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Dr. Andrew Rynne
Dr. Andrew Rynne

Family Physician

Exp 50 years

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Article Home Women's Health Cramps during periods

Cramps during periods

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Menstrual cramps are dull or throbbing pains in the lower abdomen.


Many women experience menstrual cramps just before and during their menstrual periods.

For some women, the discomfort is merely annoying. For others, it can be severe enough to interfere with everyday activities for a few days every month.

Menstrual cramps are classified as primary dysmenorrhea or secondary dysmenorrhea. Primary dysmenorrhea involves no physical abnormality and usually begins six months to a year after you begin menstruating. Secondary dysmenorrhea involves an underlying physical cause, such as endometriosis or uterine fibroids. If you have primary dysmenorrhea, there are some measures you can take to ease the discomfort. You can also be rest assured that cramps tend to decrease in intensity as you get older and often disappear after pregnancy. For secondary dysmenorrhea, managing your cramps involves treating the underlying cause.


Most women experience menstrual cramps at some time in their lives. Whether it's primary or secondary, dysmenorrhea can be severe enough to disrupt your day-to-day routine.

Signs and symptoms of dysmenorrhea may include

  • Dull or throbbing pain in your lower abdomen
  • Pain that radiates to your lower back and thighs.


Other signs and symptoms that can occur along with menstrual cramps include

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loose stools
  • Sweating
  • Dizziness


During menstrual periods, your uterus contracts to help expel its lining. Prostaglandins, hormone-like substances involved in pain and inflammation, trigger the uterine muscle contractions. No one knows for sure, but many experts believe that prostaglandins are the direct cause of primary dysmenorrhea. Increased leukotriene levels — substances involved in inflammation — also may be a contributing factor.

A number of conditions can cause secondary dysmenorrhea. They include:

Risk factors

  • Risk factors associated with dysmenorrhea include:
  • Age younger than 20
  • Early onset of puberty (age 11 or younger)
  • Heavy bleeding during periods (menorrhagia)
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Attempts to lose weight (in women age 14 to 20)
  • Never having delivered a baby
  • Smoking.


Treatment and drugs

  • Non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin, ibuprofen.
  • For severe cramping, low-dose oral contraceptives to prevent ovulation, reduce the production of prostaglandins.

Home remedies

  • Keep heating pad on your abdomen to ease your cramps.
  • Exercise regularly: This can cause increased release of endorphins.
  • Get adequate rest.