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Menstrual Cramps Treatment Overview

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Care Plan

1

First steps to consider

  • Mild to moderate cramps can be treated with OTC medications.
  • Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve) can often relieve cramps.
2

When you may need a provider

  • Severe cramps
  • Your cramps are interfering with your life.

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When to see a provider for menstrual cramps

You should consider seeing a healthcare provider, like your ob/gyn, if your menstrual cramps are not going away with OTC medications. Also see your ob/gyn if the pain is moderate to severe every month, or the menstrual cramps are interfering with your life. This is especially important if your cramps are causing you to miss school, work, or social activities.

There are prescription medications for menstrual cramps that your doctor can prescribe, like the birth control pill.

Some people get some relief with alternative therapies like acupuncture and acupressure. Acupuncture uses thin needles to stimulate specific points on the body and has been shown to reduce menstrual cramps. Acupressure (rubbing circles on your calf, four fingers up from inner ankle) can also relieve period pain.

Getting diagnosed for menstrual cramps

There are no tests for menstrual cramps. But severe cramps and pelvic pain can be a sign of other gynecological conditions like fibroids or endometriosis. Your doctor may want to do a pelvic exam and order imaging tests like an ultrasound or MRI to rule them out.

What to expect from your visit

  • Your doctor may suggest taking hormonal birth control. This can prevent ovulation and thin the uterine lining, making your flow lighter and menstrual cramps less intense.
  • You may be prescribed muscle relaxants or prescription-strength anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
  • If your menstrual cramps are caused by fibroids, endometriosis, or another condition, you may need a surgical procedure to treat it.

Prescription menstrual cramp medications

  • Birth control pills
    • Loestrin
    • Junel
    • Yaz
  • Prescription-strength pain relievers such as ibuprofen
  • Muscle relaxers like methocarbamol (Robaxin) and cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril)

Types of menstrual cramps providers

  • A primary care provider can treat menstrual cramps.
  • An obstetrician/gynecologist (ob/gyn) is a doctor who specializes in women’s health and may do additional testing and be more knowledgeable about treatment options.
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