Treating Menstrual Cramps With Hormone Therapy

Menstrual cramps at a glance

  • Menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea) can start before a woman’s period and last for several days. Cramps are caused by an increased production of hormones during a woman’s menstrual cycle, including prostaglandin, which causes the uterus to contract and shed the monthly lining.
  • Dysmenorrhea can either be primary or secondary. Primary dysmenorrhea is used to describe painful cramping with no recognized cause while secondary dysmenorrhea is usually due to cramping by a physical problem other than menstruation.
  • Most women have painful cramps from their periods from time to time
  • Cramps can often be relieved with at-home remedies, over-the-counter medications and hormonal therapy

Using hormone medication to treat menstrual cramps

Hormonal medication/therapy can help regulate a menstrual cycle and reduce or eliminate cramping from primary dysmenorrhea within six months to one year of use.

Although this method is packaged as “birth control,” hormonal therapy is a safe and effective way of regulating the menstrual cycle for women, whether or not they are sexually active. Options like the pill, vaginal ring, skin patch, Depo-Provera shot, IUD and implant contain hormones that prevent ovulation and reduce the severity of menstrual cramps. They can also make periods lighter, shorter and less painful. 

When should I consider hormone therapy for menstrual cramps?

After trying other remedies without any relief, your doctor may talk with you about hormone-based birth control as a treatment option for painful cramping during your period.

The pill is generally prescribed to make periods lighter, shorter and less painful, while still maintaining the normal monthly cycle.

Other options are available for women looking to minimize dysmenorrhea and pain through continuous hormone medication methods. These stop the monthly period from occurring, or limits a scheduled period to every few months.

The cause of menstrual cramps may also be due to underlying problems such as endometriosis, uterine fibroids or Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID). Be sure talk with your doctor about potential causes, which will determine the best treatment.

Other treatment options for painful period & menstrual cramps

For women who cannot or do not want to use birth control/hormonal methods to treat painful periods or menstrual cramps, alternate options such as NSAIDS (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) and Lysteda (tranexamic acid) tablets) are available to help regulate the menstrual cycle.

Can hormone therapy be used to treat other period problems?

Depending on your situation, your doctor may prescribe hormone therapy to treat other issues associated with the menstrual cycles, such as painful periods, heavy bleeding during the menstrual cycle or irregular periods. Learn more