Doctors have finally gotten around to announcing what women have been saying from basically the beginning of time: menstrual cramps are really, really painful.
In fact, period pains can even be almost as painful as a heart attack.
Women know that periods can feel like someone punching you in the stomach while simultaneously forcing you to watch the saddest parts of Bambi, but explaining that agony to men can feel equally frustrating.
But now John Guillebaud, a Professor of reproductive health at University College London, has spoken up. He told Quartz that dysmenorrhea, or painful menstruation, has been described by sufferers as:
“almost as bad as having a heart attack.”
Period pain this bad interferes with the daily life of around one in five women, but too many doctors dismiss of symptoms and recommend an over-the-counter painkiller even though ibuprofen often just won’t cut it.
Endometriosis, the second cause of period pain after dysmenorrhea, is estimated to affect round one in ten ovulating women.
It causes cells similar to those found in the lining of the womb to grow elsewhere in the body and can cause a host of symptoms: painful periods, fatigue, bowel and bladder problems, and even infertility.
On average, it takes a woman seven and a half years to be diagnosed with endometriosis due to a worrying lack of research and awareness, and treatment options remain limited. Likewise, the cause of dysmenorrhea is still not fully understood.
Researcher Dr Annalise Weckesser told The Independent that a culture of silence has resulted in the condition being neglected by the medical establishment.
There is a long history of not taking menstrual pain seriously and even writing it off as women’s hysteria. We don’t talk about menstrual health, young girls’ knowledge aboutmenstrual health is poor.
Our medical professionals are not separate from that so what is an average experience of menstruation, what is typical and what is atypical? That permeates up into the nurses and the GPs and that’s why you get young women being written off.