Millions of women get period cramps every month. And while we might only experience a dull ache (or occasionally nothing at all) on a good day, the bad days can be excruciating.
In that situation, it can be hard to explain that your cycle is causing you serious grief. We’ve all phoned in sick because of our cramps and disguised our excuse as gastro, have we not?
On a side note, since when did an upset stomach become more acceptable to talk about than something that occurs naturally every month? We shouldn't feel uncomfortable talking about our periods!
Thankfully, that whole scenario is a step closer to ending, because John Guillebaud, a professor of reproductive health at the University of London, has told Quartz that the feeling of menstrual pain can be “as bad as having a heart attack.”
We shall suffer in silence no longer.
The kicker to this though is treatment options are still limited, because popping pain killers or going on the pill doesn’t always alleviate cramps.
The director of gynecological pain at NorthShore University HealthSystem, Frank Tu, agrees, telling Quartz that some doctors are taught ibuprofen “should be good enough.”
Obviously, given the level of extreme pain women can be in, this is far from acceptable. While we can sometimes put these cramps down to a plain old painful period (AKA primary dysmenorrhea), it can also be a sign of endometriosis.
According to Endometriosis Australia, 1 in 10 women suffer (that’s 176 million women worldwide) and there can be a “delay in diagnosis of between 7 and 10 years." Woah. "This is due to girls and women normalizing symptoms as well as doctors normalizing symptoms when women do finally seek medical assistance.”
Education about the menstrual cycle (and what it actually feels like) is the key to avoiding this situation, but overall, there’s a lack of research about the pain itself and how to treat it, which is crazy considering how much it can affect a woman’s life.
So ladies, let’s make like J-Lo and get loud about our period pain in the hope that some new treatments (like Viagra, as one expert revealed) might emerge and people start taking our cramps seriously!
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com.au. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.