Many women experience mild cramping pain in the lower abdomen during menstruation. This pain is considered normal unless it interferes with everyday activities; it can usually be relieved with painkillers. If you regularly have severe pain or if your periods become more painful than usual, you should consult your doctor.
How does the pain you are currently experiencing compare with that of previous periods?
Possible cause Some menstrual pain is quite normal; it is known as primary dysmenorrhoea.
Self-help Take a painkiller. Make an appointment to see your doctor if pain interferes with normal activities.
Have you had an unusual vaginal discharge between periods?
Have you had any of the following symptoms?
Do you have an intrauterine contraceptive device (IUD)?
Possible cause An increase in menstrual pain is often a side effect of IUDs (see Contraception).
Medical help Make an appointment to see your doctor.
Have your periods become heavier or longer as well as more painful?
If you cannot identify a possible cause for your painful periods from this chart, make an appointment to see your doctor.
From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.