It Shouldn't Hurt That Bad



We are currently at a peak of scientific knowledge. We make new discoveries every day. Humanity has discovered how to map DNA in order to identify specific genetic information, how to grow organs independently of the bodies they are meant for, we can develop vaccines that prevent all manner of diseases. We know more about the human body than we ever have. Unfortunately, Male bodies are often the default for medical research. According to a recent study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, despite women’s high risk for cardiovascular disease, only 35 percent of clinical trial subjects in CVD research are women. Science is largely unaware of how women’s bodies work, leading to a lot of medical issues, such as the under diagnosis or misdiagnosis of conditions and diseases.

Women’s sexual health is a field full of misinformation and misdiagnosis. Beyond the information they receive in biology class, many women have little information about how their reproductive systems function. Most women experience some sort of PMS, some symptoms of which can be debilitating. There is a girl I know who was passing out regularly when on her period. Another girl had a flow so heavy she was going through multiple Super tampons in one day. I’ve had pain so bad that some days I would be throwing up because of it. Severe symptoms can lead to women being completely out of commission for twelve weeks out of the year, assuming that their periods even adhere to a “normal” schedule. After “The Talk” we’re expecting a few blood-stained panties and chocolate binges, not to be curled up in the fetal position wondering if a DIY hysterectomy would hurt less. Women are so used to period pain that it’s a frequent occurrence to confuse the pain of cramps with the pain of their appendix bursting. After a point, we start to think the pain is normal,and doctors don’t tell us we’re wrong. I’ve heard so many stories of women going to the doctor for pain, only to be told it’s period pain and later finding out it was something else.

One disease estimated to affect millions of women is endometriosis. It is a disease in which the endometrium, the uterine lining, grows outside the uterus. It primarily grows within the pelvic cavity, but growths have been found in other parts of the body. The tissue sheds just like it would were it in the uterus, and this can cause intense pain. Symptoms include severe cramps that do not go away with medication, (the pain might accompany your period or it could also not correlate to any particular part of your menstrual cycle), long periods with heavy flow, frequent need to urinate, nausea or vomiting, painful intercourse, and infertility. Women with Endo may not present with any symptoms, or they may not seek any medical attention because it’s just “period pain.” Many times, it can take years to be diagnosed, if it is at all. Many doctors will incorrectly diagnose Endo as bad cramping or dismiss the idea because they incorrectly believe young women cannot have the disease. Many women often don’t find out they have it until they are having trouble trying to conceive. The only way to confirm the diagnosis is a laparoscopic surgery to biopsy the tissue growths. There is no known cause, though genetics are believed to play a part as women with a close female relative who has Endo are more likely to have it themselves, and there is no cure. It can be managed with options from a prescription for low-dose birth control to surgery to remove the tissue.

Endometriosis is just one potential cause for so-called period pain. Uterine fibroids and adenomyosis, neither of which have a known cause, can also be causes of painful periods. Ovarian cysts and pelvic inflammatory disease can also cause abdominal pain. We have to stop living with the pain. Doctors have to start looking at other explanations besides bad PMS. Women need to be told that their problems are real, not that they should just take Midol. We need to be informed about our bodies, and we need to be told it shouldn’t hurt that bad.