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.
Melanie N. Smith, MD, PhD, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.