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How common are menstrual cramps?

Dr. Howard S. Smith
Pain Medicine Specialist

Almost every woman has experienced the debilitating pain of menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea) at some time. More than 40 percent of all American women today suffer monthly with debilitating menstrual cramps. More than 10 percent of these women are incapacitated for one to three days each month because of excruciating pain.

Not all women experience menstrual cramps, also called dysmenorrhea, during menstruation. For teens, cramps are often caused by prostaglandin; this can happen later in life too, but for older women, cramps can indicate a more serious condition like fibroids or adenomyosis. Endometriosis is another cause, which can happen at any age but usually in one's 30s or 40s. If no underlying cause is found for menstrual cramps, they often lessen or go away once a woman has had a baby.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.