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Menstrual cramps can cause mild discomfort to severe pain in the lower abdomen, back, or thighs. The pain usually starts right before or at the beginning of your period. During this time, you may also have headaches, diarrhea or constipation, nausea, dizziness, or fainting.
Not every woman has menstrual pain. But it can be a normal part of how the body works.
To help relieve menstrual cramps:
Over-the-counter medicine usually relieves menstrual pain.
Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label. 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 18 because of the risk of Reye syndrome.
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.footnote 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.
CitationsShushan A (2013). Complications of menstruation and abnormal uterine bleeding. In AH DeCherney et al., eds., Current Diagnosis and Treatment: Obstetrics and Gynecology, 11th ed., pp. 611–619. New York: McGraw-Hill.Other Works ConsultedLentz GM (2012). Primary and secondary dysmenorrhea, premenstrual syndrome, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder. In GM Lentz et al., eds., Comprehensive Gynecology, 6th ed., pp. 791–803. Philadelphia: Mosby.
Current as ofApril 1, 2019
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: Sarah A. Marshall, MD - Family MedicineAnne C. Poinier, MD - Internal MedicineMartin J. Gabica, MD - Family MedicineKathleen Romito, MD - Family MedicineFemi Olatunbosun, MB, FRCSC, FACOG - Obstetrics and Gynecology, Reproductive EndocrinologyRebecca Sue Uranga, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Current as of: April 1, 2019
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Sarah A. Marshall, MD - Family Medicine & Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Femi Olatunbosun, MB, FRCSC, FACOG - Obstetrics and Gynecology, Reproductive Endocrinology & Rebecca Sue Uranga, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
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