Have you ever had menstrual pain or cramps but no period?

If your only symptom is pelvic discomfort, a number of conditions can cause this.

But the more locations of your body, that have the aches or pains, that get added into this equation, the fewer the conditions that can explain this.

Thus, the possibilities get narrowed slightly when, in addition to pelvic cramps, you also get low back aches.

Toss in wrist, ankle and neck aches, and this eliminates gynecological causes such as pregnancy, ovarian cysts, endometriosis and gynecological cancer, and it also eliminates colon cancer.

Joint aches other than in the back are not on the symptom lists for these cancers.

So what on earth can possibly cause period pain in the absence of the above, and in the absence of pregnancy, periomenopause, menopause and celiac disease?

Consider the possibility of inflammatory bowel disease! One such condition is microscopic colitis, a benign inflammatory bowel disease that will never turn into anything serious.

“How can I have colitis if I don’t have any digestive symptoms, no diarrhea, no constipation, no flatulence, no gas?”

Microscopic colitis, as well as other IBDs like Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis, can cause “extra-intestinal” symptoms (e.g., beyond the intestines), that can surface IN THE ABSENCE of gut-related symptoms.

What causes menstrual joint pain?

Prostaglandins, which are hormone-like chemicals produced throughout the body, including the uterus. This is why ibuprofen alleviates this pain, because it inhibits production of prostaglandins.

What’s believed to cause the joint aches of microscopic colitis?


“Aching joints can be a symptom of microscopic colitis, but not necessarily. Many patients with aching joints don’t have microscopic colitis, but aching joints and gut problems often go hand-in-hand.

“They’re both associated with inflammation, and many doctors speculate that cyclo-oxygenase (COX 2) or prostaglandins are involved because of the function they provide.

“Prostaglandins are chemicals that generally cause inflammation of our joints.”

–        Dr. Jeffrey Fine, MD, chief of gastroenterology at the Medical Surgical Clinic of Irving, as interviewed in my article, Why Does Microscopic Colitis Cause Joint Pain?

If you’re having unexplained joint aches and pelvic cramping that feel menstrual, like you’re about to get your period, but the period never comes, there IS some degree of possibility that this could be microscopic colitis, if all of your other tests have turned up negative, and ESPECIALLY if you’re over 50.

Even if there’s no diarrhea. However…the diarrhea may come yet. When I had my second flare-up of microscopic colitis, the period pain was present (and significantly) for about 27 days BEFORE the diarrhea and other gut symptoms started.

Then out of 32 days that followed from the first day of diarrhea, I had a total of 27 episodes of diarrhea.

The diarrhea came on rather suddenly and tapered down over the next 32 days.

The feeling like I was going to have my period any day disappeared a few days after the diarrhea began, BUT … throughout the diarrhea’s course, I continued, almost every evening, getting that menstrual feeling, albeit milder.


Your health insurance should cover a colonoscopy, which is the only way to diagnose microscopic colitis. If you’re at least 50 and haven’t had one, get one.

Tell the doctor to swab for microscopic colitis. The joint aches of IBDs are called “enteropathic arthropathy.”

This situation is non-destructive, will eventually remit (though future flares are possible), and will NOT damage your joints or weaken them. I continue deadlifting heavy barbells and doing pull-ups without a problem.

Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.  
Sources: (flare-up of joint aches can occur separate from gut problem flare-ups) (prostaglandins and MC) (prostaglandins and PMS) (prostaglandins and IBD)