

“I’ve tried incorporating physical exercise, taking Buscopan pills and injections, and using hot water bottle treatments on my abdomen, but nothing has worked yet,” says Alice. The Buscopan injection provides minimal relief, but it’s not enough to fully alleviate the pain.

Alice’s gynecologists have informed her that menstrual cramps, known as dysmenorrhea, often don’t have a permanent cure. Some have suggested that the pain might go away after childbirth, but this is not guaranteed.

Menstrual cramps are lower abdominal pains that many women experience during or before their menstrual period. Alice faces severe challenges during her period, including intense pain, vomiting, lack of appetite, and mood swings.

“For four days, I abscond my duties and avoid work because of the vomiting. To avoid embarrassment, I stay indoors until I feel better,” says Alice. She also struggles with eating due to the lack of appetite and constant vomiting.

Dysmenorrhea is a common issue, affecting 50-90 percent of women in their reproductive years worldwide, according to BMC Women’s Health. Johns Hopkins Medicine explains that menstrual cramps occur when the uterus contracts to expel its lining, triggered by hormone-like substances called prostaglandins. Higher levels of prostaglandins lead to more severe cramps.

Dr Daniel Omega, a consultant gynaecologist, describes menstrual cramps as causing cramping pain in the lower abdomen, which can be intense for some women. “Menstrual cramps start 1 to 3 days before your period, peak 24 hours after onset, and subside in 2 to 3 days. The pain can radiate to the lower back and thighs,” says Dr Omega.

Other symptoms can include dizziness, headache, nausea, and diarrhea. Dr Omega classifies menstrual cramps into two categories: primary cramping, which starts with the onset of periods, and secondary cramping, which begins later after initially painless periods. For women experiencing menstrual cramps, Dr. Omega advises using pain relievers like Buscopan pills and injections or contraceptive pills for hormonal balance.

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