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Menstrual Cramps

Menstrual Cramps Overview

Menstrual cramps are sharp pains in a woman's lower abdomen that occur when her menstrual period begins and may continue for 2-3 days, a few women may have them last longer. Symptoms can range in severity from a mild annoyance to severe pain that interferes with normal activities.

Menstrual cramps are the leading cause of absenteeism in women younger than 30 years of age. Although over half of women who have menstrual periods experience some discomfort, a small percent are temporarily disabled by symptoms. The medical term for painful menstruation is dysmenorrhea.

The following circumstances may make a woman more likely to experience menstrual cramps:

  • She started her first period at an early age (younger than 11 years).
  • Her menstrual periods last 5 days or longer.
  • She smokes cigarettes
  • She has never been pregnant.
  • She has female relatives who have menstrual cramps.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/12/2014

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Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Menstrual Cramps:

Menstrual Cramps - Home Remedies

What kind of home remedies have you found helpful in reducing the discomfort of menstrual cramps?

Menstrual Pain - Treatment

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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Dysmenorrhea »

Dysmenorrhea is defined as difficult menstrual flow or painful menstruation.

Read More on Medscape Reference »


Medical Dictionary