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Period Cramps

Medically reviewed by: Amy W. Anzilotti, MD

Period cramps can be mild or they can really hurt. But there are things you can do to feel better. Let's find out what cramps are and what to do if you get them.

What Are Period Cramps?

Cramps happen when the uterus (the place inside a woman’s body where a baby grows) squeezes. They are caused by a chemical in the body called prostaglandins (say: pross-tuh-GLAN-dinz). The squeezing of the muscles helps push the blood out through a girl's vagina during her period.

Who Gets Period Cramps?

Any girl who has her period can get cramps. Some are more likely to get them, such as girls who:

  • are younger when their periods start
  • have longer periods or heavier blood flow
  • have female relatives who had or have period cramps
  • smoke

What Can I Do for Cramps?

If cramps bother you, you can:

  • Take a pain reliever. Talk to your mom or dad or your doctor about which medicine is best for you. They can help you figure out how much to take and how often.
  • Exercise! Being physically active can ease cramps, probably because exercise releases endorphins, which are chemicals in the body that make you feel good.
  • Get warm. Try placing a warm water bottle, warm heating pad, or warm compress (like a damp towel warmed in a microwave) on your belly or take a warm bath.

If these tips don’t help, talk to your parent or your doctor about other treatments.

  • The Menstrual Cycle

    The Menstrual Cycle

    This video shows what happens during the menstrual cycle – and why.

Medically reviewed by: Amy W. Anzilotti, MD
Date reviewed: August 2020