Abdominal Pain - Female
Abdominal Pain - Male
Acne
Animal or Human Bite
Antibiotics: When Do They Help
Arm Injury
Arm Pain
Asthma Attack
Athlete's Foot
Back Pain
Bed Bug Bite
Bee or Yellow Jacket Sting
Blisters
Bottle-Feeding Formula Questions
Breast-Feeding Questions
Breath-holding Spell
Bruise
Bruises and Cuts
Burn
Chest Pain
Chickenpox
Circumcision Problems
Colds
Constipation
Cough
Coughs: Meds or Home Remedies
Cracked or Dry Skin
Cradle Cap
Croup
Crying Baby - Before 3 Months Old
Crying Child - 3 Months and Older
Cut, Scrape, or Bruise
Diaper Rash
Diarrhea
Diarrhea Diseases From Travel
Dizziness
Drinking Fluids - Decreased
Dry Skin
Ear - Congestion
Ear - Discharge
Ear - Injury
Ear - Pulling At or Rubbing
Ear - Swimmer's
Ear Infection Questions
Earache
Earwax Buildup
Ebola Exposure
Eczema
Emergency Symptoms Not to Miss
Eye - Allergy
Eye - Foreign Body or Object
Eye - Injury
Eye - Pus or Discharge
Eye - Red Without Pus
Eye - Swelling
Fainting
Fever
Fever - How to Take the Temperature
Fever - Myths Versus Facts
Fifth Disease
Finger Injury
Fire Ant Sting
Flu
Fluid Intake Decreased
Food Allergy
Foreskin Care Questions
Frostbite
Genital Injury - Female
Genital Injury - Male
Hair Loss
Hand-Foot-And-Mouth Disease HFMD
Hay Fever
Head Injury
Headache
Heat Exposure and Reactions
Heat Rash
Hives
Human or Animal Bite
Immunization Reactions
Impetigo - Infected Sores
Infection Exposure Questions
Influenza - Seasonal
Influenza Exposure
Insect Bite
Jaundiced Newborn
Jellyfish Sting
Jock Itch
Leg Injury
Leg Pain
Lice - Head
Lymph Nodes - Swollen
Medication - Refusal to Take
Menstrual Cramps
Menstrual Period - Missed or Late
Mental Health Problems
Molluscum
Mosquito Bite
Mosquito-Borne Diseases from Travel
Motion Sickness
Mouth Injury
Mouth Ulcers
Neck Pain or Stiffness
Newborn Appearance Questions
Newborn Illness - How to Recognize
Newborn Rashes and Birthmarks
Newborn Reflexes and Behavior
Nose Allergy Hay Fever
Nose Injury
Nosebleed
Penis-Scrotum Symptoms
Pinworms
Poison Ivy - Oak - Sumac
Puncture Wound
Rash or Redness - Localized
Rash or Redness - Widespread
Reflux Spitting Up
Ringworm
Roseola
Scabies
Scorpion Sting
Scrape
Sinus Pain or Congestion
Skin Foreign Body or Object
Skin Injury
Skin Lump
Sliver or Splinter
Sore Throat
Spider Bite
Spitting Up - Reflux
Stomach Pain - Female
Stomach Pain - Male
Stools - Blood In
Stools - Unusual Color
Strep Throat Exposure
Strep Throat Infection
Sty
Sunburn
Suture Questions
Swallowed Foreign Body or Object
Swallowed Harmless Substance
Swimmer's Itch - Lakes and Oceans
Tear Duct - Blocked
Teething
Thrush
Tick Bite
Toe Injury
Toenail - Ingrown
Tooth Injury
Toothache
Umbilical Cord Symptoms
Urinary Tract Infection - Female
Urination Pain - Female
Urination Pain - Male
Vaginal Bleeding
Vaginal Symptoms
Vomiting With Diarrhea
Vomiting Without Diarrhea
Warts
Wheezing Other Than Asthma
Wound Infection

Resources

Is Your Child Sick?TM


Menstrual Cramps

Is this your child's symptom?

  • 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

If NOT, try one of these:


Cause

  • 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.

Pain Scale

  • 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 him or her up from sleep.
  • Severe: The pain is very bad. It keeps your child from doing all normal activities.

When to Call for Menstrual Cramps

When to Call for Menstrual Cramps

Call Doctor or Seek Care Now

  • Is pregnant or could be pregnant
  • Not able to walk like normal
  • Fever
  • More severe cramps than ever before
  • Your teen looks or acts very sick
  • You think your teen needs to be seen, and the problem is urgent

Call Doctor Within 24 Hours

  • Vaginal discharge that is not normal started before period began
  • Pain only on 1 side
  • You think your teen needs to be seen, but the problem is not urgent

Call Doctor During Office Hours

  • Cramps last more than 3 days
  • Cramps keep your teen from doing normal activities even after using pain medicine
  • Vomiting or diarrhea also present
  • Pelvic cramps happen when not bleeding
  • You have other questions or concerns

Self Care at Home

  • Normal menstrual cramps

Call Doctor or Seek Care Now

  • Is pregnant or could be pregnant
  • Not able to walk like normal
  • Fever
  • More severe cramps than ever before
  • Your teen looks or acts very sick
  • You think your teen needs to be seen, and the problem is urgent

Call Doctor Within 24 Hours

  • Vaginal discharge that is not normal started before period began
  • Pain only on 1 side
  • You think your teen needs to be seen, but the problem is not urgent

Call Doctor During Office Hours

  • Cramps last more than 3 days
  • Cramps keep your teen from doing normal activities even after using pain medicine
  • Vomiting or diarrhea also present
  • Pelvic cramps happen when not bleeding
  • You have other questions or concerns

Self Care at Home

  • Normal menstrual cramps

Care Advice for Menstrual Cramps

  1. What You Should Know About Menstrual Cramps:
    • Cramps happen in over 60% of girls.
    • Pain medicines can keep cramps to a mild level.
    • Cramps can last 2 or 3 days.
    • Here is some care advice that should help.
  2. Ibuprofen for Pain:
    • Give 2 ibuprofen 200 mg tablets 3 times per day for 3 days.
    • The first dose should be 3 tablets (600 mg) if the teen weighs over 100 pounds (45 kg).
    • Take with food.
    • Ibuprofen is a very good drug for cramps. Advil and Motrin are some of the brand names. No prescription is needed.
    • The drug should be started as soon as there is any menstrual flow. If you can, start it the day before. Don't wait for cramps to start.
    • Note: acetaminophen products (such as Tylenol) are not helpful for menstrual cramps.
  3. Naproxen if Ibuprofen Doesn't Help:
    • If your teen has tried ibuprofen with no pain relief, switch to naproxen. No prescription is needed.
    • Give 220 mg (1 tablet) every 8 hours for 2 or 3 days.
    • The first dose should be 2 tablets (440 mg) if the teen weighs over 100 pounds (45 kg).
    • Take with food.
  4. Use Heat for Pain:
    • Use a heating pad or warm washcloth to the lower belly. Do this for 20 minutes 2 times per day. This may help to reduce pain.
    • A warm bath may also help.
  5. Stay Active:
    • It's fine to go to school.
    • Your teen can take part in sports during her period.
    • She can also swim, bathe, or shower like normal.
  6. What to Expect:
    • Cramps last 2 or 3 days.
    • They will often happen with each period.
    • The cramps sometimes go away for good after the first pregnancy and delivery.
  7. Call Your Doctor If:
    • Neither ibuprofen or naproxen helps the pain
    • Cramps cause her to miss school or other events
    • Pain lasts over 3 days

And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the 'Call Your Doctor' symptoms.

Disclaimer: this health information is for educational purposes only. You, the reader, assume full responsibility for how you choose to use it.


Copyright 2000-2018. Schmitt Pediatric Guidelines LLC.

Select from over 100 symptoms to learn about managing your child's illness.