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What causes common menstrual cramps?

Menstrual cramps, or pain with your period, are caused by contractions of the uterus. When the uterus contracts strongly it can cause a decrease in blood flow to the muscle, which in turn causes pain.

Menstrual cramps or pains are often associated with premenstrual syndrome (PMS), though technically, they're two different things. Many women with PMS have completely pain-free periods and many women who have severe cramping have no premenstrual symptoms at all. During the menstrual cycle the uterus lining produces the hormone prostaglandin, which causes the uterus to contract, sometimes painfully. Some women produce higher than normal amounts of this hormone, causing severe cramps, while others produce normal amounts but are more sensitive to the effects of prostaglandin. Menstrual pain usually includes mild to severe cramping in the lower abdomen, back, or thighs. In any case, if you're suffering from menstrual cramps, you know it, and you're probably looking for relief.

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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.