The Pill for period pain?

Q: My 14-year-old daughter has terrible period pains. She’s been prescribed mefenamic acid by our GP, but it hasn’t really helped, and now the doctor has suggested she go on the Pill. Is this really a good idea at her age?


A: Doctors treating women with period pains commonly prescribe mefenamic acid, a non steroidal anti-inflammatory agent, similar to ibuprofen. It can be helpful for easing period pains, but for best effect it should be started a couple of days before the onset of cramps, rather than leaving it till pain begins. If your daughter has a regular cycle it may be worth trying this, and she could also take additional pain relief in the form of paracetamol. It’s ok to take these two medications at the same time.


The combined contraceptive pill (the Pill) stops the natural menstrual cycle, and can be a very effective way of treating both painful and heavy periods. It’s also possible to use the Pill to alter the timing of periods, which can be useful if you want to avoid having pain or bleeding when you are going on holiday or sitting an exam. It is suitable for teenagers, assuming they have no underlying health problems, such as diabetes or a tendency to blood clots.


I suspect your main concern will be that being on the Pill might encourage your daughter to be sexually active. However, in my experience, giving the Pill for a medical reason does not change the time when a young person decides to become sexually active. Your daughter also needs to know that, though taking the Pill can prevent a pregnancy, it will not protect her from sexually transmitted infections.