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What are the Reasons for Having Cramps After a Period?

By Dorothy Bland
Updated Jan 22, 2024
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It’s usually considered atypical for a woman to experience menstrual cramps after her period has ended or after she has gone through menopause, but some of the more common reasons why this happens are irregular or painful ovulation, recent insertion of certain intrauterine birth control devices, or endometriosis, which is a medical condition in which uterine tissues grow outside of the uterus. Ovarian cysts and fibroids may also be to blame. Persistent pain past the end of a period is often a sign that something is wrong, and it’s usually a good idea for anyone with these symptoms to get the opinion of a medical professional. Sometimes it’s nothing to worry about, but it might be the start of something that, if caught early enough, can save a lot of trouble down the road.

Pinpointing the Source

One of the first things a woman who experiences cramps after a period should do is pay attention to the specific location where the pain is occurring. It’s also usually important to take note of when they’re happening, both in terms of placement in a woman’s monthly cycle and time of day. Usually, menstrual cramps present with pain in the abdomen and pelvis. This pain can also radiate down the lower back and even into the thighs. Menstrual cramps are a common side effect of menstruation and generally show up on the day a woman starts her period and can last for just a few days or until her menstrual cycle ends. When it comes at a different time or occurs in a specific, targeted place, it may be related to a more specific problem.

Pain Related to Ovulation

One of the more likely causes of cramps after a period is a condition known as mittelschmerz, in which women experience pelvic pain and cramps related to ovulation, which is the release of an egg from the ovaries. The pain caused by mittelschmerz is distinctive from typical menstrual cramps because it occurs about two weeks from the time that the last period has ended, when ovulation normally begins. Sensations can range from sharp pulsing pain to dull aches, generally occurring only on one side of the body. During some months, however, this pain may switch sides. It is often more intense in the mornings and evenings, as well.

Certain Birth Control Methods

Cramping menstrual-like pain could also be the result of a recent intrauterine device (IUD) insertion. These small flexible plastic devices are a form of birth control that medical professionals surgically implant directly into the uterus. They prevent sperm from being able to reach an egg. Once the procedure is done, some women may experience mild cramps for a few months until the uterus fully adjusts to the foreign presence. These cramps are technically unrelated to menstruation, but often feel like menstrual cramps and often come between periods.

Endometriosis

Endometriosis, a condition involving the abnormal growth of uterine tissue into areas outside of the uterus such as the ovaries, could cause irregular pain, too. These abnormal growths are not able to exit the body like typical uterine tissue, but they often continue to behave in a similar fashion by breaking down and bleeding during the menstrual cycle. The tissue then heals over and in time can lead to adhesions that irritate or damage nearby organs. Some of the main symptoms of endometriosis include constant pelvic cramps, though for many women the pain is more noticeable during their periods and may occur with severe bloating.

Cysts and Fybroids

Some additional causes of cramps after a period has ended include ovarian cysts and uterine fibroids. Cysts are essentially fluid-filled sacs that form during ovulation. They aren’t always harmful, but if they are large or particularly numerous they can put painful pressure on the whole system. Fibroids, on the other hand, are dense growths that happen within the walls of the uterus. These are also usually benign, but they too can cause cramping depending on their size and precise location.

When to Get Help

Pain between periods is not always serious, and sometimes home remedies can bring about effective relief. Common home treatments include rest, use of a heating pad, and over-the-counter pain remedies. As there are so many possible causes of cramps after a period, however, unexplained and reoccurring pain will generally require an accurate diagnosis by visiting a health care provider. Cramps that occur with high fevers, blood in the stool, or dizziness almost always require immediate attention. A pelvic exam, imaging tests, and a review of the patient’s symptoms may be needed by the doctor to figure out the cause of the pain and develop an appropriate treatment plan.

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Discussion Comments
By anon992794 — On Oct 03, 2015

I have been facing the same problem for my last seven or eight cycles. On the eighth or ninth day of the cycle, these cramps start hurting in my lower abdomen, the lower back, my rectum. My whole system hurts like something is shedding inside. This is accompanied by constipation. The pain does not decrease, even with heat pads and meftal spas. The ultrasound doesn't show anything. Even two gynecologists could not understand the reason for all this.

Can you help me? I am worried and do not know what to do.

By anon953549 — On May 27, 2014

I have the same problem as anon332329. Can anyone some give us some answers?

By anon948962 — On May 02, 2014

To the first poster (anon332329), talk to your gynecologist about looking into endometriosis. I have been diagnosed and have your symptoms. The only way to be diagnosed and see what is going on is through a laparoscopic surgery. They may be able to remove some of and you will gain insight on what foods to avoid, etc. Stress and sugar are major triggers for my flare ups. Good luck!

By anon937562 — On Mar 05, 2014

@Anon332329: I have the same issue and ovarian cysts were found when they did a CAT scan. They said normally you don't notice when they rupture but if you had a large one, that's when you'll feel it. I recommend going to the hospital to get checked out thoroughly. I have to go often because you never know.

By pattlorenzo — On Nov 10, 2013

My wife is 42 and she is having her period every two months. Is this normal?

By anon344003 — On Aug 04, 2013

You should have your hormone levels tested ASAP. I had the same problem as you and they always just did ultrasounds and said nothing was wrong and sent me on my way. Then one doctors tested my hormone levels and they are extremely high and they are now finding many new problems. Never take a first answer from a doctor. We all know our bodies better than any doctor.

By anon332329 — On Apr 28, 2013

This is the best article I have read relating to my problem.(I could not understand the reason for my problem).

I have been facing the same problem for my last seven or eight cycles. On the eighth or ninth day of the cycle, these cramps start hurting in my lower abdomen, the lower back, my rectum. My whole system hurts like something is shedding inside. This is accompanied by constipation. The pain does not decrease, even with heat pads and meftal spas. The ultrasound doesn't show anything. Even two gynecologists could not understand the reason for all this.

Can you help me? I am worried and do not know what to do.

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