Normal Menstrual Cramps or Endometriosis: How to Tell the Difference

More than 80% of women experience cramps during their menstrual cycles. Every woman’s menstrual cycle is different, and symptoms can change from month to month. However, some symptoms are never considered normal.

Some women suffer only mild menstrual cramps, but others have severe cramps that last for days, trigger nausea, and more. If you’re dealing with severe cramps and other intense symptoms, don’t ignore it.

Partner with our team at OB-GYN Associates of Marietta to find out whether your menstrual cramps could be a sign of something more serious: endometriosis. Endometriosis is a gynecologic condition that affects 1 in 10 women during their reproductive years. Symptoms vary, but it often causes heavy menstrual bleeding and pelvic pain.

Endometriosis treatment can be very effective in managing symptoms, so it’s important to get a diagnosis from our OB/GYN team if you suspect your period symptoms may not be normal.

Understanding the ‘average’ menstrual cycle 

Most girls get their first menstrual period between the ages of 9-15. Once your menstrual cycle begins, it repeats about once a month until you reach menopause, for a total of 450-500 periods in your lifetime.

The average menstrual cycle is 21-35 days long. The first day of a new cycle starts on the first day of your menstrual period, and the average period lasts anywhere from 2-7 days. 

During your menstrual cycle, your body prepares for possible pregnancy. If you don’t get pregnant, you have a period and the cycle begins again.

When you have your period, your uterus contracts to shed its lining, and you bleed. These contractions often cause inflammation and abdominal pain known as menstrual cramps. Other common symptoms include bloating, irritability, and fatigue.

Most women don’t look forward to their menstrual periods, and symptoms vary from woman to woman. But if your period or the symptoms that come with it interfere with your daily life, you should seek treatment.

Signs your menstrual pain isn’t normal

Menstrual cramps commonly start a few days before your period, and they can last for 1-2 days after it starts. Mild to moderate cramps can typically be managed with over-the-counter pain relievers, but there are a few signs that could indicate your cramps aren’t normal.

You should visit the doctor if your menstrual cramps:

If your pain is consistent for a week before your period starts and continues throughout your period, it could be caused by endometriosis. Endometriosis may also cause pelvic pain between periods, pain with sex, and pain with bowel movements.

Heavy or unusual bleeding along with pelvic pain could also indicate endometriosis. Signs of heavy or abnormal menstrual bleeding include:

You don’t have to live with severe menstrual cramps every month. Schedule a consultation at OB-GYN Associates of Marietta to find out if your symptoms could mean that you have endometriosis. 

Call our offices in Marietta or Woodstock, Georgia, or request an appointment online.

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