Symptom Checker: Symptoms & Signs Index
Medical Author: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Menstrual cramps are the cramping in the lower abdomen, usually in the first or second day of the menstrual cycle. These are caused contractions of the uterus as it expels its unneeded contents, and also by the passage of clotted blood through the cervix. Ibuprofen (Advil) or other pain relievers can reduce the severity of cramps; some women report that exercise is also helpful.
Severe menstrual cramps, particularly if paired with excessive bleeding or passage of large blood clots, can occasionally be a sign of endometriosis or other disorders of the female reproductive tract. Menstrual cramps are also known as dysmenorrhea.
A review of our Patient Comments indicated that people with menstrual cramps may also have coexisting symptoms. Some patients experienced heavy bleeding with their menstrual cramps. Others experienced nausea, headaches, diarrhea, and back pain. Irritability, bloating, and weakness were also noted. Read on to learn more about menstrual cramps symptoms in our Patient Comments.
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Fauci, Anthony S., et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 17th ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Professional, 2008.
Causes of Menstrual Cramps
In This ArticleAbdominal Adhesions (Scar Tissue) Article
- Abdominal adhesions facts*
- What are abdominal adhesions?
- What causes abdominal adhesions?
- How can abdominal adhesions cause intestinal obstruction?
- How can abdominal adhesions cause female infertility?
- What are the symptoms of abdominal adhesions?
- What are the symptoms of an intestinal obstruction?
- How are abdominal adhesions and intestinal obstructions diagnosed?
- How are abdominal adhesions and intestinal obstructions treated?
- Can abdominal adhesions be prevented?
In This ArticleEndometriosis Article
- Endometriosis facts
- What is endometriosis?
- Who is affected by endometriosis?
- What causes endometriosis?
- What are endometriosis symptoms?
- Endometriosis and cancer risk
- How is endometriosis diagnosed?
- How is endometriosis treated?
- Medical treatment of endometriosis
- Surgical treatment of endometriosis
- Treatment of infertility associated with endometriosis
In This ArticlePelvic Inflammatory Disease Article
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) facts*
- What is pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)?
- What causes pelvic inflammatory disease?
- How common is pelvic inflammatory disease?
- Are some women more likely to get pelvic inflammatory disease?
- What are the signs and symptoms of pelvic inflammatory disease?
- How is pelvic inflammatory disease diagnosed?
- How is pelvic inflammatory disease treated?
- What if my partner is infected with pelvic inflammatory disease?
- My friend was told she can't get pregnant because she has PID. Is this true?
- How can I keep myself from getting PID?
- What should I do if I think I have an STI (sexually transmitted disease)?
In This ArticlePremenstrual Syndrome (PMS) Article
- Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) facts
- What is premenstrual syndrome?
- How common is PMS?
- When was PMS discovered?
- What causes PMS?
- What are the symptoms of PMS?
- How is the diagnosis of PMS made?
- What conditions are like PMS?
- How is PMS distinguished from other conditions?
- What treatments are available for PMS?
- What medications are used to treat PMS?
- Are there herbal or natural remedies for PMS?
- Can exercise help relieve some of the symptoms of PMS?
- Is there a "cure" for PMS?
In This ArticleUterine Fibroids (Benign Tumors of the Uterus) Article
- Uterine fibroids facts
- What are uterine fibroids?
- What causes uterine fibroids and how common are they?
- What are the symptoms of uterine fibroids?
- Do untreated uterine fibroids pose a risk?
- What are the usual ways of diagnosing uterine fibroids?
- What is the treatment for uterine fibroids?
- Surgery for fibroids
- Medical treatment for fibroids
- What are the risks of uterine fibroids during pregnancy?
Other Causes of Menstrual Cramps
Examples of Medications for Menstrual Cramps
- acetaminophen, Tylenol and Others
- Birth Control Pills (Oral Contraceptives)
- celecoxib, Celebrex
- conjugated equine estrogens and medroxyprogesterone acetate, Prempro, Premphase
- ibuprofen, Advil, Children's Advil/Motrin, Medipren, Motrin, Nuprin, PediaCare Fever etc.
- ketoprofen None (Note: previous brand names no longer available in the US include Orudis, Oruvail)
- naproxen, Anaprox, Naprelan, Naprosyn, Aleve
- rofecoxib, Vioxx
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