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What causes women to have painful periods and how is the condition usually treated?

Painful periods, or dysmenorrhea as it's medically known, affect nearly three quarters of women at some point in their lives.

Fortunately, most women will only ever suffer a mild form of this type of pain. Nevertheless, it is a most unwelcome feeling at a time of the month when you could really do without it.

Although there can be many possible reasons for painful periods, by far the three most common are as follows:

Primary Dysmenorrhea
Primary Dysmenorrhea is the most common source of pain in menstruating women. It is normally caused by the over production of prostaglandin in the body which results in a cramping pain at the beginning of menstruation.

This can be effectively treated by either resting, applying a heated pad to the lower abdomen, improving nutrition and exercise levels or by taking an oral contraceptive.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) is an infection of the uterus and fallopian tubes. It is usually the result of a sexually transmitted infection such as Chlamydia or Gonorrhea.

The disease can be effectively treated with with antibiotics but fertility and child birth complications can arise if the treatment is not administered early enough.

Endometriosis
Endometriosis is a common medical condition where the tissue lining the uterus (the endometriosis) is found outside the womb cavity. This can cause pelvic pain, painful periods, pain during sexual intercourse and in some cases infertility.

In some instances the condition will clear up itself but most women will require either medication or surgery depending on the severity of the case.

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