Period pains can be as bad as a heart attack

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  • A professor of reproductive health has spoken

    Last year periods were headline making. The stigma surrounding menstruation was chipped away the world over. We started to shout back at period-shamers.

    In the UK politicians said the word tampon in the House of Commons as they battled it out over the tampon tax.

    Donald Trump was the catalyst for the hashtag #periodsarenotaninsult. When he implied that Fox News host Megyn Kelly was asking him taxing questions because she was on her period (one of his many acts of blatant misogyny). Women across the world responded by tweeting Trump details of their monthly cycle. Three cheers.

    Then 20-year-old Nikita Azad started a social media campaign against menstrual taboos in India, #HappyToBleed. She was protesting against the practice of women of menstruating age being banned from temples because they are thought to be impure.

    Plus, Kiran Gandhi (a drummer and Harvard Business School graduate) chose to freebleed during the 2015 London Marathon in a stand against period-shaming that also highlighted the fact that women all over the world don’t have access to clean, safe sanitary products.

    In a nutshell: periods were suddenly something you could chat about at the pub shame-free and we haven’t stopped since.

    These discussions sparked questions. The thing is, the world has spent so long pretending periods don’t exist that it seems we might not managing them as well as we could be.

    Recently Olivia Goldhill, who suffers from severe period pain wrote a piece for Quartz in which she questioned why more research isn’t being done in to how to treat period pain.

    This healthy bodily function most women will experience about 350 times in their life can actually cause tremendous pain. Pain that is often dismissed by medical professionals as ‘lady pain’ that women should put up with uncomplainingly.

    Goldhill cited the opinion of John Guillebaud, professor of reproductive health at University College London, who says cramping can be as “almost as bad as having a heart attack.

    “Men don’t get it and it hasn’t been given the centrality it should have,” he told Goldhill “I do believe it’s something that should be taken care of, like anything else in medicine.”

    Goldhill’s essay addressed the fact that this medical condition is given special treatment – and not the good kind.

    Symptoms of Dysmenorrhea (the clinical term for painful menstruation) are dismissed and the one-fits-all recommendation is some ibuprofen and a hot water bottle, it’s not given the scientific consideration of other conditions that cause significant, sometimes debilitating pain.

    For the good of all women, let’s start being frank about the physical pain periods can cause.

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