Although there are many reasons why you can find yourself enduring cramps, they are never fun. As women, most of us are used to suffering from cramps during our period. But there are other times when we may find ourself feeling waves of pain in our lower abdomen but not experience the usual monthly bleed.
Cramps but No Period: What Are The Causes
Let’s start with the most obvious cause behind a woman having cramps but not getting her period. During early pregnancy, right around the time you would expect to get your period, it is common to have cramps without bleeding if you are pregnant.
What’s going on? If you are pregnant, the fertilized egg is burrowing into the lining of your uterus. Some women feel this pain as cramps, others do not. These cramps can last anywhere from several days to as long as the entire pregnancy.
If you think you might be pregnant, take a test or visit your Doctor and let them know what you are experiencing.
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Gas Pain and Constipation
Sometimes cramps are simply caused by built up gas. Consider what you have eaten within the last 24 hours and whether you have had anything unusual that may be the cause of your discomfort. The best thing you can do to relieve gas is to drink plenty of water and keep moving. Gentle exercise can help relieve gas.
Constipation can also cause abdominal pain. If you don’t have at least three bowel movements in the last week, or haven’t had one in over 24 hours, a stuffed, stagnant intestine could be causing your pain.
As with gas pain, light exercise and drinking water are a good way to get things moving. If constipation remains a problem, talk to your doctor before reaching for over the counter products.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable Bowel Syndrome causes constipation, diarrhea or both. Cramps can come along with both constipation and diarrhea. Other symptoms of IBS are:
- feeling full,
- There is no known cause of IBS but it has been linked to emotional stress and depression.
If you think you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome, see your Doctor to rule out more serious conditions that have similar symptoms.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Cramps that are accompanied by the following symptoms may be the sign of an inflamed colon:
- changes in your bowel movements such as diarrhea or constipation,
- blood in your bowel movements,
- feeling like you need to rush to the bathroom,
- feeling like your bowels are not empty even after a bowel movement.
These are symptoms of more serious diseases called Crohn’s or Ulcerative Colitis. Both of these conditions are quite painful but they can be treated.
If you think you might have something more than gas, go to see your Doctor if your cramps continue.
Diverticulosis and Diverticulitis
When weak spots occur in the muscles of the colon, digested food and stool can get trapped in these areas. These pouches can collect more and more stool and bacteria which can quickly lead to infection and pain.
One of the first symptoms of both these conditions is cramps.
Other symptoms include:
- fever and chills,
- nausea and vomiting,
If you eat a low fibre diet with very little fruit, vegetables, and whole grains, you may be at an increased risk for developing diverticulosis or diverticulitis.
Because diverticulosis, diverticulitis, Crohn’s, Colitis, and Irritable Bowel Disease have similar symptoms, it is important that you see your Doctor if you have cramps along with changes in your bowel movements.
Lactose and other food intolerances often cause abdominal discomfort. If you are lactose intolerant, you may find yourself with intense abdominal pain and cramps that may also result in vomiting and/or diarrhea.
You can easily avoid dairy food products for several weeks to see if your abdominal cramps disappear.
It is important to note that a food intolerance is different than a true allergy. The symptoms of a food allergy are much more severe than merely cramps. True food allergies are life threatening.
If you suspect you have a food allergy, let your Doctor know and ask to be tested.
If you are approximately two weeks past your last period and you start experiencing cramps, you may be feeling the pain of ovulation. Ovulation pain can be felt on only one side of your belly or it can feel like low, dull waves of pain in your entire lower abdomen.
Some women feel these mid-month cramps every cycle. Other women rarely feel it at all, if ever.
If your monthly cycle is very regular and you’re experiencing cramps, calculate where you’re at in your cycle. If you are approximately half way through your cycle, you may be experiencing ovulation pain.
Most women have two ovaries which release an egg mid-cycle each month. However, ovaries can also be the place where a cyst can form. A cyst is a fluid sac that grows on or around the ovary. Most cysts are harmless.
If the cyst bursts, it can cause pain that feels like cramps in your low abdomen, just below your belly button.
If you do have cramps caused by an ovarian cyst that has ruptured, you might also experience:
- low back pain,
- pain in your thighs,
- stomach pain.
Although most cysts are harmless, it is worth a trip to visit your Doctor if you think your cramps are caused by ovarian cysts.
A fertilized egg that can grow into a newborn baby sometimes causes problems.
In 1-2% of pregnancies, a fertilized egg doesn’t make it to the uterus before it begins to grow. It can stay in the fallopian tube, the small tube that leads from the ovary to the uterus. It can quickly run out of room as it begins to multiply and suddenly you begin to feel quite ill.
Ectopic pregnancies can be scary. However, they are almost always easily spotted. If you experience sudden sharp pains in your lower abdomen, see a Doctor at once to rule out ectopic pregnancy.
The pain of ectopic pregnancy is usually very severe. It is often felt not only in the low abdomen but also in the shoulders and low back.
If you have reason to believe you are pregnant and you are experiencing significant pain, find medical help as soon as possible.
Other symptoms besides painful cramps and low back/shoulder pain that may indicate ectopic pregnancy are:
- vaginal bleeding;
- pain severe enough to cause nausea and vomiting;
- dizziness, feeling weak or lightheaded;
- pain in your neck.
Under no conditions can an ectopic pregnancy continue successfully. Call your Doctor if you suspect you have an ectopic pregnancy. It is a matter of life or death.
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
PID is associated with STD’s gonorrhea and/or chlamydia.
Cramps from Pelvic Inflammatory Disease are rarely severe in nature. However, if you are experiencing:
- vaginal discharge,
- irregular bleeding,
- pain when urinating or
- back pain along with dull cramps,
Miscarriages sometimes happen even when women don’t know they’re pregnant. The earliest symptoms of a miscarriage are usually cramping.
This can be hard to distinguish from normal pregnancy cramping. Normal pregnancy cramps come and go. Miscarriage cramps usually get worse and eventually, bleeding will accompany the cramps.
It is hard to know if your cramps with or without bleeding are caused by miscarriage or pregnancy. See your Doctor to help figure out what’s going on with your body.
Endometriosis cramps can feel like run-of-the-mill period cramps but they can happen at any time of the month. If you have endometriosis, your uterus lining will begin to grow on your organs outside of the uterus.
Other symptoms of endometriosis may include:
- heavy periods,
- abdominal pain,
- severe cramps in some cases,
- low back pain,
- painful intercourse,
- painful bowel movements,
- painful urination.
Some women have few or no symptoms of endometriosis. But if you are experiencing cramps without getting your period, you should see your Doctor to rule out this condition.
If you have your appendix, you may wonder if appendicitis is causing your abdominal cramps. Well, it can.
Usually these cramps are higher in your belly, with pain starting near your belly button. The pain may spread down and you may begin to feel sick to your stomach.
If your cramps are getting worse and are accompanied with vomiting or nausea, seek medical help immediately. Appendicitis should be treated as an emergency.
Urinary Tract Infection
If you’ve ever had a UTI, you will know the pain and general feeling of illness that comes along with it.
Aside from cramps, other common symptoms of a UTI are:
- cloudy urine,
- constant feeling of having to urinate.
If you suspect you have a UTI, get medical help as soon as possible. Untreated UTI’s can cause permanent damage to your kidneys.
The main symptoms of ovarian cancer are vague cramps and pressure in the lower part of your abdomen. You may also experience these symptoms:
- a constant need to urinate,
- lack of appetite.
Yes, the C-word is scary, but if you do have ovarian cancer, you’ll want to know as soon as possible. Advances in cancer treatment are happening every single day and more and more people are surviving cancer than ever before!
Now you have more than fifteen reasons why you may be experiencing abdominal cramps but no period. If you can’t pinpoint the cause of your cramps, the best thing you can do for your own health is going to see your Doctor.
Even if you think that your cramps are caused by one of the items on this list, it is always best to see your Doctor for cramps that last longer than two weeks. They may be a sign of something serious or they may not. However, it is always better to be safe than sorry.