- Cramps in the lower belly or pelvis. They start during the first 1 or 2 days of a girl's period.
- Cramps only happen during menstrual bleeding
- Report of similar cramps in the past are helpful
- Cramps often don't start until periods are present for over 1 year
- The medical name for painful cramping during a girl's period is dysmenorrhea.
- Normal cramps happen in over 60% of girls.
- This cramping is caused by strong muscle squeezing of the uterus. This is triggered by a high prostaglandin (a hormone) level.
- An egg release from the ovary (ovulation) is needed to cause cramping. Therefore, the onset is most often 12 months or more after the first period.
- Medical causes of severe menstrual cramps include pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and endometriosis. An ovarian cyst can also cause very bad cramping.
Age of Onset of Menstrual Cramps
- Peak age of onset: 1 to 2 years after periods first start
- During the first year after periods start, only 7% or less of teens will have cramping. Some of these girls will have a medical cause such as a blockage.
- Mild: your child feels pain and tells you about it. But, the pain does not keep your child from any normal activities. School, play and sleep are not changed.
- Moderate: the pain keeps your child from doing some normal activities. It may wake her up from sleep.
- Severe: the pain is very bad. It keeps your child from doing all normal activities.