Dysmenorrhoea

period pain

Periods. Some people have them, some don’t. And for those that do, you’ll find that each and every person you speak to has a completely different experience when it comes to ‘that time of the month.’

You might be one of the lucky ones. Periods that come with little pain that doesn’t otherwise impact on your day to day life. But then again, you might not be so lucky and you might be part of a large group of people that have a tough time, resulting in incomprehensive levels of pain each and every cycle.

Should we just put up with painful periods?

That’s the question. 

The NHS website says: “Period pain is common and a normal part of your menstrual cycle. Most women get it at some point in their lives. It’s usually felt as painful muscle cramps in the tummy, which can spread to the back and thighs. The pain sometimes comes in intense spasms, while at other times it may be dull but more constant. It may also vary with each period. Some periods may cause little or no discomfort, while others may be more painful.”

So, as a woman that is dealing with crippling period pain that interferes with day to day activities, at what point do you think it necessary to speak to a doctor about your experience? 

The Guardian reported that “up to 29% of women suffer from cramping severe enough to interfere with daily activities – and many grimace through it without ever speaking up.” 

Perhaps the lack of information or clear guidance about what level of pain should or shouldn’t be ‘put up with’ is to blame. It can also be very much rooted in how we’re educated on our menstrual cycle and what we’re told to expect from an early age.

Quite often women bear the pain of a period just as they are expected to bear the pain of childbirth. We’re taught it’s a natural thing that is part of our lives by default, to expect it, and to accept it. 

What level of pain for a period is seen as abnormal? 

The NHS advises that you should “See your GP if you have severe period pain or your normal pattern of periods changes – for example if your periods become heavier than usual or irregular.”

Some of the symptoms of severe period pain include being sick, headaches, breast tenderness, dizziness, pelvic pain, cramps, bloating, diarrhoea, fatigue, feeling emotional, and more.

The medical name for painful periods is dysmenorrhoea. In which there are two types:

Primary dysmenorrhoea. Period pain that is unexplained or isn’t caused by a specific condition. The pain usually begins when your period arrives each month and lasts 1-3 days.

Secondary dysmenorrhoea. Period pain caused by an underlying medical condition. This could be endometriosis or fibroids. This pain can start ay anytime (sometimes years after your period first starts) and can be present during your monthly cycle as well as when you have your period. It often gets worse throughout the course of your period.

Some of the medical conditions that can cause period pain include:

  • Endometriosis
  • Fibroids
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Adenomyosis

Dysmenorrhoea adversely affects a woman’s quality of life and well-being and can lead to restriction of daily activities and absence from school or work. 

Some doctors don’t take women’s pain as seriously

It’s a bold statement, but the evidence is there. There are numerous stories of women having to fight to be heard when it comes to experiencing high levels of pain. We’ve provided links at the bottom of this article for you to check out.

In a study titled ‘The Girl Who Cried Pain: A Bias Against Women in the Treatment of Pain’, the findings were that “while women experience more frequent and greater pain than men, they are likely to be less well treated than men for their painful symptoms.”

We know our bodies. Sometimes we know them better than we think we do, and if something is telling you that your period pain is more severe than it should be, talking to your GP and being taken seriously is something we should all expect. Whether that means being walked through the different ways you can treat severe period pain at home, with over the counter painkillers or if it means being tested for the medical conditions outlined above… 

You should feel safe speaking up about your period pain and you should be taken seriously.

Menstruation is natural, but don’t be misled that the extreme pain that some experience is normal. It isn’t.

https://www.cosmopolitan.com/health-fitness/news/a53959/why-you-seriously-need-to-speak-up-about-period-pain/

https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/health/2018/08/why-gender-data-gap-means-doctors-don-t-take-women-s-pain-seriously-enough

https://sheerluxe.com/2018/03/12/real-reason-period-pain-isn%E2%80%99t-being-taken-seriously

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/sep/02/why-dont-doctors-trust-women-because-they-dont-know-much-about-us

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