Cramps and periods go hand in hand. The unwanted and annoying cramps during periods can give any woman sleepless nights. Every month the uterus rids itself of its blood filled lining which results in those unbearable cramps.
There is a throbbing pain, which, at times, get severe and makes you want to shout out loud. The pain generally starts from the lower abdomen and gradually spreads to the legs, thighs, and back.
However, this does not mean that cramps always indicate periods. It can also be an indication or an early sign of some ailment or health condition. Do not take chances. Consult a physician at the earliest if the cramps continue for too long. A thorough investigation can help detect underlying factors behind those unnatural cramps.
1. Cramps that call for celebrations
Some cramps are worth the pain and discomfort. Uterine cramps are quite common in the early stages of pregnancy. Once a fertilized egg attaches itself to the uterine walls, the uterus expands to provide the embryo with space for rapid growth and development. The uterus ligaments and muscles get stretched in the process, resulting in cramps.
2. In the case of an ectopic pregnancy
An ectopic pregnancy is a condition where implantation of the fertilized egg takes place outside the uterus, for example, the fallopian tube, in which case the cramps may get severe and painful. It is often difficult to distinguish an ectopic pregnancy from a normal one. However, timely medical attention can provide major relief.
Uterine cramps in the absence of menstruation can also result from some major health complications like:
3. Stenosis of the uterine cervix
This is a medical condition where the endocervical canal (opening in the cervix) becomes typically narrow. In extreme case, there may be a complete closure of the endocervical canal. Cervical Stenosis can result from surgery, infections, uterine cancer or trauma.
The cramps may be mild to severe depending on the extent of the stenosis (partial or full closure of the endocervical canal).
4. Ovarian cyst
As the name suggests, it is a condition where cyst formation takes place in the ovaries. The cysts developed can be:
A. Follicle cysts:
This occurs when the egg (in a sac) does not get released during the menstrual cycle.
B. Corpus luteum cysts:
Here, the sac fails to get reabsorbed into the body even after ovulation.
As the fluids accumulate in the sac, the cyst forms, and increases in size, resulting in cramps without menstruation.
This condition occurs when the growth of the endometrium (the inner lining of the uterus) takes place outside the uterus (on the ovaries, into the bowel or the pelvic lining). The condition can cause a delayed menstruation. Menstrual cramps without periods are also common in endometriosis.
6. Delayed menstruation
Irregular or late periods can also result in cramps (but no menses). The delay in periods can be an outcome of the ovulation (the matured eggs gets released from the ovary into the fallopian tube) still taking place.
7. Autoimmune Oophoritis
It is a very rare autoimmune disease characterized by lymphoplasmacytic infiltration. Here the immune cells of the body attack the ovary, resulting in fibrosis, ovarian inflammation, and atrophy. Thus, the ovary fails to function normally. Irregular periods or Amenorrhea, fever, discharge from the vagina are common consequences of Autoimmune Oophoritis. One also experiences a throbbing sensation in the lower abdomen and cramps, but periods do not take place.
Perimenopause, i.e. the period preceding menopause, can bring about uterine cramps without menstruation. Perimenopause can also cause irregularities in menses and ovulation.
9. Ovarian cancer
In some cases, the cramps can be an outcome of something as grave as ovarian cancer.
10. Extreme stress
Physical, mental or emotional stress can do your body more harm than good. In women, it can cause cramps (without periods), irregular menstrual cycle and weight loss.
11. Eating disorders
Obesity, anorexia, and other similar eating disorders can also cause cramps without menstruation.
Sometimes, women going through menopause also experience such cramps.