It's no surprise to hear that menstrual cramps can be painful.
But how painful?
Painful menstrual cramps — technically called dysmenorrhea — can cause pain that's "almost as bad as having a heart attack," Dr. John Guillebaud, a professor of reproductive health at University College London, told Quartz .
The pain is severe enough that it is the leading cause of absenteeism in women younger than 30, according to WebMD.com . The pain can interfere with daily activities for up to 20 percent of women, according to a study by the American Academy of Family Physicians .
According to WebMD, the following could make it more likely for a woman to experience menstrual cramps.
- Started period before age 11
- Periods are heavy
- Overweight or obese
- Smokes cigarettes or uses alcohol
- Has never been pregnant
That said, the reasons why some women are impacted more than other is unclear, Dr. Richard Legro of Penn State College of Medicine said in an interview with Quartz. Legro is studying possible treatments, but getting funding to study the issue has been a concern, Quartz reported.