It’s a reoccurring monthly nightmare for many women around the world yet one of the most hushed and shunned topics there is.
We get it–the blood, the clots, the smell, it’s not pretty. But it’s life. And the monthly visit from Aunt Flo terrorizes so many women that it’s time medicine starts taking this seriously.
Dysmenorrhea, the clinical term for painful menstruation, is life altering for one in five women, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. In an investigative study, Quartz reached out to gynecologists and medical professionals alike who agreed that physicians believe ibuprofen “should be good enough” to treat the pain.
John Guillebaud, professor of reproductive health at University College London, told Quartz the cramping can be as “bad as having a heart attack.”
If men suffered from menses, there is no way they would be throwing ibuprofen at people as if it were an adequate fix.For some reason, we are expected to simply “suck it up.”
Guillebaud offered an explanation as to why that sentiment might be prominent, “I think it happens with both genders of doctor. On the one hand, men don’t suffer the pain and underestimate how much it is or can be in some women. But I think some women doctors can be a bit unsympathetic because either they don’t get it themselves or if they do get it they think, ‘Well I can live with it, so can my patient.’”
Debilitating cramps plague over 10% of ovulating women in the US yet research to expand treatment options is limited.
Richard Legro, M.D. of Penn State College Of Medicine, says “without a lobby championing the need for research, researchers won’t start paying more attention to the condition.” He points out that “public discussion of period pain is widely kept hush.”
People can’t even say the words “vagina” or “menstrual blood” without looking squeamish or sick, but it’s the most natural thing that can happen to any woman. It’s time to take ownership of the period conversation, put down the shame, and have some real talk about our afflictions and how they can be healed.