Women Health: Women suffer through menstrual cramps every month in silence, so why is it that something so important is neglected because it’s a taboo? No, women don’t complain about the heck of it, menstrual cramps are hellish, to say the least, and now there’s a study to prove it.
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), painful menstruation interferes with the daily life of one in five women. Even with such a significant number of women suffering, very little research has been done regarding the condition.
Menstrual Pain Almost as Bad as Heart Attack
Women are prescribed ibuprofen to ease the pain, but that’s not an adequate solution. While menstrual pain varies from person to person, John Guillebaud, professor of reproductive health at University College London, told Quartz that some patients have described their cramps as “almost as bad as a heart attack.”
Frank Tu, director of gynecological pain at NorthShore University HealthSystem says that some physicians are taught ibuprofen “should be good enough.” The AAFP claims that drugs such as aspirin and paracetamol may reduce pain in the short term, although few studies have been of good quality.
Writer for Quartz, Olivia Goldhill describes her experience with menstrual cramps and notes that too many doctors are dismissive when presented with the symptoms.
When the pain gets recurrent and unbearable, many gynecologists prescribe their patients with birth control, without any breaks. The result of this is that you won’t menstruate altogether. The risks of taking birth control pills are blood clotting and the possibility of breast cancer, which is why many women refrain from it and try to cope with their menstrual pain.
Not only does menstruation cause painful cramps for women, but some experience depression, migraines, and even vomiting, when on their period. Unfortunately, no one manages to get clear answers from their doctors. “That’s a million-dollar question that we don’t really understand,” Richard Legro, MD, of Penn State College of Medicine, tells Quartz.
Legro and fellow researchers found that surprisingly, Viagra could be used to treat menstrual cramps. “We published our results in a high-impact OB-GYN journal and we feel we made a major contribution to treatment that everyday practitioners could use,” he says.
However, his research is far from over. Much more information is needed before it can be approved as a treatment, but no one will fund his study. “I’ve applied three or four times but it always gets rejected,” he says. “I think the bottom line is that nobody thinks menstrual cramps is an important public health issue,” he added.