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Cause of cramping before periods
Cramps prior to your period can be very torturous. I know many women who love the fact that they are women, except on those days of the month. I strongly believe that it is the cramping that makes the period more dreadful than it really is. To all you women who have cramps prior to periods, I know what you go through. You are not alone. So let's try to understand this phenomenon.

Why do You Get Cramps Prior to a Period?

Well, the body basically releases a whole lot of menstrual fluid from the body. This causes added stress in the abdominal, and back muscles. This causes them to cramp up. More so, this pain often spreads to the thighs as well, which is also the effect of cramping up of the muscles. The actual culprit is a chemical, prostaglandin, which is released by the body to help contract the uterine muscles to shed the uterine lining. In some women, the level of prostaglandins is higher, thereby resulting in severe menstrual cramps.
Experiencing Cramps But No Sign of Periods?

If you fit the above situation, there is a chance that you may be pregnant. So, if you have had intercourse at any point of time during your cycle (even your safe dates), it is best you take a pregnancy test. If you are going for the home pregnancy tests, then take about 3, as they are not always reliable. If you don't have an active sex life, then the best bet would be to go to a gynecologist and get yourself checked. Missing a period, but getting cramps anyway is not normal. It could be a sign that you have health complications. The best bet is to get examined at the earliest.
Is Cramping before Periods Related to Pregnancy?

Yes. Although, cramping cannot be considered as a sure shot sign of pregnancy, many women who conceive report cramping just a few days before their impending period. The reason for this could be implantation. As the fertilized egg burrows into your uterus, where it begins its development, you experience period-like cramps.

However, wait till your due date before you come to any conclusion. If you get your period, then there is a possibility that you are not pregnant. If the delay goes beyond five days, you need to get a pregnancy test done. However, it is best that you get a pregnancy test done right away.
Or Could the Reason be ...

Birth Control Pills?
So, is there a link between birth control pills and experiencing cramps? Well, yes and no. If you are on the pill, you are putting a tad more stress on your body anyway. As such, how your body reacts to the added stress cannot be guaranteed. Studies reveal that many people have normal cramps before a period begins, when on birth control pills. According to some studies, women have said that since the time they started with birth control pills, their cramps seem to have "disappeared". Some women, like you heard, experience really bad cramps before a period begins. So, it cannot be deciphered definitely. However, it is best to be ready for the worst; so all surprises will be pleasant, right?

Endometriosis?
During a normal cycle, endometrial cells lining the uterus get thicker/swell, and fall off when your periods commence. If endometrial cells grow outside the uterus in other areas (bowel, uterus, rectum, bladder and rectal lining), then this condition is called endometriosis. These tissue implants or cells that grow outside the uterus stay there and grow again when you get your succeeding period. During this condition, it is noted that cramping (as one of the symptoms) is experienced a week or two before menstruation. So, ideally get yourself examined by a gynecologist to know whether you suffer from this condition.

Mittelschmerz?
Also called middle pains, abdominal cramping due to this condition occurs before, during and after the process of ovulation. Occurring in 20% of the women, the pain/cramping may be due to stretching of the ovary during ovulation or due to release of fluid from an egg (as per research).

Uterine Fibroids?
Fibroids are benign growths that occur within the womb. Although the cause of this growth is unknown, studies reveal the cause behind it to be the hormone, estrogen. Fibroids are very tiny and going by their size, it is even more tough to diagnose them in overweight women. Menstrual cramps are one of the symptoms of this non-cancerous growth occurrence, and hence it is best to go visit your health care provider if you have a doubt.
In conclusion, I'd like to leave on a positive note; draw comfort from the fact that the intensity of the cramps reduce with age, and almost vanish after pregnancy.

Disclaimer: This article is intended for information purpose only. Do not use the information presented herein as a substitute for medical practitioner's advice.