Cramps - Growing Pains Or My First Period On The Way?

Published: December 11, 2012
Dear Cramps - Growing Pains Or My First Period On The Way?,
Hi I am an eleven yo girl and lately I have been having really bad cramps sometimes I can not walk because of them. My parents know but they think it is jist growing pains but could my first period be on its way? Thank you I know fx can not answer all my questions but it would be nice becuse I am to shy to talk to my parents.

Dear Cramps - Growing Pains Or My First Period On The Way?,

TeenHealthFX can’t know for sure what is causing your cramps – it is especially hard for us to give an opinion on it since we don’t know where in your body you are hurting. But generally growing pains would not be mistaken for the kinds of cramps that come with having your period. Growing pains usually affect the muscles and are most often felt in the legs while menstrual cramps would be felt mainly in the abdominal area (although sometimes back pain can occur as well).

If you are in pain to the point where you can’t walk, FX would say it would be good for you and your parents to check in with your doctor so he/she can learn more about the pain (where in your body you feel it, how long it lasts, how often the pain occurs, etc.) and get a better understanding of what might be causing it. Once your doctor knows why you are having this pain, he/she can give you some advice on how to manage the cramps.

FX appreciates that these can be tough conversations to have with your parents, but remember that your parents were once your age, too, dealing with these things as well and they are there to help you – and that includes any changes going on with your body. If you need a way to break the ice, you could show them this question/answer to get a conversation going. But if you really feel too shy to talk to them, you could always check in with your school nurse as another option.


Here is some information on growing pains:

  • Growing pains generally occur when kids are 3-5 years old and 8-12 years old.
  • Growing pains affect the muscles, with most kids having pain in the front of their thighs, in the calves, or behind the knees.
  • Growing pains often strike in the late afternoon/early evening and can even come in the night and wake you up.

For more information on growing pains, including how to treat these pains, read the KidsHealth article on Growing Pains.


Here is some information on menstrual cramps:

  • Menstrual cramps are pretty common – about half of all women who menstruate say they get cramps during the first few days of their periods.
  • Doctors think that cramps are caused by prostaglandin, a chemical that causes the muscles of the uterus to contract.
  • Cramps can feel dull and achy or sharp and intense.
  • Cramps usually occur in the abdominal area, but sometimes pain in the back can occur as well.
  • Many girls find that their cramps get more manageable as they get older.

For more information about periods and cramps, read TeensHealth article on All About Menstruation and the Center for Young Women’s Health article on Menstrual Periods.