From the age of 10, I had to take days off school every month with unbelievable levels of pain.
Sometimes I couldn't make to important home events and had to take multiple pain killers but the doctors couldn't find anything 'wrong' with me: "IT'S JUST YOUR PERIOD" – a universal reply.
And the severe pain continued throughout the following years.
As I always say, if women didn't suffer the misery and pain of menstruation EVERY MONTH for FORTY YEARS, no-one would get born.
It enrages me that women's experiences of menstruation, pregnancy and childbirth and post-natal depression and psychosis are almost completely ignored by society. We are not valued for what is, after all, our major contribution to the perpetuation and nurturing of the human species.
And why has it taken so long for the medical profession to acknowledge that the pain suffered during menstruation can be so extreme and destructive? I think we know the answer to that. As with so much else in our society, women are expected to 'just get with it'.
With the pain so many of us suffer during menstruation or pregnancy or childbirth, or the mental pain of post-natal depression we are expected to suffer in silence.
What If men had menstrual periods and how then they would have responded to it – we will never know! But I am sure medical science would have progressed in this direction in a much faster way.
“Men don’t get it and it hasn’t been given the centrality it should have. I do believe it’s something that should be taken care of, like anything else in medicine.” said a doctor.
“I wouldn’t say [period pain] has been hugely investigated,” and when asked if the issue would be taken more seriously if men experienced it, said: “I suspect there would be, being very cynical.”
Men wait an average of 49 minutes before being treated for abdominal pain. For women, the wait is 65 minutes for the same symptoms. It’s thought that this is because women are seen as exaggerating pain and being ‘dramatic’ due to sexist stereotypes, while men are listened to and believed when they express the same pain and symptoms. Also any abdominal pain is attributed to the periods pain and thus is taken for granted.
It is extraordinary how little the medical profession engages with menstruation. Although recent years have seen period taboos broken through social media campaigns, this has yet to permeate medical discourse - and periods are seldom given serious medical consideration in research. Scant research has been conducted on specific pain prevention or pain relief and devices such as tampons, moon-cups and sanitary towels remain rudimentary.
It’s not only women’s period pain which is taken less seriously, ignoring women’s pain is prevalent across all medicine specialities. And to it, just one question comes to mind –
What if men had periods?
Deepa Mehta, Clinical Researcher
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