Medical Author: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
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.
Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.
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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, Children's Advil/Motrin, Medipren, Motrin, Nuprin, PediaCare Fever, and others)
- ketoprofen (Discontinued brands: Nexcede, Orudis, Oruvail, Actron)
- naproxen, Anaprox, Naprelan, Naprosyn, Aleve
- rofecoxib, Vioxx
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