Health & Wellness

Q&A: What exactly does a cramp feel like? I have had two periods, and my stomach sometimes hurts a little, but I also just have a delicate stomach. Am I having cramps, or is it just too many M&Ms?

Cramps can feel like an aching or a tightening, usually in the lower abdomen, upper thighs, or lower back that seem to come and go. Some girls don’t get many cramps, or might not get them with every period, especially when they first start having periods. Some girls also have stomach upset, including nausea and diarrhea. So, it depends on where your stomach is upset. If it is closer to your ribs, it is probably more your sensitive stomach. If your symptoms are in your lower abdomen, you are probably having some cramps.

Great question! Cramps can feel like anything from a slight tugging sensation to a sharp stabbing pain. You may not feel them at all or, as you expected, you may be confusing them with something else. The day before my daughter started her period, she was doubled over with a “stomachache,” and felt like vomiting; we thought she had the stomach flu. Menstrual cramping can change throughout your life. It can even change from month to month. Generally you feel cramps a little below where you feel stomach pain, though it can take a while to discern the difference.

Cramps are similar to stomach aches – it’s sort of this soreness and uncomfortable feeling that has you hunching over and holding your stomach in hopes that it’ll feel better. But unlike stomachaches, you feel cramps below your stomach and closer to your pelvic area. And the name “cramps” really describe them because it’s sort of a cramping feeling – stomachaches are an overall soreness, whereas cramps feel like something is contracting and squeezing the insides of your body. If this sounds like the light stomach pains you’re having, then it’s cramps, but at least you’re having really mild cramps. I’ve had cramps so bad that I can’t even sit up. Something that’ll help with the cramps is holding a bottle of hot water against your stomach. And to address your mention of Mandamp;Ms, you and I have something in common: we’ll eat so much of something until it gives us a stomachache – except I do that with Cheetos (Flaming Hot Cheetos, to be exact).