Cramps but no period

Why do I have cramps but no period?

Cramping around the time of your cycle is very common, but what’s happening when you have cramps — but no period?

“The reason for cramping could be a normal part of your menstrual cycle or could be a sign of a more serious underlying health issue,” said Pamela M. Hill, M.D., OB/GYN with Norton Women’s Care. “Be sure to inform your provider if you experience what feels like period pain — but isn’t.”

Here are several common reasons for what causes cramps but no period.

Normal ovulation pain

If you feel period cramps, have no period and you’re only midway through your cycle, it could be normal ovulation pain. The pain, known as “mittelschmerz” is caused by the ovary that is releasing the egg. It can be dull or sharp, is felt on one side of the lower abdomen and can last minutes, hours or up to a couple of days. The pain usually appears around 14 days after starting your period and it goes away without treatment.

Ovarian cyst

Many ovarian cysts do not cause symptoms, but sometimes they can cause pelvic pain. This type of period-like pain could be from a cyst that has grown or a cyst that has ruptured. A ruptured ovarian cyst can cause sudden, sharp pain on one side of the lower abdomen. Other cysts may cause a dull pain or a feeling of pressure.

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This chronic condition causes endometrial tissue to grow outside of the uterus and can cause pain that feels like period cramps. The pain can appear intermittently or last throughout the month. These types of cramps may be felt in the pelvic area and often appear in the lower back as well.


If you think you’re having period cramps with no period and your cycle is late — take a pregnancy test. Early symptoms of pregnancy can mimic premenstrual symptoms, and the process of implantation, where the embryo attaches to the uterus, also can feel like period cramps. These cramps tend to be minor and may appear around the time you expect to start your period.


A miscarriage can feel like period cramps at first, and then the cramping becomes more severe. Cramps can appear with spotting or bleeding. If you are pregnant and experience these symptoms, you should contact your provider. If you are experiencing heavy bleeding or passing large clots, visit an emergency room.

Ectopic pregnancy

An ectopic pregnancy, in which the embryo implants outside the uterus, is a health emergency. It results in miscarriage, and if left untreated it can be fatal to the mother. These

cramps are felt in the pelvic region and can range from mild to severe. If severe cramps are accompanied with vaginal bleeding, lightheadedness or fainting, seek emergency treatment.

Digestive issues

Pain that resembles period cramps may not have anything to do with your pelvic health. It could be a sign of digestive conditions. Lower abdominal pain can be attributed to constipation or other gastrointestinal conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease.

When pelvic pain is an emergency

Pay attention to your body. If your pelvic pain becomes excruciating and is accompanied with a fever or nausea, contact your provider or seek treatment at an emergency department. It could be a sign of an infection or health emergency.

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