I’ve been living with my monthly visitor on and off since I was approximately eight years of age. I was a very early bloomer, so I rightly consider myself a well-versed veteran on the subject of menstrual cramps.
What causes menstrual cramps?
To put it bluntly, menstrual cramps are caused by the uterus contracting. The hormones involved in pain and inflammation trigger the contractions so that it’s easier for the unfertilised egg and lining to be shed. The higher the level of these hormones (prostaglandins), the more painful the contractions.
Is extreme menstrual pain normal?
Throughout my life, I’ve suffered from extremely painful menstrual cramps. But it was completely normal, right? That is until I spoke with a doctor in Belfast approximately five years ago. She referred me to a gynecologist for an investigation into suspected endometriosis. This led to a three-year wait for a simple consultation. After an hour in an overcrowded waiting room in late 2019, I was dismissed with pain killers and no further action. Not even the scan that was initially suggested.
Your sexual health is just as valid and important as any other part of your body. Yet, as the owner of a uterus, I often feel embarrassed to talk about it. But it’s important that we educate ourselves, advocate for ourselves, and don’t allow ourselves to be spoken over.