What Are Menstrual Cramps?
Menstrual cramps are pains that typically occur in the lower abdomen around the time of their period. For most uteri-bearing people, the pain begins one to three days before the start of an individual’s period, peaks 24 hours after bleeding starts, and stops two to three days after bleeding stops. The pain is usually mild, but for some, the pain can be so severe that it interferes with normal activities for several days in a month. Menstrual cramps are highly prevalent and are commonly untreated.
Cramps occur as a result of prostaglandins, hormone-like substances that cause muscle contractions in the uterus, eventually resulting in a shedding of the lining. When prostaglandin levels increase, cramps may be more severe. Doctors call this dysmenorrhea, which can be either primary or secondary dysmenorrhea. Primary dysmenorrhea is a pain in the uterus that happens before or during your period. Secondary dysmenorrhea is typically caused by a disorder in the reproductive system, and it involves severe pain that lasts a longer stretch of time. If you are experiencing severe menstrual pain, unusual pain or pain outside of your menstrual cycle, please see your doctor.