So here's a bit of infuriating news to get your day started; a male doctor has decided that period pain is actually a real thing. I mean, thank you? After generations of women have suffered, it took a male physician to officially decree that menstrual cramps can be as painful as heart attacks. And honestly, women aren't exactly falling down in gratitude over the recent scientific announcement that periods hurt for real. It's almost like women already knew that or something.
In January, several news outlets including Marie Claire shared a report from 2016 from Quartz. In the original article, John Guillebaud of University College London, professor of reproductive health, noted that patients suffering from menstrual cramps described the pain as being akin to suffering from a heart attack. While it seems fairly difficult to measure two very different experiences against each other, this could mean something fairly momentous. Perhaps women who are trying to deal with the crippling pain that is officially called Dysmenorrhea, as Quartz reported, will be offered some effective pain management medication. Or even just have their period pain taken seriously, instead of having it used as a punchline at the end of a joke as can so often be the case. Maybe now that a man has made it official that period pain is pretty awful, things will change?
I can tell you one thing, women on Twitter aren't exactly loving the fact that their menstrual cramps might only now be taken seriously because a man confirmed something they had been saying for years.
In fact, when several people took to Twitter to question the likelihood of menstrual cramps being as painful as a heart attack, one women who had suffered both had something to say... they're worse.
Medical professionals typically "treat" menstrual cramps with over-the-counter medications like Tylenol, aspirin, or an anti-inflammatory to help alleviate the pain. The website Medicinenet.com also offers helpful tips, like trying to use exercise, yoga, sleep, massage, and possibly an orgasm or two to help deal with menstrual cramps. The same site lists menstrual cramp symptoms as:
- tender breasts
- lack of concentration
- mood swings
- severe pain that can extend from the lower abdomen to the back, inner thighs, hips, and legs
In other words, menstrual cramps are sort of like a guaranteed "heart attack" that will be arriving like a train coming down the tracks every month for decades.
Despite the evidence that period pain has been making women uncomfortable for generations, very little research has been done on exactly how best to treat it. And that's the real concern here; it's great that a man has given women the green light to say they are in very real pain, but shouldn't they also learn how to treat it in ways that make more sense than yoga and ibuprofen?
Women's Health Concern notes that 40 percent of women report suffering on a monthly basis from severe menstrual cramps, and 5 to 10 percent of women have such debilitating period pain that it affects their daily lives. A full 80 percent of women have some form of period pain, and yet there is no such thing as paid leave for period pain in the United States. It does exist in some countries, however, and the sky has not fallen in. In Japan, Taiwan, Indonesia, South Korea and Zambia and a few companies in India do recognize what they refer to as a "menstrual leave policy," according to The New York Times.
The reality for women who experience extreme period pain is this; it's terrible and lonely. You're often expected to get on with your life and suffer in silence, because talking about periods might make people uncomfortable. Although this realization is long overdue, hopefully it'll no longer take comparing this very real and often debilitating pain to a heart attack for people to acknowledge and treat it as such.
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