Understanding painful periods

This blog was written by the amazing Georgina Beasley 

Would you believe me if I told you that women's periods should not be stopping them from participating in day to day life?

For years I thought that when that time of the month came around it was normal to be curled up in a ball of pain, unable to move, sometimes vomiting and slipping in and out of consciousness burdened by crippling period pain. I would miss school, work, parties, I always had panadol and nurofen handy and just assumed that this was all a part of being a woman.

On average, it takes a delay of 6.5 years to be diagnosed with endometriosis, with this largely being attributed to women's pain not being taken seriously. 

Unfortunately, this was the case for me. I eventually got so sick at the age of 22 that I could no longer work, I had severe abdominal pain, bloating and chronic fatigue. I had seen every doctor under the sun and nobody could find a conclusive diagnosis, until one day someone said, “have you heard of endometriosis?”

I replied, “Endo-what?!?”.

For many young women of reproductive age, illnesses surrounding the menstrual cycle often aren’t spoken about or taught. But as I discovered, for many of us, our problematic periods may be a result or combination of three things: endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or adenomyosis.

Endometriosis is an incurable, chronic condition affecting 1 in 9 women. It is caused when tissue that is similar to the lining of the womb grows outside the uterus in other parts of the body. Currently, the only way to diagnose endometriosis is through an invasive laparoscopic surgery. For more information about signs, symptoms and treatments, click here

PCOS is an incurable, hormonal disorder affecting 1 in 10 women. It is caused by a hormonal imbalance where 20 or more partially developed eggs called cis develop on the ovaries. Thankfully, PCOS can be easily treated and diagnosed, for more information, click here

Adenomyosis is often referred to as the cousin of endometriosis and one study estimated that it may affect 1 in 5 women. It is a condition where cells similar to the lining on the inside of the uterus grow in the muscle walls of the uterus. Researchers still don’t know what causes this disease and currently the only treatment is a hysterectomy. For more information, click here

The good news is a healthy lifestyle and reducing inflammation in the body may assist with symptom management. Research suggests that a nutritious, low inflammatory diet may be beneficial and recommendations often include foods such as fish, berries, seeds and nuts (like hemp, walnuts, and flaxseeds) and dark green leafy veg.

If you are worried or concerned about your painful periods the best place to start is by consulting a women's health practitioner or a gynecologist.