Treatment

To ease your menstrual cramps, your health care provider might recommend:

  • Pain relievers. Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) or naproxen sodium (Aleve), at regular doses starting the day before you expect your period to begin can help control the pain of cramps. Prescription nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs also are available.

    Start taking the pain reliever at the beginning of your period, or as soon as you feel symptoms, and continue taking the medicine as directed for two to three days, or until your symptoms are gone.

  • Hormonal birth control. Oral birth control pills contain hormones that prevent ovulation and reduce the severity of menstrual cramps. These hormones can also be delivered in several other forms: an injection, a skin patch, an implant placed under the skin of your arm, a flexible ring that you insert into your vagina, or an intrauterine device (IUD).
  • Surgery. If your menstrual cramps are caused by a disorder such as endometriosis or fibroids, surgery to correct the problem might help your symptoms. Surgical removal of the uterus also might be an option if other approaches fail to ease your symptoms and if you're not planning to have children.
April 30, 2022
  1. Smith RP, et al. Dysmenorrhea in adult women: Clinical features and diagnosis. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed April 1, 2020.
  2. Dysmenorrhea. Merck Manual Professional Version. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/gynecology-and-obstetrics/menstrual-abnormalities/dysmenorrhea#v1062408. Accessed Dec. 26, 2017.
  3. Smith RP, et al. Dysmenorrhea in adult women: Treatment. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed April 1, 2020.
  4. Frequently asked questions. Gynecologic problems FAQ046. Dysmenorrhea: Painful periods. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. https://www.acog.org/patient-resources/faqs/gynecologic-problems/dysmenorrhea-painful-periods. Accessed April 1, 2020.
  5. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Committee Opinion No. 760: Dysmenorrhea and endometriosis in the adolescent. Obstetrics & Gynecology. 2018; doi:10.1097/AOG.0000000000002978.
  6. Period pain: Overview. PubMedHealth. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279324/. Accessed April 1, 2020.