Cramping Without Period: a Sign of Pregnancy or Menstruation?

Women commonly experience cramps. There may be a dull aching pain in the lower abdomen or an extremely painful experience. The cause of cramps can be characterized as either menstrual cramps or a symptom of early pregnancy. Cramps may occur without the onset of a period, which may simply indicate PMS. For those trying to conceive, these cramps may be a sign of pregnancy. This article will help you decipher the cause of your cramps.

Pregnancy Cramping

If you are experiencing cramps without a period and preparing to be pregnant, there is a high probability that you may have conceived. Cramping during early pregnancy is actually a fairly common symptom and is normally accompanied by slight spotting. This cramping and spotting is implantation cramping and bleeding. This normally occurs 6-12 days after fertilization.

Pregnancy cramping is milder than menstrual cramping and the spotting is very light compared to a 'traditional period.' Cramping does not only occur during early pregnancy but also can afflict a woman during most of her pregnancy. This is called round ligament pain and is caused by the uterus expanding to accommodate your growing baby. These cramps are normally described as a dull ache, which can also be a sharp pain when you moving. These cramps will coincide with other symptoms of early pregnancy. These include tender breasts, frequent urination, fatigue, mood swings, and an increased appetite.

Mild pregnancy cramps are normally nothing to worry about, but you can ease the discomfort. Below we have listed some ways to do this:

  • Talk to your doctor about safe pain relief medications. Take when needed and at the recommended dosage.
  • Place a hot water bottle or heating pad on your lower abdomen.
  • Relax in a warm bath.
  • Participate in gentle exercise such as walking or swimming.
  • Ask your partner for a lower back rub.

Though most cases of cramping during early pregnancy are normal, this symptom could indicate a serious problem. If your cramping is very severe and accompanied by heavy bleeding or blood clots, you should immediately contact a doctor or your midwife. This could be a sign of miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy. If you have any concerns over your cramping, contact a doctor who will thoroughly examine you and make a definite diagnosis.

Menstrual Cramping Before a Period

If your pregnancy test turns out negative, your cramps are probably normal cramping before your period. It is estimated that over 50% of women experience menstrual cramps and an incredible 90% of teenage women have cramps before their period. During menstruation, the uterus experiences contractions. When these contractions put pressure on the blood vessels, it can temporarily cut the supply of oxygen to the uterine tissue. This temporary reduction of oxygen to the uterus results in pain from cramps.

Menstrual cramping can feel like a heaviness in the lower abdomen, aching pain in the same region, and this pain can radiate down to the hips, lower back and inner thighs.

Pregnancy or PMS?

The big difference between menstrual and early pregnancy cramping is in the severity of the cramps and the accompanying bleeding. Severe to mild cramps are felt during menstruation, while mild cramps occur early into pregnancy. Only slight spotting is common during early pregnancy, which lasts just a few days. During menstruation light to heavy bleeding is normal and this can last up to a week. The best way to distinguish the cause of your cramps is to take a pregnancy test. If it is negative then your cramps are probably due to menstruation. If you are trying to conceive and experience cramps, consult your doctor.