How to Help Your Teen With Severe Menstrual Pains

By Toni Henning
Edited by Taj Schlebusch

Published October 14, 2021.

Teen girl suffering period pain from menstrual cramps

Menstrual cramps are normal in all women, but some may have severe symptoms that are abnormal and may require treatment. Severe period pain in teenage girls is not uncommon due to changing hormone levels brought on by the transition to womanhood.

What Are the Symptoms of Menstrual Cramps?

Dysmenorrhea, also known as period pain or menstrual pain, is signified by lower abdominal pain that can extend to the lower back and thighs. The pain can vary from a dull, continuous ache to a constant throbbing, a cramping pain, or a more intense pain and causes extreme discomfort.

Menstrual cramps can start one to three days before the onset of a period. They usually peak after 24 hours and subside within two to three days.

Which Teens Are at Risk for Menstrual Cramps?

No one is immune from period pains; some young women just happen to experience them more severely than others.

Teens are at risk for menstrual cramps if they are newly pubescent and have not started having regular periods yet. Teenagers who get their period at an early age will also be more likely to experience menstrual cramps. Young women who have long or heavy periods may have more painful period pains than their peers. Often, a family history of menstrual cramps means that your daughter is more likely to get them.

What Relieves Menstrual Cramps in Teens?

You can't entirely rid of period cramps. However, if your teen is struggling with menstrual cramps, there are several things you can do to help ease her painful periods.

Utilize Medications

Non-prescription pain relievers, including ibuprofen and naproxen sodium, taken at the prescribed dosage at the onset of period pains will help ease her pain. Prescription anti-inflammatory drugs will also help, but due to their side effects, they should only be taken when the pain is really bad.

Use Contraceptives

Some contracepts have been proven to minimize or relieve the pain associated with heavy periods.

Birth control

Taking 'the pill,' an oral birth control medication, helps relieve menstrual cramps. Birth control works by reducing the number of prostaglandins in your teen's body—the chemicals responsible for making the uterus contract. Fewer contractions mean less pain. The pill can sometimes decrease the amount of blood flow which will also reduce discomfort. The contraceptive pill can similarly reduce the symptoms of PMS.

IUD

An IUD, or intrauterine device, can reduce menstrual cramps and make your teenage daughter's period lighter. Because it affects hormone production, it works the same way as the contraceptive pill.

Try Natural Remedies

Heating Pads

Using a heated pad or wrapping a warm wrap around your daughter’s abdomen can help relax her uterine muscles—the ones responsible for the period cramps. Just be careful not to apply too much heat, as this can lead to increased bleeding, which in turn will lead to more painful cramping.

Correct Diet Choices

Believe it or not, some foods can make your daughter’s period pains worse, and some can make her period less painful.

Here's what you can do:

  • Drink more water.
  • Consume Salmon and other Omega-3s.
  • Eat leafy greens like kale and spinach.
  • Add in fruit like bananas, pineapples, and kiwi.
  • Use Eggs.
  • Eat Peanut butter
  • Drink Chamomile tea.
  • Increase magnesium-rich foods like oats and dark chocolate.

What Foods Shouldn’t She Eat?

Your daughter doesn’t have to cut these foods out of her diet altogether because most of them are quite healthy, but around menstruation, she could try and avoid the following:

  • Beetroot
  • Chocolate
  • Honey
  • Coffee
  • Dairy products

Could Your Child Need Surgery for Menstrual Pain?

In some extreme cases, very painful menstrual cramps can be a result of endometriosis. A qualified medical professional will be the only person that can diagnose this condition. In itself, endometriosis responds well to hormone contraceptives, as we discussed earlier. Very rarely is surgery necessary for this condition in teens and young women.