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Dysmenorrhea  (Painful Periods)

Common but Not-Normal and Highly Treatable!

What is Dysmenorrhea or Painful Periods?

  • Dysmenorrhea is the medical term used to describe pain before or during menstrual periods.

  • Symptoms of dysmenorrhea can begin immediately following ovulation (mid-cycle) and can last until the end of menstruation (end of your bleed). 


  • Dysmenorrhea is often associated with changes in hormonal levels in the body.

  • You can have high or low levels of estrogen and progesterone, which will affect the length of your cycle, and the pain in your cycle.

  • Women with healthy hormone levels should not have an appreciable change in their symptoms throughout their cycle, including pre-menstrual symptoms or painful periods.

  • Dysmenorrhea is one of the first signs that we have that our hormones and our bodies are not working at optimum levels. Pay attention to this, and make some adjustments.

In young women, painful periods can often occur without an underlying problem.

In older women it is more often due to an underlying issues such as uterine fibroidsadenomyosis (thickening of the lining of the uterus), or endometriosis (endometrial tissue from the lining of the uterus is found outside of the uterus in the pelvic cavity and beyond).

Dysmenorrhea is more common among those with heavy periods, irregular periods, whose periods started before twelve years of age, or those who have a low body weight. Dysmenorrhea occurs less often in those who exercise regularly. 



  • typically last less than three days

  • The pain is usually in the pelvis or lower abdomen

  • Other symptoms may include lower back pain, pain that radiates to the thighs, diarrhea, or nausea.

You Can Take a Five-Tiered Approach to Help Yourself with Dysmenorrhea and Cycle Problems:

  1. Control your Stress – use deep, diaphragmatic breathing throughout the day; Learn to RELAX your pelvic floor, abdomen and muscles around the pelvic girdle which become tense when you are stressed

  2. Avoid triggers – consider food sensitivities; remember, that your bowels are neighbors of your uterus. When your bowels are irritated, often your uterus becomes irritated as well. Treat constipation/diarrhea

  3. Regular detoxification – exercising, good bowel habits, deep breathing, and brushing your skin (the largest organ of your body) can help with detoxification. Our periods are a great way to help with detoxification, and if your periods are short, too light, or absent, this important piece of detoxification may be part of the problem.

  4. Eat more plant-based, whole food; minimize inflammatory foods

  5. Treat any pelvic floor muscle tension or over-activity 

Seeing one of the physiotherapists at Physio Works! Muskoka can help with the symptoms of dysmenorrhea. Expect your physiotherapist to assess the muscles and connective tissues of your abdomen, pelvic girdle and pelvic floor. Your physiotherapist can teach you how to relax these muscles, use deep breathing and other relaxation strategies, and help you with stress management.

Call or email to book your appointment!

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