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.
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.
Other causes of menstrual cramps
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Birth Control Quiz: Test Your Medical IQ
What is the best form of birth control? Take this quiz to find out about hormonal, surgical, barrier, and natural methods!
Pelvic Pain: What's Causing Your Pelvic Pain?
There are many causes of pelvic pain in women including cysts, PMS, appendicitis, and bladder infections. Pelvic pain has...
What Is Endometriosis? Symptoms, Causes, Treatment
What is endometriosis? Endometriosis is an abnormal growth of endometrial cells found in the uterus. Not to be confused with...
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 adhesions are pelvic or abdominal pain. Abdominal adhesions on the intestines can cause bowel obstruction, which is a medical emergency. Treatment for abdominal adhesions is generally surgery to cut the adhesions away from the internal tissues and organs. There is no way to prevent abdominal adhesions.
Can You Get Menstrual Cramps After Exercise Like Running?
Menstrual cramps affect many women. Learn if exercise like running can cause menstrual cramps and how you can treat them.
Endometriosis implants are most commonly found on the ovaries, the Fallopian tubes, outer surfaces of the uterus or intestines, and on the surface lining of the pelvic cavity. They also can be found in the vagina, cervix, and bladder. Endometriosis may not produce any symptoms, but when it does the most common symptom is pelvic pain that worsens just prior to menstruation and improves at the end of the menstrual period. Other symptoms of endometriosis include pain during sex, pain with pelvic examinations, cramping or pain during bowel movements or urination, and infertility. Treatment of endometriosis can be with medication or surgery.
How Can I Stop Prolonged Periods Naturally?
Heavy periods may be a sign of some underlying health condition. Quite often, heavy and prolonged periods may be a result of nutritional deficiencies. There are a few home remedies for a heavy period. Your doctor may use medication or surgery to treat heavy periods.
How Can You Tell if You're Pregnant if You Have Irregular Periods?
Learn the signs of pregnancy, what causes irregular periods, and when to see a doctor.
How Do I Get Rid of Gas Pains During My Period?
Gas pain during your period can be debilitating. Learn what causes gas pain during your period and how you can get rid of it or lower the chances of developing gas pain during your period.
How Long Does a Hysteroscopy Take?
Hysteroscopy is a procedure performed by a gynecologist to inspect inside of the uterine cavity using a thin tube with a light and camera attached to it. Hysteroscopy can take anywhere between 5 to 30 minutes or longer if a surgical procedure is being performed at the same time. Surgical procedures to treat uterine pathologies can take between 30 minutes to 2 hours as well, depending on the procedure.
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is the most common and serious complication of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), aside from AIDS, among women. The signs and symptoms of pelvic inflammatory disease include: fever, vaginal discharge with a foul odor, abdominal pain, including pain during intercourse, and irregular vaginal bleeding. Pelvic inflammatory disease can scar the Fallopian tubes, ovaries, and related structures and lead to ectopic pregnancies, infertility, chronic pelvic pain, and other serious consequences. Pelvic inflammatory disease treatment includes several types of antibiotics.
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a combination of physical and emotional disturbances that occur after a woman ovulates and ends with menstruation. Common PMS symptoms include; depression, irritability, crying, oversensitivity, and mood swings. For some women PMS symptoms can be controlled with natural and home remedies, medications, and lifestyle changes such as exercise, nutrition, and a family and friend support system.
Uterine Fibroids (Benign Tumors of the Uterus)
Uterine fibroids are benign (non-cancerous) tumors in the womb (uterus). Most uterine fibroids do not cause symptoms; however, if the fibroid is large enough and in the right location, it may cause symptoms of pelvic pain, abnormal vaginal bleeding, and pressure on the bladder or rectum. Uterine fibroids that remain small and do not grow usually do not need treatment; however, surgery to remove the fibroid may be necessary. Uterine fibroids do not cause cancer; however, there is a rare, fast-growing cancerous called leiomyosarcoma.
What Are Signs Your Period Is Coming?
Knowing the signs of a period can help you deal with your menstrual symptoms. Learn how to identify the signs of a period, know when to see a doctor, and find treatment for your period symptoms.
What Are the Side Effects of Having Irregular Periods?
Having irregular periods is a common issue that affects many women. Learn the side effects of having irregular periods, the symptoms of irregular periods, what causes irregular periods, how doctors diagnose irregular periods, and what you can do to treat irregular periods.
What Can Cause Amenorrhea Other Than Pregnancy?
Amenorrhea is a common issue that affects some women even when they're not pregnant. Learn the signs of amenorrhea, what causes amenorrhea, how doctors diagnose amenorrhea, and what you can do to address amenorrhea.
Examples of Medications for Menstrual Cramps
- acetaminophen (Tylenol, Tylenol Arthritis Pain, Tylenol Ext, Little Fevers Children's Fever/Pain)
- Birth Control Pills (List of Oral Contraceptives and Side Effects)
- celecoxib (Celebrex)
- conjugated equine estrogens and medroxyprogesterone acetate, Prempro, Premphase
- ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Nuprin)
- Ketorolac vs. diclofenac
- Ketorolac vs. ketoprofen
- naproxen (Aleve, Anaprox, Naprelan, Naprosyn)
- rofecoxib, Vioxx
- Side Effects of Bextra (valdecoxib)
- Side Effects of Feldene (piroxicam)
- Side Effects of Vioxx (rofecoxib)
- Side Effects of Voltaren (diclofenac)