Cramps before or during periods is actually a very common PMS symptom that is experienced by anywhere from 16-91% of menstruators. But, sometimes it can so be that you experience these cramps after your periods have ended and this can happen due to a variety of reasons.
If you get painful cramps post-period, you may be suffering from secondary dysmenorrhea, which is fairly common among adults. Cramps that go away in some time are usually not anything serious, but they can indicate underlying conditions.
What does it feel like when you get menstrual cramps after your period?
Usually, cramping is experienced in the lower abdomen and the back region, sometimes extending to the hips and the thighs with some people. You may also experience symptoms like abdominal bloating, gastrointestinal issues and some others.
Sometimes, the pain you experience may continue for a longer duration than normal cramps and may begin quite earlier in your cycle than just before your period.
What are the probable causes of such cramps?
The cramps can happen due to multiple reasons which can include:
- Pregnancy - As the fertilized egg gets implanted in your uterus, your body undergoes hormonal changes that cause mild abdominal cramping, which is temporary. You may also notice some dark red or brown spotting which is known as implantation bleeding and this usually occurs around the time your next period would be due. Take a home pregnancy test if you miss your period to confirm whether you are pregnant or not.
- Endometriosis - Sometimes, the tissue that usually lines the inside wall of the uterus starts growing outside in any of the areas like the lower abdomen, fallopian tubes, etc. This gives rise to endometriosis, which can cause painful cramping even after your period is over, along with other symptoms like heavy bleeding, pain during sex, difficulty conceiving, nausea, etc. Even though it usually has no cure, it can be treated to get relief from the symptoms.
- Ovarian cysts - Sometimes, cysts form inside the ovary resulting in bleeding and cramping even after your period has ended. Most of the cysts tend to disappear on their own, but larger ones need to be cured with medication and surgery and tend to cause pelvic pain, bloating, fever or vomiting, etc.
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) - PID is usually caused by a bacterial infection that affects the reproductive organs like the uterus, ovaries or fallopian tubes. More often than not, PID arises from untreated STIs like chlamydia, gonorrhoea, etc and can result in pain in the lower abdomen that can feel like cramps, fever, bleeding, painful urination, etc. It is a serious disease that requires immediate medical attention to avoid long-term complications like infertility or ectopic pregnancy.
- Cervical stenosis - The cervix has an opening to pass menstrual blood from within and allow the entry of sperm inside. But sometimes, due to a surgical complication or some other reason, the entry may become almost blocked and hinder the flow of menstrual blood, causing painful pressure in the uterus that can feel like cramps.
- Adenomyosis - In adenomyosis, the uterine tissue grows in the muscular wall of the uterus instead of the uterine lining. This leads to severe cramps, heavy bleeding, blood clots with periods, etc.
- Uterine fibroids - Sometimes, benign growths may form inside the uterus, causing uterine fibroids and this can sometimes lead to irregular bleeding, heavy cramping, infertility, etc in some cases. Most of the time, however, there are no symptoms and in these cases, the fibroids are usually nothing to worry about.
- Ectopic pregnancy - In a few cases, the fertilized egg attaches itself somewhere outside the uterus, leading to an abnormal pregnancy that results in severe cramping, heavy bleeding, dizziness, etc. It is a medical emergency and needs to be treated immediately either by medication or surgery.
- Ovulation cramps (mittelschmerz) - Mittelschmerz is the medical term for cramping on one side of the abdomen that sometimes results from ovulation. It can resolve quickly or last up to 2 days and is usually a dull, cramp-like sensation that can sometimes come on suddenly and sharply. You may also experience light vaginal bleeding or discharge along with cramps.
Uterine incapacity - Often, you may encounter bleeding even after your period has ended and this arises when an amount of blood still remains inside the uterus. In this case, the uterus will contract to release this old blood and you may experience cramping and spotting that is blown or black in colour, which usually resolves within a few days.
What can you do about it?
You can try some home remedies to get some relief from cramps:
- Try cramp relief patches like the Carmesi Cramp Relief Patch to get instant pain relief.
- Maintain a healthy diet and make sure to drink lots of water.
- You can try some natural remedies that help with cramps and get some relief from the pain.
- Manage your PMS cravings by reducing the intake of salty food, junk food and other unhealthy foods, especially during your periods.
- Get regular exercise to reduce cramping.
There are plenty of yoga poses that help reduce painful cramps.
Should you see a doctor?
Usually, the cramps will go away on their own in a few days, but if they don’t and you notice other symptoms along with cramps, you can see a doctor and get a proper diagnosis.