Menstrual cramps occur when the uterus contracts. The contractions are caused by natural substances produced by the lining of the uterus. Much like labor contractions that open the uterus and push a baby out during birth, menstrual cramps are instrumental in shedding the lining of the uterus. Most women have mild menstrual cramps as their period begins. It’s normal to have cramps for a day or two each month.
WHAT TO DO FOR RELIEF
- Take ibuprofen or other over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications.
- Take warm baths.
- Drink chamomile or mint tea.
- Lie on your back, with a pillow under your knees.
- Place a hot water bottle or heating pad on your abdomen or lower back.
- Engage in moderate exercise such as stretching or walking.
- Massage your lower back and abdomen.
- Get adequate rest and steep.
Some women have dysmenorrhea, when cramps are more painful and are combined with other symptoms. These symptoms include mild to severe cramping in the lower abdomen, backache, pain and pulling on the inside of the thighs, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, headache, dizziness and fainting. If you have these symptoms, contact your doctor. Although common in younger women, the symptoms can be a sign of secondary dysmenorrhea, which can be a result of a wide range of health problems, some quite serious. Women with severe dysmenorrhea can get relief from a variety of prescription medications, including birth control pills.