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Can Birth Control Help With Cramps?

Medically reviewed by: Lonna P. Gordon, MD

I have the worst period cramps ever. Could birth control help?

Lots of girls get cramps at the beginning of their periods. Taking medicine like ibuprofen or naproxen may help (but don't use aspirin as it has been linked to a rare but serious illness called Reye syndrome).

Getting regular exercise can also help ease cramps in some women. Soaking in a warm bath or putting a warm compress on your stomach won't make cramps disappear, but may help your muscles relax a little.

When these methods don't work, some types of birth control can actually help with cramps — and are often prescribed for this reason.

Birth control works because it decreases the amount of prostaglandins — chemicals your body produces to make the muscles of the uterus contract. With fewer contractions, there is less pain. Birth control pills also can decrease the amount of blood flow with your period.

Even if you're not interested in birth control pills, if you have severe cramps that keep you home from school or normal activities or that seem to be getting worse, see your doctor or nurse practitioner for advice. Many forms of birth control that aren't pills can also help. Asking a health care provider is a great way to find out what's going on and the best way to handle it.

Medically reviewed by: Lonna P. Gordon, MD
Date reviewed: December 2020