Having your menstrual cycle is never pleasant, but for some women it is a debilitating and painful experience that occurs every month.
When you have both dysmenorrhea and fibromyalgia it can be hard to manage the pain. There are many different options for pain relief that can help you return to living, rather than living in the control of these two disorders.
The good news is that dysmenorrhea ends after menopause, and for some women it can end after pregnancy too. Both of them are treatable and neither is a terminal condition, nor will they shorten your lifespan.
What is dysmenorrhea?
Dysmenorrhea is diagnosed when a woman has very painful or prolonged menstrual cramps.
It is not really known why this condition may occur, but a study done using MRI scans was able to identify that women with dysmenorrhea have a prolonged and excessive uterine contraction pattern during the shedding of the endrometrial lining than other women.
It is thought that an over production of prostaglandins may contribute to dysmenorrhea. Prostaglandins are not hormones, but compounds that shut down a part of the body’s functioning that allows for the uterus to shed its lining.
What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is diagnosed in more women than men. It is associated with an over production of progesterone, a hormone that is used by the body during the estrus and menses cycle.
This hormone is the precursor to estrogen. Fibromyalgia has a constellation of symptoms that can include nausea, fatigue, muscle aches, joint pain, inflammation and mood disturbance.
Like dysmenorrhea, fibromyalgia is primarily diagnosed from a patient history of chronic and widespread pain as well as a history of other symptoms known to be in its constellation.
What happens when you have Dysmenorrhea and Fibromyalgia
When you have both dysmenorrhea and fibromyalgia the combination of increased hormone production and the prostaglandins that promote uterine contraction combine during the menstrual cycle and can aggravate the symptoms of both.
This can be a virtually unbearable combination for a woman to bear, but there are ways that you can gain relief from the combined symptoms of dysmenorrhea and fibromyalgia.
There are medications and lifestyle changes, alternative treatments and even surgical options to help improve the quality of your life.
Why do some women get both?
There is no known cause for dysmenorrhea or fibromyalgia. In both cases, there are some indicators that if they are present in your history can show an increased risk for the development of one or the other.
Both are often found in family histories, so if someone in your family has either disease you could develop it.
Fibromyalgia is also associated with brain trauma and inflammatory diseases as well. With dysmenorrhea, the onset is usually at puberty.
Fibromyalgia is often diagnosed in women between the ages of 40 and 60 and is associated with menopause for most.
While fibromyalgia is associated with menopause, going through menopause may not end the fibromyalgia. Going through menopause will end dysmenorrhea.
Pregnancy will sometimes cause dysmenorrhea to end as well, but it will have no effect on the symptoms of your fibromyalgia.
If men can get fibromyalgia, can they get dysmenorrhea?
Men can get fibromyalgia, although it is not as prevalent as it is in women. Men cannot get dysmenorrhea as it is a disorder of the menstrual cycle involving the uterine shedding process.
While they cannot get this companion issue, it is important to remember that most of the clinical studies of fibromyalgia have focused on women and the full range of symptoms and disorders in men that interact with it are not known.
What you can do to gain relief
There is much you can do to get relief from dysmenorrhea and fibromyalgia. The first thing you have to do is talk to your doctor and get diagnosis that confirms that these are the problems at hand.
You do not want to self-diagnose as both dysmenorrhea and fibromyalgia share symptoms with other illnesses, some terminal.
After testing that can eliminate other known diseases, you may be diagnosed with either or both of these two. Upon diagnosis, your doctor may suggest a range of anti-inflammatory medications, pain relievers and/or muscle relaxants to help you control the pain.
You may need to consider a short course of medication treatment in order to allow yourself to build lifestyle habits and find alternative methods that can help you control both the dysmenorrhea and fibromyalgia.
Lifestyle changes for Dysmenorrhea and Fibromyalgia
There are three big lifestyle areas that affect dysmenorrhea and fibromyalgia: sleep, diet and exercise. Your sleep patterns can have a tremendous effect on your fibromyalgia.
It can also impact your dysmenorrhea because sleep cycles are how the body regulates and repairs its systems.
What you eat can also contribute to inflammation and muscle pain, as well as contribute to pain as well. The more overweight you are, the more pain you will experience as the joints and muscles are put under more strain.
As much as people in pain don’t want to move, you have to. Exercise helps the body to use its natural detoxifying and repairing methods to reduce pain and swelling too.
Medications and alternative treatments
There are many medications and alternative treatments that can help with both dysmenorrhea and fibromyalgia. Acupuncture, acupressure and some herbal treatments are successful with some women.
Yoga, qi gong, massage and other physical approaches are successful with the majority of persons suffering from both too. Diet changes are always a good idea.
While doctors may not know why each other conditions occur it is known that both dysmenorrhea and fibromyalgia can be complicated by eating the wrong foods.
With dysmenorrhea, depending on your age and the severity of the cramps, your doctor may also suggest that you have a full or partial hysterectomy too.
Talk to your doctor and stay open to possibilities
If you have both dysmenorrhea and fibromyalgia you want to talk to your doctor and stay open to all the possibilities for treatment.
There is no cure for either, neither is there a pill you can take that will ease your symptoms. Medications can be effective when used with lifestyle changes that help you control your symptoms and live a better life.