Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Cramps Still Got you Down?

 Just the other day I was speaking to a college student* who is on a type of oral contraceptive pill that has eliminated her period all together.  No more periods.

So I asked her the obvious: "Do you miss your periods? Do you worry that you might be pregnant?" She looked at me like I came from Mars or even some more distant celestial body.
"Are you kidding?" she exclaimed.
"First, of all , I am not sexually active." 
I started this pill because I couldn't deal with the cramps anymore.
And I am just too busy.
I mean who needs to think about 'Do I have the tampon in my backpack today?'
'Is today the day?'
Is it safe to wear white pants today?
Do I have enough Advil in my pack today?
I have better things to do.
Who needs all those cramps?  All that mess?
I used to be doubled over with hot water bottles and heating pads, and writhing around watching One Life to Live.  Ridiculous
Babies? Not now.
I mean when the time comes I'll just stop the pills and I'll be ready.
Sure when the time comes. No problem.
Right now, I'm just too busy.
Worrying that it's coming too early or it's too late.
Or if I wanted to have sex what would I do.
Would the condom work? How long would I have to worry?
It's too much to think about.
I mean I'm just too busy. I have better things to do.

She had me in stitches.  She was so firm in her conviction about her amenorrhea (lack of periods induced by her low dose birth control pills) that I wanted to make a poster of her monologue as a paean to the possibilities of a life without menstrual cramps, known to health care providers as dysmenorrhea.

Dysmenorrhea is an age old affliction of girls and women that no longer need slow them down, hold them back, ruin their days, or relegate them to a tent.  Although absence of menses as in my example above is an extreme solution (albeit one chosen more frequently as women learn that it is perfectly safe and extremely convenient) it is very possible to manage periods in a much more efficient way than many women have ever been taught.  Keeping track of periods so that a young girl or young woman can anticipate the first day or even better yet, First Day Minus One can be very helpful. 
 A combination of exercise, diet, ibuprofen and its sister drugs taken early and often can help manage a majority of menstrual cramps. Here is one yoga pose that feels really great all the time but especially during times of menstrual cramping:
from dailyperricone.com via Google images

 If a young woman  is suffering or missing out on fun, work, or school she should be evaluated by her pediatrician.  Treatment is simple and effective.  This is especially true if a child is involved since girls as young as ten may be menstruating and should NOT be experiencing pain with menses.   Every so often a more severe disorder (such as a congenital anomaly causing an obstruction or a condition called endometriosis which can lead to infertility) may exist and requires far more advanced diagnosis and treatment.  Do NOT accept complacency or suffering for an answer. There are any number of creative and individualized solutions out there. Ask and expect an answer.

*This "monologue" is a creative reconstruction of our conversation
image of girl from hooping.org via Google images

1 comment:

  1. I don't like the sound of that. Bad things usually happen when you try to derail your body's natural functions.