If you’ve come to rely on that pain in your stomach to tell you when your time of the month arrives, it can be unsettling to have cramps but no period. Cramps are a regular part of your monthly menstrual cycle; however, they can be caused by a wide range of health issues, such as cysts, constipation, pregnancy, and even cancer.
It can be tough to tell whether having cramps without a period is caused by something simple or more serious. But there are common reasons for cramping without your period.
What causes cramping without a period?
- This is a long-term (chronic) condition in which tissue, like your womb’s lining, attaches to other organs and begins to grow. What do the cramps feel like? They seem like regular period cramps, but they can happen any time of the month. You may also have cramps and pain in your low back and stomach below your belly button.
- After conception, the fertilized egg attaches itself to a uterus wall. This can cause one of the earliest signs of pregnancy, such as spotting and cramping. It is called implantation cramps, and the cramps resemble menstrual cramps. What do the cramps feel like? You might have slight cramps about four weeks into your pregnancy, around the time when you’d get your period.
- The loss of an unborn baby before the 20th week of pregnancy. Cramping with a miscarriage is usually caused by your uterus contracting. Just like during your period, your uterus contracts to push contents out. Since your uterus is primarily a muscle, these contractions feel like muscle cramps (in other words, they hurt). What do the cramps feel like? They might start like period pains, then get more severe.
- You may experience mild cramps or pain around the time of ovulation. This pain is medically known as mittelschmerz. Mittelschmerz is a German word meaning “middle pain. However, not every woman will have cramping pain during ovulation. What do the cramps feel like? You’ll notice pain on one side of your lower belly. It lasts a few minutes to a few hours. It can be sharp and sudden, or you might have a dull cramp.
- Irritable bowel syndrome. This disorder causes stomach pain and bloating with diarrhea, constipation, or both. What do the cramps feel like? They’re sudden and in your belly. They might go away after you poop. Your specific pain will depend on whether you have constipation or diarrhea. You might go back and forth between the two or only have one type. Symptoms usually get worse during your period.
- Ruptured ovarian cyst. A cyst is a sack of fluid. Sometimes they form on your ovaries. One type called a follicular cyst, breaks open to release an egg and later dissolves in your body. If this doesn’t happen, a different cyst can form. Most are harmless. But if one grows large, it could burst. What do the cramps feel like? You might have sudden, sharp cramps below the belly button on either side of your lower stomach.
- Ovarian cancer. This type of cancer starts in the ovaries, the organs that make your eggs. What do the cramps feel like? Vague. You may write the pain off as something else, like constipation or gas. But the hurting and pressure in your lower belly won’t go away.
When to consult a doctor?
Consult an Intercare doctor if you have cramps that won’t go away, whether you have your period or not; sudden and severe belly pain that worsens could be a symptom of severe disease.