Monday, January 29, 2007

Moan moan moan

I am going to talk about period pain here. You may prefer to hear about Patroclus’s extraordinary orgasms.

Not yer run-of-the-mill period pain, easily sorted out with a hot-water bottle and a couple of disprin. This is what it’s like.

1. Lower abdomen pain. I picture my innards as being wrung tight like a damp washcloth. There’s an ever-present dull ache, but occasionally this is bolstered by a stabbing, shocking pain. If it happens at home, I lie face down on my bed in the dark, pillow under my stomach. At work, I just have to grip my desk, feeling myself turn white, or try and escape to the bathrooms where I can double over without anybody freaking out.

2. Lower back pain. Unshakeable, and impossible to find a comfortable position, even lying down. Standing in the cold corridor with your back pressed into the cool of the wall offers momentary relief, although your work colleagues will think you are being a bit strange.

3. Nausea. Low-level, but also constant. The smell of cooking, even something as innocuous as a workmate across the way having some toast, makes it worse. Happily, like travel sickness, eating makes you feel slightly better.

4. All-over body ache. Like you’d done an energetic work-out the day before, but without the endorphins. Add in a fuzzy headache and general lethargy. I’ve never had flu, but I imagine that I already know what it feels like.

5. Hot flushes and cold sweats.

(If you accidentally co-ordinate Day 1 with a minor hangover and having actually done a too-hard gym class the day before, really, you’ll wish you’d never been born.)

It’s not always this bad, and it’s clearly stress-related. When I left my stressful old job a few years ago to go travelling ALL symptoms disappeared immediately. Unfortunately spending the rest of my life on a beach in Thailand isn’t really feasible. But it is getting worse as I get older.

Your advice is welcome but I am not going on the pill, OK?.


  • Yeah, it used to be like that for me all the time when I was still at school. Nice in a way as it meant I had to have a day off school every month, but not so nice when I noticed too late and threw up all over the stairs at school. Haven't got any advice though, it just got better with time (even before I ever went on the pill).

    By Blogger Loganoc, at 10:19 AM  

  • I suffered from horrid periods (called dysmenorrhoea), and was prescribed mefenamic acid, which I take during my period. It really helps me, and might help you.

    By Anonymous kissing just for practice, at 10:52 AM  

  • It sounds to me as if you may have endometriosis. I suggest asking your doctor.

    By Blogger GreatSheElephant, at 11:43 AM  

  • I get a combination of one and two. However, my four is more like I'm bruised all over because my skin hurts to touch, especially on my arms. Plus I get a weird combination of over active bowels, followed by inactive bowels. Plus my teeth ache. No one's been able to explain that last one to me but it happens at the same time every month. Oh, and I get my period every 21 days instead of 28.

    And I'm with you on the pill thing. Not because ovulation makes me happy but because the pill made my life an absolute misery for almost a year.

    Talking about my ovaries and bowels is probably not the best introduction but I just wanted to say hello. I found you through Patroclus and really enjoy your blog.

    By Anonymous vic, at 11:47 AM  

  • Ah yes, the fluctuating temperature, the back ache, the stomach ache, the "over active" bowel, the cramps that wake you up at four in the morning and won't let you get back to sleep again so you spend the rest of the day feeling even more wretched. Except for a few years in my twenties, that's what I have to put up with every month. It always ruins holidays, without fail. Anyway, for the past few months I've been taking a combined A,C and D vitamin tablet each day and 250mg magnesium tablet (you can get them at Holland & Barrett) for the two weeks before my period's due.

    I was pretty sceptical about it but I HAVE noticed a difference. I'm not completely pain free, but it's bearable now. The over active bowel and the temperature fluctuations seem to be history, fingers crossed.

    Mind you, I've had to cut back on tea and coffee drinking, which is a drag. I re-introduced caffeine in the past month or two and it's seemed to have an adverse effect.

    Sorry for all the gory detail, but maybe it'll be helpful for someone else. I wouldn't have found any of this stuff out without looking on the internet actually - I've complained about the problem to a couple of GP's in the past and they've basically just shrugged their shoulders, perhaps thinking that it's a woman's lot to put up with all sorts of pain and drudgery. Oh well.

    By Blogger Betty, at 12:56 PM  

  • I was thinking endometriosis as well. Go see your gyney.

    By Blogger Chaucer's Bitch, at 1:20 PM  

  • *backs slowly out of the door*

    By Blogger LC, at 1:57 PM  

  • I just looked up endometriosis. Thanks for ruining my day, GSE and CB. UGH.
    Your periods can end up in your BRAIN?

    By Blogger Loganoc, at 2:23 PM  

  • Cheers All - some useful stuff there.

    I don't think it's endomotriosis - I looked into that ages ago and I'm (thankfully) not that badly off. And it's not this bad all the time.

    When I saw the Dr ages ago as well he was pretty helpful. Options were

    1 - Pill
    2 - some other on-going medication - I can't remember what it was called but it is supposed to reduce the amount of bleeding which may also reduce some of the pain.

    But I don't want to take anything all the time - so I went for

    3 - Ponstan.
    Which is a bit of a wonder-drug but I've run out at the minute - hence current misery.

    By Blogger Spinsterella, at 4:48 PM  

  • I started writing a comment but it turned out to be an essay so I'm going to have to just post it instead.

    Suffice to say, I feel your pain (every bloody day).

    By Blogger Kellycat, at 6:21 PM  

  • Going on the combined pill completely removed my period pain and made them really light - for the first 6 months, then they got worse than ever and I also turned into a borderline psychotic. The first ever pack was accompanied by crazy hysterical mood swings and a period lasting 19 days. Not nice. The improvement was good enough that I'm now taking it on a 6 months on/6 months off basis though. The Groundhog Period seems to have been a first-time only thing thank God.

    The only way I have ever got a man to comprehend that period pains are actually a proper Bad Thing and I'm not just a wuss is by saying it feels like you really desperately need to have a massive poo. But that isn't it so you can't solve matters in the obvious way. He was horrified and I now get much tea and sympathy and, importantly, Sainsbury's Taste the Difference belgian chocolate chunk and hazelnut cookies. My gift to you, ladies.

    By Blogger violetforthemoment, at 7:15 PM  

  • A symptom of endometriosis is when you get period pain at the end of a period as well as when it starts - not sure if this is the case. Anadin Extra's work well to relieve the pain, particularly if mixed with gin (there is a medical reason why gin works which is too long an unpleasant to go in to). Naff as it sounds and, believe me I know exactly what you mean as I had the same thing every month) but pilates, yes PILATES works really, really well. It's purely the exercise you do when you pull in the abdominal muscles and clench your pelvic floor (as though you're trying to stop a wee). Hold for as long as possible and keep doing it. The first time I did this, it wiped out all physical pain completely and I was used to taking 3 Anadin Extras every four hours, day and night for two days. Masturbation also works pretty well too.

    By Anonymous Thursday, at 7:50 PM  

  • Just thought of some advice and thought I'd pop back - mix your painkillers. Specifically, paracetamol and ibuprofen enhance each other's effects, so taking one of each is more effective than taking two of one (only for grown-ups, mind). My mother's a nurse and the other day she slipped something actually useful in when she was regaling me with tales of people putting light bulbs in odd places and schoolmates crashing their cars, which is usually the only work-related stuff she sees fit to tell me. I'm sure it was an accident.

    By Blogger violetforthemoment, at 8:20 PM  

  • Here's an oldie but goodie: take aspirin (specifically aspirin) a few days beforehand. Apparently it thins the blood, thus reducing the clots that make cramps.

    Mind you, I'm not a doctor and I don't play one on TV. But my mum's medical as well – and swears by this preventative.

    Feel better!

    By Blogger Amanda Castleman, at 4:24 AM  

  • Oh I understand. I had a really bad tummy ache the other day.

    Runs like FloJo on benzedrine, dodging a hail of chucked shoes.

    By Blogger Tim Footman, at 6:48 AM  

  • Good god , I think am growing breasts just reading this post.
    I am leaving now as I feel my testicles shrivelling , I will be back when I have got in touch with my femenine side

    *** suspiciously eyes pink shirt thats hanging at the back of the wardrobe****

    By Blogger BEAST, at 7:53 AM  

  • Any comment I could make on this just wouldn't feel right. I might go and look at some other blogs... *ahem*

    By Blogger Billy, at 10:19 AM  

  • Ponstan (mefenamic acid) is the best painkiller for dysmenorrhoea and the treatment of choice if you don't want to have to take a hormone preparation all the time. The aspirin tip also works as does combining painkillers although be careful that you're not combining preparations which may interact.
    You are unlikely to have endometriosis if you don't have problems every month but it's probably worth having a check-up if you haven't had one for a while.

    The consultation endeth.

    word ver begins=egp... that's me that is.

    By Blogger realdoc, at 12:31 PM  

  • Was too depressed by the whole thing to post about this yesterday when I read it first. I feel your pain. Oh yes. I'm interested in the ponstan thing, I might give that a go - I had this exact thing every month plus a couple of other symptoms until I went back on the pill - amazingly it did work for me. Thank god, the wildly over-sensitive breasts were driving me nuts. It's so nice not to have two weeks of bleeding sandwiched in between two weeks of pre and post menstrual tension. I was suckered into the 'everyone has it, just put up with it, you're a woman, you can cope'. And no, it was NOT two bloody (sic) tablespoons.

    By Blogger belladona, at 6:27 PM  

  • You may not fancy it but I would recommend the Mirena Coil. It's quite a new-fangled type thingy and after the first 3 months which are a bit grim no more periods and no more period pain. Haven't had a period for over a year and a half and I can't say I miss them. Hurrah! and I used to be every 21 days as well.

    p.s. loving the boys' comments

    By Anonymous Tedward's Missing Ear, at 8:10 PM  

  • I travelled with a multi-national group of girls for a bit. The loud American one announced at breakfast one day:

    "Oh my GOD, I woke up at SIX AM with an EXPLODING TAMPAX!"

    I nodded in recognition. But the Kiwi girl was perplexed. During the subsequent discussion it was revealed that she only needs about one and a half regular tampons each month!

    By Blogger Spinsterella, at 8:41 PM  

  • the rubbishness of periods is a BIG FAT CONSPIRACY to make us positively embrace the idea of the menopause when it comes around

    tea'n'sympathy, sista!

    By Blogger Urban Chick, at 8:38 PM  

  • menstuation is proff that god is, in fact, NOT a woman.

    By Blogger Chaucer's Bitch, at 10:09 PM  

  • I think we can safely say that you have hit a nerve here Spin.

    By Blogger Kellycat, at 7:22 AM  

  • Hooray! this post has just reminded me why there are serious advantages to reaching menopause. I, too, suffered from horrible period pains and associated bodily ills. For some reason, ignoramus that I was, I thought you had bat period pain when you first went through puberty and thereafter it got easier and easier. My (wonderful) GP explained that most women find it gets MUCH worse in your 40s/50s. Well thanks a bunch - who the fuck thought up this crazy reproductive system, sue them!

    By Blogger herschelian, at 12:10 AM  

  • Add on comment to say, I have a Mirena coil, my 2nd in 10 yrs, and it has been a god-send.

    By Blogger herschelian, at 12:14 AM  

  • i take ponstan when i need it, but my periods don;t sound anywhere near as harsh as yours.

    i would totally recommend a visit to a homeopath though - they are very good with stuff like that.

    By Anonymous c'lam, at 7:16 PM  

  • Magnesium is a good buffer against pain. I agree that it can be stress related. I was a monster earlier this week. A mad shouting cow of a witch. I'm better now.

    By Blogger rockmother, at 2:12 AM  

  • Who knows where to download XRumer 5.0 Palladium?
    Help, please. All recommend this program to effectively advertise on the Internet, this is the best program!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:53 PM  

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