For many women cramps and cramping are a normal part of their menstrual cycle, while for others it may signify implantation cramps and pregnancy.
Possible reasons for cramps and cramping
Uterine cramps or cramping in the lower abdomen can have many possible causes. Mild cramps are often normal, but occasionally cramps can be a sign of bigger problems. When you have cramps, you should first ask yourself: "Am I pregnant?" A negative pregnancy test usually excludes a pregnancy. Uterine cramps are too non-specific to assume that you may be pregnant. Uterine cramps before you miss your period are rarely, if ever, a reliable sign of pregnancy. Typical uterine cramps without being pregnant or before your menstrual period are usually caused by an increase in prostaglandin hormones, chemicals that increase shortly before your menstrual period. In general, among the many causes for cramps are:
- Ovulation pain
- Swollen ovaries after clomid or other fertility medications
- Your period is about to come (PMS)
- Ectopic pregnancy
- Leiomyoma Uteri (uterine fibroids)
- Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
- Ovarian cysts
- Torsion of the ovary
To assess the possible cause of cramps, you should be able to answer the following questions:
- Do I have a condition explaining the cramps?
- Where are the cramps (very low, high, or above the uterus)?
- Are the cramps located more in the middle, more on one or the other side, or all over?
- Are they mild, moderate, or severe?
- Are they rhythmic (for example, every 3-4 minutes or so)
- How long do they last (minutes, hours, days)?
- Do they happen only on certain days of the menstrual cycle (keep a diary)?
- Do they typically go away when the menstrual period begins?
If in doubt, have your doctor examine you to find out what it could be.