In my last post, we talked about what a normal period looks like. This week, I want to dive deep into period pain. If you’ve been following my work for a while, you will have heard me say that period pain is unfortunately is very common, but just because it’s common, that doesn’t mean it’s normal.
Think about it this way: we’ve normalised being in pain for at least 2 – 3 days every time you have your period, or just over 3 years of the 40-odd years you’ll menstruate. To me, that’s completely unacceptable. If you’re one of the many who experience period pain, I’d like you to think about your attitude towards this pain. Have you accepted this as something you just need to get on with? Have you ever thought your period could be different? Have a little think about this: what have you accepted? Is it because you thought this was normal and something you couldn’t change? Is it because you’ve been taught that this is the way it’s supposed to be?
There are two types of period pain we need to consider: primary dysmenorrhea and secondary dysmenorrhea. Primary dysmenorrhea is pain that is the result of having a period, secondary dysmenorrhea is period pain that is the result of another condition such as fibroids, endometriosis, adenomyosis or pelvis inflammatory disease.
No matter what the cause of the pain, it’s important that you get support and that it’s taken seriously. The International Association for the Study of Pain has redefined pain and these two points are of great interest to me: Pain is always a personal experience that is influenced to varying degrees by biological, psychological, and social factors. A person’s report of an experience as pain should be respected.
Something I hear time and again from my clients is that their pain hasn’t been taken seriously and that they’ve heard some variation of the following comments: “it’s all in your head”, “it’s a normal part of having a period”, “just take some painkillers and get on with it”. If you experience period pain or any kind of pain, you deserve to be taken seriously and your experience respected.
Here are my top tips for making sure the pain you experience is taken seriously when speaking to healthcare professionals:
- Make sure you have at least 3 menstrual cycles worth of information about the pain you’re experiencing
- Note down when in your cycle the pain takes place and how long it lasts
- Rate the pain from 1 – 10, 1 being no pain and 10 being the worst
- Describe the pain: is it sharp, twisting, intermittent, burning?
- Note any accompanying symptoms, such as diarrhoea, vomiting, headaches / migraines, fainting, fatigue
- Note the location(s) of the pain
All of this will help you begin or continue to have a vocabulary to describe the pain you’re experience and have tangible and constructive conversations about it.
Do you experience period pain? Tell me more in the comments.
Le’Nise Brothers is a yoga teacher and registered nutritionist, mBANT, mCHNC, specialising in women’s health, hormones and the menstrual cycle. She is also the host of the Period Story Podcast, which aims to break taboos around menstrual health and hormones.
Le’Nise has helped hundreds of women improve their menstrual and hormone health through her private practice and group programmes, talks and workshops for the likes of Stylist, Channel 4, Ebay and TikTok and her Instagram page. Le’Nise works primarily with women who feel like they’re being ruled by their sugar cravings, mood swings and hormonal acne & bloating. They want to get to grips with heavy, missing, irregular & painful periods, fibroids, PMS, PCOS, endometriosis, post-natal depletion and perimenopause.
Her first book You Can Have A Better Period will be released in spring 2022.
Her mission is for women to understand and embrace their hormones & menstrual cycle! If you’re looking for support with your hormone and menstrual health, click this link to book a 30 minute health review to talk about working together.