Information for Patients
Also called: Dysmenorrhea, Menstrual cramps, Menstrual pain
What are painful periods?
Menstruation, or period, is normal vaginal bleeding that happens as part of a woman's monthly cycle. Many women have painful periods, also called dysmenorrhea. The pain is most often menstrual cramps, which are a throbbing, cramping pain in your lower abdomen. You may also have other symptoms, such as lower back pain, nausea, diarrhea, and headaches. Period pain is not the same as premenstrual syndrome (PMS). PMS causes many different symptoms, including weight gain, bloating, irritability, and fatigue. PMS often starts one to two weeks before your period starts.
What causes painful periods?
There are two types of dysmenorrhea: primary and secondary. Each type has different causes.
Primary dysmenorrhea is the most common kind of period pain. It is period pain that is not caused by another condition. The cause is usually having too many prostaglandins, which are chemicals that your uterus makes. These chemicals make the muscles of your uterus tighten and relax, and this causes the cramps.
The pain can start a day or two before your period. It normally lasts for a few days, though in some women it can last longer.
You usually first start having period pain when you are younger, just after you begin getting periods. Often, as you get older, you have less pain. The pain may also get better after you have given birth.
Secondary dysmenorrhea often starts later in life. It is caused by conditions that affect your uterus or other reproductive organs, such as endometriosis and uterine fibroids. This kind of pain often gets worse over time. It may begin before your period starts, and continue after your period ends.
What can I do about period pain?
To help ease your period pain, you can try
- Using a heating pad or hot water bottle on your lower abdomen
- Getting some exercise
- Taking a hot bath
- Doing relaxation techniques, including yoga and meditation
You might also try taking over-the-counter pain relievers such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). NSAIDs include ibuprofen and naproxen. Besides relieving pain, NSAIDs reduce the amount of prostaglandins that your uterus makes, and lessen their effects. This helps to lessen the cramps. You can take NSAIDs when you first have symptoms, or when your period starts. You can keep taking them for a few days. You should not take NSAIDS if you have ulcers or other stomach problems, bleeding problems, or liver disease. You should also not take them if you are allergic to aspirin. Always check with your health care provider if you are not sure whether or not you should take NSAIDs.
It may also help to get enough rest and avoid using alcohol and tobacco.
When should I get medical help for my period pain?
For many women, some pain during your period is normal. However, you should contact your health care provider if
- NSAIDs and self-care measures don't help, and the pain interferes with your life
- Your cramps suddenly get worse
- You are over 25 and you get severe cramps for the first time
- You have a fever with your period pain
- You have the pain even when you are not getting your period
How is the cause of severe period pain diagnosed?
To diagnose severe period pain, your health care provider will ask you about your medical history and do a pelvic exam. You may also have an ultrasound or other imaging test. If your health care provider thinks you have secondary dysmenorrhea, you might have laparoscopy. It is a surgery that that lets your health care provider look inside your body.
What are treatments for severe period pain?
If your period pain is primary dysmenorrhea and you need medical treatment, your health care provider might suggest using hormonal birth control, such as the pill, patch, ring, or IUD. Another treatment option might be prescription pain relievers.
If you have secondary dysmenorrhea, your treatment depends upon the condition that is causing the problem. In some cases, you may need surgery.
- Painful menstrual periods (Medical Encyclopedia)
General Equivalence Map Definitions
The ICD-10 and ICD-9 GEMs are used to facilitate linking between the diagnosis codes in ICD-9-CM and the new ICD-10-CM code set. The GEMs are the raw material from which providers, health information vendors and payers can derive specific applied mappings to meet their needs.
- Approximate Flag - The approximate flag is on, indicating that the relationship between the code in the source system and the code in the target system is an approximate equivalent.
- No Map Flag - The no map flag indicates that a code in the source system is not linked to any code in the target system.
- Combination Flag - The combination flag indicates that more than one code in the target system is required to satisfy the full equivalent meaning of a code in the source system.
Index of Diseases and Injuries Definitions
- And - The word "and" should be interpreted to mean either "and" or "or" when it appears in a title.
- Code also note - A "code also" note instructs that two codes may be required to fully describe a condition, but this note does not provide sequencing direction.
- Code first - Certain conditions have both an underlying etiology and multiple body system manifestations due to the underlying etiology. For such conditions, the ICD-10-CM has a coding convention that requires the underlying condition be sequenced first followed by the manifestation. Wherever such a combination exists, there is a "use additional code" note at the etiology code, and a "code first" note at the manifestation code. These instructional notes indicate the proper sequencing order of the codes, etiology followed by manifestation.
- Type 1 Excludes Notes - A type 1 Excludes note is a pure excludes note. It means "NOT CODED HERE!" An Excludes1 note indicates that the code excluded should never be used at the same time as the code above the Excludes1 note. An Excludes1 is used when two conditions cannot occur together, such as a congenital form versus an acquired form of the same condition.
- Type 2 Excludes Notes - A type 2 Excludes note represents "Not included here". An excludes2 note indicates that the condition excluded is not part of the condition represented by the code, but a patient may have both conditions at the same time. When an Excludes2 note appears under a code, it is acceptable to use both the code and the excluded code together, when appropriate.
- Includes Notes - This note appears immediately under a three character code title to further define, or give examples of, the content of the category.
- Inclusion terms - List of terms is included under some codes. These terms are the conditions for which that code is to be used. The terms may be synonyms of the code title, or, in the case of "other specified" codes, the terms are a list of the various conditions assigned to that code. The inclusion terms are not necessarily exhaustive. Additional terms found only in the Alphabetic Index may also be assigned to a code.
- NEC "Not elsewhere classifiable" - This abbreviation in the Alphabetic Index represents "other specified". When a specific code is not available for a condition, the Alphabetic Index directs the coder to the "other specified” code in the Tabular List.
- NOS "Not otherwise specified" - This abbreviation is the equivalent of unspecified.
- See - The "see" instruction following a main term in the Alphabetic Index indicates that another term should be referenced. It is necessary to go to the main term referenced with the "see" note to locate the correct code.
- See Also - A "see also" instruction following a main term in the Alphabetic Index instructs that there is another main term that may also be referenced that may provide additional Alphabetic Index entries that may be useful. It is not necessary to follow the "see also" note when the original main term provides the necessary code.
- 7th Characters - Certain ICD-10-CM categories have applicable 7th characters. The applicable 7th character is required for all codes within the category, or as the notes in the Tabular List instruct. The 7th character must always be the 7th character in the data field. If a code that requires a 7th character is not 6 characters, a placeholder X must be used to fill in the empty characters.
- With - The word "with" should be interpreted to mean "associated with" or "due to" when it appears in a code title, the Alphabetic Index, or an instructional note in the Tabular List. The word "with" in the Alphabetic Index is sequenced immediately following the main term, not in alphabetical order.