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All About Menstrual Cramps and Your Period Pain

Menstrual cramps can be a pain (literally)! Learn all you need to know about dealing with your symptoms.

Period pain or menstrual cramps are something most women face each month. Usually, they’re not a bad thing. They are a sign that your body is starting another healthy menstrual cycle. But it’s helpful to understand exactly what is happening in your body.

Period Pain

Usually, menstrual cramp pain is mild. But sometimes it can be severe. The pains can vary from sharp stabs that make you double over to a nagging pain that spreads through your belly and lower back. Some women also experience dizziness, nausea, diarrhea, or vomiting. Severe period pain is called dysmenorrhea.

Two Types of Menstrual Cramps

There are two types of menstrual cramps: primary and secondary.

Primary Dysmenorrhea This is a big word for common menstrual cramps caused by your monthly cycle, not disease. You may feel mild to severe pain in your lower abdomen, back, and thighs. It starts right before your period and usually lasts between 12-72 hours. This kind of dysmenorrhea is more common in young women and often gets less severe from the mid-20s onward and after giving birth. Secondary Dysmenorrhea This type of dysmenorrhea is usually caused by a disorder in a woman's reproductive organs. Some of these conditions include endometriosis, fibroids, cysts or infection. It can also be caused by using an intrauterine device (IUD) which is a form of contraceptive. The pain usually starts earlier in the menstrual cycle and lasts longer than primary dysmenorrhea.

What Causes Menstrual Cramps?

Scientists think that menstrual cramps are related to prostaglandins – a substance your uterus makes – that causes the uterus to contract. The cramping feeling is your uterus contracting. At the start of your period, prostaglandin levels are high, and as you start to menstruate, the levels decrease.

Tackling Menstrual Cramps

There are a lot of natural ways to manage your period pain and many medicine options too. Here are 5 great ways to tackle your menstrual cramps.


  • ACOG brochure 46 Dysmenorrhea.


  • ACOG by American congress of obstetricians and gynecologists


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