Dysmenorrhea is the used to describe painful menstrual periods, including severe cramps.

Menstrual cramps in teens are caused by too much of a chemical called prostaglandin. Most teens with dysmenorrhea do not have a serious disease, even though the cramps can be severe. In older women, the pain is sometimes caused by a disease or condition such as uterine fibroids or endometriosis.

For some women, using a heating pad or taking a warm bath helps ease their cramps. Some over-the-counter pain medicines can also help with these symptoms. They include:

  • Ibuprofen (eye-byu-PROH-fuhn) (for instance, Advil, Motrin, Midol Cramp)
  • Ketoprofen (key-toh-PROH-fuhn) (for instance, Orudis KT)
  • Naproxen (nuh-PROK-suhn) (for instance, Aleve)

If these medicines don't relieve your pain or the pain interferes with work or school, you should see a doctor. Treatment depends on what's causing the problem and how severe it is.


Reference: Office of Women's Health

Last updated January 7, 2017

This information is for general educational uses only. It may not apply to you and your personal medical needs. This information should not be used in place of a visit, call, consultation with or the advice of your physician or health care professional.

Communicate promptly with your physician or other health care professional with any health-related questions or concerns.

Be sure to follow specific instructions given to you by your physician or health care professional.

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