When I typed Primary Dysmenorrhea into Google (because I like to research, and to make sure that I’m not just talking out of my arse) the very first hit after the Google snippet is from an article published in 1999.
I wish I could type numbers in captials.
1999? Are you KIDDING me?!
You would actually kind of hope that information from 20 years ago would be so out of date that it wouldn’t show up as the very first hit on a Google search.
Reading through this hopefully outdated article, I can see that not much has changed in 20 years – although the article does mention endometriosis, which is sort of encouraging, but then it makes me think, damn – you’ve had 20 years to figure this shit out, but you’re still no further along with a fast diagnosis of a truly dibilitating disease.
The article states that when it comes to Primary Dysmenorrhea (the techincal term for period pain):
“Prevalence rates are as high as 90 percent. Initial presentation of primary dysmenorrhea typically occurs in adolescence. It is a common cause of absenteeism and reduced quality of life in women. The problem is often underdiagnosed and undertreated.”American Family Physician
A cause of absenteeism and reduced quality of life
No shit. I’ve missed school because of period pains. I would skip out on school early if I had bad period pains and I knew I was scheduled to work that evening. Money was more important to me than a couple of study periods (tee hee) on a Friday afternoon.
I am so lucky that my period has never made me miss out on a day’s work as an adult. I can’t imagine the kind of pressure that must cause. And who has actually been able to call work and say, “I can’t come in – I am doubled over with period pains, and I may vomit on you.”
“The problem of absenteeism from school or work is also underappreciated. In one study of college women, 42% of the study subjects reported absenteeism or loss of activity on at least one occasion, although only a small percentage of women missed work or school for a given monthly menstrual cycle.”American Family Physician
Primary Dysmenorrhea is the most common type of period pain, and it is widely reported the 90% of menstruators experience this, certainly in the first couple of years of menstruation (usually experienced during adolescence).
We tend to experience period pain throughout our menstruating years. I think we develop our own ways of managing this pain. I like to wear loose clothes, knock back some ibuprofen, and drink plenty of fluids. If there is chocolate anywhere in my house, it will be consumed.
❌ That said, period pain that is so severe that it causes you to miss work or school is NOT normal.
When we’re educated about periods (if at all) we’re told that it’s going to hurt. But we’re not told what kind of scale of pain is “normal”.
Like, will holding a hot water bottle or heat pad over your abdomen help? Should we neck a couple of ibuprofen? Are we meant to *need* codeine just to make it through the day?
How about having to set ourselves up over the toilet or in the shower, because the bleeding is so heavy that no menstrual product can absorb it fast enough?
⬇️ Tell me about your first menstrual experience in the comments.
Let’s normalise talking about this.