Menopause Cramping Your Style?

Menstrual cramps, or dysmenorrheal in medical terms, usually start beginning of a woman's menstrual period and may last for several days. Doctors attribute this pelvic pain to prostaglandins, a hormone-like substance that are the culprits to the pain associated with contraction and relaxation of muscles and blood vessels.

You can feel the painful cramps in a number of different places, such as in your lower tummy, across the front of your hips, in your lower back and even in your buttocks or down your legs.

The uterus is squeezing and almost twisting, and that can be unsettling and uncomfortable all by itself. While doing all that it can sometimes pull on the suspensory ligaments that hold it in position. Those ligaments are attached to several other ligaments and muscles where they meet your pelvis and a tug on any uterine ligament can sometimes cause pain in all surrounding areas.

Most women experience some cramping as a part of their menstrual cycle. It doesn't happen to all women, and most have only some discomfort or minor to moderate pain. This abdominal pain can begin weeks before menstrual bleeding or midway through the cycle when ovulation takes place. Once menstruation ceases and menopause begins a woman should no longer experience the cramping. Menstrual pain after menopause can be caused by medication side effects or various reproductive conditions.

Endometriosis is a condition that causes endometrial tissue to grow outside of the uterus. Although this endometrial tissue is found outside of the uterus, it behaves the same way it does within the uterus during menstruation. Even though endometriosis is thought of as a condition that affects women who are menstruating, the condition can also affect women who are in menopause. Symptoms of endometriosis are lower abdominal pain, pain with bowel movements, pain during or after sex and lower back pain.

Uterine fibroids develop in 75 percent of women at some point in their lives, according to the Mayo Clinic. Uterine fibroids are benign growths that attach to the uterine wall, grow within the uterine lining or grow inside of the uterine muscle. They can be microscopic or large enough to fill the uterine cavity. Symptoms of uterine fibroids are bleeding after menopause, pelvic pain, frequent urination, constipation and backache or leg pain.

Avoid certain foods that can aggravate menstrual cramps:

Arachidic Acid

The body uses a fat called arachidic acid to produce series-2 prostaglandins, which cause muscle and uterine contractions. Foods containing this fat include meat, poultry, shellfish, eggs, dairy products and saturated fats.

Sodium

Women who tend to be bloated before menstruation feel better if they decrease the sodium in their diet, as sodium causes fluid retention.

Refined Foods

Constipation may also contribute to bloating and worsen cramps. Women should avoid eating food that contributes to irregularity, such as processed and refined sugars and white-flour products. Whole grains, fruits and vegetables are better for regularity.

Food Sensitivities

Food sensitivities can cause fluid retention and bloating. Dairy products are a frequent problem. Women with menstrual cramping may want to try an elimination diet, beginning by excluding all dairy products for a full cycle. Other common sensitivities include wheat, eggs, soy, corn and nuts.

Caffeine

Some women reduce their menstrual cramping by lowering their intake of caffeine. Caffeine is found in coffee, tea, colas and chocolate.

Relief

Women can use many methods of controlling menstrual cramps, including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), like the pain reliever ibuprofen, and for those with severe pain, birth control pills. But both have potential risks: NSAID users can experience stomach or kidney troubles, for example, while birth control pills are linked to blood clots in certain women.

Pain relievers, heat therapy and dietary changes may help soothe your menstrual cramps. If your cramps are extremely painful or they do not go away after three days, see your doctor. You may have an underlying condition that worsens your symptoms.

Menopause and the symptoms associated with it can severely disrupt your quality of life.

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