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Helping Your Daughter Cope With Menstrual Cramps

In the past, cramps were considered part of the menstrual “curse” — an affliction to be suffered as part of being a woman. Today, we know that cramps, medically termed “dysmenorrhea”, are caused by contraction of the uterine muscles resulting in mild to great discomfort, and can be helped with a variety of drugs.

These drugs vary from simple aspirin to prescription drugs such as Motrin, Naprosyn, or Ponstil. These are most effective if your daughter starts taking the drug as soon as she feels the signs that her period is coming on, ideally the day before her flow actually begins. When these drugs don’t work, hormonal regulation of the cycle can diminish both the days of flow and the severity of the cramps. Your first step in pain relief should be over-the-counter aspirin or Advil. If this doesn’t work, check with your physician for prescription drug relief.

A newly approved group of drugs, called prostaglandin synthesis inhibitors, previously used only for the treatment for arthritis, have been found to successfully control or eliminate the pain of menstrual cramps.

There is help and hope for your daughter!

Dr. Wibbelsman, M.D., is an award-winning author and former “Dear Doctor” columnist for Teen magazine. Chair of Adolescent Medicine for the Permanente Medical Group, Northern California, he is chief of the Teen-Age Clinic at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in San Francisco, and an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco Medical School. Dr. Wibbelsman is the news anchor for a Bay Area television series, “Medicine in the Nineties”.

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