To understand the best way to handle your period cramps, it’s first important to go over why they happen in the first place. When you have your period, your body releases prostaglandins, chemical compounds that are involved in pain and inflammation, explains Lauren Streicher, MD, a professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. “These cause the uterus to contract,” she says.
When your uterus contracts, it helps your body push out the uterine lining, aka period blood, that has built up inside you during your cycle. On the first day of your period, the level of prostaglandins in your body is high, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) says. But, as your period continues, the level goes down and you end up feeling less pain.
Higher levels of prostaglandins are usually linked with more severe period cramps, he says Christine Greves, MDa board-certified OB / GYN at the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies in Orlando, Florida.