As a teen, what can I do about bad menstrual cramps?

Patricia Geraghty, NP
Women's Health
The most effective way to get rid of bad menstrual cramps is to get more control over the menstrual hormones estrogen and progesterone. This is done by taking hormonal contraception as a pill, a patch or a flexible ring placed in the vagina. Some teens and their parents worry that starting hormonal birth control at a younger age may cause problems in the ability to later have a baby or even cause serious consequences such as cancer. All of the studies are very reassuring that these worries are not justified.
If a teen prefers not to use hormonal contraception, another way to relieve menstrual cramps is to take one of a group of medicines called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID). The better known of these are ibuprofen or naprosyn. The medications prevent the formation of prostiglandins which are the cause of cramps. This preventitive action occurs very early in the chain of chemical reactions that form prostiglandin.
The most effective ways to use NSAID is to start taking them 48 hours before the menstrual period is expected to start. Continuing taking them regularly according to their individual instructions for four to five days. This steady dose prevents the formation of prostiglandins.

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