If you’re here, it’s likely you or someone you know suffers from painful periods. It seems that more and more womxn complain of symptoms as time goes on. It’s to the point where phrases like, “Well that’s just something we put up with,” and, “Oh, that’s normal” are heard regularly in gynecology offices. We sigh with relief, because we aren’t the only ones, and then ask what can be done. We are given two options: OTC painkillers or birth control.
So we give the painkillers a try but eventually we are reaching for more and more pills, as the pain doesn’t subside. Sometimes we end up in enough pain to land us in the ER and we find out that those magic pills have actually caused inflammation in our intestines.
We go back to our doctor and ask for birth control, hoping that will be the answer. Month after month the cramping prevails but now we’re scared of those anti-inflammatory pills that we had such an adverse reaction to. We suffer in silence because we were told that those were our only options.
But what if your painful periods aren’t “normal”?
You may have heard the term endometriosis tossed around but you’re not exactly clear on what that is or what it means. You let yourself fall down a rabbit hole researching and suddenly you’re convinced that you have it. Maybe you don’t have every single symptom on the list, but you have over half. You’re scared. You learn that infertility can be a side effect. You always wanted a family and now you think that dream might be dead.
You go back to your doctor and ask about this condition. They tell you that they’ll schedule an ultrasound to check. What you don’t know is that this test rarely picks up the lesions that endo leaves behind. Your test comes back clean and you feel the air fill your lungs again.
But your cramps don’t get any better as you get older. In fact, they get worse. You add more symptoms to your list such as: fatigue, bloating and even mood swings. After talking with multiple doctors and trying several kinds of birth control, you give up. You accept that this is your life now and that you have to deal with it.
But what if that isn’t true?
The average diagnosis for endometriosis takes around 7 years from the first sign of symptoms. Think that’s crazy? We’ve been there and are living proof. Laparoscopy surgeries aren’t done regularly without good reason. Since period pain has become so normalized, it can be hard to get your doctor to take your symptoms seriously.
Inflammation is the culprit when it comes to endo. Ever heard of endo belly? But you don’t need to have a diagnosis to make changes to help alleviate period pain. It can be so beneficial to listen to your body and make changes and see what works for you. The best part? You are in control of what tweaks you want to make.
Switching up your diet can be a big ask, but trust us, there’s a reason. We aren’t going to suggest anything we haven’t tried or that hasn’t been proven to work. Food can be a form of comfort or self-care, so we understand that it can be a challenge. It doesn’t have to be an all or nothing approach though, you can always work on it in baby steps.
So what now?
If you feel that you aren’t being heard by your healthcare professional, you do still have options.
- You can ask to be placed with another doctor. This can be tricky and even feel yucky to do so, but your health is important and should be prioritized. Think of it as online dating. You wouldn’t go on a second date with someone who didn’t listen to you, would you? You are in the right to want to be seen and heard. And after all, you’re paying them, so get the care you deserve.
- You can take matters into your own hands. We did, and that’s how Semaine was born. We wanted a natural, supportive option for ourselves, so we created one. Now, that doesn’t mean that you have to create a product, but you can try fiddling around with your diet and lifestyle habits and see if anything changes. (You can even give Semaine a try!) There is so much new research being done, we are hopeful there will be a more diverse set of options in the future.
- You can speak out and tell your story. So many people with periods suffer from debilitating pain each month. It’s time that our stories are heard and validated. We are living through a special moment in time that is so powerful, but only if we use our voices. It’s up to us to ask for what we need. After all, periods are normal, pain shouldn’t be. We're continuing to collect and share period stories here at Semaine. Let us know if you'd like to share your story on our site.