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Q: Usually my period cramps are no big deal, but now they're unbearable. What's going on?

A: It's normal to have severe cramping once in a while, even if you're one of those lucky women who doesn't normally suffer from period pain. Some months your body might just respond differently to the hormonal and chemical changes of your period. And stress, as well as weight gain or loss, can also affect your periods. To help ward off cramps, try taking an over-the-counter NSAID pain reliever, like naproxen, 24 to 48 hours before your period is due.

If you've truly never experienced cramping this bad before, or if you notice other changes in your period's timing, flow, or length, talk to your gyno. It could be a sign of endometriosis, uterine fibroids, or pelvic inflammatory disease (a potential consequence of STDs), so your doc may want to run tests to make sure that you're OK.

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