Dysmenorrhea or painful menstruation affects 25% of women and up to 90% of adolescents. The pain can be extreme to the point of incapacitating, resulting in work absenteeism and school absence. The pain can take different forms: sharp, throbbing, dull, nauseating, burning or shooting. It may also be accompanied by other symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea or constipation, headache, dizziness, disorientation, excessive sensitivity to light, smell or sound and fatigue, It may occur prior to and/or during the menstruation.
It is not uncommon to have menorrhagia, or excessive blood flow. When it is caused by an underlying disorder, disease, or abnormality, it is called secondary dysmenorrhea.
In TCM (Traditional Chinese medicine), dysmenorrhea is a symptom of disharmony in the organ systems, and there are five different types: stagnation of Qi, Coldness and Dampness, Heat and Dampness causing stasis, deficiency in Qi and Blood and weaknesses in Liver and Kidney.
The treatments have to be directed towards the specific type of cause in order to achieve permanent relief. The practitioner, therefore, must accurately diagnose the patient using TCM diagnostic techniques.