Primary 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 3/31/2020
Updated by: John D. Jacobson, MD, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Loma Linda University School of Medicine, Loma Linda Center for Fertility, Loma Linda, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.