Cramps but No Period: Causes and Treatments (Evidence Based)

Cramps but No Period: Causes and Treatments (Based on Research)
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Many women experience menstrual cramps just before or during their period. So, having abdominal cramping but no period can cause worry and anxiety. The reasons for stomach cramps with no period are usually connected with a woman’s reproductive system. So, pregnancy, ovulation, or a more serious condition of the womb like endometriosis can all cause cramps but no period. However, abdominal cramps with no menstruation can also be caused by digestive problems, appendicitis, or even stress.

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Menstrual cramps happen when the uterus contracts to get rid of its lining. This usually happens in the few days before or just at the onset of the menstrual period. The pain associated with menstrual cramping can range from mild with no impact on daily activities to an intense throbbing pain that lasts for a few days. According to Dr. Kecia Gaither on WebMD, severe menstrual cramps can even cause an upset stomach, vomiting and loose stools.1

In this article, I will look at the various reasons why you can experience cramping with no period. This will help you identify the reasons why the period-like cramping occurs. You will also find some helpful home treatments to get a relief from pain in the lower abdominal region.

Cramps but No Period – Causes and Treatments

Early Sign of Pregnancy

The early signs of pregnancy can cause abdominal cramping with no menstruation which us named implantation cramping. According to gynecologist Dr. Trina Pagano, implantation cramping happens when the fertilized egg attaches itself to the wall of the uterus. Other early symptoms of pregnancy could be slight bleeding (implantation spotting) and a white milky discharge along with the cramping, but no period.2 This is normal at the start of a pregnancy.

Of course, only a pregnancy test will confirm if you are pregnant or not. If you think you may be pregnant because you have abdominal cramps, you should visit your doctor or buy a pregnancy test kit.

If you notice a white discharge that has a bad smell, you should also visit your doctor who will check for a vaginal bacterial infection or a yeast infection.

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Ovulation

Ovulation occurs once during each monthly cycle and can cause abdominal pain and discomfort. Ovulation pain is also called mittelschmerz and is classed as cramping with no period because the menstrual period usually starts around 12-16 days after ovulation. Around the time of ovulation the cervical mucus becomes thicker and takes on a jelly-like appearance.

It is thought that around 1 in 5 women experience some type of ovulation pain. The pain can last only a few minutes, but for some women, the cramping can be intense and last up to 48 hours. Usually, the pain is only felt on one side of the abdomen and it may or may not switch from one cycle to the next.3

To get relief from cramping caused by ovulation pain, the Mayo Clinic recommends placing a heat pack on the painful area to soothe the pain.4 You can also get relief from ovulation pain by trying to rest in bed if the cramps are intense.

Some women experience ovary pain and lower pelvic pain that is caused by other reasons.

Ovarian Cyst

One reason why women can experience cramps but no period is an ovarian cyst. According to The Center for Menstrual & Reproductive Choice, ovarian cysts are very common and most go away on their own. However, some women develop large cysts that can cause pain in the lower abdominal region.5

A ruptured ovarian cyst can cause intense abdominal cramping with no onset of a period.

If you think that your abdominal pain is caused by an ovarian cyst, you should visit your medical practitioner who will arrange for some tests. Very often the doctor will advise you to wait and see if the cyst goes away on its own.6

Endometriosis

Uterine cramping but no period could be due to endometriosis. This is a condition where the lining of the uterus grows outside of it and it can cause pelvic pain.

The Office on Women’s Health in the U.S. says that the most common symptom of endometriosis is a pain in the lower abdomen. Although the pain usually occurs during the menstrual period, endometriosis can also cause you to experience stomach cramps at other times, for example, when you don’t have your period.7

Endometriosis can cause women to have irregular periods. That is why sometimes you many have cramping but no period and you also have a negative pregnancy test.8

To relieve the cramping caused by endometriosis you can apply a heat pack to your lower abdomen region until you find relief from the pain.

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A study carried out by the University of Aberdeen in Scotland found that taking omega-3 supplements can help to relieve endometrial pain and in some cases it can help to slow down the growth of endometrial tissue. Omega-3 is effective in relieving cramping because it reduces an inflammatory chemical called prostaglandin E2.9 So if you have cramping but no period or painful cramping during your period that is caused by endometriosis, then omega-3 supplements can help reduce your pain.

Dr. Sarah Marshall on WebMD recommends that you should visit your doctor if your periods become painful, you have pain that interferes with your daily activities, or experience any unusual bleeding.10

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

Cramps but no period and a white discharge could be due to a pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). The Mayo Clinic says that the symptoms of PID are pain in your lower abdomen, pain during intercourse, irregular menstrual bleeding, and a heavy vaginal discharge.11 PID can also cause the vaginal area to smell fishy.

PID is a vaginal infection that is usually caused by a sexually transmitted disease. It is important to see a doctor if you think you have PID because, if left untreated it can cause long-term reproductive disability.12

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) may also affect your monthly cycle resulting in a black period. The disease itself doesn’t turn your period black but can cause irregularities in your menstrual cycle.

Doctors from the Office on Women’s Health say that some of the symptoms of pelvic inflammatory disease are irregular menstrual periods, smelly vaginal discharge, and pain in the pelvic region.22

Pelvic Floor Disorder

Pelvic floor disorders can cause menstrual-like cramping without having a period. The pain occurs because the muscles supporting your pelvic organs become weak and push on your vagina or rectum.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, some of the symptoms of pelvic floor disorders are usually a frequent need to urinate or have a bowel movement. However, pelvic floor disorder also causes pain in your lower back and pelvic region.13

To relieve the pain caused by pelvic floor dysfunctions, doctors recommend to avoid straining when urinating or having a bowel movement. You should also try to relax the muscles in the pelvic floor area by taking a warm bath to ease the pain when you have to use the bathroom.

Interstitial cystitis

Interstitial cystitis is a chronic bladder condition which can cause period-like pain but without menstruation. The pain associated with interstitial cystitis can range from mild to severe and can affect your daily activities.

The Mayo Clinic explains that signals that usually tell the brain it’s time to urinate get mixed up and you feel the need to urinate more often. Interstitial cystitis also causes chronic pelvic pain and it’s also one of the causes for having white blood cells in the urine and cloudy urine. It can be triggered by menstruation, stress, sitting for a long time, and sexual intercourse.14

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To get relief from the cramps and pain caused by interstitial cystitis, doctors recommend avoiding the four ‘C’s in your diet. These are: carbonated drinks, caffeine, citrus products, and foods containing high amounts of vitamin C.15

Stress

Emotional stress is another reason that can cause you to have cramps with no period. Doctors have identified a connection between high-stress levels and abdominal pain. For example, the Harvard Medical School found that psychological stress sends signals through the nervous system causing abdominal cramping and pain.16 Stress can also cause you to have irregular periods, white discharge before period, as well as green stools, so higher anxiety levels can cause you to experience cramping without a period.

If you think that stress is causing your abdominal cramping between menstrual periods you should try some relaxation techniques to manage stress better. I have written about many effective natural remedies for stress and anxiety which can help you get a relief from cramping caused by stress. There you can find out how natural ingredients like ginger, chamomile, lavender, and valerian can help you reduce stress and thus get rid of the cramping associated with high anxiety levels. A cup of delicious oolong tea can also help you feel more relaxed and reduce your stress levels. Or you can try these essential oils to relieve stress and anxiety.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Another cause of cramping without period is irritable bowel syndrome. The Office on Women’s Health in the U.S. says that the symptoms of IBS are cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation.17 IBS can also cause stomach pain after eating.

IBS is a complex disease to treat and usually it is only possible to manage the symptoms to reduce the pain and discomfort that IBS causes. Doctors usually recommend changes to diet and managing stress to help alleviate some of the symptoms.

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There are natural remedies that can also help to get relief from pain and other symptoms of IBS. For example, in 2008 the NHS in the United Kingdom reported that enteric-coated peppermint oil capsules can effectively relieve the cramping and pain caused by IBS.18

The low FODMAP diet is also an effective way to manage the symptoms of IBS and prevent cramping that is associated with it. You can find out more about the low FODMAP diet here.

Appendicitis

One of the first signs of appendicitis is a cramping pain in your abdomen which could feel like period pains. Your appendix is a small organ that is located on the lower right side of your abdomen. Pains that increase in intensity on the lower right side of your stomach can be a sign of appendicitis – the medical name when your appendix becomes inflamed. The Mayo Clinic says the first sign of appendicitis is a pain around your belly button which then moves towards your lower right abdomen.19

There is no way to prevent appendicitis and if you experience pain in your abdomen that gradually worsens and is accompanied by nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, constipation or diarrhea, then you should seek medical help immediately.

Ovarian Cancer

One reason why some women experience pains in their abdomen but no period is ovarian cancer. Of course, abdominal pain isn’t the only sign of ovarian cancer. According to WebMD, other symptoms of ovarian cancer can be the need to urinate more frequently, loss of appetite, abdominal bloating, and postmenopausal bleeding.20

In fact, the Cancer Research UK website says that most women who have the above-mentioned symptoms will not have cancer. However, they recommend that if the pain and other symptoms occur regularly and continue for more than 3 weeks, you should visit your doctor for a checkup.21

Other Reasons for Cramping without Period

There can be many other causes of cramping but no period. The cramps and pain in your abdominal region could be due to constipation, food allergies, stomach flu, kidney stones, or ulcers.

As with most conditions, if the cramping doesn’t go away and you know that it is not connected to your menstrual period, you should visit your medical practitioner to have a check up and put your mind to rest.

Read these related articles:

1. The Best Natural Ways to Relieve Menstrual Cramps (Research Based)
2. Ovarian Cysts – Warning Signs You Should Not Ignore
3. Eight Early Warning Signs Of Ovarian Cancer You Shouldn’t Ignore
4. Ovary Pain and Lower Pelvic Pain – 13 Possible Causes
5. Ten Warning Signs of Cervical Cancer You Shouldn’t Ignore

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