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MENSTRUAL CRAMP SOLUTIONS: PART I

Menstrual cramps can feel like a little slice of h***, but I have good news:  Sometimes, your healthcare provider can help demolish the pain!  Our last blog post was dedicated to giving you the basic physiological reasons for menstrual cramps.  In this blog post, we will discuss potential treatment options.

Medication and Treatments:

  1. Pain relievers.  Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others), Naproxen Sodium (Aleve), or Mefenamic Acid can be very helpful.  I frequently tell my patients with regular monthly periods to start taking Ibuprofen 24 hours before their menstrual periods start and then to continue taking it every 6-8 hours during the first 24 hours of their period.  (Your doctor can help you with the exact dosing.)  After that, they can take the medication as needed.  If you are a good candidate for Ibuprofen, your doctor can give you a prescription for 800mg Ibuprofen tabs.  (These are stronger than the over the counter pills.)  I’m also a fan of Aleve.  If you can’t take any of the medications listed above, Acetaminophen or other medication options may lessen your pain.
  2. Hormonal birth control.  This prevents ovulation and therefore reduces the severity of menstrual cramps.  You can use oral pills, injectable birth control, the Nuva Ring (a flexible ring that is placed in your vagina), the birth control patch, a Nexplanon (an implant placed under the skin of your arm), or an Intrauterine Device (IUD).  Frequently, patients will use hormonal birth control in conjunction with pain relievers.
  3. Surgery.  If your menstrual cramps are due to an underlying disorder, such as endometriosis or fibroids, surgery to correct the problem may alleviate your symptoms.  If you are not planning to have children, surgical removal of the uterus and/or ovaries might be an option.

In the next blog post, we will discuss which alternative medicine options or lifestyle changes/ home remedies might help those cramps. #DrNita

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