MadSci Network: Medicine

Re: Why does our body(females) go though pain during our 'women hood'?

Date: Wed Jan 24 17:47:16 2001
Posted By: Allison J. Gong, Graduate student
Area of science: Medicine
ID: 980259794.Me

By "woman hood" I assume that you are referring to pain during menstruation, 
so I'll try to explain why some women experience menstrual cramps.

During menstruation, the uterus expels the endometrial lining that has been 
building up since ovulation in preparation for the arrival of a fertilized 
egg.  If a fertilized egg arrives, then the uterus is nicely set to nourish 
the developing embryo.  If the egg is not fertilized, then the whole lining 
is shed through the cervix and vagina - this is called menstruation, or 
menstrual flow, or the menstrual period.

The uterus usually contracts during menstruation; the contractions help to 
expel the uterine lining (endometrium).  Menstrual cramps are extremely mild 
compared to the contractions experienced during labor, and often are not 
even noticed by the woman.  Some of the hormones that regulate the uterine 
contractions are called prostaglandins, and unfortunately, prostaglandins 
are often associated with pain.  If there is too much of certain 
prostaglandins, the uterine contractions can be very strong and prolonged, 
and the woman will experience menstrual cramps.  Also, a woman can 
experience pain during menstruation if some of the prostaglandins "leak" 
from the uterus and affect other organs such as the intestines. 

Most women experience some menstrual cramping when they first get their 
periods, then the pain tends to lessen as the menstrual cycle becomes more 
regular.  Severe, debilitating pain during menstruation may be an indication 
of endometriosis or another disorder, but for the most part menstrual cramps 
can be relieved by relaxing, taking warm baths, and moderate exercise (which 
releases endorphins, the body's natural pain-killers).

Allison J. Gong
Mad Scientist


Our Bodies, Ourselves for the New Century: a Book by and for Women.  Simon & 
Schuster, 1998.

Carlson, K. J.; Eisenstat, S. A.; Ziporyn, T. 1996.  The Harvard Guide to 
Women's Health. Harvard University Press Reference Library.

Current Queue | Current Queue for Medicine | Medicine archives

Try the links in the MadSci Library for more information on Medicine.

MadSci Home | Information | Search | Random Knowledge Generator | MadSci Archives | Mad Library | MAD Labs | MAD FAQs | Ask a ? | Join Us! | Help Support MadSci

MadSci Network,
© 1995-2001. All rights reserved.