Women's Health

Cramps But No Period? Here are the Causes

cramps but no period

Many women get cramping and pelvic pain, but the reason can’t always be blamed for your period.

It could be that you’re constipated, developed a cyst, pregnant, or pray not you have cancer. Period pains can attack you at any time, even if it’s not the time of the month yet.

Cramping is tricky since you can’t know for sure what causes it. Is it something that doesn’t require medical attention?

Or is it serious you need to rush to the ER? Let’s find out the common reasons for the “cramps but no period” scenario.

Anovulation

The female body undergoes hormonal changes commonly associated with PMS, but some women actually have times that they don’t release an egg for a particular month, which means you won’t get your period.

This is what anovulation is, and it’s more common than you might think. According to Chicago-based ob-gyn Jessica Sheperd, 10 to 18 percent of all regular cycles are anovulatory. That said, getting pregnant can be more than challenging.

cramps but no period

Pregnancy

If you’ve been reliant on the pullout or withdrawal method for birth control, forgot to take your pill, or recently had an unprotected sex, you should think about taking a pregnancy test.

One of the many symptoms of the onset of pregnancy is cramping, along with fatigue, mood swings, nausea and vomiting, and breast tenderness. Do all of these ring a bell? Yes, all of these are period symptoms too.

If you think you’re pregnant, take a pregnancy test. If the result comes back negative, try again for a few days.

A day or two makes a lot of difference in the results. For all you know, your abdominal cramps could mean you’re actually pregnant.

Thyroid Problems

That tiny gland in your neck that’s shaped like a butterfly is your thyroid, and it’s responsible for regulating many bodily functions, such as menstrual cycles and metabolism.

If your thyroid malfunctions, it can affect your menstrual cycle and make it irregular. The result is having to go months with cramps and other period-like symptoms without actually getting your period.

Your thyroid also regulates brain function, so the mood swings you were having might not be due to PMS, but an irregularity in your neurological function.

Along with that, you may also observe spotting and cramping because your uterus lining hasn’t shed because you weren’t ovulating.

If you think you’re at risk of thyroid problems, consult with a doctor immediately. Other symptoms of thyroid problems include sudden fatigue, heart palpitations, and unexplained weight gain or loss.

Ulcerative Colitis or Crohn’s Disease

Your cramps could be caused by irritation and swelling in the different parts of your digestive tract. This happens when your immune system goes whack.

It could be that you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or Crohn’s disease. With Crohn’s, not only is your digestive tract affected — your mouth can be too. Ulcerative colitis, on the other hand, is the inflammation of your large intestine.

According to WebMD, what your cramps feel like depends on the type of IBD you have.

If you have ulcerative colitis, the pain is mostly on the lower left side of your stomach. With Crohn’s, there’s a discomfort in the middle of the lower right part of your belly.

Other symptoms of IBD include:

  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Weight loss
  • Blood in the feces
  • Feeling that your bowels aren’t completely empty after you go
  • The sudden need to pass a bowel movement
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea

Hormonal Birth Control

While hormonal IUDs are an effective birth control method, it’s also the reason for skipped periods.

IUDs are implanted so that the endometrial lining is thinned, which means that you don’t have anything to shed during that time of the month.

Meanwhile, birth control pills don’t necessarily top menstrual flow, but you experience spotting or super light flows. This will still cause period symptoms such as cramping and tenderness of the breast.

stress women

Stress

If you missed your period this month, it could be that you are super stressed. Stress causes the cortisol levels to rise, rendering your hormones out of balance, including the hormones that regulate your uterine lining and ovaries.

A breakup with a partner, death of somebody close, deadlines, or exams are all stress triggers, which can cause irregular or skipped periods.

Good for you if you can pinpoint what your stressor is, but some people don’t even know they’re stressed unless they talk to somebody about it.

If you think stress is messing up your periods and the cause of your cramps, visit your doctor. You can also try meditating, enroll in yoga classes, exercise, and try therapies to help you manage your stress.

PCOS

PCOS

Polycystic ovarian syndrome, or PCOS, could be the reason why you’re experiencing cramps. This condition happens when a woman has an excess of androgens.

Androgens are bodily chemicals that affect weight management, hair growth, ovary function, and how our body reacts to insulin.

PCOS can also cause irregular spotting and anovulation, as well as cyst growth on the ovaries. Once a cyst ruptures, it can cause pain in the abdomen or pelvic area very similar to period cramps.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, PCOS affects 6 to 12 percent of US women of reproductive age, which is approximately 5 million women.

It’s also common among women who have relatives with the same condition and those who are overweight.

If you think you might have PCOS, check with your doctor ASAP. Currently, there is no known cure for PCOS, but some medications can help manage the symptoms and prevent cramping.

Uterine Polyps

Polyps can also grow in the uterus aside from the colon. These tiny benign tumors can cause period-like symptoms to appear including cramping.

Polyps are one of the reasons why some women find it hard to conceive and pose risk to developing into uterine cancer.

For this reason, your doctor will likely remove them by way of a hysteroscopy. During this procedure, a long tube is inserted up through the vagina and into the uterus in order to see and remove the polyps out.

Ovarian Cysts

Ovarian Cysts

In preparation for ovulation, your ovaries actually make cysts each month, but only one of them will release an egg.

The other cysts eventually disappear, but sometimes they can be stubborn too and remain in your ovaries. It’s important to note that cysts can also appear if you have an anovulatory menstrual cycle.

While the cysts themselves aren’t painful, they can sometimes trigger cramping. Larger cysts, in particular, can cause more pain, so make sure to check with your doctor.

When the pain becomes too unbearable because of a large cyst, your doctor may perform an operation to remove it from your ovaries.

Gynecological Infections

Some sexually transmitted infections such as chlamydia and gonorrhea can cause pelvic inflammatory disease, a disorder characterized by cramping and pelvic pains. Similarly, UTIs can also cause pain in the pelvic area.

If you have an infection down there, it’s important to take antibiotics to help clear it up.

If you suddenly contract fever, heavy vomiting and nausea, and unbearable pelvic pain even when taking OTC medications, it could be a sign of a more serious problem. A trip to a doctor is recommended.

Pre-Menstrual Pain

If your breasts are swollen and tender, you’re suddenly bloated and have serious cramping, one of the first things that come to mind is, “Oh, it’s that time of the month again,” apart from the pregnancy scare, that is. It’s not your period yet, technically, but it’s coming.

Also known as middle pain, pre-menstrual pain happens about halfway through your menstrual cycle.

According to Dr. Nicole Scott, an ob-gyn at IU Health, it’s a totally normal experience and is not a reason to rush to the ER.

Middle pain affects about 20 percent of women in the US, and while it’s the reason for the sudden irrational temper or crying episodes, it’s not a serious medical condition. Your ovaries are doing their thing, so allow them to do so. There’s not much you can do but take pain relievers or sleep it off.

Middle pains usually stop after two days, but if it’s starting to get unbearable, contact a doctor immediately.

Excessive Exercising

Working out regularly or doing some stretches now and then can actually help manage period pains and PMS, but like most things, you should do it in moderation.

Exercising too much causes stress and exhaustion and could affect your monthly cycle. Some women even miss their periods because of excessive exercising.

The physical stress that your body undergoes upon exercising too much causes your periods to go awry, as well as hormone levels to fluctuate irregularly.

These fluctuations are the reasons for spotting, acne, mood swings, cramping, and other period-like symptoms.

But if you really are experiencing menstrual cramps and want to try exercise for pain management, here’s a YouTube Video of easy exercises that relieve painful menstrual cramps.

Ovarian Cancer

While a rare kind of cancer, ovarian cancer is one of the deadliest cancers for women, taking the lives of approximately 14,000 women each year.

This startling stat is due to the fact that ovarian cancer shows little to no symptoms at all.

Cramping and missed periods aren’t the most common symptoms of ovarian cancer, but according to the American Cancer Society, it’s a possibility.

This is the reason why irregularities in the menstrual cycle should always be acknowledged and checked, in order to come up with the best way to deal with potentially serious diseases you may have as early as possible.

Relieving Cramps

Having cramps even if you haven’t got your period yet for the month is very inconvenient as it is painful.

Luckily, there are pain management techniques you can do in order to ease the pain and relieve you of the stress caused by cramps. You can try doing some of them below.

Massage with Essential Oils

Massage with aromatic essential oils such as marjoram, clary sage, and lavender essential oils can offer relief to cramping.

This is backed by a study published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Research, which found that massaging with essential oils can help reduce the level of pain and its duration.

Just be sure you’re using essential oils safely. It’s best to dilute pure essential oils in a lotion unscented cream, or other types of oil before applying it to the skin directly. This will prevent irritation in the skin.

Heating Pad

Using a heating pad is one of the easiest ways to temporarily ease off cramping and make pain medications work faster.

For example, pain relievers might take about 2 to 3 hours to work, depending on the dosage.

But if taken along with the application of a heating pad, faster improvement in pain relief is to be expected, according to a study published in the Journal of Physiotherapy.

Exercise

Exercise helps boost the body’s endorphins, which can affect your mood and ease off bodily pains including cramps.

While exercising is the last thing you can think about when in pain, stretching your muscles and bones will reduce the cramping and eventually ease it off away.

Exercises for cramping are usually mild and easy to do, so you don’t have to worry about exhausting yourself too much.

Eat Right

There are several ways to get rid of cramps, but if you want to stop having them altogether, you should start making improvements to your diet.

Increase your intake of vegetables and avoid eating fatty foods as much as you can. With a low-fat diet, the levels of inflammation in the body will decrease, making you less prone to cramps and other bodily pains.

Final Word

Cramps are generally bad news to all women, but luckily, we have a way of knowing if it’s a cause for alarm or merely a sign that your period is approaching.

Knowing what causes cramping is essential in order to stop what’s potentially harming you from early on, and might be the key to diagnosing an underlying disease or complications.

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