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Menstrual Cycle: Dealing With Cramps

Menstrual Cycle: Dealing With Cramps

Introduction

Most women have painful cramps from their period from time to time. The good news is that you can usually relieve cramps with over-the-counter medicine and home treatment.

  • Pain medicine and home treatment can help ease cramps.
  • Stay ahead of the pain. Take over-the-counter pain medicine, such as ibuprofen (Advil, for example) as soon as you feel cramps or on the day before you get your period.

How can I manage pain from menstrual cramps?

Over-the-counter pain medicine and home treatment are often all you need to ease your cramps.

Medicine

  • Try anti-inflammatory medicines to reduce pain. Ibuprofen (such as Advil) and naproxen (such as Aleve) may work better than aspirin.
  • Stay ahead of the pain. Pain medicine works better if you take it before the pain gets bad.
    • Start taking the recommended dose of the pain medicine as soon as you start to feel cramping, or on the day before your period starts.
    • Keep taking the medicine for as long as you have cramps.
  • Try acetaminophen (Tylenol) if anti-inflammatory medicine does not help.

Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.

Do not take aspirin if you are younger than 20. It has been linked to Reye syndrome, a serious illness.

Home treatment

  • Put a heating pad (set on low) or a hot water bottle on your belly, or take a warm bath. Heat improves blood flow and may ease the pain.
  • Lie down and put a pillow under your knees, or lie on your side and bring your knees up to your chest. This may help relieve back pressure.
  • Use pads instead of tampons. This may help if you also have vaginal pain.
  • Get regular exercise. This helps blood flow and may reduce cramping.

Talk to your doctor if you have tried to manage your cramps with medicine and home treatment but you do not feel better. If your cramps are caused by a health problem not related to your period, such as endometriosis, you may need other treatment.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Femi Olatunbosun, MB, FRCSC - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Current as of March 12, 2014
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