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.
When you have cramping, it can be completely natural or a sign of something else, such as pregnancy.
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What Do Menstrual (Period) Cramps Feel Like?
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.
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.
What Do Pregnancy Cramps Feel Like?
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.
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?
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.