Experiencing cramps between your periods is rare but possible. Under normal circumstances, you experience cramps when your uterus contracts to shed the uterine lining. You may experience menstrual cramps when you have your period. However, what does it mean when you have cramping between periods?
Cramps Between Periods: Causes and Treatments
So many underlying causes may lead to cramps. Some of the most common are discussed below.
Yes, your cramps could indicate pregnancy, even when there is no typical bleeding or spotting. You experience those cramps when the embryo implants itself to the uterine wall. This implantation causes the uterine wall to contract and make room for the uterus, which causes cramps. If you are not sure, you should have a pregnancy test. You may also consider talking to your doctor to determine if you are actually pregnant or not.
Some women experience cramping and pelvic pain during ovulation due to a condition called mittelschmerz, which is a German word meaning "middle pain". It means you experience pain at the time the ovary releases an egg.
Most women ovulate about two weeks after the first day of their menstruation. Certain hormonal changes take place during these two weeks and stimulate the ovary to release an egg. The eggs develop inside a compartment called a follicle. Stimulation of the ovary leads to the swelling of several follicles that help release their egg. You may experience some discomfort when this happens.
When a follicle releases an egg that enters the fallopian tube, you may experience bleeding due to the ruptured ovarian follicle. This may also release some fluid that irritates the lining of your pelvis and abdomen and results in cramping. The whole process is called Mittelschmerz and usually affects women on the lower side of their abdomen. Thankfully, Mittelschmerz is usually never serious.
In order to manage your cramps between periods caused by Mittelschmerz, you should apply heat compresses and take anti-inflammatory drugs such as naproxen or ibuprofen. Gently massaging your abdomen and taking an anti-gas tablet may also help relieve the pain and tension in your abdomen. Be sure to call your doctor if you also have a fever, your pain persists after taking homecare measures, you have heavy bleeding, and you have a vaginal discharge along with cramps.
In this reproductive disease, your uterine lining grows and regenerates outside your uterus. If you develop this disease, it is possible for the lining to grow on the fallopian tubes, ovaries, abdomen, uterus, bladder, or colon. You may also develop other complications, like scarring, cysts, and infertility. Some common symptoms associated with endometriosis are pelvic pain, painful periods, infertility, and excessive bleeding. You may also experience serious discomfort during bowel movements, between periods, and during menstruation if you are suffering from endometriosis.
Many women respond well to medications but others require surgery. Here are some treatment options for endometriosis and cramps between periods.
- Pain Medications: Your doctor may ask you to take OTC pain relievers such as the NSAIDs ibuprofen or naproxen. These medications help relieve menstrual cramps. Talk to your doctor if these medications do not provide full relief.
- Hormonal Therapy: You may benefit from supplemental hormones that work great to reduce the pain of endometriosis. The change in hormones during your menstrual cycle can make endometrial implants to break down and even bleed, but hormonal medications help slow down the growth of endometrial tissue. They also prevent new implants of those abnormal endometrial tissues.
- Conservative Surgery: You may have to undergo surgery to remove as much endometriosis as possible. This improves your chances of becoming pregnant – it usually depends on how much endometriosis is removed while preserving ovaries and uterus. Your doctor may perform traditional abdominal surgery or stick to laparoscopy. Removal of endometriosis may also help reduce pain, even though it may return in future.
- Hysterectomy: In severe cases, it is better to remove the cervix and uterus along with endometriosis. It is important to ensure that there is no remaining endometriosis and your ovaries do not produce enough estrogen for endometriosis to develop again. Your doctor recommends hysterectomy when other treatments provide no relief – this is usually a last resort, especially if you are in your reproductive years.
In case you experience cramps between periods caused by endometriosis, you can take some homecare measures to find some relief. Keep in mind that it is always best to seek medical advice and home remedies will only provide short-term relief. Here is what you can do:
- Take warm baths or apply hot compresses to relax your pelvic muscles.
- Take OTC non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or naproxen to keep your pain under control.
- Be active and exercise regularly to help improve your symptoms.