Not An Ordinary Cramp: Here's What Your Menstrual Cramps May Be Trying To Tell You

My last menstrual cramps were so severe that I thought that I was giving birth to the son of Satan.

Fortunately, I’m no different than any other woman who experiences menstrual cramps, and I do what I can to minimize the pain of what feels like giving birth to a demon. But what happens when those cramps are more severe than normal? Do you go get the Holy Oil and a Bible, or do you cry on the phone to your OB/GYN while you’re doubled over in pain?

Sure, you can do both, but if your menstrual cycle has you turning green, outgrowing your clothes, and turning into “The Hulk”, you should probably call your OB/GYN. Or if you have to be confined to your bed, or a wheelchair, and can’t get out of it for several days, your body may be telling you that you have some issues that you need to take care of.

Here are four wellness issues specific to women that starts with cramping, but could turn out to be a much more serious issue. 


By "fix it" I mean the pain. Oh the pain!

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, PID is an infection caused by bacteria in your vagina or cervix. When that bacteria gets in your womb, fallopian tubes, or ovaries, they can cause an infection, which equals horrible pain. Most of the time, the bacteria is a result of a sexually transmitted infection, like gonorrhea or chlamydia. This is why you should never have unprotected sex.

Symptoms: Fever or chills, increased foul smelling or abnormal vaginal discharge, dull pain or tenderness in the lower abdomen (number one sign), nausea, vomiting, pain with peeing and pain during sex. 


These are muscular tumors that grow on the walls of your uterus. Fibroids are usually non-

cancerous, and they can be as small as an apple seed, or as large as a grapefruit. Age, obesity, ethnic groups (black women are more likely to develop fibroids than white women), and family history are all factors that can increase a woman’s chances of getting fibroids.

Symptoms: heavy bleeding, prolonged periods (less than 7days) pelvic pressure or pain or bloating sensation in your abdomen, pelvis or lower back), pain during sex and frequent urination.


This is a disorder most common among women in their 30s and 40s. Bustle

explains it best:

Endometriosis is a disorder wherein the lining of your uterus decides to take itself out on an adventure to see the wide world of your innards and grows outside your uterus. Since it maintains its identity as endometrial tissue, it thickens and bleeds with your menstrual cycle — but the blood has no place to go! The result? Irritated tissue that develops into scar tissue or adhesions. Basically, this road trippin’ tissue wreaks havoc on your pelvic area, which can cause severe pain. It can also mess with your fertility by obstructing the egg’s path — around one-third of women with endometriosis have trouble getting pregnant.

Symptoms: PAIN with everything... with bowel movements, with menstral cramps, during and after sex, pain in your lower back, excessive bleeding and difficulty getting pregnant (infertility - yikes!)

Copper IUD


This thing is a non-permanent and non-hormonal birth control medicine that lasts for 10 years. The IUD is placed inside the woman’s uterus (by a licensed doctor, may I add). It works by releasing copper, which immobilizes sperm and prevents egg implantation.

There has been serious issues associated with the use of copper IUDs in women. Dr. Gangemi says that some problems associated with the copper IUD include hormonal problems, or the copper oxidizing and causing damage to the cervix and uterus.

According to Dr. Oz contributor Nurse Alice Benjamin, the copper IUD is not for everyone, and not all IUDs are made of copper. She says,

ParaGard is the only cooper IUD approved in the United States. Either way, women with the following [well woman issues] should steer clear to avoid any complications from cooper IUDs:

  • If you have uterine abnormalities that interfere with the placement or retention of an IUD
  • a pelvic infection, such as pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Uterine or cervical cancer
  • If you have unexplained vaginal bleeding
  • If you are allergic to any component of cooper IUDs
  • If you have a disorder that causes too much copper to accumulate in your liver, brain and other vital organs (Wilson's disease)
  • Are at high risk of a sexually transmitted infection, and won't use condoms
  • Or if you have had previous problems with an IUD

Symptoms: Severe bleeding, severe pain in your belly, smelly discharge, you have signs of pregnancy, and you just ate a kitten. Okay, maybe you didn’t eat a kitten, but if you have the other symptoms, that’s bad.

If you don’t have any of these symptoms, then congratulations! You’re a normal woman. Here are some self care tips that could possibly help you feel better if your cramps are cramping your style.


I know it sounds like a curse word right now, but exercise truly helps ease menstrual cramps. Exercise releases beta-endorphins, that can immensely ease period cramps. Try some deep squats, aerobic exercise, and yoga to help ease menstrual pain.

Nurse Alice says,

The better shape you’re in and the more physically active you are, the less likely you are to suffer from chronic aches and pains, including menstrual cramps. Trying yoga positions that target the pelvis and lumbar region, where period pain is the worst, have been known to be helpful.


Some women swear that when they switch to a high-fiber, low-fat diet, their cramps feel better. Try eating more nuts, whole grains, veggies, and dark fruits when your cramps are starting to cramp your style.


Speaking from personal experience (and remember, my cramps are pretty terrible), drinking lots of water helps my cramps tremendously. Even when you’re not on your menstrual cycle, you should be drinking, at least a half of a gallon of water per day. But I noticed that my cramps feel better when I drink closer to a gallon of water a day. Trust me, it works!

4. SEX

Many women think sex during their cycle is as gross as seeing Ben Carson tongue kissing his wife on TV. But turns out, it’s not that gross (sex on your cycle, not the Ben Carson thing).

According to UC Santa Barbara,

Additionally, many women who engage in sex during menstruation report that their menstruation seems to end sooner than if they had not had sexual intercourse. This is plausibe, as the muscle spasms of orgasm may allow menstrual flow to come out quicker than usual. Furthermore, the hormones that your body releases during sex (such as oxytocin) help relieve the menstrual cramps, depression, and irritability associated with premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

Please note that there is no guarantee that you won’t get pregnant if you get your swerve on during your moon, so there’s that.

But either way, I’m sure that if you have sex on your cycle, you’re not going to knock anything loose. So grab your towel, your partner, or a toy if you’re not cool with doing it with your lover, and get to getting.


After reading this, some women are still going to go back to using Motrin and a hot water bottle. It’s been a great remedy to cure unruly menstrual cramps for ages, and it works very well. If you’re not feeling the other options, there’s nothing wrong with taking it old school, and drugging yourself to a little bit of pain relief.

Most doctors don't object to women using over-the-counter medicines to help with period pain, like Motrin or Advil. But it’s better to consult your doctor or pharmacist about your symptoms before you go cherry picking medicine in the drug store. Just saying.

Nurse Alice says that a hot water bottle helps to east cramps because the heat opens the blood vessels and improves blood flow, so the pain dissipates. She also says,

Take a hot bath, or place a heating pad or hot water bottle on your lower belly. Those stick-on heat packs that you can find on drugstore shelves can work, too, if you don’t have time to sit at home.


It's never okay to ignore the pain away if the above remedies does nothing to help you. If you feel that your cramps are more severe than normal, Nurse Alice says that it could be warning signs of a more serious health issue. Call your healthcare provider if:

  • Your pain lasts longer than you're accustomed to
  • You have a fever
  • You start vomiting or feel nauseated.
  • You're bleeding heavy than normal.
  • You think you could be pregnant.

Nurse Alice Benjamin is a nationally board certified and award winning Cardiac Clinical Nurse Specialist with over a decade of experience in cardiovascular health. She is the author of “Curb Your Cravings: 31 Foods to Fool Your Appetite," a Senior Fellow at the Center of Health, Media and Policy at Hunter College in New York ,and recently joined the ShareCare family of top national media health experts. Some of her recent television appearances include The Dr. Oz Show, The Doctors, Dr Drew, HLN News Now, FOX News, TruTV In Session, America Live with Megyn Kelly, Dr. Steve Show and DC Breakdown. Visit her website at nursealicebenjamin.com.

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In 2011 -- a year following my divorce, I met a young man who I felt could mend my heart.

He was tall, dark, handsome, well spoken and well liked -- everything a girl could dream of on paper. In the beginning there was light, a light of hope for a new love. But as time went by, the relationship spun into darkness. Whether it was the dish I cooked, shirt I picked out, or the way I answered him, it was as if nothing I did was good enough. In fact, his dissatisfaction only made me want to work harder and do more to please.

I recall times when he'd squeeze my wrist a little too hard in public as a warning, leaving bruises -- but it was my fault because I was fragile or bruised "easily." Or the time he dislocated my shoulder and I had to lie to my child because I didn't want her to worry. Each time letting him come back because he appeared to be remorseful and willing to change. But that was only the beginning.

In 2012, I faced an unplanned pregnancy. I had just lost my job and I was struggling to pay the rent. To top it off, the father of my child had given me an ultimatum (as he was "not ready" to be a father)... it was "him or the baby." So, as you can imagine, I was struggling with the decision of bringing a beautiful new babe into my chaotic world. After all, I was already a single mother with one divorce under my belt, living check to check -- now couch surfing, all the while awaiting the big day. I felt as if the weight of the world was sitting on my shoulders -- better yet, my chest!

Although I told my ex where he could put his ultimatum, he came back around to see our child's birth. And while my gut told me to "RUN" in the other direction, I took him back out of fear. Fear of what I thought would be failing yet another child. "You can't do this alone," he said. "You need me," he said. I believed him. For a few months, things appeared to be different. Until the pressure of fatherhood began to sink in. Then the drinking, cheating, lying, and abuse began to resurface.

Oddly enough, it took one fight (like so many before) to get me to LOOK UP. "You don't do sh*t for your kids," he said. "I don't even want to be here but now we have this baby." -- "I gave you an ultimatum but I'm still here. So why wouldn't you want to make it work?" he continued. As if he was doing me a favor.

Holding my baby close, I quickly scanned the room at the home I had built for "us." It was MY blood, sweat, and tears that went into making this home, I thought to myself. At that moment, I knew I'd be damned if I allowed this to continue. I would never want this for my daughters, so why am I endorsing it for myself?

As he proceeded to punch the wall, it was as if the three years preceeding the fight flashed before my eyes. I pictured myself laying on the ground in shock like years before... but this time, it was my child crying beside me. "He's got to go," I whispered to myself. With tears streaming down my face, my hands shaking, and my body quivering in fear, I opened the front door and with everything in me yelled, "GET OUT! GET OUT! GET OUT!"

A few insults later, he managed to make it out the front door and I hit the floor... in prayer. I was ashamed. Not just because I saw this coming. But because I had been here too many times before. Although I am a different person today. There are still some days where I wish I could go back an avoid all of the pain.. much of which I am still working through today.

So, as part of the healing process, I've created a list of dating advice I'd give my younger self:

Fall in love with yourself first.

Don't spend your days in search of a partner to "complete" you. Discover what makes you SPIRITUALLY, emotionally, intellectually, and physically whole first and foremost. Then, when you do meet someone special, ask yourself, "Is this person adding or subtracting from my life" -- "Do they build me up or break me down?" I think Oprah said it best. Don't spend your life searching for the perfect person. Work to make yourself the perfect person for YOU, and then... only then, will "the right person be drawn to you based upon the work that you put out."

[Tweet "First, discover what makes you spiritually, emotionally, intellectually, and physically whole."]

If someone tells you're they're not good for you, believe them and RUN.

You cannot save everyone! While mending the brokenhearted is practically embedded in your DNA, people are who they are. Some people are going to destroy themselves, no matter how much you try to "help" them. If someone says that they are "no good" for you, or "trouble," take that at face value and run the other way. Just because you are open and capable of love does not mean the one you "want" is ready for love. You will deplete yourself by trying to "heal" this person -- which in the end, will do you more harm than good.

Trust your intuition.

It's trying to protect you! Never stop sharing your love; that's why you were put on this Earth. But sometimes real love means saying goodbye. It takes much more courage to let something go than it does to hold tight -- or try to "fix" it. Letting go doesn't mean you're ignoring the situation. It simply means you're accepting what is, exactly as it is, without fear, opposition, or desire for control.

[Tweet "Trust your intuition. It's trying to protect you."]

Talk it out!

As difficult as this may be sometimes, do NOT keep your feelings bottled up! People are not mind readers. They should not have to jump through hoops to uncover when and how they have wronged you. Pass on the fit of tears over dinner at California Pizza Kitchen and open the floor to a grown-up discussion at an appropriate time in private. Learn how to separate the person from the issue. Be soft on the person but firm on the issue. If you want to find long-term relationship success, you're going to have to learn how to communicate.

Forgive yourself.

Life didn't come with instructions. You are not your mistakes. You are not your struggles. You are here NOW with the power to shape your tomorrow. Take all the time you need to heal. The key to breaking free from your broken self, is baby steps -- taking it one day at a time. Never let a bad day make you feel like you have a bad life. Just because today is painful doesn't mean tomorrow won't be great. You WILL get there.

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