Butt Cramps on Your Period: Why It Happens and How To Ease the Pain

Butt cramps aren't the most talked-about period symptom, but they're not too uncommon either.

The start of menstrual bleeding—as well as the five days prior if you experience premenstrual syndrome (PMS)—brings about a whole slew of unwanted side effects. Those symptoms may include:

  • Abdominal cramps
  • Tender or swollen breasts
  • Bloating
  • Headache
  • Backache
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety or depression

And while abdominal cramps are one of the most well-known side effects of menstrual bleeding, it's not the only part of the body that becomes painful during your period. Some people may experience butt cramps during their periods.

What causes butt cramps during menstrual bleeding, and how can you alleviate that pain? Here's what you need to know about why some people experience butt cramps during their periods and whether the side effect is worrying. 

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What Causes Butt Cramps During Your Period?

It all boils down to the same factor causing all those other issues during your period—hormones. 

"As a period begins, cells that line the uterus called endometrial cells break down and let out hormones known as prostaglandins," Jennifer Wider, MD, women's health expert, told Health. "Prostaglandins can cause inflammation and contraction—and some women experience contraction of the muscles in the bowel and rectum."

Prostaglandins make your anal and rectal area more sensitive during that time, OB-GYN Jessica Shepherd, MD, CEO and Founder of Sanctum Med Wellness, told Health

"Those prostaglandins also increase contractions of the rectal tissue and the bowels, which can cause pain and cramping," explained Dr. Shephed.

It's those same prostaglandins that are behind what is known as "period poop." Prostaglandins stimulate the smooth muscles in your uterus to help it contract and shed its lining each month. The hormones have a similar effect on other smooth muscles in your body, like in your bowels. The result is more poop.

Research has suggested that approximately 73% of menstruating people experience at least one of the primary gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms either before or during menstrual bleeding. Abdominal cramps and diarrhea are the most common GI symptoms.

Should Butt Cramps During Your Period be Worrying?

Problems in the rectal area (defined as the last four or five inches of the digestive tract, the anal canal, and the anus) are common. Some of the more common causes of rectal pain include:

  • Endometriosis: A condition in which the tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus (called the endometrium) grows outside of the uterus, most commonly found on the fallopian tubes and ovaries. While not incredibly common, butt cramps can be a symptom of endometriosis, Christine GrevesMD, OB-GYN at the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies in Orlando, Fla., told Health. "If you have endometrial implants [abnormal growths of endometrial tissue] in the anus, you will naturally have discomfort there when you're on your period," explained Dr. Greves.
  • Hemorrhoids: Veins in the anal canal that can become swollen or stretched. Hemorrhoids can cause itching, rectal pain, or aches. They can be external or internal.
  • Anal Fissures: A condition in which the lining of the anal canal becomes torn. Anal fissures can produce pain or a burning sensation, especially with the passage of a bowel movement. Bleeding may also occur. 
  • Anal Abscess: An anal abscess is a cavity filled with pus that can occur when the anal glands inside the anus become blocked. An abscess produces considerable pain and swelling just adjacent to the anal opening. 
  • Anal Fistula: A fistula is a connection or tunnel between the anal gland and the buttocks, usually very close to the anal opening. An anal fistula is almost always the result of an anal abscess.

If you have butt cramps during your period that become so severe that you cannot participate in daily activities (like going to work or school) consult your healthcare provider to determine whether your symptoms indicate an underlying condition.

How To Treat Butt Cramps During Your Period

Suppose you experience butt cramps during your period, and the pain does not impact your daily activities. In that case, you can try a few at-home remedies to get rid of the pain, such as:

  • Rest in a warm bath: This can "definitely help," said Dr. Wider. That's because it relaxes the muscles in your anus and rectum to help prevent cramping.
  • Use a heating pad, blanket, or water bottle: Like a warm bath, heat compresses can also help relax your muscles.
  • Take an NSAID: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen can help tamp down on butt inflammation, cramps, and pain, said Dr. Greves, just as they can help tame abdominal cramps. That's because NSAIDs reduce the amount of pain-causing prostaglandins. 

A Quick Review

While most people think of abdominal cramps during menstrual bleeding, some people experience butt cramps during their periods. 

The cramping happens due to your tissues breaking down and releasing hormones known as prostaglandins, which make the uterus contract. Those contractions cause abdominal cramps and butt cramps, as well as changes in bowel movements.

There are numerous ways to lessen the symptoms if you experience butt cramps during your period. However, if you experience any bleeding from your rectum, or the pain makes daily activities unbearable, you should see a healthcare provider.

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Sources
Health.com uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Office on Women's Health. Premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

  2. Bernstein MT, Graff LA, Avery L, et al, Gastrointestinal symptoms before and during menses in healthy women. BMC Womens Health. 2014;14:14. doi:10.1186/1472-6874-14-14

  3. American College of Gastroenterology. Rectal problems in women.

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