Menstrual cramps can cause mild discomfort to severe pain in the lower abdomen, back, or thighs. The pain usually starts right before or at the beginning of your period. During this time, you may also have headaches, diarrhea or constipation, nausea, dizziness, or fainting.
Not every woman has menstrual pain. But it can be a normal part of how the body works.
To help relieve menstrual cramps:
Over-the-counter medicine usually relieves menstrual pain.
Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label. If you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant, talk to your doctor before using any medicine. Do not take aspirin if you are younger than 20 because of the risk of Reye syndrome.
Prescription medicine is a good choice if over-the-counter medicine does not bring you relief. Birth control hormones help relieve menstrual pain and lighten bleeding for most women.footnote 1 They also prevent pregnancy. Talk to your doctor about trying the birth control pill, patch, or ring. With most types of hormone birth control, you take the hormones every day for 3 weeks, then take a week off. This is when you might get a menstrual period. There are some types of pills that you can take over 3 months, or even every day of the year. With these, you might have unexpected spotting or bleeding, especially during the first year.
Shushan A (2013). Complications of menstruation and abnormal uterine bleeding. In AH DeCherney et al., eds., Current Diagnosis and Treatment: Obstetrics and Gynecology, 11th ed., pp. 611–619. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Other Works Consulted
Lentz GM (2012). Primary and secondary dysmenorrhea, premenstrual syndrome, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder. In GM Lentz et al., eds., Comprehensive Gynecology, 6th ed., pp. 791–803. Philadelphia: Mosby.
Current as of:
March 17, 2021
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: Sarah Marshall MD - Family MedicineMartin J. Gabica MD - Family MedicineKathleen Romito MD - Family MedicineRebecca Sue Uranga
Current as of: March 17, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Sarah Marshall MD - Family Medicine & Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Rebecca Sue Uranga
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