Dysmenorrhea is the medical term for pain with menstruation. There are two types of dysmenorrhea: "primary" and "secondary".

Primary dysmenorrhea is common menstrual cramps that are recurrent (come back) and are not due to other diseases. Pain usually begins 1 or 2 days before, or when menstrual bleeding starts, and is felt in the lower abdomen, back, or thighs. Pain can range from mild to severe, can typically last 12 to 72 hours, and can be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and even diarrhea. Common menstrual cramps usually become less painful as a woman ages and may stop entirely if the woman has a baby. 

Secondary dysmenorrhea is pain that is caused by a disorder in the woman's reproductive organs, such as endometriosis, adenomyosis, uterine fibroids, or infection. Pain from secondary dysmenorrhea usually begins earlier in the menstrual cycle and lasts longer than common menstrual cramps. The pain is not typically accompanied by nausea, vomiting, fatigue, or diarrhea.

If you have severe or unusual menstrual cramps or cramps that last for more than two or three days, contact your health care provider. Both primary and secondary menstrual cramps can be treated, so it's important to get checked.




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