Cramps Before a Period: Are You Pregnant?


Women often feel cramps before their period begins. You may have cramps a week or two weeks before your period, or just a few days in advance. Some women may even have cramping when they’re already on their period, but not all women experience this.

[Read more about Cramps]

When you have cramping, it can be completely natural or a sign of something else, such as pregnancy.

What Do Menstrual (Period) Cramps Feel Like?

Different underwears during period in mid air.

The answer will be different for different women. Some women are lucky and feel mild cramping, while other women equate period cramps to sharp grinding pains that are internal.

These cramps are not fun, and some women even need medication to ease their pain.

Your uterus is tightening and relaxing at this time. These contractions are what cause the pain. The uterus lining is releasing chemicals at this time called “prostaglandins.” What these chemicals do is increase the intensity of the contractions. Suffering severe cramps is a sign that prostaglandin levels have risen too high, causing very painful contractions to occur.

Premenstrual Cramps

Many women will have cramps a few days before their period begins, and some women will experience cramps 2 weeks before their period in rare cases. This is normally an occurrence caused by dysmenorrhea. Dysmenorrhea is when periods are painful or difficult, and it is divided into two main categories:

  • Primary: The most common form. Pain is felt in the lower stomach and back. These pains often occur 1 – 2 days before a period begins.
  • Secondary: Cramps or lower back pain is experienced in the secondary category. This occurs a few days before your period.

The night before your period begins, you may feel more severe cramping.

If your period should not be here yet and you do feel slight cramping, this may be caused by implantation. This occurs when the egg and sperm fertilize. The now fertilized egg will make its way into the uterus where it will eventually attach to the uterine lining. During this process, you may bleed, or you may have sudden cramping that goes away in just a few minutes.

Some women can tell the immediate difference in cramping sensation, but not all woman will be able to tell the difference between the two.

Other Symptoms of Menstrual Cramps

When women have menstrual cramps, they do not only have a throbbing pain in their lower abdomen. They may also feel nausea, dizziness, headaches or bloat. Not only that, some people have also reported that they feel pain in their thighs and lower back.

What Do Pregnancy Cramps Feel Like?Pregnancy Cramps

Pregnancy cramps can and do occur, normally when the pregnancy has first taken place. Many women are alarmed when they feel cramping because they fear that the baby may be in danger. Before you get too worried, know that mild cramping is fine at this time and many women experience cramps when they’re pregnant.

A pregnancy cramp feels similar to a period cramp. Some health care professionals describe it as a growing pain of the uterus, so you should have a dragging feeling in the pelvis.

This happens because there is a significant change of blood supply and hormone in your pelvic organs. The cramps might intensify when the pressure of your abdomen increases, such as when you laugh, cough, or sneeze.

There will be a slight difference in the sensation and affected area.

When you have pregnancy cramps, they may be:

  • Milder than normal cramps.
  • Lower down than normal.
  • Cramps on both sides.

The sensation will be different, but most women state that the cramping is not unlike their normal menstrual cramps.

A select few women will feel sharp twinges or pain in their lower abdomen that can last months after pregnancy occurs. Under normal circumstances, this is a normal occurrence and is happening because the uterus and muscles inside of your body are stretching to accommodate the baby.

Women that are more sensitive will feel more pain at this time.

If you have severe pain or any bleeding is seen, it’s important that you contact a medical professional immediately to ensure that the baby is healthy. Miscarriages are very painful and can cause harm to the mother and obvious death to the infant.

Women that are concerned about their cramps should consult with their OBGYN to ensure that the baby is healthy.

Should You Have Period Cramps During Pregnancy?

Fertilisation on dark purple background.

Cramps during pregnancy are normal. They’re caused by the body adapting and changing to prepare for birth and to accommodate the baby growing inside of you. It’s important to monitor these cramps as most pregnancy cramps are mild, and they’re on and off instead of consistent cramps.

If you do have cramps that are mild, it’s not a cause for concern.

Cramps before a period may be felt, and at this point, you wouldn’t know with any level of certainty that you’re pregnant. Cramping before pregnancy is confirmed is also perfectly normal and is no cause for concern.

The only time when cramping is a concern during pregnancy is when:

  • Cramping is very severe and painful.
  • Cramping is consistent and doesn’t go away.
  • Blood is present.

You should not have any cramping and bleeding seen together when you’re pregnant. Any vaginal bleeding at this time should result in an immediate visit to your doctor.

If you’re trying to predict your pregnancy by the cramps felt before your period should begin, it is a very difficult process. Implantation is the normal cause for cramping, and less than 66% of women will have implantation pains or bleeding – so it’s highly unreliable. If you believe cramping is a sign of pregnancy, taking a pregnancy test is the best course of action.

Treating Menstrual Cramps

Use PainkillersUse Painkillers

If your pain is moderate, some over-the-counter drugs could be helpful in relieving the cramps. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAID) are found to be effective in reducing the production of prostaglandin, making cramps less painful as a result.

NSAID that does not require prescription includes Ibuprofen such as Advil and Motrin, Naproxen sodium and Ketoprofen. For the best result, it is recommended to take the medication 1 to 2 days before your period starts until the first one or two days of your period.

If you have health concerns, be careful with the use of NSAID because it can trigger or worsen gastrointestinal ulcers.

Treat with Heat

Applying heat to your abdomen can loosen your cramps. A study showed that warming your belly at around 104°F is equally effective in treating cramps when comparing to the use of Ibuprofen.

There are many ways to use the heat treatment – you can get a hot water bottle, take a warm bath, or use a heating pad.

Drink Some TeaDrink Some Tea

There are many benefits of drinking tea and easing period cramps is one. Many people use cramp bark as a herbal tea for alleviating menstrual discomfort. Making this tea is simple: just boil 2 teaspoons of bark in water and let it simmer for 15 minutes.

Some people find it helpful to drink it three times a day. If you have your doubts, make sure you check with your doctor first before using this tea.

Massage with Essential OilsYoung beautiful woman lying on massage table and enjoying massage

Massaging your abdomen for 5 minutes a day may help with your cramps. For one thing, it is a great way to promote blood flow. Adding some essential oils to the massage can create a better effect.

These essential oils include lavender essential oil, marjoram essential oil and clary sage essential oil.

Many women found it helpful to dilute these three oils in a 2-1-1 ratio with unscented cream. Then, they use the product to massage their lower abdomen every day, ideally from the end of the period to the start of the next period.

Acupuncture and Acupressure

Acupuncture is beneficial to those who suffer from period cramps. It can help increase your blood flow to your organs and produce an anti-inflammatory effect. There are trigger points on your hands that are associated with your back and abdomen.

By adding pressure to the flesh between your thumb and index finger, it can reduce the pain of your cramp. When you get your acupuncture next time, ask him or her to show you how to do this acupressure properly.

Get Some Endorphins

Endorphins are known to have a pain-relieving and mood-boosting effect. Although laying on the bed might be the only thing that you want to do when you have cramps, getting some exercise or even having an orgasm can get your body to release endorphins and make you feel better.

Change Your Diet

Having a low-fat diet can lower the level of inflammation and reduce the pain of cramps. Eating healthy doesn’t necessarily mean going vegetarian though.

When getting your dairy, get a low-fat or fat-free product. You can also try to replace saturated fats in your diet with unsaturated fats such as olive oil.

Take Birth Control Pills     

Both low and medium dose estrogen birth control pills are found to have a pain-relieving effect. This medication can help ailments near the uterus like endometriosis, which is a disorder that causes secondary dysmenorrhea.

Talk to your doctors and see what the most appropriate treatment for you is.

Relieving Pregnancy Cramps

Prenatal YogaPrenatal Yoga

Muscle fatigue could lead to a more severe pregnancy cramp, so getting some stretching done and having a peaceful mind through prenatal yoga can ease your pain.

Some helpful yoga poses are the pigeon pose, toe squat, paschimottanasana, parsvottanasana and ardha hanumanasana.


Worrying about the pain only makes you more stressed and eventually lead to more tension in your body. What you need to do is to relax and sit up straight in your favorite chair, then elevate your feet on a stool.

You can also try to do some relaxation exercises such as deep breathing and meditation.

Eat Healthily

A lot of nutrition is needed during pregnancy. If you eat a balanced diet and get enough vitamins and minerals, your cramps should get better. Make sure you have a good source of calcium because that helps heal the contractions in your muscles.

Stay HydratedStay Hydrated

Your body needs more fluids during pregnancy, as dehydration could lead to pain. Start your habit of drinking 8 glasses of water a day and maybe even more during your period. It is also a good idea to avoid alcohol because it promotes dehydration.

For those of you who don’t enjoy drinking plain water, you can add cucumber or lemon to your water and enhance the flavor.

Know More about Cramps Before Period

Having cramps is not fun, but it is a useful sign that allows us to learn more about our bodies. Instead of complaining about the pain, you should try paying close attention to the duration, the intensity and the symptoms that come with your cramps.

The good news is that there are many remedies that can alleviate your pain. Whether you are pregnant or not, you can pick a remedy of choice and continue to enjoy life.


  1. I have always had normal 28day cycles with 4days of bleeding. Recently I had unprotected sex &on day 23 of my cycle I started to bleed not heavy but not light either it lasted for two days no pain or cramps though..! Please help w/some advice

    • i experienced that too the past month. I am 28 day regular and my period is 4 days but the past month i bled on day 24. I got a bit worried. did not take any Pt but just relaxed. Now its day 20 of the previous month count and im feeling mild lower abdomen cramps. I really would want to believe that there is a bun in the oven but i guess sometimes our cycles just change like that , from 28 to 24 days!!! 🙁 i cant even calculate or map out my ovulation day because of this month’s sudden change in my cycle.

  2. I have been having this cramp for close to two weeks now, this morning i saw little stain of blood in my panties, does this indicate that am pregnant

  3. I started my period 2 days ago. I’m experiencing intense painless contractions. They started last night and are now back today. But now I’m having some vaginal pressure. Does anyone know what may be going on? Yes I know I need to see my Dr. Have an appt next week. I Was just trying to ease my mind while waiting…

  4. Hi, so I’m having very bad cramps and I always get cramps a week or 2 before my period. But never this bad. Plus, if I even have a sip of beer it upsets my stomach. What do you think??

  5. I have been having cramps for close to a week now before my due is 3 days before my period but no sore breast and two weeks ago i was really nauseous,took a pregnancy test a week ago before my period could be due and it came back negative. What could all this be? Must the test have been taken early?

  6. I am ttc for a lil over 6 months an I am do for af in 3 days but 2 weeks ago had baddd cramps which never happens an I usually get mild cramps before AF an there is nothing , could I finally be pregnant?

  7. I had sex unprotected last Monday and ever since then I been having sharp pains in my abdomen area! I even have cramps I came off my period last weekend! I know it’s early but what do you guys think? Plus I have been having bloating and gassy feelings as well but I always get that before my period which will be at the end of the month or next month may the first! I guess I will see then!?

    • What happened ?? I am gassy and having some cramping and my period isnt due for another 7-10 days. I’ve also been SUPER tired and got randomly nauseous this morning while putting my 1st born in her car seat!

      • We’re you guys pregnant? I’m wondering the same question as you guy’s. My husband and I are trying for our first. I’ve had cramping and flu like symptoms as well as bloating. I’ve had motion sickness in car’s which I haven’t had since I was a small child(to the point of throwing up). So please respond it would be great. ?

  8. May 18 is my last period. I have unprotected sex on june 3 on the beach and june 4 while inside the bathroom and standing. Can i be pregnant.

  9. Everything most of you are saying is the same thing happening to me. My menstral cycle starts on the 30th of each month. It normally only last for 3-4 days. Well it’s July 24th, 2017. I’ve been having cramps in the abdominal area for 3 days/nights in a row. I thought I would’ve started by now because my cycle does come early sometimes, usually 2 days earlier. But I haven’t been able to sleep because of the cramps. I’ve been taking normal drug store drugs like menstral pills and ibuprofen but the cramps seem to only come back within a few minutes (30min). Hope to find answers soon. (I hate hospitals) Don’t want to get my hopes up and assume I’m pregnant lol. If I am congrats to us, we’ve been trying for 2 months now! But for you other women, I pray u get answers soon!!!! These early cramps are nothing to play with, it’s very stressing 🙁 !!!!!

    • Were you pregnant? I’ve been cramping from the 14th of August on and off…. The cramps move from side to side in my lower abdomen and lower back…. Sometimes it’s like it jerksa sting I think may be attached to my navel on the inside because that’s where I feel it. AF is due in 2 days but this is weird for me.

  10. Hi I have had two etopic pregnancy one in 2004 had my right tube removed and another may 2017. Now im three days bf af and I have a headache,my rite hip and leg hurts and I have a sharp off and on pain on my left side of my tummy. I feel bloated.could I be pregnant. Or is it my af??

  11. I’ve been having some pressure on my upper tummy along with hot flashes on and off with frequent urination for a few days now and my period is supposed to come tomorrow but Ive never had pre menstrual symptoms like this before should I be concerned?

  12. We have been trying to get pregnant …. Trying… All I have to say is Depo has really messed things up… My last shot was in nov of 2016 so by feb of 2017 it was baby making time because the depo was suppose to be out of my system … it is now oct 31st and still no baby 🙁 however my body is playing tricks on me I’m 8 days before my period starts and having cramps this has happen months prior to where I’m like ok we for sure made a baby after that and you play the wait game and Aunt Flo comes ughh has anyone been on the depo and if so how long did it take to get pregnant?

    • I was on depo for 4 years and i stoped getting depo in 2015 , and i still havent got pregnant. i actually experianced cramps really bad at 3:00am so bad i wanted to go to the ER but i just got comfortable and went away the day during afternoon i started getting baf back pain to where i couldnt stand nor sit and got mood swings really bad, AF is suppose to come the 9th but im hoping im finally get a postive pt!

  13. Hi All
    I’m had cramps for two or three days before my before my period, i got periods it was very heavy with lots of blood clots and very bad cramps and its was for two days.
    And than from 3 days very bad lower back pain and lower abdominal pain.
    Do you guys think it was an miscarriage?
    Please help.

  14. Hi everyone so my last period was dec 21-25 2017 it was different only bled when i wiped my next period is in 5 day and now im having mild cramps that dont go away i get hot flashes here n there nausea all day mucus different then normal bloating can anyone tell me if this could be pregnancy or just pms

  15. Comment:i had my period on the o6 january 2018 until 9 january i feel some cramps on my abdomen i feel like iam i wil menstruate anytime i urinate f
    requently and iam eating a lot .am i pregnant or not

  16. Anyone on this thread end up pregnant? Ive been cramping for the last 4 days. My period is due in 7 days but I’m usually early or a day late. I had light spotting 2 days ago that lasted a cpl hours on and off. I usually don’t spot and if I do it’s like the day before my period… I really want to be pregnant but I’m trying not to get my hopes up because I’m always psyching myself out lol.

    Okay I have a 29 day cycle and I get my period for 5 days.Why do I keep having these major cramps like a week before my period?I keep having pains in my left side, lower abdominal..THE PAIN feels like I am 7 centermeters dialated in labor!!! Every month for 6 days before my period.

  18. The reason why no one is answerimg is because they got their periods… If you’re ttc it can be painful to want to discuss but I agree, if you’re gonna put your story out there, at least leave some sort of closure message.

  19. Also, PMS and very early pregnancy symptoms are very, very similar that is why most women can’t tell…some swear they knew it..but that may be because they did the BBD on or near their ovulation day…your body produces progesterone and can cause all those symptoms and each month can be different depending on your diet and stress levels. Baby dust to those of you ttc!

  20. Stuns what kind of person calls others cunts definitely NOT a lady grow up and have some compassion these ladies are ttc and you are just insensitive and nasty grow up girl!!

  21. So we are ttc, I have a 2 year old son already but that pregnancy came as a surprise after a miscarriage and I wasn’t watching early symptoms as my cycles and hormones were out of whack after the mc. This time around I’m obsessing and my af is due tomorrow/day after. Normally I get horrible cramps pre af, but only about 12 hours before. It’s now Tuesday pm and I did an early test on Friday which was negative so I am most likely not pregnant, but over the last few days I’ve had an unusual discharge and cramps since Monday am with no actual sign of af. Am hoping I *am* pregnant despite evidence to the contrary but I will report back! Good luck everyone x


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