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Cramps After Period: Do They Always Mean You Are Pregnant?

Nearly 50% of all women are afflicted with some degree of menstrual cramping and in 15% the abdominal pain is severe enough to cause hindrance in day-to-day life. PMS-related tummy aches are first of all common for adolescent girls. Almost 90% of young ladies report they regularly have such painful episodes right before menstruating. Cramps after period are either linked to implantation and pregnancy or some other health problems. How to distinguish different causes?

Although not always serious, abdominal discomfort may be a sign of something as innocuous as indigestion or something as life-threatening as ovarian cancer. Of course, as stated, belly aches can also be caused due to conception, particularly implantation, which also causes bleeding-spotting, that often leads women to believe they have simply started menstruating. So, here is more information about cramping after period ends.

Nearly 50% of all women are afflicted with some degree of menstrual cramping and in 15% the abdominal pain is severe enough to cause hindrance in day-to-day life. PMS-related tummy aches are first of all common for adolescent girls. Almost 90% of young ladies report they regularly have such painful episodes right before menstruating. Cramps after period are either linked to implantation and pregnancy or some other health problems. How to distinguish different causes?

Although not always serious, abdominal discomfort may be a sign of something as innocuous as indigestion or something as life-threatening as ovarian cancer. Of course, as stated, belly aches can also be caused due to conception, particularly implantation, which also causes bleeding-spotting, that often leads women to believe they have simply started menstruating. So, here is more information about cramping after period ends.

When in General Are Abdominal Cramps Felt?

What causes abdominal pains after menstruation?

Abdominal cramps are commonly felt only during menses. Some women experience such pain before the menstruation. In some cases it lasts for a few days even after period. Cramping can be described as a pulling, pulsing pain usually felt all over the abdominal area. In fact, for many ladies, the pain is not localized and it quickly radiates down to the thighs and waist and even to the lower back.

It is crucial to understand that there is a difference between PMS pains and cramps experienced during and after menstruation. Often symptoms, including pain, moodiness and breast tenderness, can turn into a continual process that starts a day or two before the period and goes on till the bleeding stops.

Cramps after period can range from mild to severe. If they are mild, most women will barely notice them and they will typically last for a few hours only, feeling more like heaviness or bloating in the belly. However, for many ladies the pain is so intense, that they have to resort to OTC pain killers and even put their lives on hold for a few days.

Read also: Early Pregnancy Cramps: The Little Known Facts!

Implantation Cramping and 7 Other Implantation Symptoms

Implantation Cramps or PMS Cramps?

Cramping After Sex Can Be Alarming

Why Do Women Feel Cramps Before and During Their Periods?

When cramping is experienced before and during periods, it can be attributed to the disintegration of the endometrial lining in the uterus. This is the inner lining of the womb, which is rich in blood cells and mucous that the body builds in anticipation of a pregnancy. However, if the egg remains unfertilized after ovulation, the lining is no longer needed and it is purged out of the uterus.

A drop in estrogen and progesterone levels causes the endometrial lining to swell up. Then it breaks and the blood gets out of the body through the cervix and the vagina. This lining is replaced during the next menstrual cycle and such a process goes on month after month. So, the breakdown of the endometrial lining is what causes PMS or premenstrual pain.

It is also normal for women to feel abdominal discomfort as they are menstruating. This pain is attributed to another cause entirely. A contraction in the muscles of the uterus is caused by prostaglandins, released during endometrial cells` destruction. This helps woman’s body to discard all the dead endometrial cells. Think of the mechanism as water being wrung out of a cloth.

The constriction of the uterine muscles cuts off the oxygen supply to the endometrial lining, which breaks down further in response. Depending on the level of prostaglandins in the body, the constrictions may continue, which will be felt as ongoing menstrual pains. Another reason for period pains is the passing of the endometrial debris through the cervix. Sometimes the pieces of mucosa and clots are large enough to cause pain as they pass through the narrow cervical canal.

During this time, the body also releases another type of chemicals known as leukotrienes, which control the inflammatory response. They may also cause cramping in the abdomen and cervix. It should be noted here that prostaglandin is the medication given to pregnant women to induce labor. So, higher levels of this chemical within the endometrial lining can sometimes result in abdominal discomfort that is comparable with labor pains in terms of intensity.

Cramps After Period and Before It

Why am I cramping after my period? Here you will find the main causes of cramping before and after period:

Ovulation pain.

Mild cramps after period can also be attributed to a condition called mittelschmerz; this is when abdominal pain is felt as a result of ovulation or the release of an egg from the ovaries. These sensations, linked to ovulation, can easily be distinguished from PMS aches because of the timing at which they are experienced.

Ovulation-related cramping will be typically felt in the middle of the menstrual cycle that is on the 14th-16th day counted from the first day of the last period. The pain can be pulsing and sharp or dull and continuous. It is generally confined to one side of the abdomen. However, in some months the pain may switch sides. It is also felt more intensely at the start and the end of the day.

Cramps after period, connected with birth control methods.

Light cramping can be also caused by the intrauterine device’s placement. This is a small T-shaped device that is surgically placed at the cervical opening, which blocks the entry of sperms in the uterus, thus preventing pregnancy. Some women will feel abdominal cramps for a few months till the body adjusts to the foreign matter. Missing contraceptive pills can also cause hormonal fluctuations, which can lead to a displacement of endometrial tissue. This can also cause cramps after period.

Endometriosis, cysts and fibroids.

Endometriosis is a condition, when the uterine tissue starts to grow abnormally outside of the uterus, for example, in the ovaries. The pain in this case will be irregular and sharp. It is usually accompanied by bloating. The abnormal growths are not purged out of the body like the endometrial debris, but they behave in a similar way, breaking down and bleeding during menstruation. Cysts and fibroids can also cause cramping by putting pressure on the whole uterine system.

Can Cramps Be Felt During and After Implantation?

It is normal for women to experience abdominal discomfort in the early stages of pregnancy. In fact, for a lot of ladies, the unpleasant feelings appear as early as implantation happens, even before the pregnancy can be confirmed with a urine examination. Cramping after period, linked to conception, can be put into two distinct categories, based on when it is experienced:

1. Implantation cramping.

This is abdominal discomfort that can be felt on the day the fertilized egg attaches itself to the endometrial lining in the uterus. The pain may go on for a day or two, but usually stops as suddenly, as it started. Implantation cramps are experienced around the same time as premenstrual pain, which is why they often go unnoticed or are mistaken for the latter.

2. Early pregnancy cramping.

After implantation, as the zygote grows, the uterus distends rapidly to make space for fetal progress and this too will be felt as a constant pulling pain in the abdomen.

The important thing is to notice the nature and the intensity of the pain along with the other symptoms experienced with the abdominal discomfort. If this is accompanied by significant vaginal discharge with blood, you certainly need to see a doctor. Similarly, even if the belly aches are linked to implantation or pregnancy, if you also go through the episodes of fainting, nausea and have fever, it would be better for you to seek medical attention promptly.

Causes of Cramping During Implantation

Cramps can be experienced during implantation because of the disturbance, caused in the endometrial lining as the zygote embeds itself in the outer tissue of the uterus. This point of attachment will eventually grow into the placenta that nourishes the fetus throughout the pregnancy. As the fertilized egg or the blastocyst enters the uterus, a special chemical is released from its outer lining. It helps to dissolve the mucus membrane of the uterus and make attachment more easily achieved. However, during this process some of the endometrial blood cells get dislodged. This causes the slight discomfort, known as implantation cramping. The blood cells that come loose then flow out of the body and are seen as the pink or light brown vaginal discharge that is typical to implantation.

Is It Possible to Feel Cramps After Period (if you are pregnant and if you are not)?

It is atypical for a woman to experience abdominal cramps after her periods and after the menopause. Although some of the reasons why this may happen have been described above, it would be prudent to have yourself checked if such pain turns into a common occurrence. Particularly, if it is accompanied by bleeding between periods, you should see a doctor at once. Persistent and recurring pain after periods may be a sign of a health concern and should be checked by a physician.

How to Recognize Implantation Cramps and to Distinguish Them from Other Issues?

If you are experiencing premenstrual pain, it will coincide with the start of menstruation. On the other hand, implantation cramps start 2-3 days before you are due to get your period. These spasms are usually localized and felt in the uterus and the cervix. So, the pain will be experienced below the belly button, in the center of the lower abdomen. It may also be accompanied by lower abdominal pain after period.

It is normal for a lot of women to confuse implantation cramps with secondary dysmenorrhea. Unlike primary dysmenorrhea or period pains that are experienced from the very first menstrual cycle, in case of the secondary dysmenorrhea the abdominal discomfort has a late onset, usually after years of pain-free period. What should be noted here is again the timing of the pain. It will coincide more closely with the start of regular menstrual bleeding.

The vaginal discharge can itself be a telltale sign if it looks heavier than implantation spotting. Another thing to note about secondary dysmenorrhea is that the pain intensifies during menstruation instead of going down in intensity. Also, painful intercourse, irregular cycles and heavy bleeding during menses and in the middle of the menstrual cycle are common to this gynecological condition. However, none of these symptoms are experienced as a result of implantation. So, in a nutshell, this is what implantation pains and other symptoms usually feel and look like:

  • Dull, pulling aches like a bad case of gas.
  • Unpleasant sensations, felt in the lower abdomen and even inside the vagina.
  • Pain, radiating up to the lower back.
  • Light spotting, observed within a day of cramping.
  • The discomfort with a distinct on and off nature.
  • Aches are usually felt over the period of a few days (longer than menstrual pains).
  • Pain, which you can ease by moving or changing positions, taking rest.
  • Aches accompanied by the breasts` and nipples` soreness.

If you are experiencing cramps after period, you definitely need to sit down and calculate the chances to be pregnant. If you have had unprotected sex within 6-12 days after ovulation, the abdominal discomfort may definitely be attributed to implantation. However, you must wait a week or two before you can use a urine test to confirm your new condition.

The most important thing to remember in case of unusual cramping is that if anything feels abnormal or if you have symptoms like heavy vaginal bleeding, bloody stools, high fever, smelly discharge, strong headaches, fainting and burning sensations when passing urine, these definitely have to be investigated. Stay healthy!

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