TMy 13-year-old daughter has just got her period and suffers from a lot of pain for two days each month. It is really interfering with her playing sports. She is also very self-conscious, but I think if we got the pain under control, she could start to enjoy playing sports even when she has her period. We have tried ibuprofen and paracetamol with codeine, but she still feels pain and say she feels muggy. I don’t want to put her on the Pill so young, unless I have to as I am worried about the risks. We have tried special exercises also, and getting out and about, but nothing seems to work. Have you any ideas?
She is on a team at school and doesn’t want to give it up. he medical term for painful periods is ‘dysmenorrhoea’. This is a very common condition. More than half of menstruating women will have some level of pain. However, in most cases, the pain is mild and only lasts one or two days, but in some cases, it may be more severe and last longer.
There are two types of dysmenorrhoea. Primary dysmenorrhoea starts within months of the first menstrual period. This pain usually comes on with menstruation and goes away once it passes. Primary dysmenorrhoea usually gets better as the years pass and may go away after pregnancy. There is no underlying physical abnormality with this pain. It is due to the presence of prostaglandins. The levels of these chemicals rise around the time of menstruation, increasing the chance of cramps and pain.
Secondary dysmenorrhoea usually comes on later in life. This pain is associated with underlying problems and the pain may increase over time and last longer. Causes of secondary dysmenorrhoea include pelvic infection; endometriosis; a condition called adenomyosis, where the tissue that usually lines the womb grows in the womb muscle; fibroids, which are growths in the wall of the womb; and narrowing of the cervix.
Cramps that are not severe and only last one or two days may be normal and don’t necessarily require review by a doctor. If pain has started recently, despite previously pain-free cycles, or if the pain is severe or lasting days, it is worth seeing your doctor for a check up. Your doctor can perform an examination, rule out infection and may recommend an ultrasound or other exam to further recheck the womb and ovaries.
Specialist referral is sometimes advised. There are specialists that specialise in teenage gynaecology.