When teenage girls begin their periods, they often experience a lot of pain in the initial years. In some cases the pain may be severe enough to interfere with work, school and daily activities. But pain during periods whether mild or severe – can be frightening for the little girls going through it. And can damage their confidence and self-esteem if it is not handled correctly. It is therefore very important to prevent these special pains from occurring as much as possible. And manage these pains effectively when it does occur.
What causes pain during periods?
Periods occur when the uterus sheds the lining layer every month for which has to contract.
The expulsion of the lining of the uterus is facilitated by hormone like substances called prostaglandins. These prostaglandins that trigger uterine contractions are the same chemicals that are responsible for causing pain and inflammation. And therefore, when the concentration of prostaglandins increase it results in menstrual cramps.
Lack of oxygen supply
The uterus is a muscle and when it contracts very strongly to shed its lining during the menstrual cycle it can compress the blood vessels within the wall of uterus which cuts off the supply of oxygen to the uterus for a few seconds. This momentary lack of oxygen causes pain and cramping.
Three out of four women experience pain during menstruation. And one out of 10 women have severe cramps.
Also read How to talk to your daughter about periods
What are the symptoms of period pain?
- Aching pain in the lower abdomen
- Heaviness in the lower abdomen
- Pain in the lower back, the hips and the inner part of the thighs
- Stomach upset
- Severe pain may cause vomiting
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What can you do to prevent period pains?
Women who are used to living an active life with lots of physical exercise are likely to have much less pain than women who lead sedentary lives. Unfortunately, as girls move into their teens they typically reduce the amount of physical activity that they do. And this may lead to them having a lot of pain during their periods. It is important to encourage teenage girls to do lots of physical activity every day.
Also read 10 Reasons why your child needs sports
Eat a balanced healthy diet
Eating a healthy balanced diet, rich in good carbohydrates, good proteins, good fats, vitamins, minerals and fiber goes a long way in preventing period pain. Unfortunately most teenage girls eat large quantities of packaged and processed junk food. This is because they are growing and constantly hungry. When they are hungry and healthy and tasty snacks are not available – they are forced to turn to packaged and processed snacks. Very soon because of the sugars and trans fats present in the processed food, they get addicted to them.
Drink lots of water
Water is essential for the growing body. It is the vehicle that carries nutrients to each and every cell in the body. It also dilutes the prostaglandins when they are secreted and reduces the pain.
Practice the yoga pose Halasana
In this posture – lie on the mat – raise both legs with knees straight and touch the toes to the floor behind the head.
Also read Iron Deficiency Anemia. What parents should know
What to do to reduce period pain?
Mild pain during periods is physiological and should be managed by lifestyle measures. No drugs should be used.
To reduce pain during periods employ the following measures
Although it may seem weird to suggest that someone in pain start exercising – exercise is one of the best ways to reduce pain during periods. The pain is caused by prostaglandins and lack of oxygen – so improving blood circulation by exercise can reduce the concentration of prostaglandins – resulting in less pain. Also pain is caused by lack of oxygen – so improving oxygen supply by exercising does help.
While a moderate amount of physical activity may be useful to reduce pain – excessive exertion may not be useful and may even be counterproductive. A short rest during the acute phase of pain accompanied by certain physical measures to reduce pain may be useful. However just resting through the whole period is neither advisable – nor indicated.
Eat High fiber protein rich food
Eat meals rich in complex carbohydrates and proteins. Food rich in complex carbohydrates and proteins keeps your energy levels up and reduces stress. Avoid high salt, high sugar junk food. Foods high in salt and sugar drain you of energy and cause dehydration.
Also read How To Plan A Balanced Diet For Your Child :10 Tips
Using a hot water bag to apply heat to the lower abdominal area and the lower back can relieve pain considerably
Try different postures
When just resting by sitting down or lying down are not working – lie on your back and lift your legs to your chest. Also try lying on your side and bringing your knees up to your chest
Do a lower back massage
A figure of 8 massage on the lower back can relieve cramps. If you can – do it for your daughter
Some acupuncture techniques like pressing down at a certain point between the thumb and forefinger can reduce pain considerably. It may be worth it to reach out to an acupuncture specialist and learn these techniques.
Medication to reduce pain
When pain is not relieved by all the above measures – a pain relieving tablet like paracetamol may be taken. However, this is drug use and any drug must only be taken after checking the dose with a doctor.
When to call a doctor for period pain
Normal physiological period pain does not last for than a few hours and at the maximum may last for a day.
When period pain is severe and lasts more than 2 or 3 days – consult a doctor to see if there is a cause that requires treatment.
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