Dear Doc:Is Painful Periods Normal?

Posted on 2013-03-27 04:00:56

Dear Ask A Doc, My 16 year old daughter has been complaining of painful periods, to the extent where she ends up skipping school on those days. She has been taking pain killers on occasion but refuses to visit a doctor saying that this is normal, even among her peers. Is this the case? As a single father I feel very helpless when it comes to dealing with this particular issue. What should I expect and when should I insist that she visits a doctor? Single Dad. Dear Single Dad, Thank you for your question. This can be a very difficult topic for fathers to discuss with their daughters especially in the beginning, but it gets easier once you have the knowledge and can confidently answer the questions that she may have. Your daughter is right, painful periods are a very common especially for young girls at the early years of their periods. Painful periods, also known as dysmenorrhea, usually cause pain in the lower abdomen, but may also be associated with other symptoms such as pain in the lower back, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and headache. These symptoms vary in severity form one individual to another, as well as from one period to another. The severity of the symptoms is what should dictate whether medical attention is warranted. In mild cases, women are able to control the pain by using home remedies such as hot baths or heating packs and rest. Others will require some pain relievers and other medications used to treat dysmenorrhea. Some women feel that since periods are just part of being female, then it really isn’t a disease that requires medical attention. This is not true. There are cases when it is advisable to visit a doctor, such as if pain is not relieved by mild pain killers or if it is getting worse with time and if it is keeping her away from school as is the case with your daughter currently. In the same sitting, the doctor is able to assess whether there could be any other cause of the painful periods. There are some pelvic conditions that are known to worsen dysmenorrhea, and an accurate diagnosis is required for appropriate treatment. Therefore, talk to your daughter and explain the necessity for a doctors’ evaluation, which will go a long way in helping her control the pain so that it does not interrupt her school or social life. It will also help reassure you that everything is ok with her, and will promote the communication between the two of you where reproductive health is concerned.