It’s been weird having a period this month.
Not in actual terms of the physical process, that was as I have come to expect in the last year or so, but it was weird in the terms of a total fall off in anxiety. You see, along with the usual boring stuff like having sore boobs and crying at Kwik Fit ads, as most ladies experience at this time of the month, I am usually also looking for symptoms and furiously backtracking in my calendar notes to check for patterns. The patterns themselves have been predictable for well over a year: pain, mood issues, toilet issues, spotting, nausea, fatigue.
I’ve had no end of possible reasons for this from my GP. Indigestion. Stress. Coeliac disease. Depression. Gall stones. H Pylori infection or, my personal favourite, an overnight development of IBS. It was hard to accept that it was time to take a prescription for bowel relaxants and just piss off back out of the surgery and stop making such a fuss.
Making a fuss.
Because whatever was going on in my guts seemed to be closely linked to what was going on in my girl bits but when I tried to point this out to my Dr, I was posed the glorious hypothesis that perhaps then this was all Just Period Pain.
I felt stupid. I felt mildly ashamed of myself for being so weak and for wasting NHS time and I felt utterly defeated. I really did feel like I was making a fuss. My Dr asked me if I wanted to go back on the pill, the same pill that he had taken me off of some months previously. But hey, if I was going to insist on talking to him about my periods, I could just have it back.
I went away and didn’t cash the prescription for the pill. And every month I waited for my Just Period Pain to kick in and I stocked up on Cuprofen and I sat it out. And I got stressed out about it. Sometimes it wasn’t so bad, I went to bed early and hugged my hot water bottles and skipped a couple of dinners (that’s only sounds weird if you know me 😊). Other days I entered into the paranoia cycle of symptom-googling and delved into new possible explanations for what was going on. I now know more about various cancers, cysts and pregnancy problems than anyone outside of a gyne clinic ever needs to. I literally had nightmares about it. Two things kept coming up though, in these fevered searches of life threatening ills, and those were fibroids and endometriosis. I didn’t think I had endometriosis, it was Just Period Pain, and fibroids could be the cause of excessive period pain and a possibly my digestive related symptoms too.
I’d like to say that I went straight back to my Dr to ask to be tested for fibroids, but I didn’t. Even after some confiding in various girl friends and another cripplingly painful period I didn’t go back. It took a tale from my mother about how my Nan had suffered from fibroids to get me to slink back to the GP and do that embarrassing thing where you ask the receptionist if you can see the Lady Dr, please, because you can’t face talking about cramps and clots to the middle aged dude again.
It took a very short conversation with her to get an ultrasound referral and some more anti-acid medication, just incase. I didn’t feel stupid. I didn’t feel embarrassed. She listened to me and said what I had known deep down for a fuss-making age: That Doesn’t Sound Right.
I waited about a month for my scan, and then I heard the words Fibroids and Endometriosis. They could see it. It was there. It was not Just Period Pain.
And I got to have a period for the first time in about two years without laying awake sweating about the millions of potential diseases I was carrying. I didn’t hit the depression associated with being a stupid weak girl, making a fuss about the Just Period Pain that all women get and just get on with. Granted I’m in no better position, technically, than I was previously. I’m still waiting for a specialist appointment and a treatment programme. I’m aware that this could be a lengthy and uncomfortable process, with varying chances of success. But I know what it is, and although I’m not in love with my periods now, they seem like more of an irritating co-worker than an out and out enemy.
They don’t scare me any more, and this is worth it’s weight in tampax as far as I’m concerned. If I could say anything to anyone who thinks that they might have gyne issues, even Just Period Pain, it is go speak to a woman about it. Speak to your friends, speak to your relatives and speak to a female healthcare professional if you have the opportunity to. Seek a second opinion. Make a fuss. It is actually a lot less scary to openly discuss what is happening with your periods than it is to wonder which google-diagnosis might be right for you today.
And feel free to disengage entirely from any man who ever tells you it’s Just Period Pain. Seriously, fuck that guy and fuck his opinions, he has no idea what Period Pain means.