Causes of Severe Menstrual Cramps


According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, over half of menstruating women experience pain for one to two days during their periods. Oftentimes, the pain of feeling the uterus, a muscle, contract and relax is mild to moderate and is not a cause of concern. However, many women also experience severe menstrual cramps that can be the symptom of a life-threatening disease, an infection or the result of an invasive birth control method.

Primary Dysmenorrhea

Primary dysmenorrhea is pelvic pain produced by prostaglandins, chemicals made by the uterus lining. At the period's onset, prostaglandin levels are high and cause severe menstrual cramps during the first days of the period. Prostaglandin levels decrease as menstruation continues and severe menstrual cramps usually subside. Primary dysmenorrhea usually begins when a young woman starts menstruating and gradually lessens as she gets older or gives birth for the first time.


According to, endometriosis is characterized by the presence of similar uterus tissues in abnormal locations, like the pelvic sidewall, ovaries, fallopian tubes and the rectal-vaginal septum. Endometriosis' primary symptom is pelvic pain that often accompanies menstruation; however, women with this condition may feel pain at other points through her monthly cycle.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

According to, PID, or pelvic inflammatory disease, an infection that attacks a woman's reproductive organs, causes severe menstrual cramps along with lower abdominal pain, painful urination, back pain and abnormal uterine bleeding. Women with pelvic inflammatory disease usually experience the strongest symptoms at the end of their menstrual periods or throughout the days immediately following their menstrual periods. Pelvic inflammatory disease is usually caused by the sexually transmitted diseases chlamydia and gonorrhea.

Uterine Fibroid Tumors

According to, uterine fibroid tumors are tumors that have grown inside of the uterus wall. Uterine fibroid tumors, most commonly found in women aged 40 to late 50s, do not always produce symptoms in women. However, those with symptoms usually experience painful periods and considerable menstrual bleeding. Other symptoms of uterine fibroid tumors include lower abdomen enlargement, painful sex, frequent urination, lower back pain and a full feeling around the pelvic area.


According to the Everett Clinic, IUDs are another cause of severe menstrual cramps. IUDs, or intrauterine devices, are birth control methods that are placed directly into the uterus to prevent pregnancies. IUD's increase uterus cramping during the first few months of use and their use should be discontinued if the severe menstrual cramping carries on or gets worse as time goes on.

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