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Painful Menstrual Cramps

You have heard about some of the most common medical conditions that can lead to menstrual cramps. Menstrual cramps can also be a part of normal periods. When cramping occurs as part of a normal menstrual period, this is called dysmenorrhea.

Menstrual pain from normal menstrual periods is usually relieved by the over-the-counter medications known as "non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs" (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) or naproxen (Aleve). These medicines can treat cramps or can prevent them, if a dose is taken before the cramps usually begin. Taking the medicine before cramps begin is a strategy that can be used by women who have very predictable periods and cramps. For continued relief, it can be necessary to take doses of the medicine for several days during your period. Talk to your health care provider if you are unsure about whether it is safe for you to use NSAIDs or if you've tried them in the past but they didn't help. If you are not able to use NSAIDs, you may find relief with a hormonal birth control medication such as the birth control pill, vaginal ring (NuvaRing) or patch.


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