Menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea) are dull, throbbing or cramping pains in the lower abdomen. Many women experience menstrual cramps just before and during their menstrual periods. For some women, the discomfort is merely annoying. For others, it can be severe enough to interfere with everyday activities for a few days every month.
Menstrual cramps may be caused by identifiable problems, such as endometriosis or uterine fibroids. Treating the underlying cause is key to reducing the pain. Menstrual cramps that aren’t caused by some underlying condition tend to lessen with age and often disappear once a woman has given birth.