Dysmenorrhea is the medical term for the painful cramps that may occur immediately before or during the menstrual period.
- Aching pain in the abdomen (Pain can be severe at times)
- Feeling of pressure in the abdomen
- Pain in the hips, lower back, and inner thighs
- Upset stomach, sometimes with vomiting
- Loose stools
- Take aspirin or another pain reliever, such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen or naproxen (Note: For best relief, you must take these medications as soon as bleeding or cramping starts)
- Place a heating pad or hot water bottle on your lower back or abdomen. Taking a warm bath may also provide some relief
- Rest when needed
- Avoid foods that contain caffeine and salt
- Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol
- Massage your lower back and abdomen
Women who exercise regularly often have less menstrual pain. To help prevent cramps, make exercise a part of your weekly routine.
If these steps do not relieve pain, your health care provider can order medications for you, including:
- Ibuprofen (higher dose than is available over the counter) or other prescription pain relievers
- Oral contraceptives (Women taking birth control pills have less menstrual pain.)