Dysmenorrhea Pediatric Care Plan

By David Shafran, MD
Medically reviewed
January 18, 2021

What is Dysmenorrhea?

Dysmenorrhea refers to crampy abdominal pain that occurs in adolescent females before or during their period. It is extremely common and usually first occurs months to years after an adolescent has their first period.

Dysmenorrhea is believed to be mainly caused by a chemical called prostaglandin. But it can also be caused by other problems in the pelvis, such as endometriosis.

Usually, these other problems are only considered if basic treatment methods fail to help manage the symptoms of dysmenorrhea.

Besides abdominal pain and cramping, other symptoms of dysmenorrhea might include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Diarrhea
  • Back pain

Dysmenorrhea Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosis can be made after taking a good history and doing a physical exam. No blood or imaging tests are necessary.

If simple, or primary, dysmenorrhea is suspected, the treatment focuses on targeting pain. This may include:

  • Non-steroidal antiinflammatory drugs  (NSAIDs) such as Ibuprofen or naproxen
  • Heat therapy and exercise
  • Hormonal treatment such as oral contraceptives are considered as a second line treatment or for a sexually active adolescent

If none of these basic treatments work, your provider might consider looking for another cause of your child’s pain.

Check in With K If…

  • You have general questions about your child’s condition
  • You want general followup for your child
  • You have questions about supportive care
  • Your child’s symptoms don’t go away after treatment but are not alarming

See your Doctor in Person If…

  • The cramping or pain is severe
  • The pain does not improve with pain medications
  • Pain occurs at other times other than around periods
K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

David Shafran, MD

Dr. Shafran is a board-certified pediatrics physician. He joins K Health from the Cleveland Clinic, where he led a pediatrics practice and completed a fellowship in transplant ethics. He has completed multiple fellowships, including one in pediatric nephrology at Rainbow, Babies & Children's University Hospitals. He received his medical degree from the Sackler School of Medicine in Tel Aviv and completed his medical residency at the Jacobi Medical Center.