Why Butt Cramps Happen During Period and How to Ease Them

Menstrual cramping is experienced in anywhere between 16% and 81% of women and individuals assigned female at birth. During your period, hormonal changes lead to uterine contractions that help push period tissue and blood out of the uterus and cervix. These contractions result in the cramping experienced during your period. However, cramping, pain, and discomfort from these contractions radiate from the abdominal area through the lower back, inner thighs, and even the buttock region.

Unfortunately, due to the sudden onset of butt cramps, they can actually stop you in your tracks, making it difficult or impossible for you to function until the pain passes. Understanding what causes this cramping and how to best alleviate it will help support a more painless, stress-free period.

What are butt cramps?


Many individuals experience butt cramps, also called proctalgia fugax, during their periods. However, while abdominal and back pain during menstruation is widely shared, people rarely discuss butt cramps. Butt cramps are specifically referring to pain in the rectal and/or gluteal areas as opposed to the cramps that occur mainly in the lower abdomen and back.

Causes of butt cramps during period

Butt cramps are the result of the release of hormone-like substances called prostaglandins. Prostaglandins affect various processes in the body, including blood pressure, labor, smooth muscle contractions, and fever or pain perception. When it comes to periods, prostaglandins released from endometrial cells primarily promote the contractions that help your body shed the lining of the womb during your period.

Hormonal changes and the release of these prostaglandins can lead to muscle spasms in the rectal area, resulting in the pain and discomfort associated with butt cramps. Individuals who make high levels of prostaglandins or with increased sensitivity to them may experience more severe period pain, referred to as primary dysmenorrhea.

Symptoms of butt cramps during period

Butt cramps are a normal part of the period experience. Symptoms of menstrual butt cramps include cramping, rectal spasms, or a sudden, sharp stabbing or shooting pain in the buttocks. Other symptoms that may accompany butt cramps include changes in bowel movements (for example, constipation and diarrhea), nausea, and headaches or migraines.

However, individuals experiencing chronic butt cramping may need to rule out other conditions. For example, other gynecological and non-gynecological conditions that may cause pain in the buttock area include:

  • Anal fissures. A split or tear in the lining of the anus.
  • Hemorrhoids. Painful, inflamed veins in the anus or rectum.
  • Endometriosis. A painful, chronic condition caused by the tissue that normally lines the uterus growing in areas outside the womb.
  • Perianal abscess. Painful, pus-filled bump forming around the anus.

How to stop butt cramps

It is normal to experience butt cramps during menstruation. The cramping may start a few days before your period and typically goes away on its own by the end of it. Each cramping episode may last a few seconds to a few minutes before the pain and discomfort subsides. Generally speaking, butt cramps during your period aren’t anything you need to be worried about, or that requires any form of treatment.

Period cramp relief

Some individuals may need support for managing painful period cramps. Luckily, many of the methods for managing typical period pain may help with managing butt cramps as well.

OTC medications

For example, using over-the-counter pain medications may help take the edge off any pain experienced from butt cramps. Helpful medications include ibuprofen and naproxen, which are readily available at multiple stores and pharmacies.

Heat therapy

Applying heat directly to areas of discomfort can also help soothe the sudden onset of painful gluteal cramps, likely by helping the muscles relax and by blocking the pain signals in the body. You can use a heating pad, warm compress, or warming blanket where needed; however, studies indicate that consistent heat application for lengthy periods of time (such as an entire day or overnight) may be needed to maximize the effect of this treatment option. Warm baths may also help you find relief from butt cramps.

Exercises and stretches

Exercise and stretching is another simple, effective way to find some relief from anal cramping by reducing inflammation, menstrual flow, pain perception, stress hormones, and prostaglandin levels. For example, pelvic tilts and the happy baby (and other) yoga poses can help gently “stretch and engage the pelvic floor muscles,” according to Dr. Himali Maniar Patel, MBBS, D.G.O., a gynecologist with over 13 years of experience. She recommends consulting a pelvic floor physical therapist for a “personalized exercise program.”

Additionally, increasing blood flow throughout your body can also help reduce cramping, noted Dr. Simran Shamanur, MBBS, with 5+ years of experience in sexual medicine. So engaging in low-intensity exercises like walking may be a great option for some individuals to manage butt cramps.


Relaxation techniques

As stress-related hormones can increase the synthesis of prostaglandins — therefore, increase painful cramping — using relaxation techniques can be helpful for managing butt cramps. Examples of practices that can help promote relaxation and alleviate stress include practicing meditation, guided imagery or 'visualization,' and deep breathing exercises, with slow, diaphragmatic breathing.

Hormone-based contraceptives

For individuals experiencing severe period pain, hormonal birth control (including pills, patches, and intrauterine devices [IUDs]) may be a prescribed treatment option. According to Dr. Patel, hormonal birth control can also help with reducing “overall menstrual cramps, including rectal/anal/gluteal cramping.” As contraceptives eliminate the natural menstrual cycle, they may “reduce the severity and frequency of cramps at the time of periods,” noted Dr. Shamanur, who has 5+ years of experience in sexual health medicine.

When to seek professional help

While period pain is normal for many individuals, there are a few signs that may indicate it’s time to get help. “If rectal/anal/gluteal cramping is severe, persistent, or accompanied by other concerning symptoms (rectal bleeding, fever), consulting a healthcare professional is essential to rule out underlying conditions,” said Dr. Patel.

During your appointment, your healthcare provider will review your symptoms, medical history, and lifestyle factors to identify risk factors for other possible conditions, such as endometriosis. They may also conduct a physical exam, including a pelvic exam, to look for signs of other conditions that may be the reason for pain. Other diagnostic tests, such as labs and imaging, may be required depending on the results of the initial screening to help identify the source of period pain and determine the best treatment plan to help you manage it.

Period pain is a common concern for many individuals who experience menstruation. Certain methods for managing period pain are easily accessible by most people, such as practicing exercise and relaxation techniques. Trying out various methods of menstrual pain management can help significantly improve your comfort levels and mood during menstruation. For any concerns about period pain, including uncomfortable or painful butt cramps, but especially for pain that doesn’t seem to go away, be sure to consult with your healthcare provider for support.


Key takeaways:


Leave a reply

Your email will not be published. All fields are required.