Menstruation - painful; Dysmenorrhea; Periods - painful; Cramps - menstrual; Menstrual cramps
The following steps may allow you to avoid prescription medications:
- Apply a heating pad to your lower abdomen (below your belly button). Be careful NOT to fall asleep with the heating pad on.
- Do light circular massage with your fingertips around your lower abdomen.
- Drink warm beverages.
- Eat light but frequent meals.
- Follow a diet rich in complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, but low in salt, sugar, alcohol, and caffeine.
- Keep your legs elevated while lying down, or lie on your side with your knees bent.
- Practice relaxation techniques such as meditation or yoga.
- Try over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicine, such as ibuprofen. Start taking it the day before your period is expected to start, and continue taking it regularly for the first few days of your period.
- Try vitamin B6, calcium, and magnesium supplements, especially if your pain is from PMS.
- Take warm showers or baths.
- Walk or exercise regularly, including pelvic rocking exercises.
- Lose weight if you are overweight.
If these self-care measures do not work, your doctor may prescribe medications such as:
- Birth control pills
- Prescription anti-inflammatory medicines such as meclofenamate (Meclomen)
- Prescription pain relievers (including narcotics such as codeine, for brief periods)
Call your health care provider if
Call your doctor right away if:
- Vaginal discharge is increased in amount or is foul-smelling.
- You have a fever.
- Your pain is significant, your period is more than one week late, and you have been sexually active.
Review Date: 09/02/2009
Reviewed By: Susan Storck, MD, FACOG, Chief, Eastside Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, Redmond, Washington; Clinical Teaching Faculty, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.