- Cramps but no menstruation can be caused by normal ovulation pain or an ovarian cyst.
- If you suspect you may be pregnant, abdominal cramps can also be caused by an ectopic pregnancy, a miscarriage or pregnancy itself.
- You may also feel abdominal cramps if you have chronic conditions such as endometriosis or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
Many of us have felt the uncomfortable cramps in the lower abdomen that can come with your period. But cramps can also appear outside of your period.
There are many conditions that can cause abdominal cramps – and although many are normal, some can be dangerous and may require medical attention.
Here are nine reasons why you may have cramps while you are not on your period, and some tips on how to say what is causing your cramps.
Ovulation cramps occur when one of your ovaries releases an ovum as part of your monthly menstrual cycle. About one in five women experience cramps when they ovulate.
These cramps usually occur about 14 days before your period and can feel like a sharp stabbing pain or a dull ache. Ovulation cramps are usually only on one side of your lower abdomen and can last from just a few minutes to a few days.
2. Ovarian cyst
Ovarian cysts are small sacs filled with fluid that grow inside or along the outside of your ovaries. Ovarian cysts are relatively common, affecting about one in five women in the US, and pups may not cause any symptoms. But larger ovarian cysts can cause intense cramps in your lower abdomen, usually just on the side where the cysts grow.
If you have a fever or vomiting with your cramps, you should seek medical help. This is a sign that a cyst may have ruptured, which could cause internal bleeding.
During your first trimester of pregnancy, you may have cramps caused by your uterus expanding.
In your second trimester, you may also have cramps when the muscle that supports your uterus stretches. In most cases, these cramps are not very painful and should only occur occasionally.
“Usually, cramps during the early part of pregnancy are very mild,” says Christine Greves, MD, a gynecologist at Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies.
4. Ectopic pregnancy
happens when a fertilized egg implants outside your uterus, usually in your fallopian tubes. Ectopic pregnancies are a type of miscarriage, but unlike most miscarriages, you will need specialized medication or surgery to remove the pregnancy.
Ectopic pregnancies can cause intense, painful cramps along with other symptoms. “An ectopic pregnancy can involve heavy vaginal bleeding, severe abdominal pain, lightheadedness and dizziness,” says Greves.
A miscarriage occurs when you lose a pregnancy before it reaches 20 weeks. Up to one in five pregnancies ends in miscarriage, and most of the time you will have painful cramps. Miscarriage cramps can only last for a short time, but in some cases can last for hours.
“A miscarriage can generally cause lower pelvic cramps that do not benefit a side,” Greves says. “There may be spotting or bleeding associated with it.” Another sign of a miscarriage is if you let fluid and tissue pass from your vagina.
6. Pelvic inflammatory disease
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) occurs when you have an infection in your reproductive organs, including your ovaries, uterus or vagina. PID is often caused by sexually transmitted infections such as gonorrhea or chlamydia.
PID can cause painful cramps, but there are often other symptoms as well, such as fever, foul-smelling discharge and a burning sensation when you pee.
7. Inflammatory bowel disease
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a chronic condition that causes damage to your digestive system. IBD makes it harder for you to digest food and in some cases it can cause dangerous bleeding in your intestines.
IBD can cause pain and cramps in your abdomen, especially after you eat, but it can also come with symptoms such as diarrhea and bloody stools. In many cases, IBD can also make you lose your appetite, which can lead to
Endometriosis is a chronic disorder in which extra tissue grows on the outside of your uterus, ovaries or other nearby organs. This extra tissue can cause extreme pain and cramps, especially during your period or during sex.
Other signs of endometriosis are abnormally heavy periods as well as bleeding between your periods. You may also have pain while urinating or during bowel movements.
Appendicitis is a serious condition in which your appendix suddenly becomes inflamed, often as a result of an infection. Appendicitis can be dangerous – if you do not get treatment quickly to have your appendix removed, it can burst and cause a widespread infection or even death.
“Arthritis usually involves pain in the right lower quadrant, a lack of appetite and fever,” says Greves. Appendix pain may start to feel like a normal stomach ache, but it does not go away and will continue to worsen until you get treatment.
There are several reasons why you may have stomach cramps and in many cases there is nothing serious to worry about. But if you have pain that feels unusual or worrying, it is best to contact your doctor to make sure there are no serious medical problems.
Dweck says you should contact your doctor if you have any severe or unknown pain, especially if you are pregnant.