Menstrual cramps develop when prostaglandins are released. The prostaglandin causes the muscles of your uterus to contract, preventing oxygen from reaching the tissue of your endometrium. As this happens, the endometrium breaks down and dies. Continued uterine contractions force the endometrial tissue (blood) through your cervix and out of your body via your vagina.
Leukotrienes may also have a part in causing menstrual cramps. These cramps are similar to what a woman experiences as she is given prostaglandin to start labor.
If your uterus tilts backward, if your cervical canal is unusually narrow and if you do not exercise regularly, you may experience more painful menstrual cramping. Cramping can begin shortly before your period begins, ending after one or two days. Cramps can peak within about 24 hours and extend to your lower back or legs. Some women also develop headaches and nausea, and even experience vomiting. Other women may become constipated or develop diarrhea due to the effects of the prostaglandins on their bodies. Read the Bright Hub guides to learn more about menstrual cramping and treatments to relieve the pain.
Image: Woman in Thought Credit Louisa Stokes Free Digital Photos: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=1722
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