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Heather Corinna replies:
I have horrible menstruation. Horrible. The cramps make me cry and be nauseous (I've had to stay at home on more than one occassion for them and I NEVER miss school), the blood flow is relentless (7 days usually), and I get a severe headache and mild fever. I have a suspicion that it's genetic, considering how my mother once bled for 12 days. Exercise seems to help, but I was wondering what else I can do? I'm sick of feeling like this a week every month. I'm at the end of my rope!
While in some respect, it's often typical for younger women to have more severe menstrual effects, if your cramps are THIS terrible, and you're also getting unusual secondary symptoms like fevers and headaches, it's time to go check in with a gynecologist.
What you want to do is have someone look into the why of these effects. It may be as simple as you needing to make some dietary or exercise changes, or start an aspirin regimen. You might also have a secondary condition causing the effects, such as PCOS, uterine fibroids, a hormone imbalance or endometriosis, in which case you'll absolutely want to find out if you do so you can get some treatment and not only feel a lot better, but learn how to manage that condition.
Just to make sure it's clear, there's really nothing I know of that supports the notion that severe menstrual pain is genetic. However, it's possible your mother has also had a secondary condition or lifestyle issue which you share which gave her dysmenorrhea as well. So, if she's still got that going on herself, it'd also be smart for her to check in with her reproductive healthcare provider, too!