JSYK: You’re probs acquisition the dorn meds to treat your duration cramps. (I know, ns know). Yet considering the myriad the OTC options on the market, prefer Tylenol, Midol, Aleve, or whatever your coworker pulls the end from their desk, it have the right to be difficult to understand the difference in between what actually functions for her body and what’s high-key harmful.

What I average by at sight harmful? Well, some OTC meds could hold-up your relief, aggravate your stomach, and/or chip away at your irreversible health, says Kimberly Sackheim, DO, a pain administration specialist at NYU Langone’s Rusk Rehabilitation.

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So, yes, consider this a sign you need to 1) stop taking those random, unidentifiable pills chilling in the bottom that your job-related bag when a painful period hit and 2) actually recognize the difference in between acetaminophen and, well, whatever else.

First, let"s begin with the two alternatives for OTC pain relief: acetaminophen, aka Tylenol, and NSAIDs, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, which room all over-the-counter painkillers other than acetaminophen. Let"s dive into each one.


Acetaminophen targets the areas of the mind responsible for processing pain and body temperature, says Dr. Sackheim. Apart from cramps, if you"re experiencing from a fever, acquisition acetaminophen together directed will execute you a solid. But it won"t reduce inflammation in, say, a sprained ankle. Make sense? Good.

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Now, it"s important to keep in mind that paracetamol poses special risks since it"s broken down through the liver (and deserve to seriously damage it), i beg your pardon is the an essential organ the filters the end toxins including alcohol. That means that you must never ever follow acetaminophen v booze, which can stress out of the liver and also contribute come irreversible damages for this reason.

The great thing is the it doesn’t mess with your tummy, for this reason it"s the move when you desire to treat duration cramps accompanied by an upset stomach, which deserve to go hand-in-hand through PMS because, well, life isn"t fair. Simply mind your dosage.

Ob-gyn Tamika K. Cross, MD, recommends beginning with the lowest possible dose come treat symptoms. “Dose in milligrams not the amount of pills, due to the fact that the amount of pills who takes is dependency on how plenty of milligrams the pill is.” her suggestion: 325 to 500 milligrams.

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According come the American university of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), NSAIDs space the finest defense against painful cramps. (Some researches have discovered these drugs deserve to actually lighten super-heavy bleeding far better than placebo — just not and also hormonal birth control, for this reason don’t acquire too excited.)

But NSAIDs provide relief through chilling the end the nerve end that process pain. NSAIDs encompass ibuprofen (found in Advil and Motrin), naproxen (found in Aleve), celecoxib (aka Celebrex), and aspirin. Castle don"t encompass acetaminophen or multiple-symptom drugs that contain it, prefer DayQuil, Midol, and also Excedrin.

Unlike acetaminophen, NSAIDs mitigate inflammation to reduce joint and muscle pain. And because NSAIDs space metabolized by the kidneys, they pose no risks to the liver whatsoever.

That said, NSAIDs have the right to suppress an enzyme that protects the lining the the stomach, perhaps triggering mountain reflux, basic stomach upset, and GI bleeding or ulcers, states Dr. Cross. It’s one factor why friend shouldn’t drink alcohol, one more stomach irritant, before or after taking any OTC painkiller.

NSAIDs also thin her blood, i m sorry slows blood clotting and reduces the risk of love attack and stroke. (It’s not a poor perk regardless of even if it is these conditions are top of mind.) However, due to the fact that of the blood-thinning effects, friend should also be responsibility if you have clotting obstacle or if you’re freshly out of surgical treatment or ~ above anticoagulants,” says Dr. Cross.” Opt for prescription drug Celecoxib if this is the case (more on this below).

Here is a much more in-depth watch at your NSAID options:

Aspirin, which is most likely to irritate her stomach and also won’t necessarily perform the trick when the struggle is real: “A many patients call me that ibuprofen or naproxen works far better than aspirin for period cramps,” Dr. Sackheim says. In various other words, it"s far from your best option. Ibuprofen, which can properly put you the end of your misery, assuming your kidneys are completely functioning and also you don’t have a particularly sensitive stomach. Just be sure to take it v food come prevent any kind of issues. Naproxen, choose ibuprofen, is taken into consideration highly effective. Because naproxen can provide some sweet relief that’s longer lasting than various other over-the-counter anti-inflammatories, it"s particularly good for cramps the last every freaking day, according to Dr. Sackheim. Celecoxib, the medicine you’ve more than likely never heard of because it’s typically linked with arthritis relief and obtainable only by prescription. However if your PMS tends to trigger cramps and, while acquisition too much celecoxib (i.e., multiple doses every day of the month) deserve to ultimately cause stomach ulcers too, the formula is less likely than various other NSAIDs come block enzyme protecting her stomach. It"s why celecoxib typically goes much easier on her insides — a good thing at the beginning of her period, as soon as your body regularly needs part extra TLC. Plus, if you do have a clotting disorder, celecoxib has much more minimal impacts on platelet role and need to be taken into consideration for those who have clotting disorders, recommends Dr. Cross.


If you end up dealing with cramps v whatever’s sit in your medication cabinet, be sure you"re proactively paying attention to the sheep of the OTC med the you"re taking, suggests Dr. Cross. "It’s vital that patient aren’t taking more than 3,000 mg of paracetamol in a 24-hour period, i m sorry is why it"s important to remember once taking one unlabeled pill native a friend or coworker."

And pay attention to the ingredient of her OTC meds—especially because that things prefer Midol and also Excedrin (since both drugs contain paracetamol in them, and you need to be mindful around how lot you"re consuming), says Dr. Cross.

Otherwise, “if you have actually side effects, girlfriend won"t recognize what brought about them, and if you feel better, you want to recognize what helped,” claims Dr. Sackheim.

Lastly, if your cramps space really bad and you an alert that you need to take a lot of over the respond to medication because that relief, "you have to see your clinical provider and discuss your alternatives for pains control," argues ob-gyn heather Irobunda, MD.