This is my late arrival to celebrating women’s month. Periods is something that is still unfortunately regarded as taboo. Something to be discussed in whispers, something disgusting. I believe it is simple biology and proper discussions need to be held on it to break the power of the myths woven around it. This is a two-part post on painful periods. The first explores the personal stories of women I know and admire, while the second is getting professional advice on how to better manage it. The intention of this is to provide help to women who have painful periods but are ignorant about it or lack access to a gynaecologist.
OnyinyeOlufunmi – I started my period a week after my 12th birthday. I was in the toilet when I saw blood and even though my mom had told me about it I was still freaked out. I shouted: “Oh My God! Blood!”. And I think I cried. My dad was the one home so he sent for pads which I wore.
I was in Jss 3 then and was returning back to Enugu for school. I felt very self-conscious and kept imagining weird scenarios about it. I had even asked a friend before; “Does the blood drop or gush out?”. It was irregular until my 13th year when I entered senior secondary school.
It was hell, the pains were intense, long-lasting and excruciating. I even missed an exam because of it. People (even females, older women too) who don’t understand often made fun of it and say to endure without knowing how much it hurts. Oh! And the diarrhoea. It was unexpected.
I try to work around it by using warm water which makes the blood rush more. On the very bad days when I can’t sleep, I use painkillers, which I hate (I was a good substance abuse student 😛).
However, I listened to Daily Run Africa’s podcast on it and stumbling on Tia Mowry issue as well made me improve on my diet. Eating high-quality foods have definitely helped me because the month I didn’t pay attention to my food I got terrible cramps. To me, a high-quality diet, and a cup or two of hot tea does it for now.
My period pain essentials
Divine – I started my period when I was 11 years old. Although the first two times were not painful, it wasn’t consistent so I had it twice before I turned 12. My 12th birthday was when I first experienced the most painful event of my life, little did I know that it was only the tip of the iceberg. The doctor prescribed a painkiller (buscopan) and it did relieve me so I kept using it for a year but it soon became ineffective. I took more than the prescribed dosage and it just didn’t work. (Yea bad on my side but the pain was much) I would literally lie down in pain, I scratch, beat and bite myself just to divert the pain elsewhere but still to no avail.
I felt the pain for straight 15 minutes, relief for 30 seconds, as time drifts towards the next day, the seconds of relief turns to minutes and then hours.
The first day or sometimes the first two days are usually the worst. I often end up in the hospital for painkiller injections when my mom can’t take it anymore. I even take a day or two off from school when I’m on my period. Today, I’m stuck up on painkillers once or twice a month. Well. That’s my story.
Wumi – Starting my period wasn’t really on my mind so when I went to urinate one hot afternoon (I was 11 or 12) and I saw blood, I screamed: “Mummy I’m bleeding, I’m dying”. I was a dramatic child, LOL. I had a very easy period which usually lasted just 3 days until my SS3 when I started having minimal cramps.
I entered university and the cramps became a lot more painful. I would use drugs and they’ll work for just about an hour before wearing off. I was medically advised to stop taking pills. Now, I get my period for 5-6 days. The flow is heavy and I’m always uncomfortable even in my sleep plus my emotions are seriously over the top.
I almost never get stained though because I’m overly conscious and have to change my pad/tampons every few hours. I also drink warm water a lot because I heard it eases the pain and I’ve started certain exercises also. Exercises help a bit while warm water just makes it rush more.
Oluchi – I started at 13. I was in Jss 2. You know then, we were always taught about it and most girls were ready for it mentally. When mine started, I felt weird because it came with little pain unlike what I anticipated. However it happened like that until recent years in the University. That was when I knew what menstrual pain was all about.
Most times it will be like someone is slowly cutting my veins, I would scream and scream and scream. Most times I will be irritated, totally angry at everything and everyone. Will even feel like beating the person next to me. I always count its days like my life depends on it.
However, of recent, I learnt how to ease the pain when it comes. Unlike others, I don’t take drugs like felvin or ibruprofen that is because I have been spoken to against it by my doctor. So what I do is I boil water, make sure it’s very hot, add milk to it and drink. This way, the blood flows naturally without pains I get myself within minutes. And guess what? When it finishes, I become the happiest woman on planet earth again before it’s next coming. 😜
Ifunanya – I started my menstruation before I entered secondary school that was around August/ September 2004 (I can’t really remember the exact time). I always felt this excruciating pains at my right bottom of my stomach, I had thought it to be appendicitis. After two days of surgery, boom!!! It was my period was the next thing I saw in the morning. My mum was like: “Are you sure it is not this that has been disturbing you since?”.
Since that day henceforth, I have been having pains at the lower abdomen, loss of appetite, fatigue, bad mood swings, heavy flow, back pains sometimes low body temperature.
Surprisingly I heard that women like this, don’t find it difficult with when having labour contractions, also when giving birth, it is much easier than someone who doesn’t have these pains. Then finally, it washes away with the birth blood. I don’t know how possible it is, though I have heard nurses and doctors talk about it that it is a mystery they don’t understand.