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CHKD Blog

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Period Problems: When to See a Doctor

Author: CHKD Medical Group, Dr. Monica Baker
Published Date: Thursday, January 07, 2021

By Dr. Monica Baker, Tidewater Children’s Associates

While periods can cause discomfort for girls in one way or another, there is usually no reason for concern. However, some problems could require care from a doctor.

Delayed Menarche

Most girls reach menarche (the medical term for the first period) between the ages of 10 and 15, but most commonly around age 12 and a half or soon after starting puberty.

The age at which a girl reaches menarche has a lot to do with genetics. Girls typically start their period around the same age as their mothers or grandmothers did.

If your daughter is 16 and still hasn’t started her period, you should contact her doctor. This could be caused by a genetic abnormality, a hormonal imbalance, or an issue with how the reproductive organs developed.

Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)

Premenstrual Syndrome causes mood and body changes before and during periods. It is usually at its worst the four days before a period and goes away two to three days after the period begins.

Girls suffering from PMS may have acne, mood swings and anxiety, tiredness, food cravings, bloating, backaches, sore breasts, headaches, constipation, or diarrhea. Different girls may have some, all, or none of these symptoms. However, these symptoms often do not develop until years after reaching menarche.

There are many things to do at home that can ease discomfort of PMS.

  • Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables to help with food cravings.
  • Lower salt intake to help with bloating.
  • Avoid caffeine and get exercise to ease mood swings and anxiety.
  • Use a warm heating pad or acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen to help with aches and soreness.
  • Get plenty of sleep.

Call the doctor if your daughter doesn’t feel better with home remedies, seems depressed, talks about harming herself, can’t perform normal activities due to discomfort, or has symptoms that don’t go away after the first few days of her period.

Cramps

During the first few days of menstruation, girls usually experience abdominal cramps. Cramps are caused by involuntary contractions in the uterus and usually go away in a few days.

If severe cramps keep your daughter home from school or social activities and don’t improve with ibuprofen, you should contact her doctor.

Irregular Periods

Periods are considered irregular when they do not reoccur every three to six weeks. However, it is normal for cycles to be irregular in the first two years after menarche.

It is important to record when a period arrives, how long it lasts, and any problems or discomfort during it. This information can help a doctor identify the best way to diagnose or treat any menstrual issues. Knowing when your daughter is expecting her period can also help her prepare for and manage it better. Using tools such as mobile applications, calendars, and notebooks can help keep track of periods.

If your daughter is experiencing any of the following irregularities with her period, it is time to call her doctor.

  • Does not get her period regularly two years after menarche.
  • Gets her period regularly but then skips it or becomes irregular.
  • Has very heavy periods (goes through more than one pad or tampon an hour).
  • Has periods lasting longer than a week.
  • Experiences frequent spotting between periods.


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About CHKD Medical Group

Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters has been the region’s most trusted name in pediatric care for more than 50 years. As members of CHKD Health System, our pediatricians work closely with CHKD’s full range of pediatric specialists and surgeons. They also share a commitment to quality, excellence and child-centered care. With 18 practices in 29 locations throughout the region, a CHKD pediatrician is never far.