Menstrual Cramps: Relieving Pain

Overview

Painful menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea) can occur during or just before your period. The cramping can involve your lower belly, back, or thighs. And the pain from these cramps can range from mild to severe. You may also have diarrhea, constipation, or nausea. Or you may get dizzy.

Pain medicine and home treatment can help you feel better.

How can you manage pain from menstrual cramps?

  • Take anti-inflammatory medicines for pain. Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve) usually work better than aspirin.
    • Be safe with medicines. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist before you take any of these medicines. They may not be safe if you take other medicines or have other health problems.
    • Start taking the recommended dose of pain medicine as soon as you start to feel pain. Or you can start on the day before your period. Keep taking the medicine for as many days as you have cramps.
    • If anti-inflammatory medicines don't help, try acetaminophen (Tylenol).
    • Do not take two or more pain medicines at the same time unless the doctor told you to. Many pain medicines have acetaminophen, which is Tylenol. Too much acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be harmful.
    • Read and follow all instructions on the label.
  • Put a heating pad set on low or a hot water bottle on your belly. Or take a warm bath. Heat improves blood flow and may help with pain.
  • Lie down and put a pillow under your knees. Or lie on your side and bring your knees up to your chest. This will help with any back pressure.
  • Get at least 30 minutes of exercise on most days of the week. This improves blood flow and may decrease pain. Walking is a good choice. You also may want to do other activities, such as running, swimming, cycling, or playing sports.

Prescription medicine is a good choice if over-the-counter medicine doesn't relieve your painful menstrual cramps. Birth control hormones can help relieve menstrual pain and lighten bleeding. They also prevent pregnancy.

Credits

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated, disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Learn how we develop our content.

© 1995-2022 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated, disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Learn how we develop our content.