Northwestern Women’s Health Associates, S.C
680 N. Lake Shore Drive #1200, Chicago, 60611 | Get Directions

Chicago women’s health practice shares 10 ways to relieve menstrual cramps

Do you experience menstrual discomfort, especially before or during the first few days of your period? You certainly are not alone. About 80 percent of women suffer from symptoms of dysmenorrhea at some point between puberty and menopause. The condition can be debilitating and chronic. The compassionate professionals at Northwestern Women’s Health Associates S.C. in Chicago share these 10 ways to relieve menstrual cramps, to help you enjoy greater comfort every day of the month.

10 Ways to Relieve Menstrual Cramps in Chicago area

Tip number 1 – Understand what is causing your pain

The first step to finding relief from menstrual pain is to know what is going on inside your body. In younger women, this is usually “primary dysmenorrhea.” Cramping is caused by strong muscles of the uterus involuntarily contracting to slough off its lining. While this process is a necessary part of the reproductive cycle, it also (temporarily) decreases blood supply to the womb. The resulting discomfort can extend to muscles in the thighs or cause lower back pain. Other symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, sweating, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea sometimes accompany cramps.

Secondary dysmenorrhea usually begins in a woman’s mid-20s or later. Cramps may occur up to one to two weeks before the menses, as the menstrual flow becomes heavier and periods more prolonged. This type of cramping can make intimate relations painful. It may start right back up after giving birth to a child. Secondary dysmenorrhea can be worse as women enter their 30’s and 40’s.

Tip number 2 – Rule out medical problems

While it is not uncommon for young women to have occasional menstrual cramps, it is never wrong to talk with a gynecologist about symptoms – especially if they occur every month or are severe enough to disrupt normal activities.

Following the evaluation of your symptoms and a pelvic examination, the doctor may suggest further tests to be sure discomfort is not caused by another medical condition. Ultrasound gives the doctor a look at the cervix, fallopian tubes, ovaries, and uterus. A CT or MRI scan provides a cross-sectional view of bones and other internal structures. Laparoscopy, a minimally invasive exploratory procedure, can identify adhesions, ectopic pregnancy, endometriosis, fibroids, or ovarian cysts.

Call : 312-440-9400 OR Request an Appointment

This information helps the doctor design a treatment plan that gets you relief from symptoms and preserves your reproductive health.

Tip number 3 – Manage symptoms medically

In many cases, milder menstrual cramps can be treated with over the counter ibuprofen or naproxen sodium, or prescription nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications. This course of treatment is most effective when you begin taking the medication preemptively – the day before you expect your period to start – and continue it through the first few days of menstruation.

For some women, hormonal birth control significantly reduces the severity of menstrual cramps. If you are not actively trying to start a family, your gynecologist will talk with you about the best delivery mode for your lifestyle – a vaginal ring, IUD (intrauterine device),skin patch, injection, or pills.

If medical analysis described in tip number 2 shows the presence of fibroids or endometriosis, surgery could be indicated to correct the underlying problem causing your cramps. This can usually be accomplished with a minimally invasive procedure. As a last resort, hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) may be recommended.

Tips 4 through 10 – Practice self-care

Tips 4 through 10 Practice self-care in Chicago area

Today, most women lead busy, challenging lives. Because menstrual cramps can be worsened by emotional stress, a little self-indulgence can go a long way toward finding relief:

  • Take up yoga, meditation, or another relaxation technique.
  • Schedule a massage the day before or the first day of your period.
  • Try to get some exercise each day, including when you have cramps. (Sexual activity is a form of exercise, and it eases menstrual discomfort for some women.)
  • Take a warm aromatherapy bath or apply a heating pad or heat patch to your lower abdomen when you have cramps.
  • Consider acupressure or acupuncture from a reputable therapy center.
  • Reduce alcohol consumption, chocolate, sugary foods, and salt. Smoking can also worsen period pain by inhibiting oxygen supply to the pelvic area.
  • A natural supplement such as vitamin B6, vitamin E, evening primrose oil, or starflower oil can help to keep hormones balanced. However, please be sure to inform your gynecologist of any supplements you take.

Chicago women learn more than 10 ways to relieve menstrual cramps when they become patients of Northwestern Women’s Health Associates S.C. Call 312-440-9400 if you would like to become one of them.


Back To Blog Page



women’s healthcare, our team of experts is dedicated to providing every woman highest level of sensitive, specialized care

At Northwestern Women's Health Associates

your unique needs are our highest priority.

Making use of advanced technology and staying on the cutting edge of women’s healthcare, our team of experts is dedicated to providing every woman who visits our office with the highest level of sensitive, specialized care. At our office in Chicago, you can receive exceptional obstetrics and gynecology (OBGYN) services from any one of our highly skilled doctors, including Stanley Friedell, MD; Abbie Roth, MD; Regina Belmonte, MD; Sharon Wise, MD; Julianne Morton, MD; Whitney Dunn, MD; Aleena Lakhanpal, MD ; and Margaret Kistner, MD. With their combined expertise, this team of board-certified doctors at Northwestern Women's Health Associates makes it possible for you to receive efficient, personalized care from the preeminent women’s hospital in the Midwest.

Success Stories

  • 5 Star Review
    "Wonderful experience with Dr. Julianne Morton @ NW Women's Associates. I've recommended her to countless girlfriends. Being a first time mom, I went through many physical symptoms and emotions that accompany pregnancy. She is extremely thorough, patient, and has wonderful bedside manner. I felt confident going into delivery with Dr. Morton taking the lead with my delivery. Wonderful practice!"

    VIA Google
  • 5 Star Review
    "Dr. Morton is absolutely amazing. She cared for me throughout my first pregnancy and we found her to be kind and caring and straightforward - could not have asked for a better experience! Dr. Dunn ended up being on call during my delivery and she was great as well. I have always found the nurses and office staff to be friendly and on top of things - very happy with the practice!"

    VIA Google
  • 5 Star Review
    "I had to have a laproscopic hysterectomy done by Dr. Friedell and all went fabulously! They were very detailed in pre-op which made a lot of difference. I came out of surgery feeling great and post op I was back to work within two weeks. Everyone at the practice, at the hospital, at pre-op were incredible."

    VIA Google
  • 5 Star Review
    "Dr.Julianne Morton is amazing! I was recommended by a friend when I moved to the Chicago area and was looking for an OB-GYN. I have seen her for two years in Chicago for my yearly exam. She is beyond kind and great at what she does. Dr.Morton makes you feel very comfortable and is such an incredible doctor! I have recommended her to all of my friends as well who need a new gyno/OB-GYN."

    VIA Google
  • 5 Star Review
    "Dr. Morton is a really great doctor. She has an incredible bedside manner and makes you feel comfortable. She makes sure to ask if you have any questions and will happily answer all of them with you. Would highly recommend!"

    VIA Google
  • 5 Star Review
    "Dr. Friedell is amazing! He helped delivered my first baby and the whole process was super smooth and stress free. All the staff in the office are super friendly too. Highly recommend!"

    VIA Google
  • 5 Star Review
    "Dr Freidell is extremely knowledgeable, thorough and really cares about his patients. He is very good at getting to the root of the problem, especially with overlapping symptoms. He guided me through all my options and their implications. I will highly recommend him and his team."

    VIA Google
  • 5 Star Review
    "I love Dr. Belmonte. I have been going to her since 2006! She rocks!!! She is straight to the point, I love that about her. When I leave her office after seeing her I always feel great, like a just left a good friends house or something!"
    VIA Google
  • 5 Star Review

    "I can not tell you how wonderful my experiences have been. Dr. Sharon Wise is my doctor and she is fantastic. She is straightforward and honest about treatments and procedures. I enjoy her sense of humor, and I found her bedside manner when delivering my son to be excellent. "

    VIA Google