Recent Blog Articles
Nicotine addiction explained — and how medications can help
Is your vision impaired? Tips to cope
Misgendering: What it is and why it matters
Healthy brain, healthier heart?
Stories connect us
Wondering about a headline-grabbing drug? Read on
Respiratory virus cases tick upward: What parents should know
Hope: Why it matters
Will new guidelines for heart failure affect you?
Want probiotics but dislike yogurt? Try these foods
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.