Menstrual cramps: Menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea) are throbbing or cramping pains in the lower abdomen. Many women have menstrual cramps just before and during their menstrual periods. For some women, the discomfort is merely annoying. For others, menstrual cramps can be severe enough to interfere with everyday activities for a few days every month. Conditions such as endometriosis or uterine fibroids can cause menstrual cramps. Treating the cause is key to reducing the pain. Menstrual cramps that aren't caused by another condition tend to lessen with age and often improve after giving birth.