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.)

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