Menstrual cramps

Menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea) are throbbing or cramping 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, menstrual cramps can be severe enough to interfere with everyday activities for a few days every month.

Menstrual cramps may be caused by identifiable problems, such as endometriosis or uterine fibroids. Treating any underlying cause is key to reducing the pain. Menstrual cramps that aren't caused by an underlying condition tend to lessen with age and often improve once a woman has given birth.

Symptoms Causes Risk factors Complications

Symptoms of menstrual cramps include:

  • Throbbing or cramping pain in your lower abdomen that may be intense
  • Dull, constant ache
  • Pain that radiates to your lower back and thighs

Some women also experience:

  • Nausea
  • Loose stools
  • Headache
  • Dizziness

When to see a doctor

If you've started menstruating within the past few years and have menstrual cramps, chances are your menstrual pain isn't a cause for concern. However, if menstrual cramps disrupt your life every month, if your symptoms progressively worsen, or if you're older than 25 and just started having severe menstrual cramps, see your doctor.

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