For parents

What causes period pain?

When an egg is unfertilised, the womb’s lining isn’t needed any more. So, the body releases hormones called prostaglandins. They signal the muscles in the womb to contract. And these contractions push the lining out of the body, through the vagina.

Some young women have bodies that don’t make many prostaglandins, so the contractions won’t be very strong. And some don’t really have period bleeding, because their wombs absorb the lining. (In some ways, it’s the ultimate in recycling.)

If your daughter produces high levels of prostaglandins, it’s a bit like yelling at someone through a megaphone - telling them to really get going. It makes the womb contract harder and faster, causing aches and cramps. Because the muscles in the womb are strong enough to push out a baby, some girls can experience severe pain - although most young women won’t have pain that’s this bad.

It’s even possible to experience different levels of pain because of different amounts of oxygen reaching the womb as the lining breaks down. Or, simply because we all have different sensitivity to pain. What really matters is that periods are a natural part of being becoming a woman, and your daughter will experience hers in her own way.

If her period pain is bad, it needn’t mean there’s something ‘wrong’ with her - but you can treat the pain without stopping the period from ‘doing its thing’. In fact, treating severe period pain actually helps her body to work better, because it reduces stress levels, helps her sleep, and lets her enjoy exercise.

She's not alone

She's not alone

Every young woman’s body is unique, so it’s normal for different girls to have their first period at different ages. Don’t panic if your daughter has started her period before her friends - or if they’ve started their periods and she hasn’t...

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