Show of hands…who here has ever experienced non-painful menstruation?
Right. Because angry uteruses are not in the business of peaceful negotiation. The uterus is all about shock and awe.
Menstrual cramps happen because of contractions in the uterus, or womb, which is a muscle. If it contracts too strongly during your menstrual cycle, it can press against nearby blood vessels. This briefly cuts off the supply of oxygen to the uterus. It’s this lack of oxygen causes your pain and cramping. (Via WebMD)
So your uterus is basically a cranky toddler that has taken to HOLDING ITS BREATH.
No wonder it hurts.
And now researchers are getting hip to the fact that period pain is actually agonizing.
Frank Tu, director of gynecological pain at NorthShore University HealthSystem, tells Quartz some physicians are taught that ibuprofen “should be good enough.” Clearly, this is not an adequate response to such severe pain. How severe? John Guillebaud, professor of reproductive health at University College London, tells Quartz that patients have described the cramping pain as “almost as bad as having a heart attack.” (Via Quartz)
Admittedly, I’m a bit surprised by this statement.
- I’ve never had a heart attack, so I can’t accurately compare the two.
- Culturally, we like to act like period pain is no big deal. Or that women are being weak and overdramatic.
Right. So I’m supposed to cruise through a few days with consistent, heart-attack-like pain, and we’re gonna just rub some ibuprofen on that?
Now, I’m not on the hunt for a big pile of pain meds to ease my menstrual cramps every month, but I’d sure love it if we (all women and all men) could get to a place where we could admit that periods are a thing, and they are legitimately painful. And that perhaps that level of ongoing pain, ON A MONTHLY GD BASIS, isn’t all in our mind or cause for eye-rolling, from anyone.
Most women I know power through their day, marinating in the pain reliever of their own choosing, and only when all the things are done, do they crawl into bed with a heating pad across their belly.
So highest of fives to all the ladies out there today that are wracked with pain and are cruising through life like it’s no big deal. I hope there’s a brownie, some Netflix, and a heating pad in your future.