One of the worst things a mum can go through is to watch her teenage daughter struggle with period pain.

She may not be able to go to school…

Your usual, lively adolescent is curled up in a fetal position on the bed sobbing into her pillow….

What now??

Read on for helpful hints…..


PERIOD PAIN or DYSMENORRHEA (the medical term) can be separated into 2 groups

  • Just purely painful periods called primary dysmenorrhea
  • Painful periods as a result of an underlying problem like endometriosis or fibroids. This type is called secondary dysmenorrhea.

For me, always, the most important way to tackle any problem is to get informed…

Know what causes painful periods…

This blog will concentrate on the first type.(primary dysmenorrhea)

What causes period pain?

Period pain happens because the uterus contracts. This contraction is made stronger when prostaglandin levels are high in the uterus or around the uterus in the pelvis. Prostaglandins are chemicals secreted by the lining of the uterus called the endometrium and is found in menstrual blood at the time of the period.


We don’t really know why some women will have higher levels of prostaglandin than others.

We also don’t know why in 2 women with identical prostaglandin levels….one women would have more pain than the other…..

The postulation is that this could probably be due to a different sensitivity level.

5 helpful hints


1. DIET: teenage girls are notorious for making poor food choices if left unsupervised. Encourage her to eat when she is hungry and not just because she is bored. Sugars and refined carbohydrates tend to make things worse. Supplements that have been shown to be of benefit are calcium, magnesium, Vitamin B6, zinc and omega 3 oils.

Lead by example……….let her watch you choosing fresh salads and healthier options…. and actually enjoying them. Family mealtimes are a great way to do this.

2. EXERCISE: regular exercise of 45 to 60 minutes at a time at least 3 times a week can help to make the pain less in the long term. Girls who regularly take part in school sports are less likely to struggle. If your daughter is not one for this, then start small. Encourage her just to move in general. Let her help with walking the dogs. A family walk in the local park, or a weekend bike ride in the neighbourhood is a good way to get going.

3. HEAT: applying a hot water bottle or a warm beanbag can really help during a period. Avoid extreme temperatures as this can lead to skin changes and burns, if done too often. Applying low level continuous heat is what you want to aim for. A warm bath free of bath products can also be soothing.

4.  PAIN MEDICATION: the best painkillers are the ones targeted at dropping prostaglandin levels. That is why Nurofen Period works so well. It belongs to a class of medication called NSAIDS(non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).Sometimes this is still not strong enough .In this case alternatives would be Voltaren suppositories, Synflex or Ponstan forte.

With medication, timing is key: start it a day before the period is meant to start. This will be the most effective. Keeping a menstrual calender (yes on an APP) will help to make this possible. Be careful, these drugs are not harmless and have been associated with ulcers. Always seek medical advice first.

5.  CONTRACEPTIVES: one of the major benefits of the combined oral contraceptive pill is its ability to improve period pains. Many girls will choose this option if painkillers alone don’t provide enough relief. The pill can also be manipulated so that the number of periods per year are reduced.


Of course, long term safety is always a concern in very young girls who have just recently started their periods. I don’t usually advise pill usage in very young girls except under exceptional circumstances. Even though there have been no studies to date to show harm, we simply have not had enough research in this area to sanction its use indiscriminately.

Other contraceptives that stop the period can also be considered. These would be the progesterone injectables or the Mirena intrauterine system.


If none of these methods have made any real difference then I recommend a gynaecological evaluation. There may be something else that is causing the pain!





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