DefinitionBy Mayo Clinic Staff
Menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea) are throbbing or cramping pains in the lower abdomen. Many women experience menstrual cramps just before and during their menstrual periods.
For some women, the discomfort is merely annoying. For others, menstrual cramps can be severe enough to interfere with everyday activities for a few days every month.
Menstrual cramps may be caused by identifiable problems, such as endometriosis or uterine fibroids. Treating any underlying cause is key to reducing the pain. Menstrual cramps that aren't caused by an underlying condition tend to lessen with age and often improve once a woman has given birth.
May 08, 2014
- Smith RP, et al. Primary dysmenorrhea in adult women: Clinical features and diagnosis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 15, 2014.
- Dysmenorrhea. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Health Care Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/gynecology_and_obstetrics/menstrual_abnormalities/dysmenorrhea.html#v1062408. Accessed Jan. 17, 2014.
- Smith RP, et al. Treatment of primary dysmenorrhea in adult women. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 15. 2014.
- Cunningham FG, et al. Williams Obstetrics. 23rd ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2010. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=46. Accessed Jan. 15, 2014.
- South-Paul JE, et al. Current Diagnosis & Treatment in Family Medicine. 3rd ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2011. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=52. Accessed Jan. 15, 2014.
- Rigi SN, et al. Comparing the analgesic effect of heat patch containing iron chip and ibuprofen for primary dysmenorrhea: A randomized controlled trial. BMC Women's Health. 2012:12:25.
- Dieltjens T. Towards evidence-based emergency medicine: Best BETs from the Manchester Royal Infirmary. Emergency Medicine Journal. 2012;29:853.
- Rahbar N, et al. Effect of omega-3 fatty acids on intensity of primary dysmenorrhea. International Journal of Gynaecology and Obstetrics. 2012;117:45.
- Rakel D. Integrative Medicine. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2012. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Jan. 15, 2014.
- Ju H, et al. The prevalence and risk factors of dysmenorrhea. Epidemiologic Reviews. In Press. Accessed Jan. 15, 2014.
- Smith CA, et al. Acupuncture for dysmenorrhoea. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD007854.pub2/abstract. Accessed Jan. 15, 2014.
- Khan KS, et al. How effective are non-drug, non-surgical treatments for primary dysmenorrhoea? BMJ. 2012;344:e3011.
- Jiang HR, et al. Systematic review of randomized clinical trials of acupressure therapy for primary dysmenorrhea. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2013;169692:1. http://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2013/169692/. Accessed Jan. 15, 2014.