Cramps After Period: Causes, Treatments, and When to See a Doctor

Cramps After Period: Causes, Treatments, and When to See a Doctor
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Cramps after the menstrual period has ended is a condition that many women have to suffer. The pelvic pain after the period could feel like mild cramping and aches or it could be an intense throbbing pain in your lower abdomen. Usually, cramps a week after your period or having abdominal aches 2 weeks after your period isn’t connected with your menses

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Some reasons why your period has ended but you still have cramping could simply be to do with ovulation, stress, or a hormonal imbalance. In some cases, cramping after your period could be caused by a more serious condition like endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, or growths on your reproductive organs.

However, not all cramping between your periods is the result of problems in your reproductive system. Digestive disorders, kidney stones, appendicitis, or the stomach flu can all cause cramping pain during your menstrual cycle.

In most cases, the best home remedy for cramps after your period involves placing something warm on your lower stomach to soothe the pain.

In this article, you will learn about the various causes of cramping after your period. At the end, you will find out the best way to treat post-period cramping and when you should see a doctor.

What is Cramping After Period

Cramping that is associated with your menstrual cycle happens because of muscle contractions in your pelvic area. According to expert in obstetrics and gynecology Dr. Traci Johnson, as your uterus contracts it presses on blood vessels which results in pain and cramping.1

Abdominal cramping after the period is often caused by other conditions that affect the uterus.

Symptoms of Cramping After Period

Even though most cases of abdominal aches and pains after the period is over are not serious, the pain can be intense.

Doctors from the Mayo Clinic say that cramps associated with the menstrual cycle can be like throbbing pains in the lower stomach. For some women, the painful symptoms feel like very light cramping; however, for other women, the abdominal cramping can be so intense that it interferes with their daily activities.2

Depending on what causes your post period cramping, you might also have brown discharge after your period.

The abdominal pains and aching can also cause lower back pain and even radiate pain down your thighs. Along with the cramping pain, you might have headaches, loose stools, or nausea.

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Causes of Cramps After Your Period

Let’s look in more detail at the common causes of cramping after your period and why you can feel throbbing aches in your stomach without having a period.

Ovulation causes cramps after period

Cramping a week or two after your period could be a sign that ovulation has occurred.

Ovulation generally occurs in the middle of your menstrual cycle. According to the American Pregnancy Association, ovulation happens between day 11 and day 21 of the menstrual cycle. Ovulation cramping is called mittelschmerz, or “middle pain” because the cramping occurs between periods.3

Doctors from the Mayo Clinic say that ovulation cramping causes pain on one side of the pelvic area. This can be a sharp, sudden cramp-like pain a week or so after your period ends. You may also notice an increase in discharge around the time of ovulation and some light pink spotting.4

Stress as a cause of stomach cramps after the menstrual period

Stress can also be a reason for pelvic cramping in women after their period has ended and may happen at any point during your cycle.

According to researchers at the Harvard Medical School, there is a close relationship between your emotions and your digestive system. Being under intense psychological stress can cause cramping aches in your lower stomach when you don’t have a period.5

Lower abdominal cramping that isn’t connected with your period is just one way that stress affects your body negatively. Stress can also cause you to miss periods completely or increase the amount of white thick discharge after your period.

To avoid experiencing stress-related cramps after your period, you can try to use some natural ways to alleviate stress. For example, in my article about natural home remedies for anxiety, you can find out how chamomile, lavender, and ginger can help to reduce symptoms of stress. This can help to stop abdominal cramps before your period or after it.

Implantation cramping

Implantation cramping can cause light cramps after your period that last a day or two and this is often one of the earliest signs of pregnancy.

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Cramping that is associated with becoming pregnant happens as the fertilized egg attaches to the lining of your uterus. According to Dr. Trina Pagano on WebMD, implantation cramping happens around 6 to 12 days after conception. The light aches can feel like menstrual cramps and you might have some implantation spotting at the same time.6

Because the pelvic cramps happen about two weeks after period, you could even mistake them for the start of your next period. You might notice an increase in milky white discharge as well as changes in breast size, nausea, and, of course, no period. Only a pregnancy test will confirm if you have become pregnant or not.

Endometriosis and pelvic pain after period

If your menstrual period has ended but you still have cramping, it may be a sign of endometriosis.

Endometriosis is a condition of the uterus where some of the endometrial tissue starts to grow outside the uterus. This can cause severe cramping before your period and also throbbing abdominal aches after your period.

According to the Dr. William Blahd on WebMD, the most common symptom of endometriosis is painful cramps in the pelvic area. Endometriosis can cause severe lower abdominal cramping after, before, or during menstruation. You may also have light bleeding after your period as well as painful bowel movements.7

Endometriosis can also be a reason for painful cramps after sexual intercourse.

Cramping after period ends caused by ovarian cysts

Ovarian cysts can cause cramping after the menstrual period ends and usually the pain is felt on just one side of your pelvic area.

Ovarian cysts are noncancerous fluid-filled sacs that develop on the ovaries. Doctors from Johns Hopkins Medicine say that cysts can cause abdominal pain ranging from mild pelvic aches to sharp abdominal pain if the cyst ruptures.8

Ovary pain caused by cysts can come and go. However, in some cases, removing the cysts is the only way to stop cramping after the period ends. Doctors may also want to check abnormal bleeding and cramping to rule out the possibility of ovarian cancer.

Uterine fibroids and post period abdominal cramps

Uterine fibroids are another condition of the reproductive organs that can cause cramping after your period has finished.

According to doctors from the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, fibroids (sometimes called myomas) are benign growths that grow on the uterus. One of the main symptoms of fibroids is an increase menstrual pain and cramps that happens after or before your period. You may also experience more spotting between periods.9

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In many cases, doctors choose a “wait and see” approach for treating uterine fibroids. If menstrual bleeding or abdominal menstrual pain becomes very severe, they may recommend removal of the fibroids.

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)

Pelvic inflammatory disease could be one reason why you are still cramping after your period is over.

PID is a vaginal infection that is often the result of a sexually transmitted disease. However, it can also be caused if bacteria get into your reproductive system due to an intrauterine device or childbirth.

Doctors from the Mayo Clinic report that a common symptom of PID is cramping in your lower abdominal and pelvic area. You might also experience discharge that has a distinct fishy odor and bleeding between your periods. In fact, you may have a dark menstrual period if you have PID.10

It’s important to get the proper treatment for pelvic inflammatory disease. If left untreated, PID can cause complication with your reproductive system including infertility.

Interstitial cystitis

Experiencing bad or severe cramps after your period could be caused by a painful bladder syndrome called interstitial cystitis.

Doctors from the Mayo Clinic say that interstitial cystitis is a chronic condition that affects many women. The most common symptoms of this bladder syndrome are pelvic pain and bladder pain. Depending on the extent of your condition, you may have severe abdominal pains throughout your menstrual cycle.11

Your doctor will advise on the best course of treatment to alleviate abdominal cramping and manage your condition.

Cancer

Cancer of the reproductive organs may result in chronic abdominal cramping after your period. However, it’s good to remember, that it’s only in rare occasions where uterine or cervical cancer is to blame for chronic cramps.

According to Cancer Research UK, most women who have abdominal cramping don’t have cancer of the uterus or ovaries. However, if you have severe cramping that doesn’t go away and you have bloating, you should visit your doctor for a checkup. This will help to put your mind a rest and rule out the possibility of cancer.12

Other Reasons for Cramping After Period Ends

There are other reasons why many women experience mild to severe cramping after their period ends. The following causes of abdominal cramps aren’t connected with the reproductive system.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

Suffering from irritable bowel syndrome could be one reason why you have cramping but no period.

The Office on Women’s Health reports that the common symptoms of IBS include abdominal cramping and pain, bloating, and problems with bowel movements.13 In fact, doctors say that IBS also affects your hormones and can contribute to increase cramping during your period.16

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Irritable bowel syndrome can be difficult to manage. If you want to know how to get rid of cramping and other symptoms of IBS, please read my article on how to relieve IBS naturally.

Appendicitis and abdominal cramps before or after period

One of the first signs of appendicitis is severe cramping and it can happen at any time during the menstrual cycle.

According to doctors from the Mayo Clinic, the symptoms of appendicitis usually starts off as belly button pain. The pain then travels to the right side of your abdomen causing severe and intense pain.14

If severe right-sided abdominal cramping occurs along with nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, and constipation or diarrhea, you should visit your doctor as soon as possible.

Other reasons for cramping after period

Other reasons for experiencing cramping after your period include constipation, kidney stones, stomach ulcers, or food allergies.

Best Home Treatments for Cramps After Your Period

In some cases, the only way to treat cramps after your period is to remove the reason. However, there are many home treatments to relieve menstrual cramps and ease pain in your abdominal area.

Heat pad to relieve cramps after your period

Placing a heat pad on your pelvic area is one of the best ways to get rid of cramping associated with ovulation, endometriosis, fibroids, or menstrual cramps.

Doctors from the Mayo Clinic recommend using a heating pad to treat abdominal cramping at home. In many cases, heat can be even more effective than over-the-counter pain relievers and has fewer side effects.15

How to make a heating pad for abdominal cramps

If you regularly suffer from cramps after your period, you can get pain relief by making your own heating pad this way:

  1. Fill a hot water bottle with hot (not boiling) water and secure tightly.
  2. Warp the hot water bottle in a towel and place on your abdomen for 15-20 minutes to relieve the cramping and discomfort.
  3. Repeat 3-4 times a day to manage abdominal cramps and use daily until you no longer have cramping.

Exercise regularly to prevent cramping

Doctors also say that women who exercise regularly have less cramping associated with their menstrual cycle.

To get yourself started on a great exercise program, please check out my article on 10 easy exercises to tone your legs and butt at home. You may find that in time, exercising helps to reduce menstrual cramping and you will also look thinner as well.

When to See a Doctor for Cramping After Period

If you only have mild cramps after your period, usually it’s enough to use heat pads to get rid of the pain. However, if you have regular and severe cramping after your period, you should see your doctor.

According to Dr. Traci Johnson on WebMD, you should speak to your doctor about menstrual cramping before or after your period that last for more than 3 days.1

Read these related articles:

Article Sources

  1. WebMD. What are menstrual cramps?
  2. MayoClinic. Menstrual cramps.
  3. AmericanPregnancy. Understanding ovulation.
  4. MayoClinic. Mittelschmerz.
  5. HealthHarvard. Stress and the sensitive gut.
  6. WebMD. Pregnancy symptoms.
  7. WebMD. A visual guide to endometriosis.
  8. HopkinsMedicine. Benign ovarian cysts.
  9. ACOG. Uterine fibroids.
  10. MayoClinic. Pelvic inflammatory disease.
  11. MayoClinic. Interstitial cystitis.
  12. CancerResearchUK. Symptoms of ovarian cancer.
  13. WomensHealth. Irritable bowel syndrome.
  14. MayoClinic. Appendicitis.
  15. MayoClinic. Menstrual cramps. Treatment.
  16. WebMD. Do hormones affect IBS?
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