Dr. Cathy Kim, MD:
Your Trusted Menstrual Pain Specialist
Menstrual pain, or dysmenorrhea, affects many women globally. This pain can range from mild discomfort to severe, impacting daily life. During her career as a conventional family medicine physician, Dr. Cathy Kim treated many adolescents and women with the standard prescriptions and procedures.
But as a fascia clinician researcher, Dr. Cathy Kim noticed that many female patients were burdened with the same diagnoses, such as TMJ pain, low back pain, plantar fasciitis, and dysmenorrhea; and that all of these women shared a common trait of joint hypermobility. It occurred to her that the muscles of the uterus and pelvic floor could be affected by tight fascia, just like any other muscle group. With education and treatment to correct the misalignments caused by the habit of “knee-locking,” Dr. Cathy Kim discovered that patients could have lighter and less painful periods, with results as soon as the following week.
Patients have found these results “life changing” and liberating, especially when the benefits include other peri-menstrual symptoms such as back pain or urinary discomfort. Since fascia research is only in its nascency, Dr. Cathy Kim is one of the pioneers in translating this information into effective treatments.
Overview of Menstrual Pain
Menstrual cramps, medically termed dysmenorrhea, are characterized by throbbing or cramping pains in the lower abdomen. These pains can vary in intensity, with some women experiencing mild discomfort, while others face severe pain that can interfere with daily activities. The onset of these cramps typically begins just before or during the menstrual period.
Common Causes of Menstrual Pain
- Hormonal Changes: During menstruation, the uterus contracts to expel its lining. This process is influenced by hormone-like substances called prostaglandins, which are involved in pain and inflammation. Higher levels of prostaglandins are often associated with more severe menstrual cramps.
- Endometriosis: This condition arises when tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows outside the uterus, commonly affecting areas like the fallopian tubes, ovaries, or the tissue lining the pelvis. This abnormal growth can lead to painful menstrual cramps.
- Fibroids: Uterine fibroids are noncancerous growths that develop in the wall of the uterus. These growths can be a source of pain and discomfort during menstruation.
- Other Underlying Conditions: Several other conditions can contribute to menstrual pain, including:
- Adenomyosis: Here, the tissue lining the uterus starts growing into its muscular walls.
- Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID): An infection of the female reproductive organs, typically caused by sexually transmitted bacteria.
- Cervical Stenosis: In some women, a small cervical opening can impede menstrual flow, leading to increased pressure within the uterus and resultant pain.
Symptoms Associated with Severe Menstrual Pain
- Cramping: One of the primary symptoms of menstrual pain is a throbbing or cramping sensation in the lower abdomen. This discomfort can range from being mildly annoying to severe, potentially interfering with daily activities for several days each month.
- Lower Back Pain: Along with abdominal discomfort, many women experience pain that radiates to the lower back and thighs. This radiating pain can further exacerbate the overall discomfort experienced during menstruation.
- Nausea: Some women also report feelings of nausea during their menstrual cycle. This symptom, combined with others, can make daily tasks challenging and may require additional care or rest.
- Fatigue: The physical and emotional toll of menstrual pain can lead to fatigue. This tiredness can be exacerbated by other symptoms like headaches and dizziness, making it essential for women to listen to their bodies and rest as needed.
Understanding and recognizing these symptoms is crucial. While many women experience these symptoms as a regular part of their menstrual cycle, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare provider if the symptoms progressively worsen or disrupt daily life consistently.
Common Treatment Options for Menstrual Pain
Menstrual pain, also known as dysmenorrhea, can range from mild discomfort to severe pain that affects daily activities. While many women experience these symptoms as a regular part of their menstrual cycle, various treatments can help alleviate the pain and discomfort.
Medications & Pain Relievers
Over-the-counter pain relievers, especially Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen, are often effective in easing menstrual cramps. Some products are specifically designed for menstrual cramps, combining NSAIDs and antiprostaglandins to reduce cramping in the uterus, lighten blood flow, and relieve discomfort.
Hormonal birth control pills can prevent ovulation and reduce the severity of menstrual cramps. These pills work by thinning the lining of the uterus, where prostaglandins form, reducing cramping and bleeding. Other hormonal birth control methods, such as intrauterine devices (IUDs), vaginal rings, patches, and injections, can also help decrease cramping.
Several alternative therapies might provide relief from menstrual pain. These include:
- Yoga and Acupuncture: Both have shown potential in reducing menstrual discomfort, although more research is needed.
- Natural Remedies: Applying a heat pad to the lower abdomen, practicing relaxation techniques, engaging in physical exercise, and using transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) are some methods that may offer relief.
- Herbal Remedies: Chamomile tea, Chinese herbal medicines, pine bark extract, and fennel have been explored for their potential benefits in treating menstrual pain.
In cases where menstrual cramps are due to underlying medical conditions like endometriosis or fibroids, surgery might be recommended to remove the problematic tissue. It's essential to consult with a healthcare provider to determine the best course of action based on individual needs.
Choosing the right treatment option depends on the severity of the pain, underlying causes, and individual preferences. Especially when other underlying causes have been ruled out, consultation with Dr. Cathy Kim can provide valuable knowledge that could help delay or even avoid the need for surgery.
While menstrual cramps don’t seem to cause other medical complications, they can interfere with school, work, and social activities. Conditions associated with menstrual cramps, like endometriosis, can cause fertility issues.
When to Seek Medical Attention
- If menstrual cramps disrupt your life every month.
- If your symptoms progressively worsen.
- If you start experiencing severe menstrual cramps after age 25.
Why Choose Dr. Cathy Kim
Whether the treatment is medication or massage, neither type of medical or alternative treatment addresses the root cause of painful periods. Dr. Cathy Kim stands out because:
Extensive Experience & Unique Expertise
Dr. Cathy Kim cared for families from infants to adults, including prenatal and gynecological care. This experience enables her to connect the dots on how fascia changes over a lifetime – a clinical perspective not available to fascia lab researchers.
Based on her successes, Dr. Cathy Kim has developed her unique perspective that painful periods could be a “fascia-based” problem rather than hormonal, genetic, or “curse of feminine frailty.” With her relatable and down-to-earth educational style, she has helped empower many patients to stop planning their lives around their menstrual calendar.
Book an Appointment
If you’re struggling with menstrual pain that has had a “negative workup,” schedule a consultation with Dr. Cathy A. Kim, for the chance to be liberated from this cyclical pain.
Let’s talk about your health
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