Menstrual cramps cause pain in your the lower abdomen during the first few days of your menstrual period. Sometimes the pain radiates to lower back or both thighs. Some girls also have nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or dizziness along with cramps.
More than 50% of girls and women have cramps during their menstrual periods. The cramps are caused by strong contractions (and sometimes spasms) of the muscles in the uterus as it expels menstrual blood.
Menstrual periods usually are not painful during the first 1 to 2 years after a girl has started having periods. However, once ovulation (the release of an egg from the ovary) begins, the level of progesterone in the bloodstream increases and leads to stronger contractions and some cramps.
Cramps last 2 or 3 days and usually occur with each menstrual period. There are several drugs that can lessen the pain to a very mild level. The cramps often disappear permanently after your first pregnancy and delivery, probably because the opening of the uterus has stretched.
For ibuprofen, you can take 2 tablets 3 times a day. Take 3 tablets (600 mg) as the first dose. For naproxen, you can take 1 tablet 3 times a day. Start with 2 tablets (440 mg). Start taking the drug as soon as there is any menstrual flow, or even the day before, if possible. Don't wait until your menstrual cramps begin. Ibuprofen or naproxen should make you feel well enough not to miss anything important. Never take both drugs together.
If you don't have these drugs, you can take acetaminophen (Tylenol) until you can get ibuprofen or naproxen.
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