You may be quite accustomed to feeling cramps before your period starts. They may begin one or even two weeks before the start of your period, or they may start up in the last several days before your period starts. You may experience cramps during your period, as well. But not all women experience cramps.
Your cramps may be a natural part of your body’s reaction to an upcoming period, or a sign of pregnancy or a medical situation.
What do Premenstrual Cramps feel like?
This answer differs from one woman to the next. If you’re lucky, you may have mild cramping or no cramping at all, before your period. Other women experience grinding, sharp pains. Some women even require medications to help in easing their pain.
The cramps are caused by the relaxing and tightening of your uterus. Right before your period, the lining of your uterus releases chemicals, and these increase cramping intensity. If you have severe cramps, your prostaglandin chemical levels may be higher than normal. This causes painful contractions.
What causes Premenstrual Cramps?
You may experience cramps several days before your period starts, and in some rare cases, women have cramps up to two weeks prior to their period. This is usually caused by a condition known as dysmenorrhea. It can lead to difficult, painful periods.
There are two types of dysmenorrhea. Primary is more common, and the pain is located in the lower back and lower stomach. This pain may occur one or two days before the start of your period.
Secondary dysmenorrhea causes pain or cramps mainly in the lower back, in the last several days prior to your period. Right before your period starts, you may experience cramping that is even more severe.
If it’s not yet time for your period, and you feel just a slight cramping, it can be brought on by implantation. This is the time when the sperm fertilizes the egg, after which the egg travels to the uterus and attaches to its lining. At any time in this process, you could have sudden but short-lived cramps, or bleeding.
If you have been trying to become pregnant and you experience slight cramping before your period would normally start, you may wonder if these are spasms caused by implantation, or just premenstrual contractions in the abdomen. You will be disappointed if they are just related to PMS. Cramping can be an early pregnancy sign, along with missed periods.
Differences between Pregnancy Cramps and other Cramps before Periods
To understand the spasms of implantation, you need to understand the fertilization process. Your ovaries release a mature egg or ovum. It will be fertilized if it meets a sperm. It will then move along the Fallopian tube to the womb. Tiny fibers in the Fallopian tube surfaces help the egg to move toward the uterus.
Once the egg reaches your womb, it implants itself into your uterine wall. This can happen as many as 12 days after you have ovulated. Since your usual period will start about two weeks after you ovulate, it’s easy to understand how women can mistake the cramps as symptoms of something other than their actual cause.
If you have experience with both types of cramps, you may be able to immediately tell the difference in the cramps, but many women cannot tell the difference.
What do Cramps during Pregnancy feel like?
You can experience cramps when you are pregnant, and they usually occur right after the pregnancy takes place. You may become alarmed at the cramps, fearing that something is wrong with your baby. Before you become too alarmed, though, understand that some mild cramps are not unusual at this time. Many women have cramps during pregnancy, and they begin as cramps before periods would otherwise start.
There are differences in the affected areas and sensation between pregnancy cramps and cramps caused by your body before a period begins.
Cramps during pregnancy may:
• Be lower down than usual
• Occur on both sides of the abdomen
• Be milder than usual
The sensations are certainly different, but most pregnant women state that cramps during pregnancy are not totally unlike their regular cramps during periods.
Some women feel sharp pain or twinges in the lower abdomen that may last into the first several months of pregnancy. This is usually considered to be normal, and it happens because the muscles of your body and your uterus are stretching and straining to accommodate the extra space your baby needs.
If you are normally more sensitive to other types of pain, it is likely that you will feel more profound cramping when you are pregnant, or at other times before periods. If your pain is severe and you notice bleeding, contact your physician promptly, to ensure the health of your baby. Miscarriages, while not common, are quite painful, and can cause infant death and harm to the baby’s mother. If you are at all worried about your cramps, consult with your OB-GYN, so that you’ll know your baby is healthy.
Can you have Period-type Cramps during your Pregnancy?
Cramps are not an abnormal occurrence during pregnancy. They are caused by your body changing and adapting to prepare you for the birth process, and to give your baby room to grow and develop properly before birth. Most cramps during pregnancy are not severe, and they usually occur on and off, rather than consistently. If your cramps are only mild, you don’t need to be concerned about them.
The cramps you experience during pregnancy may at times be similar to those you have had before periods, prior to your pregnancy. If you are experiencing cramps before a period and your period is not late yet, there is no sign there that you are pregnant yet. Cramping before a pregnancy has been confirmed is quite normal, and you don’t need to worry about them.
There are some times when cramps during pregnancy are of concern. These include:
• The presence of blood
• Cramping that is not intermittent, but consistent
• Cramping is very painful and severe
You should never have bleeding and cramping together if you’re pregnant. If you do, contact your physician.