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Cramps After Periods - Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

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Painful cramps after the periods are known as secondary dysmenorrhea. Cramps after periods occur in some women. To know more, read the article below.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Manwani Saloni Dilip

Published At March 29, 2022
Reviewed AtAugust 23, 2023

Introduction:

It is common for women to experience abdominal cramping before or during menstruation. However, women also experience cramps after the period has come to an end. Painful cramps after periods are known as secondary dysmenorrhea, which is common during adulthood. It might be a symptom of any underlying disease but is not usually serious. If these cramps last longer, it is important to monitor them carefully.

What Are the Symptoms of Cramps after Periods?

The cramps might feel similar regardless of when they occur. After menstruation, cramps are usually experienced in the lower abdomen, lower back, hips, and thighs. These cramps differ from person to person and are more severe than cramps during the menstrual cycle. Cramps after periods continue to last longer than the normal menstrual cramps, and they are accompanied by:

Menstrual cramps may also begin earlier instead of developing right before the period. Every woman experiences unique menstrual cramps, such as experiencing severe cramps throughout the period or noticing only mild discomfort before menstruation.

What Causes Cramps After Periods?

Cramps occur before or during menstruation because of uterine contraction. Cramping after the period may be normal unless it lasts longer than the average menstrual cycle. However, persistent pain after periods might indicate an underlying condition. The following are the possible causes of cramps after the periods.

1) Endometriosis - It is a condition where the inner lining of the uterus grows outside the uterus.

Symptoms:

  1. Endometriosis causes painful cramps before, during, and after periods. The cramps are very severe which are felt in the lower back and abdomen. They can be accompanied by inflammation and pelvic pain and may also occur during or after sex, bowel movements, or urination.

  2. Excessive bleeding before, during, or between periods.

  3. Nausea.

  4. Infertility.

  5. Diarrhea or constipation.

  6. Fatigue.

  7. Bloating.

Treatment:

Medications, hormonal therapy, or surgery helps to manage endometriosis.

2) Adenomyosis - It is a condition in which abnormal tissue grows on the muscular wall of the uterus.

Symptoms:

  1. Prolonged periods.

  2. Severe pelvic pain during menses.

  3. Pain during intercourse.

  4. Blood clots during the menstrual cycle.

  5. Pain in the lower abdomen.

Treatment:

Medications help manage adenomyosis but can be treated with a hysterectomy in severe cases.

3) Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) - Bacteria infecting the female reproductive system causes PID. It spreads from the vagina to other areas of the reproductive system.

Symptoms:

  1. Lower abdominal pain.

  2. Painful urination.

  3. Heavy vaginal discharge.

  4. Tiredness.

  5. Abnormal uterine bleeding.

  6. Pain during intercourse.

  7. Bowel discomfort.

  8. Fever.

Treatment:

Antibiotics help treat pelvic inflammatory disease. It is most often caused by sexually transmitted infections (STIs), so sexual partners should be examined and treated for sexually transmitted infections.

4) Uterine Fibroids - Benign, non-cancerous fibroids that grow on the uterus are known as uterine fibroids.

Symptoms:

Symptoms differ according to the fibroid's location, number, and size. They are:

  • Frequent urination.

  • Painful cramping.

  • Irregular bleeding.

  • Pelvic pressure.

  • Heavy menstruation.

  • Infertility.

  • Constipation.

  • Backache.

Treatment:

Medications, medical procedures, or surgery helps to manage uterine fibroids.

5) Ovarian Cysts - Cysts that develop in the ovaries cause cramps and post-period bleeding.

Symptoms:

  1. Ovarian cysts mostly disappear on their own without any treatment, but larger cysts cause pain in the pelvis and lower back.

  2. Women with ovarian cysts often feel heavy and bloated.

  3. If there is fever, vomiting, and severe abdominal pain, consult a doctor immediately.

Treatment:

Smaller ovarian cysts can be treated with medication, and surgery might be needed to remove larger cysts.

6) Cervical Stenosis - When the cervix has a smaller or narrow opening, it slows down the menstrual flow, causing painful pressure in the uterus. This is known as cervical stenosis. Cervical stenosis can be treated with surgery or medication. In addition, an intrauterine device (IUD) is inserted to relieve symptoms.

7) Ectopic Pregnancy - When a fertilized egg attaches itself outside the uterus, it is known as ectopic pregnancy.

Symptoms:

Initially, the symptoms are similar to a normal pregnancy, but a woman develops the following symptoms later.

  • Lower abdominal pain.

  • Abnormal uterine bleeding.

  • Shoulder pain.

  • Severe pelvic pain.

  • Severe cramps.

  • Heavy bleeding, if the fallopian tube ruptures.

  • Lightheadedness.

  • Fainting.

  • Shock.

Treatment:

It can be treated with Methotrexate or laparoscopic procedures, but fallopian tube rupture is a medical emergency. Consult a doctor right away if there are any of the above symptoms.

How Are Cramps after Periods Treated?

Cramps after periods are treated in the same way as normal menstrual cramps. There are several measures to get relief from cramps, but most remedies are a part of a healthy lifestyle.

  • Take over-the-counter (OTC) painkillers or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to relieve pain. The doctor might also prescribe oral contraceptive medications as they also reduce menstrual pain.

  • Make sure to get plenty of rest and sleep. Place a hot water bottle or heating pad on the abdomen or lower back and take time to relax.

  • Reduce stress levels.

  • Plan a nutritious diet that is rich in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

  • Drink plenty of water.

  • Reduce the intake of caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco.

  • Eliminate fatty and salty foods.

  • Exercise at least half an hour a day as it helps to relieve pain. Start doing light exercises such as cycling, walking, and stretching to increase blood circulation and ease stress.

  • Acupuncture treatment or lightly massaging the area may help. Start to massage the lower abdomen using essential oils, and having an orgasm might also relieve pain.

  • Practice meditation or yoga regularly, and you may also add a heat source on the abdomen or lower back while performing such restorative yoga poses.

  • Take a warm bath and drink warm drinks, like milk, green tea, etc., to relieve cramps.

Conclusion:

Practicing a healthy lifestyle to lead a happy life cannot be achieved overnight. It might require a nutritious diet, stress-reducing self-care techniques, and daily exercise. In addition, it is better to consult the doctor to discuss any treatment plan before you begin. When the cramps do not get better, visit the doctor for a pelvic examination as it might help you determine the best treatment plan and diagnose if there are any underlying conditions.

Frequently Asked Questions

1.

How to Reduce Period Cramps?

Over-the-counter drugs like Ibuprofen, Naproxen, or Acetaminophen can help relieve pain associated with periods.
- Take enough rest.
- Have a hot water bath.
- Place a hot water bag over your back and stomach to help with reducing the pain.
- Do mild to moderate exercises.

2.

How Long Do Period Cramps Last?

Period cramps in women usually last for 48 to 72 hours and are at worst during the days of heavy bleeding. However, some might experience period cramps several days before or after periods.

3.

Why Do We Get Cramps During Menstrual Bleeding?

Your uterus undergoes contractions to expel the lining, and in this process, a hormone-like substance called prostaglandin is involved. Prostaglandin is involved in pain and inflammation, and higher levels of prostaglandin can lead to increased menstrual cramps.

4.

What Foods Help With Reducing Period Cramps?

Following are some of the foods that can reduce cramps associated with periods,
- Salmon.
- Green leafy vegetables.
- Foods rich in magnesium, like oats and dark chocolates.
- Bananas and kiwi.
- Chamomile tea.
- Ginger tea.

5.

Which Sleeping Posture Helps Ease Period Cramps?

Lying down on your back with a pillow under your knees can help reduce period cramps.

6.

At What Age Do Period Cramps Get Worse?

Period cramps are more commonly seen to worsen after the age of 40.
Dr. Manwani Saloni Dilip
Dr. Manwani Saloni Dilip

Obstetrics and Gynecology

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