OverviewPrimary dysmenorrhea is a normal cramping of the lower abdomen caused by hormone-induced uterine contractions before the period. Secondary dysmenorrhea may be caused by abnormal conditions such as endometriosis or pelvic inflammatory disease. Unless one of these potentially serious conditions is present, the treatment for painful periods is pain relief. If a hormone imbalance is detected, birth control pills may restore the proper hormone levels.
Review Date 5/21/2016
Updated by: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.