Recent Blog Articles
The popularity of microdosing of psychedelics: What does the science say?
Pouring from an empty cup? Three ways to refill emotionally
Is pregnancy safe for everyone?
New pediatric guidelines on obesity in children and teens
Screening tests may save lives — so when is it time to stop?
Natural disasters strike everywhere: Ways to help protect your health
The case of the bad placebo
Do we feel pain more at night?
If you use cannabis, do it safely
Time for a diabetes tune-up
Painful Menstrual Cramps
Many women experience crampy pain around the time of menstrual periods. Painful menstrual cramps, also called "dysmenorrhea," usually involves the area around the lower abdomen or pelvis, but can be felt in other areas such as the lower back, hips or upper thighs.
Menstrual cramps can be mild to moderately severe, usually lasting one to three days. About ten percent of women with painful periods have such severe pain that they cannot work, exercise or play for several hours to several days each month. Fortunately, most women find relief or control of their symptoms with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen or naproxen.
For many women, painful menstrual cramps have been a part of their lives for years.
This Decision Guide is designed to help women who have more recent onset of painful menstrual cramps or whose cramps have become worse in the last several months. The guide consists of a series of questions. You answers will lead to information pertinent to your menstrual cramps and tips on how to manage your cramps.
Please note that this guide should be used for informational purposes and is not intended to replace the evaluation and advice of your health care provider.
If your menstrual cramps have developed recently this may indicate a new medical problem or a change in your hormones. For example, painful cramps that have had their start within the past six weeks may be caused by infection or pregnancy. Cramps that started more than six weeks ago are less likely to be from one of these problems.
Did your cramps begin within the last six weeks?
To continue reading this article, you must log in.
Subscribe to Harvard Health Online for immediate access to health news and information from Harvard Medical School.
- Research health conditions
- Check your symptoms
- Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
- Find the best treatments and procedures for you
- Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
I'd like to receive access to Harvard Health Online for only $4.99 a month.Sign Me Up
Already a member? Login ».
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles.
No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
Free Healthbeat Signup
Get the latest in health news delivered to your inbox!