Why Am I Having Menstrual Cramps but No Period?

Medically Reviewed on 12/15/2022

What are menstrual cramps without a period?

Menstrual cramps without a period are abdominal cramps in the absence of menstruation that may be due to smoking, anxiety, depression and menstrual irregularities.
Menstrual cramps without a period are abdominal cramps in the absence of menstruation that may be due to smoking, anxiety, depression and menstrual irregularities.

Although it is relatively common to experience menstrual cramps during your period, menstruation itself isn’t the only reason you might have period-like cramps. Painful cramps can take place at any time during your menstrual cycle, and while they’re often nothing to worry about, some cases do need attention. 

Various risk factors may increase your odds of having strong pelvic or menstrual cramps that aren’t directly related to your period. Some of these include: 

If along with severe cramps you experience abnormal bleeding, difficulty breathing, or dizziness, these could be signs of a medical emergency, and you should call 911 right away. 

Signs of menstrual cramps without a period

Menstrual cramps occur in the lower stomach or pelvis. They usually start during the first or second day of a woman’s period. 

If your cramps don’t coincide with menstruation, they may not be related to your menstrual cycle. See a doctor if you are experiencing cramping as well as vaginal discharge

Why do I have cramps, but no period and I'm not pregnant?

There are many reasons why you might have menstrual cramps without your period and not be pregnant, ranging from normal and natural to serious medical conditions. If you’re only experiencing sudden or unexpected cramps, it may not be easy to tell one from the other. 

Here are just a few of the reasons you might have non-period cramps: 


You may be ovulating. This is the simplest and most common reason for cramps outside your period. Ovulation happens naturally within 10 to 14 days of your period when your ovaries release an unfertilized egg as part of your menstrual cycle. This doesn’t always cause pain, but many women report dull or sharp pains around their lower abdomen during ovulation. 


Another reason why it feels like your period is coming but it’s not, is anovulation. This condition means that your ovaries do not release an egg. You may have all the other symptoms of your period coming, like abdominal cramping, but you don’t get your period.

Ovarian cysts

Ovarian cysts can also cause cramping. These cysts can form when the fluid-filled sacs around your ovaries either don’t allow an egg to pass through for ovulation or fail to properly close after the egg is released. Either case may lead to cramping.  


Endometriosis develops when the uterine lining starts growing outside your uterus, such as in your fallopian tubes, ovaries, or bladder. Several therapies for endometriosis exist, ranging from over-the-counter pain relief medications to hormone therapy

Interstitial cystitis

Interstitial cystitis (IC) is a condition that affects your bladder. It is often called “painful bladder syndrome.” Painful cramping is one of its characteristic symptoms, along with feeling frequent urges to urinate. While there’s no cure for IC, it is treatable through diet changes, physical therapy, and other means. 

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) 

This condition causes abdominal pain and bloating with alternating bouts of diarrhea and constipation. With IBS, you might get sudden abdominal cramps that are relieved when you have a bowel movement. The symptoms may also be worse around the time of your period. You may also feel abdominal pressure and have gas and other symptoms.  

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis cause abdominal cramping, pain, and irritation along the digestive tract. If you have abdominal cramps along with bloody stools, weight loss, and fatigue, you might have IBD.

There are also many other reasons why you could be having menstrual cramps without a period, including: 

Given the wide variety of possible causes, it’s a good idea to have your symptoms checked out by a health professional if you’re experiencing unusual menstrual cramps. 

Is it period cramps or pregnancy? 

Abdominal cramps may be due to menstruation, pregnancy, or other medical conditions. How do you know if cramping is because you are about to get your period or you are pregnant? Implantation cramping is abdominal pain that you get when a fertilized embryo implants itself into your uterine lining. It is less painful than period cramping.

What kind of cramps indicate pregnancy?

Typically, implantation cramps will be much less painful than actual period cramps. Implantation bleeding may also occur, which is light spotting. You may also have pregnancy-related symptoms, especially spotting, breast tenderness, and nausea (especially in the morning!). 


16 Early Signs & Symptoms of Pregnancy: Could You Be Pregnant? See Slideshow

When to see the doctor for menstrual cramps without a period

Whether to see your doctor for your menstrual cramps depends on the additional symptoms you may be experiencing. Although there are many natural reasons why you might have cramps without a period, enough causes for concern exist that you may wish to see a doctor anyway. 

Consider the following before making your decision: 

  • How painful your cramps are
  • How long your pain lasts
  • Whether you have other symptoms in addition to cramps
  • Where you are in your monthly menstrual cycle

Diagnosing menstrual cramps without a period

Healthcare providers have many tools at their disposal to accurately diagnose your condition. A few of these include: 

  • Ultrasound — uses sound waves to create a detailed image of your abdominal and reproductive organs 
  • Hysteroscopy — uses a medical scope, called a hysteroscope, to examine your uterus and cervix directly
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) — Uses a magnetic field and radio waves to diagram and visualize your internal organs

The exact test used, like the treatment applied, will depend on your doctor’s initial evaluation of your symptoms. 

Treatments for menstrual cramps without a period

Many of the same pain relievers used to treat strong cramps during your period, such as ibuprofen, can also treat menstrual cramps you may feel without your period. In many cases, this medication may be all that you need. 

If your cramps have a deeper underlying cause, such as endometriosis, your treatment will depend on your age, how severe your symptoms are, and how much the disease has progressed. Most therapies will be as noninvasive as possible, but surgical intervention may be needed if your symptoms are serious and persistent. 

What are signs your period is coming?

Many women get physical and mood changes about 1 or 2 weeks before they get their period. Hormone changes cause premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms like cramping, breast tenderness, acne, fatigue, GI symptoms, mood swings, headaches, anxiety, depression, and low back pain. These symptoms tend to resolve about 3 to 4 days after your period starts.

What are signs of no period?

A lack of menstrual periods is called amenorrhea. There are many potential causes of a lack of menstruation. Other signs and symptoms that may occur with amenorrhea may include hair loss, vision changes, headaches, acne, pelvic pain, nipple discharge, and excess facial hair.

Medically Reviewed on 12/15/2022

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