Ayurvedic treatment for Dysmenorrhoea

Dysmenorrhoea

Know More on Women's Health

  • Definition
  • Causes
  • Symptoms
  • Diagnosis
  • Management
  • FAQS
  • References

Definition

Dysmenorrhoea Ayurvedic treatment

Dysmenorrhoea refers to menstrual cramps. They are typically throbbing or cramping pains in the lower abdomen, back and legs. These pains are usually apparent just before and during the menstrual periods in most women who suffer from dysmenorrhoea. The intensity and severity of the condition may range from annoying or a discomfort to more severe so that it interferes with everyday activities for a few days every month. While it may be seen in most women without any underlying pathology, there may be identifiable problems underneath which includes endometriosis or uterine fibroids. Treating any underlying cause would help in reducing the pain. Dysmenorrhoea tends to lessen with age and after childbirth.1-4

In Ayurvedic classics, menstrual pain which is so severe that you cannot perform daily activities is termed as dysmenorrhoea (Kashtartava).5 According to Ayurvedic text there are many other diseases in which Kashtartava is described as a symptom.4 According to Ayurveda, aggravation of vata and pitta dosha are the main causes of menstrual diseases.6

Dysmenorrhoea may be of two types1

  • Primary dysmenorrhoea – This type usually begins within six months of having the first period. There is usually no underlying disease or condition leading to this type of dysmenorrhoea. It lasts less than 72 hours, beginning at the start of the periods and is usually caused due to uterine cramping caused by the action of internal chemicals called prostaglandins during this phase of the menstrual cycle.
  • Secondary dysmenorrhoea – This type of dysmenorrhoea is usually caused in women who have had painless periods before. This may be caused by diseases such as fibroids, endometriosis, infections or sexually transmitted diseases. There may be additional features including discharge from the vagina or pain during sexual intercourse.

Causes

Dysmenorrhoea

During the periods, the uterus contracts to expel the lining or the endometrium. This is triggered by hormone like chemicals within the body called prostaglandins. These prostaglandins are the reason for the pain. Higher levels of prostaglandins thus lead to more severe pain. Some diseases may also lead to dysmenorrhoea. These include –

  • Endometriosis – This involves formation of uterine tissues that get implanted outside the uterus.
  • Uterine fibroids – These are non-cancer growth in the wall of the uterus
  • Adenomyosis – here the tissues of the uterus begin to grow into the muscular walls of the uterus.
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) - infection of the female reproductive organs usually caused as a result of sexually transmitted bacteria
  • Cervical stenosis or stricture of the opening of the cervix leading to pain during periods

Symptoms

Dysmenorrhoea

Symptoms of menstrual cramps include:

  • Dull, constant ache in the lower abdomen
  • Throbbing or cramping pain
  • Pain that radiates to the lower back and thighs
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache

Diagnosis

Dysmenorrhoea

Dysmenorrhoea may be seen in many women without any underlying disease. For diagnosis of severe conditions a detail of medical history is obtained and a physical examination is undertaken. If an abnormality is suspected tests suggested include –

  • ultrasound of the abdomen
  • imaging tests like a CT scan or MRI (Magnetic resonance imaging) study of the abdomen
  • Laparoscopy to check the insides of the abdomen visually

Management

Dysmenorrhoea

Not all women need treatment for dymenorrhoea. Some signs that a woman needs care for her dysmenorrhoea include –

  • Intense sudden pain
  • Prolonged pain lasting even after the periods are over
  • Worsening pain
  • Pain along with foul smelling vaginal discharge or itching
  • Fever along with pain
  • Pain after placement of a Copper T device or IUD
  • Increased bleeding along with pain
  • Pain not relieved by medications

Ayurveda recommends adequate rest along with appropriate diet, lifestyle and herbs to manage this condition. Practice of yoga is also beneficial.6

Diet Recommendations (Aahar)

  • Eating a healthy balanced diet. Eating warm and fresh foods
  • Having fresh fruits like plums, dark grapes, apples, pomegranates.
  • Eating more leafy vegetables
  • Eating 5-6 small meals
  • Regularly using ginger in food preparations
  • Avoiding high fat and sugar
  • Taking supplements like calcium, magnesium, vitamin E, B6,
  • B12

Lifestyle changes (Vihar)

· Exercising regularly-minimum thrice a week

· Ensuring sound sleep of at least 6-8 hours

· Avoiding smoking and alcohol

· Reducing caffeine

Yoga: In Yoga, various types of Asanas have been mentioned. Among them Ushtrasana, Bhadrasana, Gomukhasana, and Vajrasana have a pain relieving effect.

Figure 1Ushtrasana

Figure 2Bhadrasana

Figure 3 Gomukhasana

Figure 4 Vajrasana

FAQS

Dysmenorrhoea
  1. I am 3 month’s pregnant, what diet I should take according to Ayurveda?

Ayurveda recommends right dietary and lifestyle changes along with herbs to promote a healthy pregnancy.

Dietary advice includes –

  • Eating a healthy balanced diet, lots of fruits, vegetables and adequate diary foods
  • Including whole grains and complex carbohydrates rather than processed foods
  • Routine use of folic acid supplements daily. Foods rich in folic acid include lentils, kidney beans, green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, nuts, and beans.
  • Food should be enriched with all six types of tastes (sweet, pungent, sour, bitter, spicy and astringent)
  • Female with prior history of abortion should avoid brinjal, suran, papaya, celery, onion, chili, garlic, ginger, pepper, mustard, jaggery in diet
  • Those who suffer from constipation, gas, bloating must avoid peas, potato and other heavy to digest cereals. They can take green grams.

During the first trimester Ayurveda emphasizes on nourishing rasa and rakta dhatu, that is blood and blood plasma. This means diet should be rich in juicy fruits, coconut water, herbal infusions (raspberry leaf, nettle, oatstraw). Milk and ghee should be included in diet.

  1. What care do I take for first three months of pregnancy?

According to Ayurveda following lifestyle changes to be made:

  • Include regular exercise and keep fit.
  • Avoid abnormal asanas (positions), avoid sexual intercourse, straining at abdomen, heavy exercise and weight loss programsn
  • Avoid travelling in a vehicle on rough roads, sitting for long hours, lifting heavy objects
  • Avoid negative feelings and thoughts such as sorrow, anger, grief, fear and doubt as these things will affect mental and physical growth of fetus
  • Avoid exposure to unhappy or violent events
  • Avoid sleeping during the day and staying up late in night
  • Do not hold natural urges like holding urine or motion
  1. What can I expect during my 2nd trimester?

The mother’s body changes significantly during second trimester. The discomforting symptoms of the first trimester like morning sickness, fatigue, bloating etc are typically lower during this time. It is sometimes the easiest of the three trimesters of pregnancy. During this time the baby grows rapidly. Some of the maternal changes include

  • Larger breasts. Breast tenderness that was present during the first trimester may be reduced in intensity.
  • Growing uterus leads to a growing belly
  • Starting in the second trimester, there may be a weight gain of about 1.4 to 1.8 kilograms a month until delivery.
  • There may be slight contractions of the uterus wall as it builds strength.
  • Dark patches may appear over the skin. There may be a dark line down the abdomen
  • Stretch marks may also become apparent
  • Nasal and gum problems may appear.
  • Spells of dizziness are common
  • Leg cramps especially in the calf muscles can occur more frequently.
  • Some vaginal discharge is seen
  • Enlarging uterus may press upon the bladder. Bladder and urinary infections are common.
  1. What diet should I take post-delivery?

Ayurveda suggests following diet recommendation post-delivery:

  • Increase intake of foods that include sesame seeds, dry nuts, fenugreek seeds/leaves, garlic, drumsticks & carom seeds to increase milk supply for breastfeeding.
  • Have fresh milk as the first meal of the day to help may help enhance the quality of the breastfeeding milk.
  • Consume and cook vegetables such as beans, squash, carrots, beets, green leafy vegetables and zucchini preferably in ghee.
  • Lentils, cereals and whole grains should be seasoned with whole spices and served hot.
  • Avoid cabbage, potatoes and cauliflower during the first three weeks.
  • Avoid leftover foods, stale and cold foods. 
  1. I am 4 months pregnant and suffer from acidity. What can I do to avoid acidity?

Ayurveda suggests simple diet changes to prevent acidity. Few of them are:

  • Avoid excess greasy or spicy foods
  • Irregular eating habits to be avoided
  • Include more leafy vegetables and Adequate water intake
  • Avoid sleeping just after taking meal.
  • Excessive intake of the caffeine to be avoided. Carbonated drinks are to be avoided
  • The diet should consist of milk with sugar, and a little old rice.
  • Other recommended substances are: barley, wheat, rice (at least one year old), cucumber, bitter gourd, green banana, pumpkin, pomegranate, and cow's milk.
  • Pomegranate juice andpomegranate chutney also help balance the acid in the stomach. It tastes sour, but it is actually both astringent and bitter, which help balance Pitta.
  • Eating small meals more often helps in digestion
  1. I am pregnant and get often constipated. What can I do?

Ayurveda and general medicine recommend a dietary plan for pregnant women with constipation. This includes –

  • Plenty of fluids in diet
  • Adequate amounts of fruits and vegetables
  • Vata and Pitta pacifying diets including warm soupy foods
  • Lightly cooked seasonal vegetables and stewed fruits
  • Inclusion of ghee in diet and large glass of warm water with each meal

Lifestyle suggestions:

  • Light massage with warm sesame oil
  • Regular physical activity can help reduce pregnancy constipation
  • Quitting smoking and alcohol
  • Cutting down on caffeine containing drinks
  • Taking regular and frequent meals
  1. What is dysmenorrhea?

Dysmenorrhoea refers to painful menstruation that is periods with menstrual cramps. These pains are typically throbbing or cramping pains in the lower abdomen. These pains are usually apparent just before and during the menstrual periods in most women who suffer from dysmenorrhea. The pain may range from annoying or a discomfort to severe so that it may be difficult to do you daily routine for few days every month. In some women, the cause of dysmenorrhea may be endometriosis or uterine fibroids while in young girls ovulatory cycles, pin hole and other psychological factors may cause the condition.

In Ayurvedic classics, menstrual pain which is so severe that you cannot do daily activities is termed as dysmenorrhea (Kashtartava). According to Ayurvedic text there are many other diseases in which Kashtartava is considered and is described as a symptom. According to Ayurveda, aggravation of vata and pitta dosha are the main causes of menstrual diseases.

  1. I have endometriosis. Can I exercise during menstruation?

For women with endometriosis, regular rest is important. Women should avoid exercise during menstruation and should keep their exercise relatively moderate throughout the month. In general also, strenuous physical activity, prolonged standing etc may be avoided during periods.

Forms of exercise that regulate the flow of Vata and nourish the nervous system such as walking, swimming, Tai chi, Qigong and some forms of yoga are advisable.

Regularity in daily routine (going to bed and waking up at a similar time each day and regular meal times) is very important for calming aggravated Vata, as is regular self-abhyanga / warm oil massage.

  1. I am not able to conceive since last two years. What could be the reason?

According to Ayurveda, Vandhyatva or Female infertility is a disease of the reproductive system involves the failure to achieve a pregnancy or a live offspring.  Infertility exists when a healthy couple  is unable to achieve pregnancy after  two or more years or  fail  to  conceive  for  several  years  after  the  first delivery.

The causes of infertility may lie in the male partner or in the female partner. Possible causes of male infertility include –

  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Altered quality of sperm that may be low in number or may be unhealthy
  • Blockage of the tube that carries the sperm to the penis from the testes
  • Impotence or erectile dysfunction

The causes of female infertility include –

  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Damage to the fallopian tubes or diseases of the ovaries or womb
  • Fibroids or endometriosis affecting the uterus

Some general causes of infertility include:-

  • Early and Late marriage: Not well development of reproductive organs.
  • Nutrition less & fat rich food: No nourishment of body, tempers ovary function.
  • Tight clothing & mobile: Overheating of testis leads to low sperm count.
  • Smoking & alcoholism: Lowers motility of sperms and lowers LH hormones.
  • Improper hygiene of genital organs: Causes infection of genital tract.
  • Stress: Loss of energy and enthusiasm to do sex.
  • Loss of libido. Affects HPO axis leads to impairment of ovarian function. e to above causes disord

Long term diseases, psychological or environmental factors may cause infertility in both men and women. With age fertility usually declines.

  1. Is menopause a disease?

Menopause is a natural physiological state. It is defined as occurring 12 months after a woman’s last menstrual period and marks the end of menstrual cycles. Menopause can happen in the 40s or 50s. It is a natural biological process that ends the fertility. However it is no reason not to stay healthy and vital.

Ayurveda describes menopause as a normal stage of life that comes with aging. ‘Vata’ increased during the later years of life. Hence symptoms of menopause experienced by some women are similar to the symptoms seen when the Vata dosha rises and upsets the normal balance of the body. Vata-type menopausal symptoms are depression, anxiety, and insomnia (not able to sleep properly). There can be involvement of more than one dosha in menopause. Women with Pitta-type symptoms are often angry and suffer hot flashes. Kapha type symptoms include low mood, weight gain, and feelings of mental and physical heaviness.

 

References

Dysmenorrhoea
  1. Dysmenorrhea - Pain During Menstruation. Accessed on 26th August 2016, downloaded from: http://www.news-medical.net/health/Dysmenorrhea-Pain-During-Menstruation.aspx
  2. Menstrual cramps. Accessed on 26th August 2016, downloaded from: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/menstrual-cramps/basics/definition/con-200254471.
  3. Menstrual Cramps (Period Pains): Causes and Treatments. Accessed on 26th August 2016, downloaded from: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/157333.php
  4. Patil B. Dysmenorrhoea (Kashtartava): An Ayurvedic Perspective. International Journal of Herbal Medicine 2015; 3(3): 33-35
  5. Priya ST, et al. Clinical evaluation of shankhapani rasa in the management of kastartava (dysmenorrhoea). International Journal of Ayurvedic Medicine 2013; 4(4): 379-86.
  6. Ayurveda for dysmenorrhea. Accessed on 26th August 2016, downloaded from: http://ayurveda-foryou.com/women/dismeno.html.

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