My worst experience with period pain happened over a decade ago and I still remember it vividly.
I’d always suffered from a little pain and cramping but nothing like this. It woke me up. Sharp shards of pain ripping through my lower abdomen, causing me to curl up in the foetal position and beg my boyfriend for help. I didn’t have any period pain medication in the house and the paracetamol I had taken a few hours earlier had done nothing.
“I need period pain medication,” I groaned. “We need to find an open chemist.”
My boyfriend helped me to the car because I wanted to go with him so that when we found a chemist that was open, I could take the medication immediately. It was 6:20AM(I had been writhing around since around 2:00AM) and we thought our best chance was to head to the chemist next to the nearest hospital. Their website said they’d open at 7:30AM. Maybe someone would arrive earlier.
The pain was incredible. If I had been feeling the pain in any other part of my body for any other reason, I would have called an ambulance or headed to the nearest emergency room. As it was period pain, I allowed myself to continue suffering because I learned very early on that period pain was funny at best, inconvenient at worst and nothing to fuss about.
Women’s problems… that time of the month… period pain… shhhhhh…
The medical term used for period pain is dysmenorrhoea and according to Women’s Health Concern, 80 percent of women suffer from it at some stage in their lives. Cramps are just one of the ways in which women on their period suffer. There’s also all-over bloating, tender breasts, swollen stomach, mood swings, trouble concentrating and fatigue.
There has been almost no progress when it comes to understanding the causes of period pain and no new treatments to decrease the associated pain. That’s because medical issues associated with “that time of the month” are dismissed by so many doctors.
POSSIBLE CAUSES OF PERIOD PAIN:
Decrease of blood supply to the womb;
Stress and anxiety;
Endometriosis or fibroids;
Intrauterine devices (IUDs);
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
I asked the women at Mamamia Women’s Network to describe their worst period pain:
Like there’s a knife being constantly twisted around in my lower stomach. I also get it in my upper legs which is weird but some days I can barely move. To ease the pain, I take these muscle relaxing tablets and/or pop a hot water bottle on my stomach. Laura, 22.
Weirdly, I never used to get it and in the past year I’ve suddenly developed it. I basically feel like I’ve been kicked in the crotch and the ache is coming up into my stomach. (I have also seen it described as a similar feeling to having gastro, which isn’t inaccurate either). Anon, 27.
It was like birth contractions. I used to have it so badly when I was a teenager that I remember once just lying in the middle of the footpath. A bus driver stopped his bus to see if I was okay. Going on the pill was the best thing ever. I wish my mum had put me on it when I was 13 or 14. Anon, 46.
In a recent installment of MM Confessions we asked women to describe the state of their “lady gardens”. Article continues after this video.