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Menstrual— Cramps—Viagra??

The medical term for painful menstrual periods is primary dysmenorrhea (PD). Menstrual cramps are often felt in the lower abdomen or lower back and range from dull to severe pain. Although these cramps typically begin during ovulation, pain can occur before menstruation and during menstruation.

With PD, there is no underlying physical problem responsible for causing the pain. Conversely, secondary dysmenorrhea (SD) is due to a medical problem, such as uterine fibroids, endometriosis, cervical stenosis or pelvic inflammatory disease.

Many women suffer from painful periods, and though there can be other, more serious causes, upwards of 90% of women may experience regular old primary dysmenorrhea. Menstrual cramping can be extremely painful, however, and the authors say it may be responsible for 600 million hours of lost work annually. The go-to treatments are generally non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen, but not all women may be able to take these, and they may not work for all women. More powerful pain killers can have unwanted side effects.

A Penn State study found 100mg of sildenafil citrate (Viagra’s generic name) when administered vaginally eases moderate to severe cramps with no side effects; taking the pill orally gives many women a headache. So why does the blue pill work so well down under? Perhaps because it dilates blood vessels, increasing endometrial blood flow, but some unknown mechanism may also be at work. Researchers reported the control group in the study, who didn’t get the drug — or relief — also had increased blood flow. The power of the placebo?
So, if you can’t wait for FDA approval (the pill isn’t approved for women for sexual dysfunction either), you can find a little relief from menstrual cramps with:

Daily aerobic exercise. Stimulating pain-relieving endorphins can help your body deal with fluctuating hormones—including estrogen, progesterone, and hormone–like chemicals called prostaglandins. Also apply heating pads, and take hot soaks!

Acupuncture. It provides stress relief and muscle relaxation that can reduce cramping.

Stress-reduction techniques. Try various styles, such as progressive relaxation and mindful meditation every day.

Orgasm (more endorphins and stress relief)—and a cup of chamomile tea to ease muscle spasms.

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