Menstrual Cramps

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Menstrual cramps are the cramping in the lower abdomen, usually in the first or second day of the menstrual cycle. These are caused contractions of the uterus as it expels its unneeded contents, and also by the passage of clotted blood through the cervix. Ibuprofen (Advil) or other pain relievers can reduce the severity of cramps; some women report that exercise is also helpful.

Severe menstrual cramps, particularly if paired with excessive bleeding or passage of large blood clots, can occasionally be a sign of endometriosis or other disorders of the female reproductive tract. Menstrual cramps are also known as dysmenorrhea.

Summary of Common Menstrual Cramps Symptoms by MedicineNet Staff
A review of our Patient Comments indicated that people with menstrual cramps may also have coexisting symptoms. Some patients experienced heavy bleeding with their menstrual cramps. Others experienced nausea, headaches, diarrhea, and back pain. Irritability, bloating, and weakness were also noted. Read on to learn more about menstrual cramps symptoms in our Patient Comments.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/1/2012

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REFERENCE:

Fauci, Anthony S., et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 17th ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Professional, 2008.

Causes of Menstrual Cramps
    • Abdominal Adhesions (Scar Tissue) Abdominal adhesions (scar tissue) bands of scar tissue that form between abdominal organs and tissues. Symptoms of abdominal...learn more »
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      • Can abdominal adhesions be prevented?
    • Endometriosis Endometriosis is the growth of cells similar to those that form the inside of the uterus, but in a location outside of the...learn more »
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      • Endometriosis facts
      • What is endometriosis?
      • Who is affected by endometriosis?
      • What causes endometriosis?
      • What are endometriosis symptoms?
      • Endometriosis and cancer risk
      • How is endometriosis diagnosed?
      • How is endometriosis treated?
      • Medical treatment of endometriosis
      • Surgical treatment of endometriosis
      • Treatment of infertility associated with endometriosis
    • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is the most common and serious complication of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), aside from...learn more »
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      • What are the signs and symptoms of pelvic inflammatory disease?
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      • What should I do if I think I have an STI (sexually transmitted disease)?
    • Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a combination of physical and emotional disturbances that occur after a woman ovulates and ends...learn more »
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      Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) Article
      • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) facts
      • What is premenstrual syndrome?
      • How common is PMS?
      • When was PMS discovered?
      • What causes PMS?
      • What are the symptoms of PMS?
      • How is the diagnosis of PMS made?
      • What conditions are like PMS?
      • How is PMS distinguished from other conditions?
      • What treatments are available for PMS?
      • What medications are used to treat PMS?
      • Are there herbal or natural remedies for PMS?
      • Can exercise help relieve some of the symptoms of PMS?
      • Is there a "cure" for PMS?
    • Uterine Fibroids (Benign Tumors of the Uterus) Uterine fibroids are benign tumors that originate in the uterus and are usually round or semi-round in shape. The most common...learn more »
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      Uterine Fibroids (Benign Tumors of the Uterus) Article
      • Uterine fibroids facts
      • What are uterine fibroids?
      • What causes uterine fibroids and how common are they?
      • What are the symptoms of uterine fibroids?
      • Do untreated uterine fibroids pose a risk?
      • What are the usual ways of diagnosing uterine fibroids?
      • What is the treatment of uterine fibroids?
      • Surgery for fibroids
      • Medical treatment for fibroids
      • What are the risks of uterine fibroids during pregnancy?
Other Causes of Menstrual Cramps
Examples of Medications for Menstrual Cramps