WellSpan Home

Relieving Menstrual Pain

Topic Overview

Menstrual cramps can cause mild discomfort to severe pain in the lower abdomen, back, or thighs. The pain usually starts right before or at the beginning of your period. During this time, you may also have headaches, diarrhea or constipation, nausea, dizziness, or fainting.

Not every woman has menstrual pain. But it can be a normal part of how the body works.

To help relieve menstrual cramps:

  • Apply heat to your abdomen with a heating pad or hot water bottle, or take a warm bath. You might find that heat relieves the pain as well as medicine does.
  • Lie down and elevate your legs by putting a pillow under your knees.
  • Lie on your side and bring your knees up to your chest. This will help relieve back pressure.
  • Try using pads instead of tampons.
  • Get regular exercise. You might find that it helps relieve pain.

Over-the-counter medicine usually relieves menstrual pain.

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) , such as ibuprofen, help relieve menstrual cramps and pain.
  • Start taking the recommended dose of pain reliever when discomfort begins or 1 day before your menstrual period starts.
  • Take the medicine for as long as the symptoms would normally last if you did not take the medicine.
  • If an NSAID does not relieve the pain, try acetaminophen, such as Tylenol.

Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label. If you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant, talk to your doctor before using any medicine. Do not take aspirin if you are younger than 20 because of the risk of Reye syndrome.

Prescription medicine is a good choice if over-the-counter medicine does not bring you relief. Birth control hormones help relieve menstrual pain and lighten bleeding for most women.footnote 1 They also prevent pregnancy. Talk to your doctor about trying the birth control pill, patch, or ring. With most types of hormone birth control, you take the hormones every day for 3 weeks, then take a week off. This is when you might get a menstrual period. There are some types of pills that you can take over 3 months, or even every day of the year. With these, you might have unexpected spotting or bleeding, especially during the first year.

References

Citations

  1. Shushan A (2013). Complications of menstruation and abnormal uterine bleeding. In AH DeCherney et al., eds., Current Diagnosis and Treatment: Obstetrics and Gynecology, 11th ed., pp. 611-619. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Other Works Consulted

  • Lentz GM (2012). Primary and secondary dysmenorrhea, premenstrual syndrome, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder. In GM Lentz et al., eds., Comprehensive Gynecology, 6th ed., pp. 791-803. Philadelphia: Mosby.

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerSarah A. Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerRebecca Sue Uranga, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology

Current as ofOctober 6, 2017


Are you sure you would like to cancel?

All information will be lost.

Yes No ×

About the provider search

This search will provide you with WellSpan Medical Group and Northern Lancaster County (Ephrata) Medical Group primary care physicians and specialists. If we don’t have a WellSpan Medical Group physician to meet your criteria, the search will expand to include community physicians who partner with WellSpan Medical Group physicians through the WellSpan Provider Network or provide care to patients on the Medical Staffs of WellSpan’s Hospitals.

×

Schedule Your Next Appointment Online with MyWellSpan

Use your MyWellSpan patient portal any time to view available appointments, and pick the date and time that best suits your schedule.

Go to MyWellSpan

New to this practice?

If you don't have a WellSpan primary care provider and would like to schedule a new patient appointment with a provider who is accepting patients, just log into your MyWellSpan account, and go to the Appointment Center section. As you progress through the scheduling process, you will be able to see the offices that are accepting new patients in relation to your zip code. If you are not enrolled in MyWellSpan, go to https://my.wellspan.org, call 1-866-638-1842 or speak with a member of the staff at a participating facility to sign up. New patient scheduling not available at all practices/programs.

Already a patient at this practice?

If you already have a relationship with a WellSpan practice, simply log into your account, and go to the Appointment Center section. As you progress through the scheduling process, you will be able to schedule an appointment with any provider or practice that already counts you as a patient. Online scheduling varies by practice/program.

×