As a woman, you may experience stomach and abdominal pain at different times in your life. Menstrual cramps are normal, but what about cramps in early pregnancy? How can you tell the difference?
Although menstrual cramps and early pregnancy may look similar in some cases and you can easily confuse one with the other, they are not actually the same thing.
What are menstrual cramps?
Menstrual cramps, also known as dysmenorrhea, are a common occurrence for many women during menstruation.
It is caused by uterine contractions that are triggered by hormone-like substances called prostaglandins. Contractions help the uterus to shed its lining.
Although not all women experience abdominal pain during menstruation, those who do often experience severe pain or sharp pain in the lower abdomen, lower back, or thighs. These pains can be accompanied by other symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, and mood swings.
What is early pregnancy cramps?
Early pregnancy cramps, on the other hand, are caused by the implantation of a fertilized egg into the lining of the uterus. This occurs about six to twelve days after conception and can cause mild to moderate cramping, similar to menstrual cramps.
However, unlike menstrual cramps, early pregnancy cramps are not caused by uterine contractions. Instead, it is caused by the stretching and expansion of the uterus and the ligaments that support it as the embryo grows.
How to distinguish between menstrual cramps and early pregnancy cramps.
Pregnancy duration is the biggest difference between menstrual cramps and early pregnancy cramps. Menstrual cramps usually occur before and during menstruation, while early pregnancy occurs after pregnancy and implantation.
Abdominal timing can also help distinguish between the two. Menstrual cramps usually last a few days, while early pregnancy can last for weeks or even months.
The severity of the stomach can also vary. Menstrual cramps can range from mild to severe, while abdominal cramps in early pregnancy are usually mild to moderate. If you are experiencing severe pain, it may be a sign of a more serious problem and should be examined by a medical professional.
Although both types of constipation can be accompanied by other symptoms, the type and severity of symptoms can vary. Menstrual headaches can be accompanied by headaches, fatigue, and mood swings, while early pregnancy cramps can be accompanied by nausea, breast pain, and vision.
What to do when you experience menstrual cramps or early pregnancy.
If you are experiencing stomach or abdominal pain and are not sure whether it is period pain or early pregnancy, it is important to take steps to reduce your discomfort.
For menstrual cramps, pain relievers such as ibuprofen can help ease the pain. Applying heat to the affected area or taking a warm bath can also help reduce discomfort. If your stomach is severe or is interfering with your daily life, it’s best to talk to a health care provider to rule out any underlying conditions.
With early colic pain, it’s important to take care of yourself and your growing baby. Resting, staying hydrated, and avoiding strenuous activity can help reduce discomfort. If you experience severe pain, spotting, or bleeding, it is important to contact your healthcare provider immediately.