Q & A: What are cramps? Do they really hurt that bad?

June 30, 2022

Q&A blog post logo

Q: What are cramps? Do they really hurt that bad?

A: Cramps! We’re talking about period, or menstrual cramps here, and they are very common to occur for uterus owners. Menstrual cramps are throbbing or cramping pains in the lower abdomen, usually just before and during menstrual periods. Pain caused by them can vary a lot from individual to individual, and can range from dull aches to intense cramping that doesn’t allow you to do the regular things in your life. Over-the-counter pain relievers can help ease cramping, or placing a heating pad over the lower abdomen.

Why does this even happen though?

During a period, the uterine lining that develops every cycle sheds from the body. Hormonelike substances called prostoglandins trigger the body to expel the uterine lining from the body through muscle contractions. Higher levels of prostoglandins lead to more intense contractions and pain.

There are conditions, like endometriosis, that can lead to more intense pain and even cramping between periods. It is all a natural part of the menstrual cycle, and can often be comparable to others in your family. Talking with them about what they have experienced can help you know what to expect and/or if what you are experiencing is far outside the norm.

To sum up, it is more common to have menstrual cramps than to not. It isn’t easy, but taking over-the-counter pain relievers or using a hot pad can help with the pain. If pain is too intense, if it happens throughout your cycle besides during your period, or if pain is way beyond your normal, then it’s a good time to go and see a doctor. Hang in there! You’re not alone in experiencing menstrual cramps!