What Are Menstrual Cramps and How Do They Feel?

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Question: What Are Menstrual Cramps and How Do They Feel?

Do you suffer from painful menstrual cramps during your period? If so, you are not alone. In fact, most women experience pain during menstruation.

Answer: Some women may experience only slight discomfort that doesn't interfere with their daily routines, while other women experience such severe pain that they cannot go to work or school. In fact, painful menstrual cramps are the leading cause of absenteeism from work or school for teenage girls and women in their twenties.

However, while it’s normal to experience minor pain during menstruation, experiencing severe pain during menstruation is not.
See: When to See Your Doctor About Menstrual Cramps

If you’ve never had menstrual cramps, you may wonder how they feel. Menstrual cramp sufferers describe their pain in a number of different ways, from feeling constant lower abdominal pain to experiencing sharp, intermittent pain, or even dull aches. Some women say they experience pain only in their backs.

When the cramps occur even varies from woman to woman. Some women have menstrual cramps that begin before menstruation, while others have cramps that begin when menstruation does. Typically, menstrual cramps diminish as menstrual bleeding slows.

If you experience what feels like menstrual cramps mid-cycle, you may have another condition called Mittelschmerz.

Things to Know About Menstrual Cramps
What Causes Menstrual Cramps
Medical Treatments for Menstrual Cramps


Painful Menstrual Periods; Medline Plus Medical Encyclopedia; http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003150.htm; accessed 05/21/08

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