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Your daughter has probably heard of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and period cramps, but she may not know exactly what they are or how to cope with them.
For some, PMS means feeling a bit out of sorts, while for others, menstrual cramps and mood swings can be debilitating.
Things she might experience
The chances are your daughter will experience at least one - or a combination of several - of these premenstrual syndrome symptoms in the lead up to her period:
These tend to peak just before the start of a girl’s period and disappear during it.
Managing mood swings
Mood swings can vary in severity, from mild irritability or anger to anxiety and feeling tearful.
Help your daughter cope with what can seem like a rollercoaster of emotions by encouraging her to:
Practice deep-breathing exercises – meditative exercises can calm mind and body.
Eat a healthy, balanced diet – she may crave junk food round her period, but large amounts of salt, sugar and fat can play havoc on her mood.
Take regular exercise - suggest she gets active for at least 20 minutes a day, even if it’s just a brisk walk.
Get a good night’s sleep – encourage her to get at least eight hours, especially the week before her period.
Easing menstrual cramps
Menstrual cramps can feel like a sharp, stabbing pain that might make her double over, or a nagging pain that spreads through her belly and lower back. Some girls also experience dizziness, nausea, diarrhoea or even vomiting.
If your daughter is suffering from cramps, she can try a combination of these steps:
If your daughter is still struggling to cope – whether it’s with severe menstrual cramps or low mood – it might be worth suggesting she make a diary of her symptoms for two to three cycles. She can then take this to her GP to check whether everything is normal.
‘My PMS is not too bad – I sometimes get an upset stomach or am a bit moody – and at ﬁrst, my period pains were OK. But after a year, they started getting worse.
I remember getting ready to go to school and throwing up, then lying on the bathroom ﬂoor because it was cold and I was sweating. My mum gave me some painkillers but that didn’t help. I thought, ‘I hate being a woman and never want a period again!’.
It happened twice more so we went to the doctor’s who told me I have severe cramps, or dysmenorrhoea. He prescribed me some medication which I was a bit scared of taking at ﬁrst. But when I was sent home from school the next day, I took a tablet, closed the curtains, went to bed and woke up feeling much better.
I ﬁnd it much easier to cope with cramps now. I don’t always take a tablet. If it’s not too bad at school, I’ll go to the toilet and do some stretching and squatting to help ease the pain. At home, I do more stretching or curl up in bed with a hot water bottle. I also put on an eye mask and play a sleep hypnosis soundtrack on my phone to help me fall asleep. And I drink a lot of water, which seems to help ﬂush them out!’
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