Your Guide to Menstrual Cramps
Most cases of menstrual cramps respond to home remedies. These remedies include warm baths, aromatherapy, and over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers.
This article explains menstrual cramps in further detail. It also goes over their symptoms, causes, and remedies.
Menstrual cramps, or dysmenorrhea, are throbbing abdominal pains you experience before and during your period. They are a typical part of the menstrual cycle.
Many girls experience menstrual cramps for the first time 1 or 2 years after their first period. The first period usually occurs at around 12 years old.
Sex and gender terms
Sex and gender exist on spectrums. This article will use the terms “female” and “women” when discussing people assigned female at birth to reflect language that appears in source materials.
When do they start?
Menstrual cramps may start 1–3 days before your period, and peak a day after your period begins.
Menstrual cramps generally cause throbbing, aching pain in the lower abdomen. The pain can be dull or intense.
Other related symptoms include:
- pain that radiates down your lower back and thighs
- achy pain in your belly
- loose stools and upset stomach
- nausea and vomiting
- headache and dizziness
Schedule an appointment with your doctor if you have severe or persistent symptoms of menstrual cramps.
How long do they last?
Menstrual cramps may last for 1–3 days before subsiding.
Consult your doctor if your menstrual cramps are severe or last more than 3 days.
Menstrual cramps result when your uterus contracts to shed its lining. Hormone-like substances known as prostaglandins facilitate this contraction. If your prostaglandin levels are too high, you may experience severe menstrual cramps. Apart from that, many medical conditions can also trigger menstrual cramps. They include:
- Endometriosis: This is when tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows outside the uterus. It is a common gynecological condition.
- Uterine fibroids: These are benign growths that form in the uterus. They usually develop in women of childbearing age.
- Adenomyosis: This is when tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows into the muscle of the uterus. It can cause frequent pain and heavy bleeding.
- Pelvic inflammatory disease: This is an infection of the female reproductive system, including the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries. Common symptoms include frequent urination, pain, and vomiting.
- Cervical stenosis: This is when the passageway through your cervix narrows. It can result from degenerative changes or injury.
Some factors can put you at a higher risk of menstrual cramps. They include:
- being under 30 years old
- experiencing heavy bleeding during periods
- starting puberty early, at, or before 11 years old
- living with irregular menstrual bleeding
- having a family history of menstrual cramps
Many cases of menstrual cramps respond to home remedies.
Try to apply these remedies as soon as cramping starts:
- Take OTC pain relievers, such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen.
- Get sufficient rest.
- Apply heat compresses to the lower back.
- Get a lower back or abdominal massage.
- Exercise regularly.
- Practice yoga.
Food for menstrual cramps
Some foods may also relieve menstrual cramps. They include:
- fennel seeds
Always remember to get your doctor’s advice before making any dietary changes.
Liquids for menstrual cramps
The following liquids have the potential to reduce menstrual cramps:
- chamomile tea
- ginger tea
- green smoothies
- peppermint tea
What to avoid with menstrual cramps
Certain foods and certain practices can increase your risk of menstrual cramps. Avoiding them may help.
- fatty foods
- caffeine and carbonated beverages
Some people may also find aromatherapy helpful.
Aromatherapy is a natural treatment method that uses essential oils to promote health. These essential oils include lavender, lemon, and bergamot. A 2018 research review found that aromatherapy can be effective in relieving menstrual pain
Menstrual cramps are throbbing abdominal pains you experience before and during your period. They can be mild, moderate, or severe. In some cases, other symptoms may also appear. They can include nausea, vomiting, loose stools, and upset stomach.
Menstrual cramps result when your uterus contracts to shed its lining. This contraction is the work of hormone-like substances known as prostaglandins. If your prostaglandin levels are too high, you may experience severe menstrual cramps.
Additionally, many medical conditions can trigger menstrual cramps. They include endometriosis, uterine fibroids, and adenomyosis. A lot of cases of menstrual cramps respond to home remedies. These remedies include warm baths, dietary supplements, and OTC pain relievers.
Get medical treatment if your symptoms do not improve.