Find over 200 print-friendly fact sheets about heart disease and related health topics.
Menstrual cramps can cause mild discomfort to severe pain in the
lower abdomen, back, or thighs. The pain usually starts right before or in the
beginning of your period. During this time, you may also have headaches,
diarrhea or constipation, nausea, dizziness, or fainting.
every woman has menstrual pain, but it can be a normal part of how the body
To help relieve menstrual cramps:
Over-the-counter medicine usually
relieves menstrual pain.
Be sure to follow all labels and
instructions. If you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant, talk to your
doctor before using any medicine. Do not take aspirin if you are younger than 20 because of the risk of
Prescription medicine is a good choice if over-the-counter
medicine does not bring you relief. Birth control hormones help relieve
menstrual pain and lighten bleeding for most women.1
They also prevent pregnancy. Talk to your doctor about trying the
birth control pill, patch, or ring. With most types of hormone birth control,
you take the hormones every day for 3 weeks, then take a week off. This is when
you might get a menstrual period. There are some types of pills that you can
take over 3 months, or even every day of the year. With these, you might have
unexpected spotting or bleeding, especially during the first year.
CitationsColin CM, Shushan A (2007). Complications of menstruation; Abnormal uterine bleeding. In AH DeCherney, et al., eds., Current Diagnosis and Treatment Obstetrics and Gynecology, 10th ed., pp. 570–578. New York: McGraw-Hill.Other Works ConsultedKatz VL, et al. (2007). Primary and secondary dysmenorrhea, premenstrual syndrome, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder. In LO Eckert, GM Lentz, eds., Comprehensive Gynecology, 5th ed., pp. 901–913. Philadelphia: Mosby Elsevier.
March 22, 2011
Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine & Femi Olatunbosun, MB, FRCSC - Obstetrics and Gynecology
To learn more visit Healthwise.org
© 1995-2012 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.