Why We Need to Stop Belittling Women with Severe Period Symptoms

What you don’t know about the crime scene in my pants.

To those of you that don’t believe

To the women who belittled me.

To the men who judged without justification.

To the boss that assumed I was faking it.

To my friends for getting upset when I canceled.

To all of you, for not opening your eyes and listening to the truth of my words.

They’re surrounding you

Up to 20% of women suffer from period pain so severe that they can’t perform their daily activities. The majority of these women are typically young adults in their teens or in their 20s.

That’s a lot of women, and as one of them, I can attest to it.

In high school, I would miss days almost monthly because my symptoms were so severe that I either a) wouldn’t be able to get out of bed, or b) would vomit profusely. It was pain so intense that I would have to cradle my knees to my chest for some sort of relief. My face would turn white, my muscles would lock up, and my brain would go hazy, sometimes to the point of unconsciousness. Usually, at that point, I would force down a few ibuprofen, grab a heating pad, and lie in misery until my uterus decided to quit the contractions.

Still, to this day, I suffer monthly, and I’m 23 years old. I know I’m not the only one to go through this, and I know I won’t be the last. Many other women are in the same predicament as me. Here’s to us, hoping for the day when we see red without the pain.

Caught red-handed…literally

Maybe this sounds dramatic to you. Maybe you’re a woman as well and you have zero period symptoms. You’re the lucky one, but it’s naive to think that we are all the same. Each and every one of our bodies are different with varying sizes and structures.

It’s the same as having a peanut allergy. You eat a peanut and feel great because you’re getting your healthy fats in for the day. The person next to you, however, eats a peanut and suffers from an allergic reaction that can quite possibly kill them.

Our bodies respond differently; it’s as simple as that. And yet, when it comes to periods, there’s this taboo surrounding it where people (especially other women) think it can’t really be that real, right? But it is, and there’s even a name for it: dysmenorrhea.

Menstrual cramps happen when your uterine muscles contract from the high amount of prostaglandins (hormone substances) releasing in your uterus. These prostaglandins are the source of cramps, as they trigger pain and inflammation. This is completely normal for women to experience during their cycle, however, cramps become more severe when there is a higher level of prostaglandins in the uterus.

So basically, blame prostaglandins for your extremely painful menstrual cramps. They’re the culprits here.

Assuming someone’s fibbing

The amount of times that someone has assumed that I am either lying to get out of something or exaggerating the truth is innumerable.

I remember one time I was going through the typical soul-sucking pain from Mother Nature when my sister got upset with me for complaining. She yelled at me that she had cramps too, and I just needed to suck it up because all women get them.

Another time, I remember getting hit with a wave of exhaustion and pain while out with friends. I tried to make the Irish exit only to fail and have to tell my friends the reason I was sneaking out. They just stared at me and gave me strange faces because they couldn’t understand that I would need to leave for that.

Oh and let’s not forget about the chaos I started when telling a boss I needed to leave early. So many different bosses with such narrow minds made me feel like I didn’t have the right to feel period pain.

It’s okay that you can’t relate to us. We don’t expect anyone to understand the pain we feel, however, we do expect some respect when we tell you we’re feeling what we’re feeling. It’s hard enough dealing with the red devil in your belly. We don’t need devils on the outside too.

Believe us

It’s surprising that in this day and age, people still struggle to welcome the idea of foreign things. We see how far the LGBT community has come in spreading the love and broadening the minds of many opposing individuals. We see the Me Too movement fighting for justice in a world where many voices go unheard. We see communities standing together strong to resist the ones threatening to smother them.

Period pain can be listed as a minor incidence of course, but it still affects tons of women. As one of those women, I can assure you that we are not making this up, and we do not have low pain tolerance. It’s a matter of great importance that women with this condition receive the same respect that anyone with a debilitating condition would receive.

All we ask is that you believe us when we tell you we’re in pain. Because we are in pain. Horrible, yell-at-the-sky pain that doesn’t cease for one damn minute. Please just give us a break and believe us.

Writer. Avid reader. Stay-at-home astronaut. Prone to be obsessive when I really like something.

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