Why do some girls have menstrual cramps and others don’t?

painful menstrual crampsIt’s true that menstrual periods can be easy for some teens and women, but others can have painful cramps. The medical word for the discomfort is called: “dysmenorrhea”, (pronounced dis-men-o-ree-a) Cramps can be a big reason why girls are absent from school, why they miss sport practices, and why they may avoid going out with their friends.

Menstrual cramps are caused by uterine contractions (when the muscles in the uterus tighten and relax allowing blood to leave the uterus). The lining of the uterus releases special chemicals called “prostaglandins.” These substances can increase the strength of the contractions, especially if the levels rise. High levels of prostaglandins may also cause nausea and lightheadedness.

If you have menstrual cramps that are not relieved with over-the-counter medicine and the cramps cause you to miss school or other daily activities, it could mean that there is another reason for your symptoms. Make an appointment with your health care provider.