My life with ‘Dysmenorrhoea’

Hi guys,

I really wanted to do a post about my experiences with ‘women problems’.. I mean of course if you’re a male then feel free to read, but I’m not going to censor anything! all the (gory) details will be added. Also if you think you could be offended by anything to do with this topic I wouldn’t read this post.. There will probably be some embarrassing things in here, but I wish that I had read something when I first started experiencing this, with all the details in it – complete honesty. So here we go –  Leaving my pride right here on the page and I’ll pick it back up once I get to the end!

dysmenorrhoea: Painful periods are very common; in fact, as many as nine out of ten women have them. The pain sometimes starts a few days before your period and can last for several days. When your period ends, the pain usually does too. Period pain is usually in the lower part of your abdomen (tummy) and is a cramping kind of pain.

I started my period when I was around 12 years old. I even remember the morning I started! I woke up and went to the toilet, and there it was. It was weird, I remember all my friends and I being SO excited about starting our periods, and how much I wanted it… Safe to say it was a HUGE anti-climax – plus there are no lessons which tell you about the side effects that could come with your period. We’re just left to figure it out on our own! So here we were thinking it was a simple I QUOTE “table spoon of blood” and then it’s done! Excuse my language but what a load of crap! hindsight is a great thing,

My first few periods were fine, they weren’t painful from what I remember but after maybe 3-4 of them they started to get heavy. I was always so conscious of leaking through and people seeing it, when I was on my period I would wear 2 pairs of knickers – both with huge sanitary pads in them, 2 pairs of leggings and then the trousers I wore – jeans most likely. And on top of that I still used to roll up toilet roll and stick it in my knickers as well. I look back on that now and it’s just crazy. I felt like I was wearing a nappy! One evening my (Step) Dad and I were in the living room, and the way I sit (even now and it has happened a few times since then!!) I sit on one of my feet.. So there I was just sitting casually, I get up and go to my room to hear… ‘Caitlan…. is this from you?’ and there were 4 footprints clear as day – on CREAM carpet, from where I was sitting on the couch to my bedroom across the hall.. I was so humiliated. At that time I’d only known my Stepdad for a few years, we hadn’t quite got that father daughter bond down yet.. but in his true style and nature, he told me a story about how he was in McDonalds once and this stunning girl walked in wearing white jeans.. all the boys were hollering at her.. until she got to the desk and the whole backside of her jeans was bright red from her period leaking. He instantly made me feel better – he has a knack for that even now.

So my periods were heavy -I remember being in an art class in year 9, and my period had leaked onto the wooden stool I was sat on.. and what colour was this wooden chair you ask? … White. it was white. The only white chair in the room and I sat on it.  I was SO embarrassed. My friends used to be able to wear just little pads and there I was with pads that could’ve doubled as a a king-size mattress for a mouse. It was uncomfortable and embarrassing!  My periods started getting painful when I was about 15/16. But not just ‘dysmenorrhoea’ (There’s a reason I put “” around the word), debilitating pains – to the point of almost passing out. This first happened in a biology lesson funnily enough. I was sat listening to the teacher when I started to get really hot and bothered, so I took off my cardigan.. I then started to feel REALLY nauseous.. and before I knew it I was standing up in the middle of the class and walking towards the door – with my vision going black. A support teacher in the class followed me out and I was stood against a wall, she started to disappear from sight and from sound – I remember saying miss I can’t see or hear you, and I fell to the ground. Within 20 seconds it had passed and I could hear and see again. That was experience number 1. Obviously I don’t remember all the cases – I’m 21 now and there’s been so many days I’ve been bed bound in excruciating pain. Obviously my Mum took me to a doctor to tell them what was going on.. They said that going on the pill would help the pain and make the flow lighter for me… did it? no of course it didn’t. The first pill I was on was called Microgynon – and don’t get me wrong, I know people who are on this and it works for them.. it just didn’t for me. I was on this for about 6 months, still having painful heavy periods, but it also sent me into depression – it changed my personality, I was ratty and snappy.. my Maths teacher actually pointed it out to me, and I stopped the pill instantly. I think it’s easy for people to say well you were using it for all that time, and it’s been going on for all this time.. why hasn’t anything been done.. But this pain is maximum 3 days of every month. once those 3 days are over I’m just happy and relieved.. life just goes on! There’s other things you worry about. It’s hard to fight something when it’s not happening then and there. I did get other appointments but I was simply thrown more contraceptive pills which never worked. (I’m now on my 4th kind)

I’d decided that it was time I really get down to what was causing these pains. I went to my GP at university and explained how I’d been getting bad pains along with very heavy bleeding. I’m the typical person who googles everything about my symptoms – no matter what they are.. And I’ve always had this suspicion that I could have endometriosis. I shared these suspicions and she said that my symptoms do point in that direction, but in order to medically diagnose me she would need to investigate. Firstly she wanted me to try a contraceptive pill called Yasmine, and she said that she wanted me to take 9 months worth without taking breaks between the months – as to mock pregnancy. She said that maybe tricking my body into thinking it’s pregnant (Not getting rid of the lining for 9 months) it could change my periods completely – less painful and lighter. This didn’t work either. So the next step was to see if I had any infections which could be causing my problems. It was basically a smear test.. She inserted this metal thing into my lady area, and swabbed it with a cotton bud type thing. For me it did hurt, and she did say it would.. during it it just felt uncomfortable – it was the first time I’d had anything done like that, which is horrible for anyone. But for me it set off cramps for the rest of the day (Not sure if it happens to everyone so don’t take my word for it) but as I said, she did say that this could happen to me. My results came back negative, so on my next appointment she said that I need to call the hospital and book myself in for a laparoscopy (Key hole surgery) which is one of the only ways to diagnose endometriosis.. Did I do this??? nope I did not. Yes I know – stupid stupid stupid. BUT there just never seemed to be a good time for me to be in hospital for surgery..  I had uni and exams and assignments. It just didn’t happen. She did however prescribe me Mefenamic Acid – Ponstan, which is supposed to help with period pains.. They do I guess, but not completely. Only recently did they lose their effect.

Another story was one weekend I was home from uni for 2 weddings (which were both on the same day). I woke up at 5am on that Saturday with period pains.. I was thinking right I just need to take a painkiller and get myself back to sleep before it gets too bad. I took a paracetamol and tried to get back to sleep but it was too late at that point. I couldn’t find a hot water bottle anywhere, so I stumbled to the bathroom and soaked a towel in hot water (It was the only thing I could think of! I was desperate! I couldn’t run the bath because whenever a shower or bath is run the pump makes a really loud noise – I didn’t want to wake everyone!), I laid in bed until the towel was so cold I couldn’t use it anymore.. By this point I was rocking back and forth in pain, I remember thinking to myself I can’t do this and I could feel myself drifting away again.. I stumbled through to my parents room where they were sleeping, and pretty much fell straight to the floor and told my mum I was passing out.. She called 111 for me, and managed to get a paramedic on the phone – who was really helpful. I was totally panicking and hyperventilating and she really calmed me down. My Mum went straight out once the shops had opened and bought me a hot water bottle and some stronger painkillers.. By 10am I was at the hairdresser getting my hair blow-dried! I made it to both weddings thank goodness – really didn’t think I’d make it but I pulled myself together… with the help of my period pain tablets (which only really take the edge off)

The amount of blood I seemed to shed controlled my life for 3-4 days out of every month. Some may not quite understand this, but on a normal day I would go through a super tampon in less than an hour.. a few months back I had JUST put in a tampon, and I was in the living room chatting to my mother in law, about 45 minutes past and I realised I could see blood on my foot.. I ran to the toilet and it was EVERYWHERE.. On a normal period I go through about 5 pairs of underwear! even when I wear a super tampon and a pad. I practically use up more than a whole box of super tampons every period – I think the boxes have 20 in them. I’ve been through 12 in one day before. During my period I get blood coming out of places I really shouldn’t – which is why I think it could be endometriosis… If you don’t know what that is, it’s basically when the lining of your uterus grows in other areas… It’s really scary! girls will know (and probably deny if you asked) that when you’re on your period your number 2’s are completely different.. mine are different because mine are just filled with blood.

It all came to a head last week. I woke up on Monday morning, with a slight tingle of period pains – which obviously progressively got worse and worse, until again I was rocking back and forth in pain. I found my trusty fluffy hot water bottle that H had bought for me, stumbled to the kitchen to boil the kettle.. I didn’t even make it until it had finished boiling. I instantly felt nauseous, I was sweating buckets but felt really cold, I was shaking – I fell to the ground and couldn’t move for a few minutes. I lay until I felt I could move without being sick, got myself just outside mine and H’s bedroom and lay on the ground again and called 111. She told me to consider going into A&E. We were there for about 6 hours when the doctor came to speak to us and said… “This is just pain associated with periods. it’s called dysmenorrhoea and it’s normal“. I was FUMING. I don’t agree with raising your voice at people, especially when it’s not their fault (Like people who shout at waitresses because they didn’t like their fish cakes… so rude and out of order) I was in no way rude – but I had just had enough of people dismissing me and the pain I felt. I just said to him I’m sorry but there is no way that the pain I feel is normal, he kept repeating that it’s pain women get. The conversation ended with me saying, I’m really sorry but there is no way I’m accepting that, and he went to speak to the gynaecology department to see what they could do.

With pain that is from within – not per se, a broken bone, or a burn, or a cut.. it’s hard for people to see. But what’s harder is when people undermine the pain you have experienced/are experiencing. There had been times I was laying with my head on the toilet seat because the pain I felt made me sick to my stomach. Times I had to miss school, parties, days out.. So when there’s a man stood in front of me telling me the pain I have isn’t stemmed from any conditions – it’s normal. It made me feel like no one was going to do anything to help me, they were just going to leave me for years and years to just get worse. But anyway, the gynaecologist came after 2 hours, and said that because I wasn’t in an emergency state, they couldn’t do anything for me then and there – but what he could do was write a letter for my GP to say I need to be referred on an emergency basis for a gynaecology appointment. The guy was SO helpful and SO understanding. I couldn’t thank him enough.

So as it stands right now, I’m waiting for a call to tell me the date of my gynaecology appointment. What I want to happen is for them to say that they are putting me forward for a laparoscopy, and for this to be sorted once and for all. Finding out I actually have endometriosis will be tough – emotional. But I will just be so relieved that I finally have answers – I can finally say I am NOT crazy and I am NOT overreacting. This is also a huge fear of mine. What if I don’t have it? but then what do I do? It’s hard because I know the pain I feel, and my friends and family have seen me in such states. I don’t know if I’m more scared of being told I do have it or if I don’t have it. I just want to know what is wrong with me, so I can find ways to not be in pain every month.

I’ve read blogs of people who have gone through years and years of excruciating pain, with doctors telling them it’s normal and nothing to worry about.. they get to their 30s when it’s time to start creating a family of their own and they realise there’s an issue with their fertility, to then find out it’s been endometriosis the whole time. My worst nightmare is being told I can’t have children, or being told the longer I wait the less likely I am to get pregnant. It’s all scary stuff for me – and anyone who experiences it! Obviously right now I don’t really have any answers, but I just want to tell the girls that are experiencing this – you are NOT crazy. Don’t let people tell you it’s normal if you know inside that it isn’t.. Listen to YOUR body! Keep pushing it and fighting your case and don’t let them push you to one side! (By the way, I am in NO way blaming this on the health service here – I don’t blame anyone for this, it’s not like I think they have some vendetta against women and their pains.. I just think it’s hard when you’re the one in the pain and you don’t seem to be getting anywhere with it)

Anyway, time to pick my pride back up! now everyone knows about my toilet habits and period accidents!

As I always say, please feel free to message me! I’ve had lots of messages and I love hearing from you!

love, Caitlan x



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