What Causes Stomach Pain in Girls
Causes of stomach pain in females range from urinary tract infections and menstrual cramps to constipation and other digestive disorders

Stomach pain in girls is common during puberty and adolescence but is rarely serious. Causes of stomach pain in females range from urinary tract infections and menstrual cramps to constipation and other digestive disorders.

Here are 20 potential causes of stomach pain and how to relieve it at home.

20 possible causes of stomach pain in females

1. Urinary tract infection

This condition is very common among teenagers, especially among girls. Symptoms may include:

2. Menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea)

Painful cramps are common during menstruation and may be accompanied by symptoms such as:

3. Ovulation pain (mittelschmerz)

Ovulation pain can occur in the lower abdomen around the midpoint of the menstrual cycle and is linked to an increase in luteinizing hormone levels. It is typically felt on one side of the abdomen (the side where the ovary is releasing the egg), and the intensity can range from mild to severe. Mittelschmerz rarely causes severe pain.

4. Endometriosis

Endometriosis symptoms usually appear during adolescence and are caused by the presence of endometrial tissue outside the uterus. Symptoms may include:

5. Ovarian torsion

Ovarian torsion is caused by ovarian tumors or cysts and can cause severe abdominal pain. It occurs due to twisting of the ovary around its supporting tissues. Pain is usually on one side, with right-sided pain being more common than left-sided pain. Other signs and symptoms include:

6. Ectopic pregnancy

Ectopic pregnancy occurs outside the uterus (usually inside the fallopian tubes) and can be fatal. Ectopic pregnancy in sexually active teenagers can cause symptoms such as:

7. Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)

Pelvic inflammatory disease is the infection and inflammation of female reproductive organs. Multiple sexual partners and an increased incidence of sexually transmitted diseases increase the risk of PID in adolescents. Symptoms include:

  • Lower abdominal pain
  • Abnormal findings in pelvic examination (uterine tenderness/cervical motion tenderness)
  • Abnormal vaginal discharge

8. Threatened abortion

The World Health Organization defines threatened abortion as a pregnancy-related bloody vaginal discharge or frank bleeding during the first half of the pregnancy without cervix dilation. Lower abdominal pain and vaginal bleeding are possible symptoms.

9. Appendicitis

Appendicitis inflammation is common in adolescents. Pain usually migrates from the midsection of the abdomen to the lower right section. Other symptoms may include:

10. Stomach flu (gastroenteritis)

Stomach flu is a very common condition caused by a bacterial or viral infection. In addition to stomach pain, symptoms may include:

11. Constipation

Constipation occurs when there are hard stools or bowel movements are less frequent (less than 3 a week). Pain due to constipation is usually generalized, and other symptoms may include:

  • Pain and straining during bowel movements
  • Bloating
  • Blood in stools

12. Stress

In school-aged children, emotional distress (stress, anxiety, depression, or other psychological issues) can cause recurring abdominal pain. Also known as functional abdominal pain, this type of stomach pain has no known cause. 

13. Food allergy or intolerance

Allergic reactions to certain foods can cause stomach pain. For example, children who are lactose intolerant may experience the following when they consume milk or dairy products:

14. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

GERD occurs when contents of the stomach travel upward (acid reflux) and irritate the esophagus. People with GERD may experience the following:

15. Kidney stones

Kidney stones are a hard, solid mass of minerals or salts that accumulate in the kidneys. Kidney stone pain is severe and persistent, beginning suddenly in the back or sides. Other symptoms that may occur include nausea and vomiting.

16. Trauma or injury

Any abdominal trauma or injury can cause abdominal pain. Trauma can damage the gut (causing tears or perforations) or blood vessels (leading to bleeding or hematoma formation).

17. Gallbladder disease

Gallbladder stones or cholelithiasis is one of the most common gallbladder diseases. Symptoms include fever and jaundice, and pain is usually felt in the upper right part of the abdomen, usually after meals. The increasing prevalence of adolescent obesity has increased the risk of gallstone formation in children.

18. Inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease)

Inflammatory bowel disease causes inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract and can result in the following:

19. Irritable bowel syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome is a long-term condition that affects the large intestine or colon. Symptoms include:

  • Chronic abdominal pain
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Changes in bowel movements

20. Peptic ulcers

Peptic ulcers are characterized by sores in the lining of the stomach, esophagus, or small intestine. The most common cause of these ulcers has been identified as an infection with Helicobacter pylori bacteria. Symptoms include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Heartburn
  • Vomiting

What are the different types of stomach pain?

The type of abdominal pain is determined by the intensity and location of the pain:

  • Generalized pain: More than half of the abdominal area is affected. This type of pain could be related to:
  • Localized pain: Limited to one area of the abdomen. It is typically associated with issues in a single organ such as:
    • Gallbladder (pain is felt in the right upper abdomen)
    • Appendix (pain is felt in the right lower abdomen)
  • Cramping or cramp-like pain: Generally does not indicate a serious problem. It may associated with:
    • Bloating or gas, possibly followed by diarrhea
    • May be concerning if accompanied by fever, occurs frequently, or lasts longer than 24 hours
  • Colicky pain: Typically begins and ends abruptly in a wave-like pattern. This type of pain is often severe in intensity and may be associated with:
    • Kidney or ureter stones
    • Gallstones
    • Bowel obstruction

What are treatment options for stomach pain?

The best way to determine whether stomach pain is serious and requires medical attention is to speak to your doctor and undergo further medical evaluation. Do not give your child over-the-counter medications without first consulting your doctor. 

For mild abdominal pain, the following home remedies may help provide some relief:

  • Sip water or other fluids slowly. Warm liquids may help with pain relief.
  • Avoid solid or difficult to digest food for the first few hours.
  • Eat bland foods such as rice or crackers.
  • Avoid citrusy, greasy, or fatty foods if stomach pain is accompanied by heartburn or indigestion.
  • Avoid caffeine and carbonated beverages.

Treatment for stomach pain varies depending on the underlying cause and may include:

  • Antibiotics in the case of an infection
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs or immunosuppressants to treat or manage inflammatory diseases
  • Pain relievers or analgesics to relieve severe pain
  • Stool softeners or laxatives for constipation
  • Antacids or H2 blockers for acid reflux
  • Counseling or psychological therapy for functional abdominal pain due to emotional distress
  • Dietary changes to alleviate symptoms associated with food allergies or intolerance
  • Surgery for cases such as appendicitis, ovarian or testicular torsion, abdominal trauma, or intestinal obstruction

While most cases of stomach pain can be managed at home, see a doctor if your child’s symptoms are severe. 

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Medically Reviewed on 3/1/2022
References
Image Source: iStock Images

Stomach aches: https://kidshealth.org/en/teens/stomachaches.html#:

Stomach Pain in Kids and Teens: https://www.scripps.org/news_items/6821-stomach-pain-in-kids-and-teens

10 signs that a child's stomachache could be something serious: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/10-signs-that-a-childs-stomachache-could-be-something-serious-2017112112781

Abdominal pain: https://www.rch.org.au/kidsinfo/fact_sheets/Abdominal_pain/

What is Causing my Daughters Stomach Pain: https://thedacare.org/news-and-events/symptoms-and-conditions/what-is-causing-my-daughters-stomach-pain/