When will the root cause of the disease be what we, Doctors, focus on as far as treatment?
And when will we, the Patient, demand that our doctor gets to the root cause?
There is an article I read recently about how birth control pills could help ease menstrual pain. It made me want to yell out loud. I understand that dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation) is not at all pleasant, but I don't understand how using birth control to cover up the symptoms solves the problem. Yes it can and often does decrease the pain, but what are the long term consequences of birth control pills and their potential side effects. These must be considered.
As a doctor I am often asked what are the long term consequences and side effects. For me this is not an easy question to answer, because each person is an individual and will respond to different drugs in their own way. I have seen women who have been using birth control for 30+ years (a women in her 50's as an example) go off of it and end up having to undergo surgery to remove her ovaries because they have increased in size. I have seen other women go off and on birth control throughout the years without issues.
Serious reactions to birth control include - stroke, cerebral hemorrhage, high blood pressure, MI, depression, gallbladder disease and hepatic adenoma to name a few. While some of the common side effects include - headaches, acne, weight changes, depression, libido changes, nausea/vomiting, emotional liability and bleeding irregularity. Some doctor use birth control pills to help with teenage acne, emotional liability and for hormonal headaches. This makes little sense in my opinion as the pills themselves can cause these as side effects.
Most dysmenorrhea is caused by an imbalance in hormones especially estrogen and progesterone. Why not look at the levels and balance them so that you can overcome the dysmenorrhea? Birth control pills work by giving the body a specific amount of estrogen and progesterone; in doing this it in a way shuts off the body's own production of estrogen and progesterone. This is why on birth control we do not ovulate.
The estrogen levels will start to rise during the first half of the menstrual cycle. Estrogen is vital in building strong bone, helping the lining of the uterus to grow and thicken, while also signaling for the progesterone levels to increase. Around day 14 in a 28 day cycle, ovulation takes place and the ovum is released from the ovaries. Progesterone levels will rise to help prepare the uterine lining for implantation of a fertilized ovum. If fertilization does not take place then 14 days later we will shed the lining of the uterus (menses).
Estrogen and Progesterone play many important roles throughout the body, so why would we just want to shut them off? A Saliva Hormone test kit would be a logical step. This would allow us to see the levels of estrogen and progesterone throughout the cycle and then be able to balance these using specific herbs or even bio-identical hormones.
I know dysmenorrhea is not always easily treated, as it can also be the first symptoms of a more serious illness, including polycystic ovarian syndrome or endometriosis. But getting to the root cause of the disease seems more important than just finding an easy way of covering up the symptom.
I have helped many women dealing with dysmenorrhea, by balancing hormones, using some topical treatments, diet counseling and other methods as well. If you or a friend is dealing with dysmenorrhea and you want to get to the root of the disease please call me for a free 15 minute consultation at (415) 912-9934. You do not need to continue suffering.