Cramps But No Period? It's Normal - And Could Be A Lot Of Different Things, Tbh

If you are experiencing what feel like period cramps while you are not on your period, you don't necessarily need to panic. There are all sorts of things that can create tension and discomfort down there. It could be something as simple as your period just not here yet. It could be a symptom of PMS, and it's alerting you to that impending period. And, if that's not the case, you may be battling something going on in your stomach, appendix, or elsewhere. If you're concerned about your pain, there's no shame in getting it checked out. As Mount Sinai notes, if the discomfort lasts a week or more, you should see your doctor. It's always important to listen to what your body is trying to tell you — and hey, nothing wrong in playing it safe.

Period-like cramps don't always have to do with our reproductive organs either. Suzy Lipinski, M.D., OB-GYN, told Parents, "Nerves in the pelvis are not specific to an affected area like they are on your skin. So pelvic cramping can represent problems in any of the pelvic organs—female organs, bowels, bladder system, or even pelvic floor muscles." Even some sexually transmitted diseases can cause cramps. With that in mind, let's take a look at some of the things that might be causing your cramps and what to do about them, from home remedies to when you should reach out to the doctor.

Your first question might be if you're pregnant

You may be wondering if those cramps you are experiencing are actually implantation cramps. As WebMD notes, when the egg attaches to the uterus, it can cause abdominal discomfort — a common first symptom of pregnancy. This symptom usually happens about a week or two into the very early stages of pregnancy. And, since it's the very first sign, you likely won't notice any other signs for another week or two after, when your breasts may start feeling tender or getting fuller. 

According to Cedars Sinai, if the cramping starts a month or two after the egg attaches, it could be a sign of an ectopic pregnancy. This is when the egg gets stuck in the fallopian tube or attaches to any area outside the uterus. You'll not only experience cramping, but there will be some spotting as well — which could lead you to think you've started your period. However, in the case of an ectopic pregnancy, there is a risk of death for the mom and there is no chance of saving the baby, as there is no room for the fetus to grow within the fallopian tube. Whether or not you knew you were pregnant, cramping can also sometimes be a sign of miscarriage. If you know you are pregnant and begin to have cramping, call your doctor immediately — there's no reason to risk it and wait. 

You may just be ovulating

Not all cramps that don't come with a period mean you're pregnant, though. It could be that you're ovulating. As Women's Health Specialists of California explains, ovulation can continue after menopause if a person's ovaries are still intact. But no matter your age, ovulation can come with cramps. As the National Health Service notes, you'll likely feel the cramping on whichever side happens to have released an egg, and it will still resemble those pesky period pains. This usually comes with some spotting as well, and the cramps could last up to a couple of days. The pain can usually be coaxed away with some anti-inflammatories, but if it seems persistent, don't hesitate to call your doctor for some reassurance and to make sure there is nothing else going on.

And, one of those other things your cramping could be is a symptom of polycystic ovary syndrome. Per Johns Hopkins Medicine, PCOS happens when your ovaries make more androgens than needed. Androgens are a hormone typical in men that women do produce in small quantities. PCOS can cause heavy periods and severe cramps, but it can also cause cramping on its own if cysts develop in your ovaries from it. If you think you may have PCOS, talk to your doctor about it to get on medication that can help keep the symptoms to a minimum by slowing down your body's production of androgens.

You might have an ovarian cyst or fibroids

On the subject of ovarian cysts, you can get cysts in your ovaries even if you don't have PCOS. What's more, these cysts can still cause cramping. As the Mayo Clinic explains, you may feel aches and pains on one side of your lower abdomen. While ovarian cysts can work themselves out on their own, if you develop severe, unrelenting pain or a fever, you'll want to reach out to a doctor. 

Like other cysts, ovarian cysts can also rupture. Cysts are filled with fluid, and they can sometimes fill up so much that it makes them burst, though most of the time the cyst will dry up and shrink. As Johns Hopkins Medicine advises, if you do have a cyst that bursts, you definitely want to go to the hospital, as you could get a life-threatening infection.

Uterine fibroids are another culprit for cramps that resemble those that come with your period. According to the Cleveland Clinic, fibroids don't always cause symptoms, but aside from possible pain, you may also experience heavier periods and a need to go pee more often. Usually, people just live with their fibroids and sometimes they'll shrink all on their own. However, larger fibroids can cause a lot of pain and may require surgery. If you suspect your pain is coming from fibroids, your doctor can do an ultrasound to find them and determine their size so a plan can be made to deal with them.

You may have other issues with your uterus

If you tend to have excess pain during periods, and even start to have cramps without your period, you may be living with endometriosis. As Mayo Clinic explains, other symptoms include pain during sex, pain when you're using the restroom (whether or not you're going number one or number two), and exhaustion. No matter how severe your symptoms are, if you think you may have endometriosis, talk to your doctor. They can help you manage the symptoms, and you'll have better luck keeping them under control if you discover the issue early on. If your case is severe enough, your doctor will likely recommend surgery, from removing the excess tissue caused by this illness to doing a complete hysterectomy. This is a big decision to make depending on your age and whether or not you want kids.

As Cleveland Clinic points out, uterine polyps also generate pain that feels exactly like period cramps. Some of the other symptoms that come along with that ache include irregular and heavier periods, spotting, and possibly even bleeding after you have sex. There's no specific reason why these polyps occur in the uterus, but medication or removal of the polyps can help you find relief from cramps and bleeding. An ultrasound is one of the typical ways your doctor will use to see if you have polyps, and then they will suggest the best route for you depending on how many there are, the sizes, and how bad your symptoms are.

It could be a sign of tummy or bowl troubles

From illnesses like irritable bowel syndrome to constipation, your cramps could have something to do with your stomach or bowels. IBS is a big culprit for tummy cramps that very much resemble cramps you get before your period, and they definitely sometimes come with diarrhea, which is also a symptom for some PMS sufferers. According to the National Health Service, IBS has no known direct cause, but some people find that stress and certain foods can cause a flare-up. As Healthline explains, Crohn's disease is an infection in your intestines that causes issues like cramps, blood in your stool, fevers, and more. IBS and Crohn's disease don't have cures, but there are things you can do to help ease the symptoms, from taking special medications prescribed by your doctor or changing up your diet and avoiding the things that cause your symptoms.

Diverticulitis is an illness that affects your large intestine. As the National Health Service explains, pockets in your intestine get inflamed and cause all sorts of pain, including cramping. Sometimes you may have no symptoms at all, and sometimes the pain can be nearly unbearable and come with a fever. In extreme cases, surgery may be needed to remove part of your intestine, but you can help ease symptoms by avoiding foods that can get stuck in those pockets (like nuts and seeds) and eating a high-fiber diet that keeps things moving. Constipation can also cause cramps, and fiber helps with this too.

Or something in your urinary tract

From your kidneys to your bladder, there are times when your cramps, especially if they aren't accompanied by any spotting of blood, could be coming from a different issue "down there." A urinary tract infection may not cause you any cramping, but if it does, WebMD suggests it may be coming from spasms in your bladder, which don't sound fun at all. Anytime you are dealing with a UTI, increased water intake is a must

As Healthline points out, cramping can also be linked to potassium deficiency. If there's a chance the spasms are caused by your potassium intake, you could eat more potassium-rich foods or take a supplement. If your symptoms worsen or last for many days, be sure to consult your doctor or you could end up with an even worse infection.

Kidney infections are another culprit for cramps in the lower abdominal regions. As the National Kidney Foundation explains, an untreated UTI can lead to a full-blown kidney infection. Aside from the cramps, you will likely feel a lot of pain, including a feeling of burning, when you pee. If your pain increases, does not subside within a couple of days or includes blood in your urine, it is important to see a doctor. Untreated kidney infections can have dire consequences, including causing permanent damage to your kidneys.

Pelvic floor spasms feel like cramps

You don't have to have a UTI to experience spasms in those nether regions either. According to Women's Wellness Now, your pelvic floor muscles spasming could be what's causing your discomfort. While these spasms can also be linked to bladder infections, some other culprits include infections in your vagina. Childbirth can often leave you with spasms in your pelvic floor, as can other trauma to this area. If you've had pelvic surgery or have an inflammatory condition, this could also be causing your spasms.

Sometimes pelvic floor spasms have no underlying cause that can be figured out. Some of the symptoms that may lead you to know if your feeling of cramps is being caused by pelvic-related spasms include pain during sex, or the inability to have sex because your vaginal muscles contract. Bladder and bowel pain, and even an overactive bladder, can also be signs. All of these symptoms could potentially be linked to other illnesses we've already talked about, some we're about to, and even some not on this list, so if they are bothering you it is important to talk to your doctor so you can get a proper diagnosis. If your spasms don't seem to go away on their own, your doctor may recommend physical therapy. This is to help you learn ways to relax your pelvic floor muscles. 

Your appendix might be inflamed

If you still have your appendix and you're experiencing cramps, it's important to look at the other symptoms of appendicitis if you're not showing any spotting and haven't been able to pinpoint another reason for your pain. As the National Health Service points out, appendicitis is sometimes mistaken for stomach issues, including Crohn's disease and IBS. If you're truly feeling sick and feverish, have flushing on your face, have difficulty going to the bathroom or have diarrhea, and your appetite is waning, you may have an inflamed appendix. One sure sign is if your pain seemed to start centralized but then later moved to the right side and got worse. If you have extreme abdominal pain that doesn't go away within a day or so, your best bet is always to go see the doctor. Something like appendicitis can be life-threatening.

One of the scary things about appendicitis is that even if your pain goes away, you may not be out of the woods yet. When appendicitis pain goes away and then comes back with a vengeance, it can sometimes be a sign that your appendix has burst, and when that happens you need to get to the emergency room. According to the National Health Service, peritonitis is often a result of a burst appendix, as well as a possibility for people with issues like diverticulitis. Peritonitis is an infection of the stomach lining and without proper treatment, it can lead to a need for stomach surgery to remove the damaged areas.

Vaginal issues can cause cramping

Another possible explanation for the cramps, pain, and discomfort? It could be a yeast infection. As Johns Hopkins Medicine explains, vaginal candidiasis, which is the technical name for a yeast infection, happens when your vagina doesn't have enough bacteria to regulate yeast production. The yeast gets out of control and causes more than cramps. For this issue, though, it's pretty easy to figure out if it's what is causing your discomfort simply by looking at the other symptoms, which include swelling and itching in your vaginal area, as well as a thick discharge. You can buy over-the-counter remedies for yeast infections, but if you get them often, you'll want to talk to your doctor about a more suitable action plan.

Bacterial vaginosis is another culprit of an imbalance of good bacteria in the vagina. Some things believed to cause it include douching too much (your vagina cleans itself), using scented pantyliners, and even switching who you're sleeping with can disrupt the balance. According to Permanente Medicine, symptoms, aside from cramps, of bacterial vaginosis include some of the same troublesome ones caused by yeast infections, like itchiness and a discharge that isn't normal for you. The biggest difference is that bacterial vaginosis also comes with a fishy odor down there. Your doctor can prescribe antibiotics, but if you don't change the things that caused it, the infection can come back.

You may have a sexually transmitted disease

If you do a search online to find out the causes of cramps when you're not having your period, one of the top options listed will likely be pelvic inflammatory disease. PID is a sexually transmitted infection that causes, as its name suggests, inflammation in your reproductive organs. While PID is often caused by other untreated STIs, Smart Sex Resource notes that it can also be caused by infections that are not sexually transmitted. Aside from painful cramps, other symptoms of PID include an overactive bladder, possible fever, and you may have spotting when you're not on your period, as well as vaginal discharge. Luckily, PID is easily treatable with antibiotics. Unfortunately, if not treated soon enough, it can lead to infertility. 

Other STIs can cause cramping symptoms, and gonorrhea and chlamydia are two of the biggest culprits. These are also the two common STIs that can lead to PID when not treated soon enough. HIV can also cause cramping. It's important to regularly get tested for STIs, especially if you have multiple partners or don't use condoms.