Dysmenorrhoea is a common condition affecting close to nine out of ten women. Dr Nabila Keloua, specialist gynaecology and obstetrics at Medcare Women and Children hospital says, ‘Uterine prostaglandins (inflammation factor) is said to contribute to the development of primary dysmenorrhea.’

It occurs in the absence of an underlying uterine condition and can occur 6–12 months after a woman has had her first menstrual cycle. ‘This pain is usually cramping in nature and occurs in the lower abdomen or pelvis and may radiate to the back or down the thighs. It may commence before the onset of the periods and can last 8–72 hours. Other symptoms include nausea, fatigue and headache.’

Secondary dysmenorrhoea could be due to endometriosis, fibroids or chronic pelvic inflammatory disease, she adds. ‘This pain can be cramping, but a feeling of heaviness in lower abdomen and back pain with symptoms including heavy or irregular periods are common.’

Treatment includes nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and oral contraceptive pill. There are several complementary therapies too.