Dysmenorrhea … it’s ugly and it’s real.

For many years, as long as I can remember I have suffered from painful periods AKA dysmenorrhea.

I started my period at age thirteen and couldn’t have been more excited.  I was so excited to finally “get it.”  It was a big deal back in the 80s when I was growing up who would get their period first … like some sort of perverse race. My period in the beginning wasn’t painful and any pain I did have was managed easily by the over-the-counter medication Pamprin.  Does anyone use Pamprin anymore?

When I turned seventeen I started on the birth control pill and my period pain was still manageable at that time.  It wasn’t until my mid-twenties that the pain from my periods became horrible.  I was at the point where the cramping went down my legs both the back and front, the low back pain was unrelenting and I had bouts of intermittent diarrhea.  The pain was so bad I had to crawl around on my hands and knees at times (at home of course, not in public), and would miss a day or two of work almost monthly.

In my late twenties I decided to go off the pill and try to get pregnant.  Without contraception, I never became pregnant and had unexplained fertility.  I am still baffled why no gynecologist suggested a laparoscopy to investigate my dysmenorrhea.

My pain was eventually managed by my primary care physician who put me on a Fentanyl Patch of 50 mcG for three days out of every month with breakthrough pain managed with Tylenol #3 and 800 mG ibuprofen.  After enduring these medications for a about a year and losing days of my life every month due to the combination of pain and the sedating amnesic effects of Fentanyl, I decided to go stop using the Fentanyl.  I didn’t want to lose parts of my life even though the pain was completely controlled.  At that point I started taking Vioxx — a non-narcotic, non-steriodal anti-inflammatory medication that would eventually be pulled from the market … FOREVER. 😦

The diarrhea episodes eventually subsided after several years but the severe back and leg pain continued every month without fail.  And then for the last decade a debilitating fatigue would set in almost every month.  I would get dark, dark circles under my eyes, and yet never heavy bleeding.  I have never been anemic.  I would take Tylenol #3 and Ibuprofen, staying in bed sleeping the painful period days away.  This is the prelude to my hysterectomy.


PS: For more on DYSMENORRHEA see my page section at the top of the blog!

5 thoughts on “Dysmenorrhea … it’s ugly and it’s real.

  1. Oh, how I remember the days of intense pain and nausea from my periods. I once fainted on the stairs in my high school and would have been really hurt if not for a quick-thinking fellow student & football player who caught me.
    Your story is really compelling! I can’t wait to catch up on it all.

    Liked by 1 person

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