Zocdoc Answers

Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors

"Why do period cramps occur before my period?"


Shouldn't they happen during my period?


Many women do experience cramping before the period actually begins. This is because the changes in the uterine lining that lead up to the flow of menstrual blood are actually underway for a few days before you actually see the bleeding. Therefore, for many women the cramps are actually worse right before the period and then for the first day or two, getting better after that even though the bleeding may continue for a few more days.

See a doctor who can help

Find a Obgyns near you

Most of the time, menstrual cramps do not significantly interfere with a woman's quality of life and can be controlled with some rest, self care, and an anti inflammatory medication like ibuprofen or naprosyn. However, if the cramps are severe, then this might be a sign of dysmenorrhea, or significant pain with menstruation. If you are suffering from dysmenorrhea then you may want to talk to your primary care doctor or your OB GYN doctor to determine whether this should be treated. Menstrual cramps should not be confused with premenstrual symptoms (PMS) such as bloating and fatigue, which usually occur also before the period but tend to get a lot better once the period actually starts. Please talk to your OBGYN or primary care doctor for more information.

Zocdoc Answers is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.