ABC Medical Center > Menstrual cramps

What is Menstrual cramps?

21:53 - 4 May , 2021


Also known as dysmenorrhea or cramps, menstrual cramps are painful, spasmodic shooting pains in the lower abdominal area that occur before or during a menstrual period.

Depending on the person, they can be practically imperceptible, of moderate or intense discomfort, causing painful crises that prevent the affected person from performing their daily activities. When your body is experiencing menstruation, the uterus needs to contract, which is why prostaglandins appear, which are substances that cause uterus spasms and contractions.

The higher the level of prostaglandins, the more intense the colic will be. Possible causes of serious menstrual cramps can be:

  • Having pelvic inflammatory disease due to a sexually transmitted disease. 
  • Narrow cervix.
  • Endometriosis. 
  • Uterine fibroids. 
  • Adenomyosis. 

Signs and symptoms Menstrual cramps

  • Moderate or intense stabbing pain or cramps in the lower abdominal area.
  • Pain that lingers.
  • Pain that spreads to the lower back and thighs.
  • Fecal softening.
  • Headache.
  • Dizziness.
  • Nausea.

Potential risks:

  • Menorrhagia.
  • Metrorrhagia.
  • Family members who have suffered from dysmenorrhea.
  • Smoking.
  • Being under 30 years old.
  • Early onset of menstruation.

Diagnosis and treatment Menstrual cramps

Once your gynecologist analyzes your symptoms and clinical history, they will perform a physical examination and a pelvic exam to identify possible conditions or disorders.

If they find signs of any condition, you will be requested tests such as:

  • Ultrasound. 
  • Computed tomography.
  • MRI.

The treatment to follow will depend on the existence of an underlying disease that is causing the cramps, but it generally includes:

  • Painkillers.
  • Anti-inflammatories. 
  • Oral contraceptives. 

If the cramps are due to conditions such as fibroids or endometriosis, corrective surgery or a hysterectomy, in more serious cases, will be required.

Comprehensive women’s health is our priority at the Women’s Center, so we offer services focused on women in all their chronological stages with the highest standards of care to improve their quality of life, through a wide range of prevention, diagnosis, timely treatment, and follow-up services. It has three specialized units:

Obstetrics Center.
Gynecology Center.
Gynecology in adolescence.


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  • mayoclinic.org
  • medlineplus.gov
  • topdoctors.es
  • msdmanuals.com
  • medigraphic.com
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  • Leyva-Vázquez JI, Martínez-Marín DG, Flores-Bello L, et al. Principales motivos de consulta ginecológica de las adolescentes. Ginecol Obstet Mex. 2021;89(05):373-377.
  • Garro UV, Thuel GM, Robles AV. Dismenorrea primaria en las adolescentes: manejo en la atención primaria. Revista Médica Sinergia. 2019;4(11):296.
  • Pereira CJ, Pereira RY, Quirós FL. Endometriosis: diagnóstico y alternativas terapéuticas. Revista Médica Sinergia. 2020;5(02):361-361.

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