Cramping is a normal symptom of the menstrual cycle. It normal occurs at the start or during menses. When menstruation begins, the muscles of the uterus have to contract to remove the uterine lining that has developed over the last few weeks. The body spent the last few weeks preparing for a pregnancy, so if a pregnancy does not occur, the uterine lining has to be expelled.
When you experience menstrual cramps without a period, it can be baffling. You feel like your period should start because you are having cramps, but it does not begin. While it can be just a random occurrence, cramps without a period can be a sign of something more serious.
What Does It Mean When There Is Cramping But No Period?
Some of the potential causes for cramps without a period include:
Ovulation: During the menstrual cycle, an egg is released from the ovary to be fertilized. When the egg is released, some cramps can occur. These cramps will normally be on just one side of the body and may last for anywhere from a couple of hours to several days.
Ectopic Pregnancy: Sometimes, the egg is not released properly from the fallopian tubes. Instead of entering the uterus to be fertilized, it is fertilized in the fallopian tubes where it remains and continues to grow. One of the first symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy is severe cramping. You may also experience breast tenderness, nausea, vaginal bleeding and vomiting. This condition can be life threatening, so you have to visit a doctor immediately.
Endometriosis: This condition causes the uterine tissue to grow outside of the uterus in the body’s abdominal cavity. It can be extremely painful and causes extreme cramps for the week or two prior to your normal period.
Menopause: Menopause is a time when the hormones in the body begin to change and start to signal the body to stop menstruation. Cramping may occur at irregular times because your period starts, ends and lasts for random time period. Even if your period does not start, menopause can cause cramps at the time when it would normally begin.
Eating Disorders: Bulimia and anorexia can cause women to have irregular periods. This may cause cramping to occur during the normal period time, but your period may not begin.
Automimmune Oophoritis: This condition causes the immune system to attack the cells in your body. In the autoimmune disorder, your immune system thinks that your normal cells are invaders. This causes inflammation to occur, the ovaries shrink and become hard, and your hormone levels drop. In addition to causing potential infertility, it can cause cramping during the menstrual cycle, even if you do not have your period.
Pregnancy: When you become pregnant, you may experience cramping a few days after conception. This occurs when the embryo implants itself onto the uterine walls and can cause spotting as well. Later on, you may have more cramps as the uterus starts to expand to give space for the fetus.
Ovarian Cancer: Ovarian cancer is notoriously difficult to diagnose. Many of its symptoms mimic other conditions, so it is hard for doctor’s to tell if ovarian cancer is the cause. Some symptoms of ovarian cancer include, abdominal swelling, irregular periods, frequent urination, pain, cramping and abdominal pressure.
Ovarian Cyst: An ovarian cyst can lead to significant amount of pain, especially if the cyst bursts. There are essentially two types of ovarian cysts. One is filled with fluid (corpus luteum cyst) that is created after the egg is released from the sac. A follicle cyst is created from the ovarian follicles as the egg increases in size. Both types of cysts will normally go away on their own, but they can cause severe cramping until they are gone.
Cervical Stenosis: This condition causes the opening of the cervix to shrink in size. When this happens, the period flow is limited and irregular periods and cramping can occur.
Other Causes of Menstrual Cramps
When you are under stress for extended periods of time, it can cause your menstrual cycle to be delayed. Although the menstrual cycle is delayed, you may still have cramps when your period would normally start. Other conditions like Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and Premature Ovarian Failure may also cause premature cramping.
If you are on specific medications, you should look at the side effects on the bottle to see if cramping is one of them. Some illnesses and medications can cause cramping and interrupt your normal menstrual cycle. In addition, it is possible to have severe cramping due to constipation and gas. If this occurs around the time of your menstrual cycle, you may be confusing these cramps with your normal menstrual cramps.