Until about three years ago, well into my late 20s, I never had period pain. Bloating sure, and perhaps a bit of a dip in my mood, but never pain. As such, all through high school I simply thought the girls who got out of P.E. by blaming their period were feeling lazy. As far as I was aware periods kinda sucked, sure, but they were no reason not to live your life as normal. I now realise I was so very wrong.
When I got my first cramps, I kid you not, I called my mum in a panic because I was SO sure it must be toxic shock syndrome. Surely your normal, run-of-the-mill cramps could not feel THIS intense. A few seconds into the convo Mum was very confidentially able to tell me that yes, in fact, these were very standard cramps, and I should count myself lucky that I didn’t deal with it often.
I remember complaining about it to my workmate the following week. Bless her heart, she humoured me with sympathy, but then explained that she has endometriosis and the pain has been so bad at times that she’s passed out cold while walking down the street on more than one occasion.
View this post on Instagram
What's the deal with period pain? Most people who get their period have experienced period pain, otherwise known as cramps, proper term dysmenorrhea, occasionally referred to as “my uterus is on fire and it’s not fair, why me, oh please make it stop!” Period pain is more common in adolescents and women in their 20s, it occurs when the muscles in the uterus contract or tighten. The pain can include cramping and heaviness in the pelvic area, as well as pain in the lower back, stomach or even legs. Have you experienced this before? #RED #REDbymodibodi #periodcramps #period #pms #periodproblems #menstruation #dysmenorrhea
Were my cramps yet at the pain levels that would make me call in sick to school or work? No – but holy hell it was already the opposite of a good time and I suddenly had a bit more understanding of what fellow uterus-having people were complaining about. At least, I thought I did.
It would be a little while between that first incident and the regular pain I experience now. For the last two years, with increasing frequency and intensity, I get lower backaches that sometimes make anything other than lying down a repulsive thought. For me, heat packs do what they can, as do painkillers, but – as most of you reading probably already know – sometimes they just don’t cut it.
Recently, I had period pain so bad that I wasn’t sure if I was going to faint or throw up, and I was shivering like I had a fever. Weirdly, it lasted at some level for almost a full month and I could barely eat during this time, thanks to the continued discomfort.
My sister, a person who’s dealt with PCOS her whole life, insisted I get to the doctor as she knew what could go wrong if an ovarian cyst got too hectic. As it turns out, it’s not a cyst, but it’s probably endo which means this level of stabby pain probs won’t be uncommon going forward.
For me, tampons just tend to make it worse. I’m pretty sure this isn’t scientifically sound, but nonetheless something about having a foreign object up in there poking at the sore bits is too much at the most painful points of my period. On the flipside, pads often get kind of messy and…damp.
This is why finally trying period undies was a gamechanger for me (I personally gave Modibodi a go). I don’t have to put any more thought into it than putting on a pair of knickers. There are different types for light/moderate/heavy flows and I’ve never had a leak. Basically, in my experience, it leaves me with one less thing to worry about when Flo comes to town. I hate that bitch.
So now, NOW I fully understand what a huge jerk I was to judge all other bodies by what mine wasn’t feeling. Unfortunately, it’s so often true that you can’t understand something until you’ve experienced it yourself. For my misguided assumptions – I am so sorry. To my painless, bloaty periods – I miss the heck out of you.
Finally, to all of us who experience periods, if we can find anything to make them more comfortable we should absolutely indulge it. Eat all the chocolate. Buy that cute heat pack. Take a week off sporty things.
I get it – and I’m sorry I didn’t sooner.Image: Big Mouth