Skip to content

    Women's Health

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Your Guide to Menstrual Cramps

    How Can I Relieve Mild Menstrual Cramps?

    To relieve mild menstrual cramps:

    • Take aspirin or another pain reliever, such as Tylenol (acetaminophen), Motrin (ibuprofen) or Aleve (naproxen). (Note: For best relief, you must take these medications as soon as bleeding or cramping starts.)
    • Place a heating pad or hot water bottle on your lower back or abdomen. Taking a warm bath may also provide some relief.

    To relieve menstrual cramps, you should also:

    • Rest when needed.
    • Avoid foods that contain caffeine and salt.
    • Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol.
    • Massage your lower back and abdomen.

    Women who exercise regularly often have less menstrual pain. To help prevent cramps, make exercise a part of your weekly routine.

    If these steps do not relieve pain, your health care provider can order medications for you, including:

    • Ibuprofen (higher dose than is available over the counter) or other prescription pain relievers
    • Oral contraceptives (Women taking birth control pills have less menstrual pain.)

    How Do Problems With Reproductive Organs Cause Menstrual Cramps?

    When a woman has a disease in her reproductive organs, cramping can be a problem. This type of cramping is called secondary dysmenorrhea. Conditions that can cause secondary dysmenorrhea include:

    • Endometriosis, a condition in which the tissue lining the uterus (the endometrium) is found outside of the uterus
    • Pelvic inflammatory disease, an infection caused by bacteria that starts in the uterus and can spread to other reproductive organs
    • Stenosis (narrowing) of the cervix, the lower part of the uterus (the hollow, pear-shaped organ where a baby grows), often caused by scarring
    • Tumors (also called "fibroids"), or growths on the inner wall of the uterus

    How Do I Know If My Menstrual Cramps Are Normal?

    If you have severe or unusual menstrual cramps, or cramping that lasts for more than two or three days, contact your health care provider. Menstrual cramps, whatever the cause, can be treated, so it's important to get checked.

    Today on WebMD

    hands on abdomen
    Test your knowledge.
    womans hand on abdomen
    Are you ready for baby?
     
    birth control pills
    Learn about your options.
    insomnia
    Is it menopause or something else?
     
    woman in bathtub
    Slideshow
    period
    VIDEO
     
    bp app on smartwatch and phone
    Slideshow
    estrogen gene
    Quiz
     

    Send yourself a link to download the app.

    Loading ...

    Please wait...

    This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

    Thanks!

    Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

    Blood pressure check
    Slideshow
    hot water bottle on stomach
    Quiz
     
    question
    Assessment
    Attractive young woman standing in front of mirror
    Quiz