Can teens suffer menstrual cramps?

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner

Some menstrual problems strike teenage girls more often than older women. For example, teenagers are especially likely to suffer from menstrual cramps. Girls who have just started their period are especially likely within their first year and a half of menstruation to have cycles with no ovulation, which can cause menorrhagia (abnormally heavy periods), although this problem also affects women near menopause.

Roughly 50 percent of teens suffer from menstrual cramps, and in 15 percent, the pain is severe enough to interfere with normal activities. Because the average girl today starts menstruating at age 10, an adolescent with difficult periods can expect a minimum of 240 days, or over 8 months, of pain before she even leaves her teens.

There is no better way to eliminate your teenager's menstrual cramps than by eliminating menstruation. Using hormonal contraception like birth control pills to eliminate or drastically shorten bleeding (even when contraception is not needed) can change the life of a teen who has a major meltdown every time she realizes her period is going to interfere with an important social or sporting event.

Many parents are concerned that giving hormonal contraception to teens will negatively affect future fertility or increase the chance of developing cancer down the road. Fortunately, all evidence indicates that this is not the case. As an extra bonus, eliminating menses not only gets rid of cramps, but also reduces hormonal headaches, anemia, ovarian cysts, PMS and endometriosis.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.