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Dysmenorrhea and infertility: Are they related?

In layman’s terms, dysmenorrhea means menstrual cramps. This condition can be accompanied by migraines, heavy bleeding, and even vomiting, in more severe cases.

Every woman has experienced menstrual cramps sometime in their lives. Cramps can affect your ability to function properly. There are two types of dysmenorrhea: Primary and secondary. In primary dysmenorrhea, cramps are not caused by a medical condition. It is more common in teenage girls, and typically goes away during adulthood or after pregnancy. However, secondary dysmenorrhea is caused by other health conditions that might affect the ovaries or uterus. Some of these have been linked to fertility issues.

RELATED: When should we consider seeing a fertility specialist?

Causes of secondary dysmenorrhea and how they can lead to infertility

    • Uterine fibroids are a common cause for menstrual cramps. Some women develop at least one or more fibroids in their lifetime. Fibroids may not cause pain, which is why many women are not aware that they have it. Uterine fibroids can interfere with hormone production and large fibroids can also hinder fertilisation or cause pregnancy complications.
    • Endometriosis is an abnormal growth of the uterus lining. It can create pelvic and abdominal pain, as well as heavy bleeding during menstruation. Endometriosis can cause infertility because of severe scarring in the reproductive organs, which prevents eggs from being released. This condition can also lead to an increased risk of miscarriage.
    • Pelvic inflammatory disease can also cause secondary dysmenorrhea. It is an infection of the uterine lining or fallopian tubes caused by bacteria. This can lead to hormonal complications, which in turn, can prevent conception. Also, the fallopian tubes can become obstructed, which would cause infertility or ectopic pregnancy.
    • An abnormal positioning of the uterus can also lead to painful cramps in the lower abdomen. This increases the risk of miscarriage.

Find out about diagnosis and treatment options on the next page…

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