This story is part of a partnership with the TCU Women’s Health Initiative. The purpose of the Women’s Health Initiative is to educate students at TCU and the general public about women’s health issues as well as advocate for women’s health issues on campus and in local communities. In addition, they support women who are struggling/have struggled with women’s health conditions, including but not limited to endometriosis, PCOS, fibromyalgia, and other autoimmune conditions. For more information on this organization, contact President Mackenzie Kahrhoff at [email protected].
“My period cramps are killing me.”
Many women say this to their doctor every day and almost all are met with the same response: “Let’s put you on birth control.”
For most, this works. The pain is either gone or improved and their lives return to normal. I thought I was “cured” after my doctor put me on birth control for a while. Little did I know that my period pain actually had a cause. I just didn’t know to look for it, and my doctor didn’t bother.
I was in my high school chemistry class when suddenly the most excruciating, horrible pain was ripping apart my insides. I remember staring at the clock, trying to power through until break, and then rushing home so I could figure out what was wrong. To my surprise, my period had returned despite being on birth control that was supposed to block it. I called my doctor whose answer might seem too familiar to some readers — “Let’s try another birth control!”
So I did. The pain never disappeared though, even once the bleeding stopped. I was experiencing varying levels of agony for a few weeks, just waiting for the new birth control to “work.” I ended up in the ER one night, convinced that something must have ruptured inside me because the pain was so brutal, and the doctor ended up admitting me to the hospital, concerned I had a kidney stone.
Imaging revealed no kidney stone and my doctor and I were left without answers. Why am I in so much pain? The doctor decided he knew why — I was hysterical. He consulted psychologists and stopped treating my pain entirely. I asked to leave and they told me I needed to continue speaking to the psychologists first. Desperately I begged for some sort of relief. I begged for them to please talk to an OBGYN since this started on my period, but nothing. To the doctor, I was crazy and lying and nothing would change his mind. No other doctor was consulted and I was left crying in pain for days.
I don’t remember much about that hospital stay nor do I know much about when or how I ended up leaving, but it wasn’t long after that I found a new doctor. Turns out, my pain wasn’t because I was crazy at all. In fact, I had a condition so common that 1 in 10 women have it: endometriosis.
Endometriosis is a condition where cells similar to the lining of the uterus grow outside of the uterus and attach to/invade other organs in your body. Every month when your cycle occurs, this lining tries to shed just like the lining inside your uterus which causes agonizing pain. For some women, such as me, this pain becomes constant and only worsens with time as the disease spreads.
Severe period pain isn’t some mystical thing without any cause and it certainly isn’t cured by birth control. Endometriosis, PCOS, and many other women’s health conditions are only masked by birth control. I implore you to take control of your health and investigate what’s causing your period cramps; don’t be like me and wait until it’s too severe.
As women, we are told that this pain is normal and we’re crazy for thinking it’s so bad, but we are far from crazy. Period pain is not normal. You deserve to live a life free from pain and to know what’s really going on with your body. If this story sounds anything like you, I implore you to go speak with a doctor and explore it further. Women deserve better.
You deserve to live a life free from pain and to kow what’s really going on with your body.Mckenzie Kahrhoff, Women’s Health Initiative at TCU President