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Q: What makes menustral cramps hurt?
A: Menstrual cramping is one of the few symptoms on a schedule. Cramps arrive with the same relentless regularity as the mortgage payment or the utility bills . . . [ and are about as welcome. Ever wonder why something as natural as a woman's monthly cycle should be accompanied by varying degrees of discomfort? Well, so have medical researchers. They've found that a woman's body produces hormones
known as prostaglandins to help the uterus contract and shed its lining. The uterus has to contract to create the menstrual flow, and many women experience the contractions as cramps. Fortunately, most of the time menstrual cramps are relatively mild. More than 50 percent of women experience some sort of cramping, usually starting one to three years after they begin their periods, says Susan Coupey, M.D., a researcher studying common menstrual disorders at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx. How painful your cramps are will depend on how much prosta- glandin your body produces, says John Jennings, M.D., a gynecologist at Bowman Gray School of Medicine of Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. But if you have persistent, really excruciating cramps, there may be other factors at work as well. You may have an overgrown uterine lining--a condition called endometriosis. Endometriosis often makes cramps hurt worse, Dr. Jennings says. Or if you cramp during a period that's much heavier than usual, your uterus might be squeezing out blood clots caused by fibroids, says Charles Debrovner, M.D., professor of obstetrics and gynecology at New York University School of Medicine in New York City and a gynecologist at New York University Hospital. Fibroids are benign muscle tumors in the uterine wall. And sometimes a woman may experience cramping that signals the loss of an undiagnosed pregnancy. ]
Expert answered|selymi|Points 6653|
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Asked 11/10/2011 1:22:50 PM
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