Cramps often arise before or during your period, and this symptom is absolutely normal. It occurs when hormone-like compounds called prostaglandins contract the uterus muscles to eject the unfertilized egg and the uterus lining. However, some women may wonder, “Why am I having cramps but no period?” It can certainly be unsettling to experience period-like symptoms like cramps, but no period to follow.
If you are experiencing cramping in your lower abdominal region, it usually indicates an underlying health issue. This is especially true if the timing coincides with your expected period, but you have no spotting or flow of blood.
Cramping but no period can happen at anytime with a range of mild to life-threatening health conditions. It is important to note any accompanying symptoms to determine the severity of the situation.
We will investigate common causes and helpful home remedies for cramping but no period episodes.
When distressed from an injury or illness, our muscles will tighten, giving a cramping sensation of short, uncomfortable twinges or sudden excruciating thrusts of pain.
Muscle cramps in the uterus cause a force against its wall lining. The body gives these signals shortly before or during the monthly menstruation cycle.
Other symptoms may signal a pregnancy, cysts, constipation, or even cancer.
In This Article:
Why Do I Have Cramps but No Period?
Although many women can distinguish between their menstrual cycle and other cramping conditions, there are times when symptoms do not match up and it becomes necessary to probe further.
If you are having abdominal cramping but no period follows, read on to discover what may be the cause.
Essentially, the growing embryo has attached to your uterine lining. This is what is called “implantation pain.” As a result, you will experience slight cramping for about four weeks into the pregnancy, which is around the time your period is scheduled to happen.
A woman will continue to have cramping throughout the pregnancy as the uterus grows along with the embryo.
Despite all of the internal changes your body experiences at the early stage of pregnancy, strangely enough, there are not too many other symptoms to look for. You may have slight cramping around the time you are expecting your period, about the four-week mark, and tenderness of the breasts.
The morning sickness many women experience usually hits about five to six weeks into the pregnancy.
2. Late Period
A late period is one of the most common causes of cramps but no period onset. This pain stems from the ovulation, or releasing of eggs, 14 days before your period start date. Whether your periods are like clockwork or sporadic, cramping from a late period can cause concern for some women.
Menopause is the normal process during which a woman’s menstrual cycle and fertility comes to an end. It typically occurs around age 50, though many women experience menopause between ages 40 and 58. However, some women may experience symptoms like cramping for months or years after menopause begins.
The phase leading up to menopause is called pre-menopause. At this time, the menstrual cycle begins to change, and the ovaries do not ovulate on a regular basis. This is because there is a reduction in ovarian hormone production, including progesterone, as well as other hormones like estrogen and testosterone.
An estimated 75% of menopausal women suffer from hot flashes for about two years, and 25% have them for five years or more. Other menopausal symptoms include:
- Night sweats
- Heart palpitations
- Vaginal dryness
- Weight gain
- Sleep problems
- Loss of breast fullness
- Dry skin and hair thinning
- Mood swings
There may also be irregular periods, periods occurring closer together, shorter periods, and periods longer or heavier than normal. It is also common for symptoms to be different for every woman.
4. Ovarian Cyst
Another cause of cramps but no period is an ovarian cyst—a sac of fluid on your ovaries. Most ovarian cysts are harmless, but if they grow, they can burst. As a result, a ruptured cyst may cause sudden, sharp cramps on both sides of the lower stomach, and the location will depend on what ovary has the cyst.
The presence of the cyst tends not to cause discomfort or pain until it dissolves on its own as a rupture. At this point, you may have mild pain or sharp stabs of pain that are temporary.
Some women report a sensation of pressure in the lower abdomen or back.
5. Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are the two main forms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Ulcerative colitis involves the colon, whereas Crohn’s disease affects the entire digestive tract.
IBD is characterized as recurrent inflammation, irritation, and swelling in specific intestinal segments of your digestive tract. It results from immune dysfunction due to food allergies, high omega-6 intake, infections, and antibiotic exposure.
Mild to severe cramps can be felt on the lower right mid-section of the belly during Crohn’s disease; however, with ulcerative colitis, the cramps are experienced on the lower left side of the stomach only.
There are varying symptoms associated with each type of this condition.
The distinct difference is the location as Crohn’s presents in the lower right section of your abdomen, while ulcerative colitis produces cramps on the left side. Common symptoms of both include diarrhea, constipation, weight loss, fatigue, fever, and possible blood in your stool.
6. Ovarian Cancer
Ovarian cancer can occur in various parts of the ovary. The American Cancer Society estimates that 22,240 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the U.S. in 2018, and as a result, there will be about 14,070 deaths from ovarian cancer.
The cramps associated with ovarian cancer may go unnoticed, and you may mistake the pain for gas or constipation. However, the pressure and pain on your lower belly or abdomen is consistent, and simply will not go away.
Since the cramping associated with ovarian cancer can sometimes be linked to other health conditions, the major indictor is a pain and heavy pressure feeling that does not dissipate over time. Your stomach may become swollen and you may find yourself eating less, even without a loss of appetite.
As ovarian cancer progresses, symptoms become more noticeable. Other common ovarian cancer symptoms include pelvic pain, frequent bloating, frequent urge to urinate, indigestion, constipation, lower back pain, fatigue, weight gain, weight loss, and vaginal bleeding.
7. Eating Disorder
Cramping without a period can also result from an eating disorder like bulimia or anorexia. This is because a woman with an eating disorder can experience irregular periods, or may even stop having periods altogether. As a result, there will be cramping instead of a period.
Those with anorexia may even refuse food or eat just enough to keep their body functioning. Bulimics, on the other hand, will binge on a lot of food and then purge to maintain their body weight.
It’s important to note that some gastrointestinal disorders can decrease your appetite and cause weight loss due to cramping and abdominal pain after eating.
In bulimia, symptoms also include erosion of tooth enamel, a chronic sore throat, and digestive problems. In anorexia, symptoms also include fatigue, weakness, fear of being fat, dizziness, mood swings, hair loss, and cold or tingling extremities.
Chronic thinness, the absence of at lest three consecutive periods, a slow heart rate, and malnourishment are other key symptoms of both anorexia and bulimia.
If you still have your ovaries and haven’t gone through menopause, then cramping about 10 to 14 days before your period may occur. This is what is known as ovulation, which happens when a mature egg gets released from the ovary to help get the body ready for a possible pregnancy.
The term for cramping during ovulation is called “mittelschmerz,” which means “middle pain” in German. You may notice one-sided abdominal pain that lasts between a few minutes to a few hours.
The cramping can be sudden and sharp, or it may be dull. The side of the cramping will depend on what ovary had released the egg. As a result, the cramping may occur on the same side or switch sides each month.
Other symptoms of ovulation include mild bleeding, vaginal discharge, cervical mucus changes, a heightened sense of smell, breast tenderness, increased sex drive, nausea, and mild pelvic pain.
During ovulation, the cervix may also become softer, higher, and more open.
9. Ectopic Pregnancy
In an ectopic pregnancy, your fertilized egg attaches and grows somewhere other than in the uterus, and most often in one of the fallopian tubes. This is also a scenario in which you may experience mild cramps along with sudden, sharp, stabbing pain in one side of the lower belly.
The pain may be so severe that it also reaches your lower back and shoulder.
It is a life-threatening condition for the mother, and unfortunately it will not lead to the baby being born.
Before the cramping, you may experience typical pregnancy signs like sore breasts and nausea; however, this is not the case with all women with ectopic pregnancy. Some women may not even know they are pregnant.
Other ectopic pregnancy symptoms include dizziness, weakness, fainting, vaginal bleeding, and other gastrointestinal symptoms.
10. Autoimmune Oophoritis
Autoimmune oophoritis is a rare cause of primary ovarian insufficiency that happens when the immune system mistakenly attacks the ovaries and stops them from working normally.
As a result, the ovaries will harden and shrink, which lowers hormone levels in the body and causes infertility, as well as abdominal cramping.
In some cases, autoimmune oophoritis does not present symptoms. Other times, symptoms will include irregular or absent menstrual periods; bleeding or pain during sex; heavy vaginal discharge; burning or pain during urination; difficulty urinating; and symptoms associated with ovarian cysts like nausea, vomiting, and bloating.
Autoimmune oophoritis is also associated with myasthenia gravis, lupus, pernicious anemia, and other autoimmune conditions.
11. Cervix Stenosis
Severe and painful cramps without a period can also indicate stenosis of the uterine cervix, especially if you have had surgery on the cervix.
In cervical stenosis, the cervix narrows to where normal menstrual bleeding has been obstructed. In some cases, regular periods may have less bleeding and painful cramping.
For some women, especially menopausal women, cervical stenosis may have no or very few symptoms. That being said, cervical stenosis symptoms may include no periods, irregular periods and abnormal bleeding, painful periods, and infertility if stenosis completely blocks the path of sperm to the uterus. There may also be bulging in the pelvic area or chronic pelvic pain.
Endometriosis is a chronic condition where cells from the uterus lining (endometrium) appear and flourish outside the uterine cavity, and most often on the ovaries.
Cramping will seem similar to regular period cramps; however, they occur at any time of the month. Painful cramps will occur in the pelvic area, lower abdomen, and in the lower back.
Other symptoms associated with endometriosis include painful sex, painful periods, painful bowel movements or urination, excessive bleeding, fatigue, bloating, nausea, constipation, and diarrhea.
Endometriosis can also make it difficult to get pregnant. Menstrual pain is also far worse than normal, and the pain will also worsen over time.
13. Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is a bacterial infection that affects the reproductive organs and is often transmitted through sex. The condition frequently affects the uterus lining, cervix, ovaries, fallopian tube, and vagina.
Intense cramping associated with PID is felt on both sides of the ovaries around the lower abdomen or pelvis, while it can occur throughout the month.
Symptoms related to PID include vaginal discharge with an odor, painful urination, a high fever, painful sex, nausea, and vomiting. Periods may also be longer or heavier than normal.
If pelvic inflammatory disease is detected early enough, the condition can be treated with antibiotics. If symptoms are left untreated, PID could possibly leave you sterile and with other long-term health issues.
14. Pelvic-Floor Muscle Dysfunction
Pelvic-floor muscle dysfunction is characterized by severe spasms in the muscles that support the uterus, vagina, bladder, and rectum. The condition often happens after an injury during childbirth or another trauma like surgery or a car accident.
Cramps associated with pelvic-floor muscle dysfunction include sudden leg cramps and lower abdominal cramps. Pain may also be felt in the lower back and groin.
Other symptoms of pelvic-floor muscle dysfunction include vaginal burning, difficulty with urination, painful sex, burning during urination, painful menstrual periods, and constipation and problems with bowel movements.
There may also be recurrent bladder infection symptoms like frequent urination and a strong urge to urinate. Furthermore, the person may develop other pain conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, endometriosis, interstitial cystitis, vulvodynia, and fibromyalgia.
15. Interstitial Cystitis
Interstitial cystitis is a long-term bladder condition that is sometimes called painful bladder syndrome. The condition may cause lower stomach, genital, abdominal, or pelvic pain, and cramping due to menstrual periods.
The cramping often increases during periods and when the bladder is full. The pain is also linked with tenderness.
Other symptoms associated with interstitial cystitis include increased urinary frequency and urgency day and night, waking up to urinate at night, painful sex, and burning pain from urination.
Symptoms may vary each day, and periods may be experienced when you are free of symptoms. Also, your symptoms may worsen if a urinary tract infection develops.
Appendicitis is swelling and irritation of the appendix, which is located at the end of your large intestine. Cramping is a common symptom associated with appendicitis that is noticed around your belly button first, before the pain worsens and moves to lower right side of the stomach or the back.
The cramps quickly become so painful that they may even wake you up at night. The cramping may even hurt you if you suddenly move, sneeze, or cough. The cramping might also become more severe and steady over time.
Besides abdominal or belly button pain, other symptoms of appendicitis include nausea, vomiting, appetite loss, constipation, diarrhea, abdominal swelling, low-grade fever, an inability to pass gas, and a sense that you may feel better from passing a stool.
The condition can also sometimes affect urination. Avoid taking laxatives or having an enema if you suspect that appendicitis is a problem. Also, keep in mind that a burst appendix can be a life-threatening medical emergency.
Cramps with no Period and White Discharge
Cramping with no period and white discharge can also be a problem. Cramping with a white discharge may simply indicate an infection in your reproductive organs like the ovaries.
A white discharge can indicate pregnancy if you had unprotected sex during ovulation—a period of fertility during menstruation.
White discharge is considered common when estrogen levels have increased during ovulation. After ovulation, progesterone increases and estrogen decreases, which prepares the uterus for pregnancy.
If there is no pregnancy, progesterone is reduced, and menstruation begins. If pregnancy does begin, both progesterone and estrogen will increase to support a developing fetus. The rapid estrogen increase will lead to a milky white discharge—an early sign of pregnancy.
A white discharge can sometimes indicate pelvic pain. At this time, a pregnancy test is a good idea to confirm your pregnancy. If you are not pregnant, this is when you should be tested for sexually transmitted diseases.
Tips to Relieve Discomfort
There are home treatments to help alleviate the pain, pressure, or discomfort at the first signs of cramping but no period, or when you are not expecting your period at all.
- Lie down to rest quietly.
- Use a heating pad or hot water bottle on the location of the cramping.
- Take a warm bath to relax the muscles.
- Go for a relaxing walk.
- Gently rub your abdomen.
- Drink herbal tea or arm water with lemon.
Any pain or discomfort of cramping with no period starting within two weeks should be checked out by a medical professional to rule out any of the underlying health conditions we touched on.
Whether you have cramps but no period is expected to start or your period seems delayed, you may want to mentally note any accompanying symptoms.
A wide range of health conditions may be present with mild to severe cramping, depending on the underlying cause.
Cramps associated with slightly concerning issues will usually subside after several days. During this time, there are home remedies to help lessen or eliminate the pain. If your condition worsens or does not improve within two weeks, you may want to talk to your gynecologist or family physician.
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