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!