Why do I Get Cramps Before and After my Period

While cramps are usually not a cause for concern, they can be painful and inconvenient. They can even be confusing if you experience them when not on your period. You may wonder why you are experiencing period pain a week before your period, or if certain cramps mean anything. Your concerns may rise if your cramps are accompanied by symptoms such as nausea, lower back pain, and bleeding between periods. Whether the cause of your cramps is benign or requires medical attention, it is important to gain a better understanding of what is going on in your body to live a fulfilling lifestyle.

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Menstrual Cramps

The most common cause of cramps before and after a woman's period is menstrual cramps. These cramps are caused by the uterus contracting to help shed its lining during menstruation. Menstrual cramps usually start a few days before a woman's period and can last for the first few days of the period. The intensity of menstrual cramps can vary from woman to woman and can range from mild to severe. They can be accompanied by other symptoms including joint pain, mood swings, and breast tenderness.

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There are several factors that can make menstrual cramps worse, including stress, anxiety, lack of exercise, and a poor diet. To alleviate menstrual cramps, women can try taking over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, supplements, applying heat to the lower abdomen, making changes to their diet, and getting regular exercise.

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Abdominal Cramps During Ovulation

Some women may experience cramps during ovulation, which is when the ovary releases an egg. Ovulation cramps are usually felt on one side of the lower abdomen and can last anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours. These cramps are usually mild and do not require medical attention.

In addition to cramps, there are other signs that can indicate that a woman is ovulating. These include an increase in basal body temperature, changes in libido, and changes in cervical mucus. You may notice it is wetter, clearer and more slippery during ovulation. Some women may also experience breast tenderness or bloating during ovulation.

Tracking ovulation can be helpful both for women who are trying to conceive and avoid pregnancy. There are several methods available for tracking ovulation, including tracking basal body temperature, monitoring cervical mucus, and using ovulation predictor kits. Women who are interested in tracking ovulation should speak with their healthcare provider to determine the best method for their individual needs.

Endometriosis and Abdominal Cramps

Endometriosis is a condition where the tissue that lines the uterus grows outside of it, often causing pain and discomfort. Women with endometriosis may experience cramps before and after their period, as well as pain during sex and bowel movements. The severity of endometriosis varies from woman to woman, but it can be a debilitating condition that affects a woman's quality of life.

There is no cure for endometriosis, but there are several treatment options available. These include pain relievers, hormone therapy, and surgery. Women with endometriosis should speak with their healthcare provider to determine the best course of treatment for their individual needs.

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Uterine Fibroids

Uterine fibroids are noncancerous growths that can develop in the uterus. They can cause cramps before and after a woman's period, as well as heavy menstrual bleeding and pain during sex. Uterine fibroids are common and affect up to 80% of women by the age of 50.

Treatment options for uterine fibroids include medication, surgery, and non-invasive procedures such as uterine artery embolization. Women with uterine fibroids should speak with their healthcare provider to determine the best course of treatment for their individual needs.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an infection of the reproductive organs that can cause cramps, as well as fever, abnormal vaginal discharge, and pain during sex. It is usually caused by sexually transmitted infections.

Treatment for PID usually involves antibiotics to clear up the infection. Women with PID should speak with their healthcare provider to determine the best course of treatment for their individual needs.

Conclusion

While cramps before and after a woman's period are usually not a cause for concern, they can be a sign of an underlying condition. Women who experience severe cramps or cramps that interfere with their daily activities should speak with their healthcare provider for further evaluation and treatment.  It is important to remember that having one or more symptoms does not mean you automatically have a certain condition. On the other hand, many people experiencing these conditions have little to no symptoms. By understanding the possible causes of cramps before and after a woman's period, women can take steps to manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life.

Abdominal pain Fever Nausea Vomiting Vaginal discharge Abnormal bleeding Pain during sex Bowels Body pain Breast tenderness Mood / appetite changes Fatigue Urination Bloating Unexplained weight loss Age High Risk Factors
PID pelvis / lower stomach sometimes with chills ✔️ ✔️ abnormal, yellow / green with unusual odor between periods and after sex ✔️ Pain during urination any age, more common under 25
Endometriosis lower stomach / back, worse during period extremely heavy on period ✔️ Diarrhea, blood in stool Pain during urination on period any age with a period, commonly 25 - 40
Menstrual cramps / PMS within a week before period Diarrhea joint pain ✔️ mood swings, increase in appetite ✔️ anytime between puberty and menopause, commonly ages 20 - 40
Ovulation not on period Increase / wetter, clearer and more slippery ✔️ mood swings, slightly less appetite around 12 - menopause
Uterine fibroids pelvic pressure or pain heavy bleeding, periods lasting over a week ✔️ Constipation backache / leg pains feeling full after not eating much frequent urination, difficulty emptying bladder commonly women 30-50
Crohn's disease frequent cramps or stomach aches ✔️ Diarrhea, blood in stool loss of appetite ✔️ ✔️ any age, usually between 15 and 40
Ulcerative colitis Stomach pain ✔️ ✔️ Oddly heavy, light, or irregular periods Frequently pooping, diarrhea which may contain blood / mucus / pus loss of appetite ✔️ ✔️ any age, usually between 15 and 25
Ovarian cyst pelvic pain ranging from dull sensation to sudden sharp pains ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ Difficulty emptying bowels loss of appetite ✔️ any age, most common between puberty and menopause
Pregnancy mild to moderate pelvic cramping ✔️ ✔️ Spotting Constipation Headache tender, swollen breasts food aversions, moodiness ✔️ frequent urination ovulating age
Ectopic pregnancy stomach pain low on one side brown watery discharge vaginal bleeding discomfort when pooping pain in the tip of the shoulder discomfort when peeing ovulating age
Pelvic-floor muscle dysfunction ongoing pelvic pain ✔️ constipation leaking urine when coughing / sneezing / laughing / running, frequent UTIs ✔️ usually older women
Interstitial cystitis (bladder pain syndrome) intense pelvic pain sudden strong urges to pee, needing to pee more often, blood in urine any age, usually over 30
Irritable bowel syndrome stomach cramps diarrhea, constipation ✔️ any age, most commonly between 20 - 30
Ovarian cancer discomfort in stomach / pelvic area diarrhea, constipation back pain no appetite or feeling full quickly needing to pee more often ✔️ ✔️ usually over 55