Having Cramps But No Period – A Sign of Pregnancy or Menstruation?

Have you ever experienced cramps but no period? Woman commonly experience cramps. Abdominal cramping (pain in the lower abdomen) is the most common premenstrual symptom and it indicates the start of menses.

The common cause of cramps can be either menstrual cramps or a symptom of early pregnancy. However, sometimes if you get uterine cramps without a period, can be a sign of something more serious illness.

What is the cause of menstrual cramps?

During menstruation, the muscles of the uterus contracting (due to prostaglandin) to expel its blood vessel-filled uterine lining. The lining builds up during the first 2 weeks of the menstrual cycle in order to nurture an embryo, but if no pregnancy occurs, the body breaks it down and removes it. This causes mild to severe cramps on your abdomen.

Reasons for Cramps But no Period

What does it mean when you have cramps but no period? There can be many other causes of cramping but no period. Let us see them in detail.

Most of the causes are mild and no need of any treatment and some of the causes for cramps without periods needs medical attention to cure it.

cramps but no period

1. An Early Sign of Pregnancy

Abdominal Cramping without periods is one of the common early signs of pregnancy. The uterus begins to prepare itself for the embryo’s growth during the early pregnancy. This occurs when the fertilized egg (your growing baby) attaches to the lining of your womb (uterine wall). This may lead to spotting or implantation bleeding. This type of cramping without periods is called implantation pain.

If your cramps are due to pregnancy, then you may experience some other signs such as nausea, tender breasts, morning sickness or dizziness, food aversions, headache, menstrual cramps with little bleeding, mood swings, etc.

If you have abdominal cramps and you think that you may be pregnant then check with your doctor or buy a pregnancy test kit. You can also use these homemade pregnancy tests.

2. Ovulation

Cramping but no period, right around the time of ovulation (release of an egg from the ovary) is normal. This type of cramping happens during the middle of your menstrual cycle. Usually, cramping due to ovulation occurs on one side of your lower abdomen and lasts for few hours to few days.

To get rid of cramping caused by ovulation, place a heating pad or pack on the painful area to soothe the pain.

3. Ectopic Pregnancy

Ectopic pregnancy is also one of the causes for stomach cramps but no period. This means that the fertilized egg (growing baby) grows somewhere other than the uterus. Usually, an egg grows in any one of the fallopian tubes.

This is a rare medical condition and the most serious problem, causing life-threatening for the conceived woman. This medical condition does not result in a live birth.

The abdominal cramps may be mild to severe pain on one side of your lower abdomen. The severe pain continuous to your shoulder and lower back too. Some other symptoms such as tender breasts and nausea are also possible before the cramps.

Sometimes the pregnancy tests show negative results too if your baby grows other than the uterus. The immediate help from your doctor is a must to treat this illness. With the help of scanning, a doctor can identify that you are having ectopic pregnancy or not.

4. Menopause

During menopause, a woman can experience the cramps but no period. This is usual when a woman reaches her 40s or 50s.

During menopause ( a woman can no longer reproduce), a woman can experience irregular periods and sometimes no periods for several months. Usually, woman experience cramps during this time.

5. Eating Disorder

If you have cramping but no period and not pregnant? Then it should be the result of eating disorder.

An eating disorder may results in irregular periods and menstrual cramps but no period. This is due to changes in diet, bad diet practices, overeating and under eating.

The most common eating disorders that cause abdominal or uterine cramps without period are Anorexia, obesity, and bulimia. This type of abdominal cramping would occur without bleeding.

6. Late Period

You may experience period pain but no period. Sometimes the menstrual cycle is delayed (late periods) and ovulation is taking place, causes stomach cramps but no period.

This type of cramps occurs when the period follows two weeks after ovulation. The possible symptoms accompany with late periods are irregular periods, gas pain, period like cramps and constipation.

7. Ruptured Ovarian Cyst

The ovarian cysts (sacs of fluid in the ovaries) are very common among women and they usually go away on its own without any treatments. It causes sudden sharp pain on either side of your lower abdomen (depends on which ovary had the cyst).

The ovarian cysts can form in the ovary, causing cramping but no period. The two reasons for the cysts are as follows,

  • When a follicle cyst does not release an egg during a menstrual cycle.
  • When a fluid-filled cyst that develops in the sac after the egg is released.

The other symptoms are spotting, pain in your lower abdomen, thighs, and lower back. If you have cramping but no period and not pregnant? Then it should be the result of a ruptured ovarian cyst.

8. Autoimmune Oophoritis

This is an uncommon disorder. This happens when the immune system attacks its own body cells (mistakenly consider them as foreign agents).

This self-attacking affects many parts of the body and in this case, it results in ovarian inflammation, loss of fertility hormone production, irregular periods, uterus cramps, cramping but no period, fever, vaginal discharge, fatigue and lack of menstruation.

Due to its severe pain and affecting the fertility badly, some people term this as bad cramps but no period.

9. Cervical Stenosis

This is also a rare medical condition. This occurs when the cervical opening is too narrow and the blood cannot pass through this cervical opening. This results in irregular periods, severe menstrual cramps but no period, cramping in the uterus and menstrual cramps but no bleeding.

10. Endometriosis

In some cases, the tissue of the uterus lining can grow outside of the uterus, such as in the pelvis, on the ovaries, or on other abdominal cavities, it is termed as endometriosis. Usually, this cramping occurs 1-2 weeks before the period starts. The other symptoms are painful bowel movements and deep penetration during intercourse may be painful.

11. Ovarian Cancer

An ovarian cancer is a rare cause of cramps without periods. It is difficult to identify ovarian cancer since its symptoms are associated with some other diseases.

The symptoms include pain, abdominal swelling, urinary urgency, frequent urination, abdominal pressure, pelvic pain, cramping but no period, irregular periods or menstrual cycles, fullness and bloating.

Ovarian Cancer can be completely curable when you treat it from its early stages. If you notice anyone of the ovarian cancer symptoms, consult your gynecologist to recover from it completely.

12. An Inflammatory Bowel Disease or Crohn’s Disease

It is a medical condition in which the long-term swelling and irritation occur at different parts of the digestive tract. It causes cramps in the lower abdomen or middle parts of your abdomen. The cramps can be mild to severe.

It is accompanied with some other symptoms such as diarrhea, constipation, urinary urgency, fatigue, fever, blood in poop, weight loss and feeling that your bowels are not completely empty after you go.

Note: Inflammatory Bowel Disease differs from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Don’t confuse this illness with IBS.

13. Irritable Bowel Syndrome

This syndrome causes stomach pain, bloating, diarrhea or constipation. It causes sudden cramps in your stomach and the pain goes away after you poop.

The associated symptoms are abdominal pressure, menstrual cramps without bleeding, tiredness, gas, feeling sick stomach and spotting mucus in the poop.

14. Miscarriage

It is the loss of an unborn baby before the delivery. Usually, it occurs before the 20th week of pregnancy. The pain or cramps due to miscarriage are very severe.

Some of the associated symptoms are vaginal bleeding or spotting and constant cramping in the uterus. But not all vaginal bleeding leads to miscarriage. A doctor’s intervention is always advisable if you notice these symptoms.

15. Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

This is one of the bacterial infections that spreads by sex. Generally, it affects the parts of the body which help you conceive and grow a baby such as a womb, cervix, vagina and fallopian tubes. You may experience cramps on both sides of your lower abdomen and lower back. It can occur any time of the month.

The symptoms associated with the pelvic inflammatory disease are spotting, abnormal vaginal discharge, cramping in the uterus, cramps or pain in the abdomen, menstrual cramps but no period, burning sensation during intercourse and when passing urine, period like cramps, heavy and longer periods, fever, nausea, and vomiting. A doctor’s care is a must to treat this disease.

16. Appendicitis

The swelling and irritation of appendix at the end of your large intestine is called as appendicitis. Initially, it causes cramps around your belly button and spreads to the lower right side of your abdomen. Soon the cramps can be bad or severe. These cramps are different from menstrual cramps without a period.

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases states that appendicitis is the most common cause of abdominal pain resulting in surgery in the United States.

Most people feel sick in their stomach or throw up and experience cramps but no bleeding. A burst appendix can be life-threatening and treatment is a must to cure or remove it.

17. Pelvic-Floor Muscle Dysfunction

This condition causes severe cramps in the muscles that support your vagina, womb, bladder and rectum. The cramps may be sudden and severe and extend up to your lower belly, groin and back. Usually, it occurs after any accidents, injury or sudden shocks.

The associated symptoms are pain during your periods, pain during intercourse, problems when pushing out the stool and a burning sensation in the vagina, cramps but no period, urinary urgency and burning when you pee. A medical attention is needed to treat this disease.

Other Causes of Cramping But no Period

  • Obesity is also a cause for the cramping with no period. But not all obese people can experience this symptom.
  • Stress delay your menstrual cycle and lead to cramps but no period when the period would normally happen and abnormal mensural cycles.
  • Gas pain may be misunderstood as a period pain. Constipation also causes severe cramps without periods. These two problems look like period cramps but no period.
  • Some medications also result in abdominal or uterine cramps without periods and abnormal mensural cycles.
  • Sometimes food allergies, stomach flu, stomach ulcers, kidney stones may cause cramps. But these are not related to cramps without periods. If you experience menstrual cramps without bleeding or period cramps but no period, then it may due to these minor illness.

In a nutshell,

Have you ever experienced cramps but no period? Abdominal cramping is the most common among women and most cramps do not need any treatment.

The common cause of cramps can be either menstrual cramps or a symptom of early pregnancy. However, sometimes if you get uterine cramps without a period, can be a sign of something more serious illness as listed above.

If you experience cramping but no period, consult with your doctor for a proper evaluation and complete treatment.

About the author

Tracy Silberman

Tracy Silberman specializes in women’s health and infertility issues. She edits AskMyHealth’s pregnancy and parenting articles. She’s dedicated to helping patients understand how to better manage their disease states not only with medication but also by incorporating better nutrition into their lifestyle. She has presented at local, national, and international healthcare conferences. she joined AskMyHealth in 2016 and previously worked in editorial for the women’s health app. In her free time, She enjoys time in Napa Valley with her family.

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