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What Are the Causes of Menstrual Like Cramps in the Stomach?

author image Martina McAtee
Based in Florida, Martina McAtee has been writing health and fitness articles since 2003. She attended Keiser University, graduating with an Associate of Science in nursing. McAtee is currently working toward a master's degree in nursing from Florida Atlantic University.
What Are the Causes of Menstrual Like Cramps in the Stomach?
Woman suffering from cramps. Photo Credit Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images


In Dr. Susan Lark's book, "The Menopause Self Help Book," she states that 30 to 50 percent of women experience menstrual cramps, with the highest incidence occurring in younger women. When women begin experiencing lower abdominal pain outside of their periods, they often begin to panic. There are a number of reasons a woman may experience these abnormal cramps, however.


The Better Health Channel explains that this ovulation pain is often referred to as mid-cycle pain or mittelschmerz (German for middle pain). This cramping is normal and experienced by one in five women. Ovarian pain usually occurs two weeks before your next period and can be felt on either the right or left side just inside the hip bone. The pain can last from a few minutes to a few days. There are various theories on what may cause this mysterious ovulation pain. The pain could be caused by the follicle bursting from the ovary that causes the twinges or cramping, or it might be due to the expanding follicle stretching the ovary.

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Ovarian Cysts

There are many types of ovarian cysts. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the most common types of ovarian cysts are follicle cysts and corpus luteum cysts. Follicle cysts may occur when the sac does not break open prior to ovulation. When this occurs the sac keeps growing. This type of cyst will usually disappear on its own within one to three months. The corpus luteum cyst forms when the sac fails to dissolve after releasing an egg. Instead, it seals off and begins to collect fluid. Though seldom cancerous, these cysts can grow quite large and cause pain. Fertility medications can increase the risk of this type of cyst. Symptoms of ovarian cysts can include pelvic pain, pain during sex, weight gain, nausea, abdominal bloating, a dull ache in the lower back and thighs and breast tenderness.

Uterine Fibroids

The Mayo Clinic defines uterine fibroids as noncancerous growths of the uterus that appear during childbearing years. As many as three out of five women have uterine fibroids. Many uterine fibroids are never discovered because they often have no symptoms. When they are discovered, it is often by accident, as physicians are performing a routine exam. They rarely require treatment. When symptoms are present they can include heavy abdominal bleeding, pelvic pressure or pain, prolonged menstrual periods and back or leg pain.

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