Menstrual cramps often result when the endometrial and myometrial tissues; the uterine lining and muscle secrete excess series 2 prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are hormone type substances that can promote inflammation including pain, swelling and tenderness. Prostaglandin stimulates the activity of myometrial cells.
A few days prior to or upon menstruation, prostaglandin release helps start the contractions that are necessary to shed the temporary layer of the endometrium. Excess prostaglandin can create mild to extreme discomfort such as spasm/cramps in the uterine muscle (myometrium), back ache, sweating, chills, nausea, constipation or diarrhea and feeling faint. Women with menstrual cramps have prostaglandin blood levels that are significantly higher than women who do not experience cramps.
Many women can lessen the intensity of menstrual cramps by taking a daily ibuprofen (over the counter) each day pre-menstrually (four days before period starts) . . . and during the onset/start of their period. Ibuprofen helps lessen the production of the prostaglandin hormone that contributes to menstrual cramps.
Keep in mind if experiencing severe menstrual cramps, and the prostaglandin levels are very high, over the counter ibuprofen probably will not be potent enough to relieve the severe cramping. A prescription ibuprofen would bring better relief.