If you're here, it's likely because you Googled "11 year old has cramps no period." Period pains are no fun. (Side note: Here’s a blog post on how to get rid of period cramps fast.) Cramping can feel like anything from a mild pain or dull ache to a sharp, stabbing sensation.
Most people who menstruate experience some degree of pain and cramping before or during their period, but it can be frightening and frustrating to watch if it’s happening to your child. It is often hard to figure out the exact cause of a child's abdominal pain. If you’re concerned about your child experiencing cramps without a period there are a few things to consider.
What to do if your child has cramps but no period
If your 11-year-old is experiencing cramps without a period, it might be a sign that their first period is on its way. The average age for a person to have their first menstrual period is 12.5 and most people get their first period between the ages of 9 and 15.
Unfortunately, painful periods are relatively common, but often unadressed. Menstrual cramps are caused by a chemical in the body called prostoglandins. When prostaglandins are released, the uterus contracts to push the lining out which causes a sharp pain.
When to see a doctor for abdominal pain
If you are worried your child's cramping may not be the result of period pain, here are a number of other conditions that could be causing their abdominal cramps. Learn more about irregular periods here, and talk to a doctor if you have any concern that the cramps are not related to an impending first period, or if their period pain is debilitating.
Reasons for cramps unrelated to the menstrual cycle
Has your child recently exerted themselves through recreational sports or exercise? Exercise, especially when it is strenuous, makes your muscles work harder than usual and can lead to cramps. These types of cramps usually go away quite quickly and do not require medical attention.
One of the most common reasons for abdominal pain in young girls is endometriosis, a condition in which cells from the lining of the uterus grow outside of the uterus. It can affect any part of the body, including the ovaries, fallopian tubes, bowel or bladder.
Endometriosis can cause severe pain and heavy bleeding during one's period, but it also can cause pain even when there's no menstrual flow. It typically affects women between ages 15 and 44. It is not uncommon for symptoms to go unnoticed until they start having children or become pregnant. The cause of endometriosis is unknown, but experts believe it may be genetic or caused by inflammation throughout the body.
Treatment for endometriosis
Treatment for endometriosis varies depending on how extensive the disease is and how much pain it causes. Some treatments include medication such as birth control pills that suppress ovulation; hormone therapy; surgery to remove scar tissue or destroy implants; or a combination of both surgery and hormone therapy.
Fibroids are noncancerous growths that grow in or on the uterus. They can cause pain, heavy bleeding and pelvic pressure.
Fibroids develop when the muscle tissue in the uterus grows too much. They're usually smooth and firm to the touch, but sometimes they're soft and spongy like a water balloon.
The main symptom of a fibroid is pain — especially before or during menstrual periods — though some women have no pain at all. Heavy bleeding during menstruation may also be a sign of fibroids. People with severe symptoms may need surgery to remove their fibroids.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, is a condition in which the large intestine is more sensitive than normal. This causes cramping, bloating, gas and diarrhea or constipation, often with urgent need to go to the bathroom.
The cause of IBS isn't known, but it may be related to problems with how the colon moves food through the digestive system.
Because many people with IBS have other health problems, such as anxiety, depression and fibromyalgia, it's important to contact your doctor if you think your child may have IBS.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
A common cause of abdominal pain in children and teenagers is the inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). IBD causes inflammation in the digestive tract. The two types of IBD are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
Crohn’s disease can affect any part of the digestive tract from your mouth to your anus. Ulcerative colitis only affects the large intestine (colon).
What causes IBD?
Doctors don't know what causes inflammatory bowel disease, but they think it may be due to a combination of factors such as genetics and environmental triggers. If you suspect that your child might have Inflammatory Bowel Disease, it’s a good idea to contact your physician immediately.
It may be that your child’s cramping comes down to a simple case of indigestion. It is possible that they may have eaten something that affected their stomach and they are experiencing pain from that. Pain that goes away in less than three hours is usually not serious. However if the pain continues for longer, it might be time to consult a doctor.
Preparing for their first period
In any event, you’ll want to be prepared for the moment when your 11-year-old’s menstrual cycle arrives. Make sure you’ve had a conversation with them about puberty so they know what to expect, or download the Kt Free Period Guide so they have a legit resource written by doctors they can consult.
Teach them the essentials like how to insert a tampon and gift them with a first period kit. (Make sure you include period underwear, which is super convenient and easy to use). For more reading check out this blog post on how to make your period come faster.