Hi, modern Filipinas! Welcome to another episode of “Why It Sucks to Live as a Woman”. In today’s article, we’ll talk about the utterly unpleasant and inconvenient thing we’re all familiar with: menstruation.
Particularly, period pains.
I don’t need to explain how menstruation works, since I’m pretty sure your 3rd grade science lessons already covered that. What we will talk about is the unimaginable agony of having to deal with dysmenorrhea – and on a monthly basis.
It’s different for every girl, but I myself have my fair share of bakit-ba-ako-ginawang-babae-ng-Diyos moments, and it’s all no thanks to my period.
It was a little after 5 PM on a rainy Thursday. Second year college me was trying to get home after a long day at school. Normally, I would’ve sucked it up and endured my commute home to Cavite. But my red days have just arrived, so I was dreading the long journey in the bout of my dysmenorrhea.
I hailed a UV Express along Taft and unfortunately, I had to sit on the spot that’s in between the long seat and the foldable seat (UV Express riders will understand the struggle). My luck takes a turn for the worse when I was sandwiched in between two guys, leaving me no room to move or to lean back.
The AC was directed right at my face, which to someone experiencing dysmenorrhea is a nightmare. I was getting chills, but my sweat was dripping like I just ran a marathon. All I wanted to do was sleep through the whole ordeal, but my seat and my position did me no favors. The horrendous traffic added insult to injury.
Out of desperation, I laid my head on the shoulder of the kuya beside me (I figured he wouldn’t notice since he was fast asleep) and dozed off.
Thankfully, I made it home without fainting. So, thank you, random stranger, for not saying anything even if you noticed I was doing it on purpose.
Fun fact: period cramps are actually contractions, since the muscles in the uterus try to dispel the uterine lining. So technically, it’s like we’re going through labor and preparing to give birth to wads of blood.
The contractions can get severe for some women that it disrupts their daily activities. Personally, there were times when I had to miss work or school days because my dysmenorrhea was so bad, I couldn’t even keep my eyes open.
But this is something other people, especially men, have belittled for the longest time. Even some women who are lucky to never have experienced severe period cramps tell us that we’re just being “maarte” or that we’re exaggerating. But now, they can “eat their words” because the University College London ruled that period cramps can feel as bad as a heart attack.
To add to that, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III announced last month that dysmenorrhea leave is now possible – which is a big win for women. Although there is no law saying that female workers are entitled to this benefit, it can be settled through a mutual agreement between the employer and the employees called collective bargaining agreement (CBA).
No More Suffering
Another fun fact: if you’re a woman, you likely don’t have to experience monthly periods.
Feminists have started calling on women to embrace their monthly flow. There’s no doubt that overcoming the stigma around a normal bodily function should be celebrated. And anchored advocacies, such as free sanitary products, better sex education, menstrual leave, and the abolition of pink tax are all equally important.
But this leaves room for a slight oversight: the fact that some women don’t want to embrace their period because it hurts like hell. So is there a medical reason that they should continue enduring period pains?
No, there is none.
The Royal College of General Practitioners said 99 percent of women don’t need to bleed because menstruation has zero health benefits. Judith Stephenson, a professor of sexual and productive health at University of College London, even described periods as “one of God’s greatest design faults.”
Different hormonal contraceptives are available for those who want to stop getting periods. And the benefits for taking these are plenty: you can mitigate several health issues like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), prevent unwanted pregnancy, regulate your hormones, and basically just living without having a designated week every month when you worry kung may tagos ka ba.
How to Purge Period Pains
Apart from taking birth control pills, here are some ways to escape period pains:
- Know what you should and shouldn’t eat. Bananas, dark chocolate, whole grains, and many other types of food can ease muscle tension and alleviate your period cramps. On the flipside, avoid alcohol, fatty food, excessive sugar, and caffeine because these can make you feel more bloated.
- Take over-the-counter medicine. I can attest to the power Midol has in easing period cramps. I normally take one when my dysmenorrhea is bad, nap for an hour, and wake up like everything was just a bad dream. Ibuprofen and Mefenamic acid are your friends during your red days, but remember to not go crazy with the dosage.
- Make a hot compress. Lay the bag or the towel on your lower abdomen and let it sit for a few minutes. The heat will ease the muscle tension, providing relief from dysmenorrhea pain.
- Don’t hesitate to take a day and care for yourself, even if it means choosing to ignore your responsibilities. Your health comes first before anything.
Your monthly flow doesn’t have to be an excruciating experience. You even have the choice to be rid of it completely. But if this option doesn’t work for you, you can turn to these simple habits to find relief or seek medical attention.