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Adolescent Dysmenorrhea (Severe Menstrual Cramps)

Dysmenorrhea is a painful menstrual condition that usually includes severe cramps. This condition can be caused by severe contractions of the uterus during menstruation or by an underlying condition.

What is Adolescent Dysmenorrhea (Severe Menstrual Cramps)?

Cramping during your period can be caused by severe contractions of the uterus during menstruation or by an underlying condition. Because painful periods can resemble other conditions, it is important to be seen by a doctor.

What are the different types of Adolescent Dysmenorrhea (Severe Menstrual Cramps)??

There are two types of dysmenorrhea:

Condition Type 1:Primary Dysmenorrhea

  • Primary dysmenorrhea is the most common form of dysmenorrhea and involves crampy lower abdominal pain that occurs 24-48 hours before the onset of menstrual bleeding and continues for about 3-4 days.

Condition Type 2:Seconday Dysmenorrhea

  • Secondary dysmenorrhea is the other form of dysmenorrhea that is caused by another medical or gynecologic problem such as endometriosis or Pelvic Inflammatory Disease.

What are the signs and symptoms of Adolescent Dysmenorrhea (Severe Menstrual Cramps)?

How is Adolescent Dysmenorrhea (Severe Menstrual Cramps) diagnosed?

If your daughter has painful periods, her doctor will first take a medical history and conduct a physical exam. A pelvic exam will not be required. The doctor may ask your daughter to keep a record of her pain – when and where it occurs, how long it lasts, and how it’s relieved.

Additional tests may include:

What are the causes of Adolescent Dysmenorrhea (Severe Menstrual Cramps)?

Painful periods may be caused by:

  • Endometriosis – a condition in which uterine tissue grows elsewhere in the body
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) – an infection of the reproductive organs.
  • Uterine fibroids, adenomyosis or polyps – non-cancerous growths in the uterus – may cause painful periods, heavy bleeding, or bleeding between periods. This category is much more common in adult women and rarely seen in adolescence.

How is Adolescent Dysmenorrhea (Severe Menstrual Cramps) treated?

Treatment for dysmenorrhea depends on your daughter’s age and overall health. For painful periods, treatment can include:

  • Exercise
  • Fish oil
  • Hormonal medications which can help regulate periods and reduce pain
  • Heating pad or warm baths
  • Over-the-counter or prescription anti-inflammatory medications for cramps such as ibuprofen and naproxen

In the rare instance that the pain is caused by an abnormally shaped uterus, surgical treatment may be recommended.

Adolescent Dysmenorrhea (Severe Menstrual Cramps) Doctors and Providers