Menstrual cramps usually cause lower abdominal pains during the first 1 or 2 days of a menstrual period. Menstrual cramps or dysmenorrhea are experienced by more than 50% of teenagers and adult women. Menstrual cramps usually occur with each period. Cramps are caused by strong, but normal contractions of the uterus. Here’s how to treat them:
- First: Ibuprofen is a special, very effective drug for treating menstrual cramps. It’s available without a prescription under such brand names as Advil and Motrin. It’s critical for teens to start the drug as soon as there is any menstrual flow. If they wait until the onset of menstrual cramps, they will not get as powerful an effect. Ibuprofen comes in 200 milligram tablets. The first dosage should always be 3 tablets. Then continue 2 tablets or 400 milligrams 4 times a day for 2 or 3 days. To prevent an upset stomach, take ibuprofen with food.
- Second: Acetaminophen and aspirin products have a limited impact on cramps, compared to ibuprofen. Use them only until you can obtain some ibuprofen.
- Third: If ibuprofen doesn’t provide adequate pain relief, use naproxen. It’s also a non-prescription drug. Follow the dosage information on the bottle.
- Fourth: There are no restrictions during menstrual periods. The teenager can go to school, take gym, swim, take a shower or bath, wash her hair, go outside in bad weather, date and so forth.
- Finally: Contact your teenager’s healthcare provider if neither ibuprofen or naproxen provides adequate pain relief or if menstrual cramps are causing your daughter to miss school or other important activities. Medication can control menstrual cramps in almost any individual.
If you have other questions about menstrual cramps, consult your healthcare provider.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.
Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D. FAAP
Last Review: 6/1/2008
Last Revised: 7/1/2005
Copyright 1994-2008 Barton Schmitt, M.D. Parent Advice Messages.