Ask Shelley: Should I See A Doctor About My Cramps?

"Sometimes I'm in tears over it..."

Periods and puberty are totally natural, but often totally confusing too. If you’re worried, curious, or questioning something in this area, we’ve got you. Nurse, midwife and all-round puberty expert Shelley is on hand to answer all your burning questions.

I have had my period about two years and sometimes they’re really really bad. When we were in school, I used to have to miss some days because it was so sore. Sometimes it’s not as bad and other times I’m in tears over it. I know period cramps are painful so I don’t know if this is normal or if I should do something about it? 

Molly, 15

Shelley says: “If your period symptoms, including diarrhoea, mood swings, nausea, excessive bleeding, NOT just bad pain/cramps, are disrupting your life, seek help. Go to your GP and start to discuss your options. The most common issue you could be experiencing is endometriosis. Unfortunately, there is an average time of six years here in Ireland (and a horrible 12 years in the US) to receive diagnosis and treatment of endometriosis. This is for a number of reasons, including the patriarchy… But seriously, its due to being a “female” issue, which is famously under-researched and underfunded worldwide, and also a lot of the patients seeking diagnosis are young females, who are notoriously not taken seriously by doctors. All of these facts are scientifically researched and 100% true. But this is in no way a reason for you not to get help!

Go to your GP! If your GP doesn’t listen, dismisses you, or makes you feel uncomfortable, go to another GP! If it is an emergency, do not be afraid to go to a women’s hospital emergency room (e.g The Rotunda, University Hospital Galway, St Luke’s Kilkenny). If you are reading this and you are already experiencing periods; think about your symptoms… Could you sit your Leaving Cert English paper? If you genuinely do not think you could sit an exam the week of your period, go get checked out! Do NOT let your period affect your education, ever. I cannot stress this enough.”


For more of Shelley’s expert advice on periods, puberty and body, check out the other questions she’s answered.

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