Menstrual cramps are pains in the lowest part of the torso (pelvis), a few days before, during, or after a menstrual period. The pain tends to be most intense about 24 hours after periods begin and to subside after 2 to 3 days. The pain is usually crampy or sharp and comes and goes, but it may be a dull, constant ache. It sometimes extends to the lower back and legs.
Many women also have a headache, nausea (sometimes with vomiting), and constipation or diarrhea. They may need to urinate frequently.
Symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (such as irritability, nervousness, depression, fatigue, and abdominal bloating) may persist during part or all of the menstrual period.
Sometimes menstrual blood contains clots. The clots, which may appear bright red or dark, may contain tissue and fluid from the lining of the uterus, as well as blood.
Symptoms tend to be more severe if
Menstrual periods started at an early age.
Periods are long or heavy.
Family members also have dysmenorrhea.