- Having cramps a week or more before your period is usually not a symptom of PMS.
- Implant cramps feel very similar to menstrual cramps and occur after conception.
- Other reasons you may have cramps include stinging, a cyst, endometriosis, fibroids, or a UTI.
- Visit the Insider Health Reference Library for more tips.
Menstrual cramps are an unwanted fact of life for many women. But menstrual cramps can also strike between periods. Those random cramps could also be a first sign of pregnancy.
Here are some of the reasons why you may be cramped before your period.
Cramping a week before your period is probably not a symptom of PMS
About a week or two before the start of your period, you may develop one cluster of symptoms collectively called premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Common symptoms include headache, mood swelling and bloating.
But cramping a week out? Not so common, second Reza Askari, MD, obstetrician-gynecologist in San Pedro, California. A week before your period is too early to experience premenstrual cramps, called dysmenorrhea.
Dysmenorrhea occurs when chemicals in the lining of the uterus called prostaglandins are released and cause pain. This typically happens just before menstruation begins and can wear in the first two days of a woman’s period. “So, it would be a little bit common for that [happen] seven days out, ”says Askari.
Implant cramps can feel exactly like menstrual cramps
Your next period may not actually be a week. It could be more like nine months away. The cramp you feel may be an early sign of pregnancy, also known as implantation cramps.
When a fertilized egg falls into the lining of the uterus and lays itself in place, the process is called implantation. This can cause some mild cramps, he says Yvonne Bohn, MD, obstetrician-gynecologist in Santa Monica, California. “The uterus contracts in response to implantation and causes a feeling of cramps,” he says. These cramps feel very similar to menstrual cramps.
Other reasons for cramps
- UTI: Urinary tract infections and bladder infections it can also cause some pain in your abdomen, too.
- Endometriosis: Pain is a common symptom of this condition, which occurs when the tissue that lengthens the uterus begins to grow outside the uterus. It often causes very painful periods for many women, however the pain may begin several days earlier, as well.
- Adenomyosis: Adenomyosis occurs when the endometrial tissue from the lining of the uterus begins to grow into the uterine wall. This situation does not always cause pain. But some women experience severe pain in the abdomen during their periods, and some even have chronic pelvic pain that may feel like cramps.
- Fibroids: Fibroids are the growths that develop in the uterine wall. I know usually benign, but can cause pain and cramps.
- Constipation: Cramps or severe pain in your abdomen could also be a sign that you are stuck. If you feel bloated, though, it could be a clue.
- Post-coital cramps: If you have recently had sex, you may be pulling on any muscles or ligaments that may be causing some cramping or pain in your pelvis or vagina. You may also experience cramps after orgasm.
- A cyst: A cyst that stops after ovulation can cause pain. “If the cyst starts to leak fluid and resolves naturally, the fluid from the cyst can cause cramps or pelvic discomfort,” Bohn says. An over-the-counter painkiller like ibuprofen or acetaminophen may help, but if not, contact your gynecologist.
- Initial pregnancy cramps: If you are already pregnant and do not realize it, you can experiment cramps from early pregnancy. Minor cramps it is quite normal in the first and second trimesters. But if the pain suddenly gets worse, call your doctor right away.
Take away the Insider
If you begin to experience new pain, severe pain, or pain at an unusual time, you should check it out. In fact, whenever you’re worried, you should contact your healthcare provider, says Askari. “If you feel that the pain you are experiencing is out of the ordinary for you, that’s when you should come see your doctor.”