I’ll tell you a joke (although you might not find it funny).
Q) What do you call someone who spends 2 weeks out of 4 wanting to commit murder while sobbing uncontrollably and then passes out through blood loss?
A) A menstruating woman.
Told you that you might not find it funny, but this for millions of women is their reality – and I was one of them. I say was and this is a little premature but all will become clear.
There is a raft of jokes about periods and the women who endure them but for the millions of women who I refer to, they really are something we endure, suffer with and battle with on a monthly, or if you are unlucky, irregular cycle. From the time we hit puberty, most girls are subject to their monthly period, signifying they are ready to have children and carry on the human race. I say this from an evolutionary and biological point – I’m not an advocate for pre-teen and teenage pregnancy (although I know several teenage mums who have done a better job raising their kids than some much older and more “responsible” women). It is just the biology kicking in and letting us know the human race is still trudging on.
From when I was 12 I was one of the unfortunate women who have what is known to the gynae folk as primary dysmenorrhoea. In layperson’s terms, crippling period pains that stretched from my boobs to my knees. They would leave me weak, pale and anaemic with horrendous migraines. I would have occasions when I’d vomit on account of the pain and I’ve been known to be running back and forth to the toilet with what can only be described as a river of fire leaving my body in the quickest way possible. Who said women were soft and delicate and didn’t make messes – PAH! There was a woman on a message board a while ago who coined a term for this delightful affliction – “period arse”.
I dealt with this for approximately 8 years, every month the same if not getting gradually worse. It wasn’t just the pain, the puking or the passing out that made life hell – the mood swings were possibly the worst part. That feeling that you might just kill someone if they said the wrong thing at the wrong time…or indeed they just happened to look at you. That feeling of madness that takes over is both scary and frustrating. You know you are behaving like a complete dick but there doesn’t seem to be anything you can do to stop it. Now, add that to being sad for no specific reason and being known to break down in floods of tears at a moments notice – being a woman is no fun for approximately half the year. The other half is better…but only just.
I found a wonder drug when I was 18. It was tiny but in one quick swallow, it solved all my period related problems. It also coincided with the start of my sex life. That bit was a bonus. The contraceptive pill has been thought of by many as the one of the most significant medical advances of the 20th century and I would be inclined to agree. First introduced in the UK on the NHS in 1961 (but only to married women) it was a revolution of sexual choice and women could at last be in control of their own body when it came to sex and pregnancy. It was expanded to be available to all women in 1967 and currently is used by approximately 3.5 million women in the UK and 100 million women across the globe. It is no longer a “one pill wonder” and comes in 32 different forms. To say that it is a wonder pill would almost seem like undersell. To me, it is the best drug out there – other than mood stabilisers and pain killers.
The pill and I haven’t always seen eye to eye. In the beginning, there was the word. And the word was Microgynon. And Microgynon was all-powerful in the gynae arsenal against pesky pregnancies and painful periods. But Microgynon was old – she had been around the block and back and now needed a rest. She didn’t go down without a fight and even today she lurks in cabinets around the world – she even has some loyal subjects. But we parted ways and I moved on to better and younger models. I tried a fair few of her offspring and after many years we fell out in a big way. I didn’t need the anti-baby element (lesbians have a built-in contraceptive) and I resigned myself to years of pain and mood swings.
But as many people are wont to say, women are inclined to change their minds. I did – ended up back with a chap and decided, among other things I had about as much as I could take with the period pains, the puking, the passing out. I went back on that little miracle pill. That sweet, sugar-coated magic pill was my salvation. Of course it didn’t last – I changed my mind again. Who needs all those extra hormones anyway? I lasted 3 months – and I got my pill back this morning. No more migraines that make me think I’m having a stroke. No more panting like I’m in labour for 2 days. No more feeling sick and most of all, no more murderous thoughts when not warranted.
While I know there are people out there who will say “man up and deal with it, you whiny little bitch” or other words of that ilk, I really don’t give a rats ass. You suffer if you like. If you are one of the millions of women who don’t get the horrendous side effects from your natural calling card telling you that you aren’t pregnant and you don’t want the added contraceptive bonus then I say this – bully for you. It might seem harsh but when it comes to my own wellbeing, I’ll take the drugs. Everytime.