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Menstrual Cramps (cont.)

Prevention

You may be able to prevent menstrual cramps.

  • Eat a balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables and is low in fat. Limit your intake of alcohol, caffeine, salt, and sweets. For more information, see the topic Healthy Eating.
  • Begin or maintain a moderate exercise schedule. For more information, see the topic Fitness.
  • Reduce stress in your life. Although stress does not cause menstrual cramps, reducing stress can make your symptoms less severe. For more information, see the topic Stress Management.
  • Do not smoke or use other tobacco products.
  • Try biofeedback or yoga. Both therapies teach relaxation skills.
  • Try acupuncture or acupressure.

Preparing For Your Appointment

To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.

You can help your doctor diagnose and treat your condition by being prepared to answer the following questions:

  • What were the dates of your last two menstrual periods?
    • If you are a teen, do you have regular cycles, such as a period every 21 to 45 days?
    • If you are an adult, do you have regular cycles, such as a period every 21 to 35 days?
    • If you have been through menopause, how long ago was your last menstrual period?
  • Has your menstrual flow been heavier bleeding than usual?
  • What is your menstrual pattern?
    • Is it regular, with approximately the same number of days in between periods?
    • Is it irregular? What is the range from the longest to the shortest time interval between your periods?
  • What method of birth control do you use? It is especially important to tell your doctor if you use an intrauterine device (IUD).
  • Have you done a home pregnancy test? If so, when did you do the test and what was the result?
  • Have you been under increased psychological or physical stress?
  • Have you recently gained or lost more than 10 pounds for no known reason?
  • What prescription and nonprescription medicines are you taking?
  • How does your pain differ from your typical menstrual cramps?
  • Do you engage in high-risk sexual behaviors?
  • Do you have any health risks?

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