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What are Period Cramps?

What are Period Cramps?

Period cramps are a universal sign of solidarity among uteruses. It’s like they belong to an invite-only club and the sole way to get a membership is to put their owner in as much discomfort as humanly possible.

If you’ve ever had cramps, you understand what we mean. And it’s not just cramping that makes us press against our abdomens and cringe. The accompanying pain in your hips, lower back, and inner thighs, the upset stomach, and, yes, even the diarrhea, that makes us want to revoke our uteruses voting rights in favor of a month free from this reproductive pain.

While knowledge about cramps might not make yours disappear, it will give you some insight on what is going on in your body - and what you can do to treat it. Understanding the type of cramps you could be experiencing, what exactly period cramps are, and how to banish them (at least temporarily) will give you a sense of control over your rebellious reproductive organs.

Types of Cramps

There are two types of menstrual cramps that most people with periods deal with on some level. The first is primary dysmenorrhea. This is just a fancy name for common period cramps. The pain can range from mild (like little aliens kickboxing inside your uterus) to severe (think, being stabbed repeatedly in the uterus by medium sized aliens). It’s typical for this kind of cramping to start about 2 years after reaching menarche (the first period) and to ease with aging. Some women even find that, after they have a baby, their period cramps stop entirely.

The second type of menstrual cramping is called secondary dysmenorrhea. This not-as-common type of cramp is associated with a disorder in the reproductive organs. The possibilities include endometriosis, adenomyosisuterine fibroids, or an infection. These cramps often last longer than primary dysmenorrhea cramps and start earlier in the menstrual cycle.

The Scientific Cause of Menstrual Cramps

Of course, there’s a very specific reason why you get cramps during your period and, no, it’s not because your uterus is revolting. I know it feels like this is the case but stay with me. Throughout your menstrual cycle, your uterus contracts. When the uterine muscle contracts too strongly, it can press into the surrounding blood vessels. When this happens, part of the uterus loses blood supply (not something to worry about) and causes pain. Not pleasant, for sure, but at least now you know exactly what is causing that dreadful feeling that makes you want to curl up into the fetal position and cry.

How to Treat Cramps

Thankfully, the women who came before us have figured out several ways to ease menstrual cramps and put us out of our misery.


  • Take an over-the-counter painkiller like Advil
  • Place a heating pad on your lower abdomen
  • Take a warm bubble bath (while you’re at it, grab a good book and a cup of tea and make it a spa day)
  • Avoid caffeine (I know, I know)
  • Rest
  • Massage your lower back and abdomen

Find extra tips from members of the Lunette Community!

We also asked our Facebook fans to share their best tips how to reduce the hideous feeling during the worst menstrual cramps. And what amount good tips we got! Thank you so much everyone, you rock! Here are the tips worth trying.

"I still do the exercises I learned in the book my mom bought me when I was a girl so I could learn about my period. One of them is to lay on your back and make circles with your knees. If the cramps are to strong I'll try to find the most comfortable position and try to control my breathing while listening to music. I started using my Lunette cup and cloth pads 2 periods ago and I didn't had any cramps which is odd. Not sure if is a coincidence or if is true what they say that this products help reduce cramps. I'm incline to believe that and I'm very happy with the outcome."

"I have always been cursed with horrid period cramps. Even as a young child when I first received my period I would lay on the bathroom floor in the fetal position dry heaving from pain. Over the years I have found heating pads very helpful Along with hot baths with Epson salt sprinkled in. I also found that going for a walk helps ease my cramps. If it's really bad my husband will rub my back while I lay my arms under my belly this helps some. I also have found that eating a healthy diet up to my period has helped along with juicing veggies and fruit while I'm on my period. Sometimes I actually find that the tampon it's self is causing the cramps to worsen and can get relief from switching to a pad but then I get almost a diaper rash and accidents happen which is the worst."

"Chocolate, a massage, warm bath and my cloth pads and lunette ... seriously hardly any cramps now. Amazing the difference."

"Essential oils mixed with lavender mixed up in coconut oil... rubbed and massaged on my abdomen starting from my belly button in a clockwise movement til L cover my whole abdomen. It helps immensely! Helps me sleep and helps with cramps! abdominal massage is the best thing ever.Drink lots of water and tea! epsom salt bath/soaks as well."

"This isn't creative or even exciting but magnesium supplements help A LOT for most women. They're even good for other cramps. Since I've started getting into reusables I've started looking into natural supplements as well. I don't get bad cramps but when my magnesium intake is up I have no cramps at all."

"I find avoiding certain foods helps me avoid (or lessen cramps). I try to avoid coffee and red meat while on my cycle. I drink a lot of water and tea. I also take an iron supplement leading up to my cycle. And I try to get as much sleep as I can!"

"Pressure points to relieve the pain, heating pad, hot water bottle, drinking warm liquids, eating healthy during your period instead of eating junk food, rocking back and forth when sitting down, mild exercise like walking, and lavender oil."

"Chocolate takes away all my pain!"

"My biggest tip is to ditch the disposables. Many people find that using a cup or cloth helps reduce cramping. But I know that this doesn't work for everyone. Drinking enough water, exercising and getting enough rest are also important."

"A glass of wine and a hot bath. Also, I've found my cramps to be less severe during deep water aerobics."

"Preparation is key. The week before I avoid salt and take a motherwort tincture."

"For sore boobs I got some cotton bras with no wires to wear at night. It keeps my boobs from moving around too much. They feel like 50lb bricks in thin skin sacks when they hang down."

"Drink lots of water. Ibuprofen helps too."

"I listen to metal and drink fair trade hot chocolate."

"A nice long hike and a hot water bottle!"

Are you going to try something new next time you feel the worst side of menstruation?

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