Photo by Cezanne Ali on Unsplash
Mine began when I was 12. My mom had told me about it the year before, and I was dreading it, expecting it to hurt like being constantly pricked. So when I got it, and felt no pain at all, I was so relieved, I was ecstatic. Fortunately for me it was on a holiday, so I just had to ask my mom for a pad and I have no dramatic story to tell of being caught by surprise in school. I do remember secretly feeling proud and happy. I was one milestone closer to being a grown up, to being a woman.
But barely a year later, I started cursing my periods, because they became so unbearably painful. No, it did not feel like I was constantly being pricked. It felt like the organs inside my abdomen were knotting up. There were days I would be clutching my stomach and crying, but I wouldn't take any medicine, because it was supposed to be normal and I wanted to be strong. As you know, if you have been reading this series, in my case, it turned out that I had appendicitis.
Even after my appendix was removed, the pains continued. Though they were not as bad as they had been before, they were bad enough, that I could not concentrate on anything. My gynecologist prescribed some pain medication and it made life better. In later years, I needed to have one paracetamol every period and things are fine. After pregnancy that has reduced to one paracetamol every two or three periods.
But I was lucky, because period pains can be a lot worse than they were for me, and some barely get any relief from pain medication.
Puberty is a time the body goes through a lot of changes, and a lot of things can go wrong.
Abnormally heavy menstrual bleeding is called menorrhagia and can result from a number of underlying problem like dysfunctional ovaries, hormonal imbalance, uterine fibroids etc and you read read all about it at the page I have linked to. Using an intra-uterine device (IUD) for contraception, can cause heavy bleeding too.
Irregular periods is a common problem during puberty and just before menopause. But they can also be caused by polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) or treatment of thyroid disorders. Changing your contraceptive can also temporarily disrupt your menstrual cycle.
Endometriosis, which I have talked about at length, can result in heavy and extremely painful periods. Endometriosis is difficult to diagnose and often remains undetected for several years. It is important to get checked for it as early detection and treatment can prevent infertility. PCOS can also result in severe menstrual cramps.
Changing levels of hormones can cause PMS. People often joke about PMS, but it is unpleasant to endure and can require hormone medications in severe cases.
Livia is a new product that claims to help with period pains. It isn't FDA approved yet but has received a lot of positive reviews and claims to be close to receiving its FDA and CE approval. I haven't personally used it, but here is a review if you are interested. You can google it too.
Menstrual hygiene products
Personally, I have always used a sanitary pad and found it convenient. But some people get rashes and infections from using sanitary pads, and one can't swim wearing sanitary pads. Also sanitary pads are contributing to the garbage crisis in some places.
Most women who don't like sanitary pads, use tampons, which allow you to swim. However, in using super absorbant tampons, one needs to be careful not to keep them in for longer than the recommended time, to avoid chances of toxic shock syndrome.
Off late, there has been some discussion about the reusable menstrual cup, which has been gaining popularity for being environment friendly and cost effective. They can also be used while swimming. This site has reviewed menstrual cups from different brands and here are instructions on how to use a menstrual cup. Wiki How also has more detailed pictiures that may help you better understand how to use this device. .