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Clinical Reference Systems: Pediatric Advisor 10.0
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Menstrual Cramps for Teenagers - Brief Version

What are menstrual cramps?

Many teenagers have cramps with their period. You may have:

  • cramps during the first 1 or 2 days of your period.
  • pain in the lower abdomen. It may spread to the lower back or thighs.
  • had similar cramps in the past with periods.
  • nausea or diarrhea.
  • vomiting.
  • dizziness.

Cramps are caused when the muscles of the uterus contract, or squeeze.

How can I take care of myself?

Use ibuprofen. (Advil, Motrin, Nuprin are three brand names.) Ibuprofen is great for cramps. It helps take away the pain and reduces the number of cramps you have.

  • You can get ibuprofen at the drug store.
  • Use 200 mg tablets. Take 2 or 3 tablets four times a day.
  • Take 3 tablets as soon as there is any blood flow, or even the day before, if you can. Don't wait until the cramps begin. It should make you feel well enough not to miss anything important.

You shouldn't need to miss any school, work, or social activities because of cramps. If ibuprofen doesn't help, ask your doctor about getting a stronger medication.

Call your doctor right away if:

  • Your pain gets very bad and ibuprofen does not help.
  • You get an unexplained fever.
  • You start to feel very sick.

Call your doctor during office hours if:

  • Ibuprofen doesn't help you enough.
  • The cramps cause you to miss school or other activities.
  • You have other concerns or questions.

Written by B.D. Schmitt, M.D., author of "Your Child's Health," Bantam Books.
Copyright 1999 Clinical Reference Systems