When you have painful cramps during your menstrual cycle, how much pain is too much? Should you "gut it out" with over the counter medicines, or do you need to seek a doctor's opinion?
In my 20s and 30s, I suffered from severe endometriosis. I got accustomed to dealing with 24 to 36 hours of cramps so severe that I'd take ibuprofen on the hour. I knew this wasn't good for me, but I couldn't get through my workday or sleep at night if I didn't. I just thought that my cramps were part of my individual cycle; after all, we're all different. Some women had periods that lasted 4 days; mine lasted 7. I attributed the pain to my personal cycle and went on about my life.
In my 30s, when we had trouble conceiving, our doctor actually suspected endometriosis. After tests and laparoscopic surgery to treat what was a very severe case, I found that my monthly period was quite different. No longer did I have such sharp pain around the time of ovulation, and now the cramps that accompanied the first day of my period were mild to moderate. Normal, in other words.
At least 5.5 million women and girls in the United States have endometriosis. It occurs when the endometrial tissue that builds in the uterus migrates outside of the uterus itself, sometimes attaching itself to ovaries, fallopian tubes and body organs in the area. As the uterine lining grows and sheds each month, so does the endometrial tissue, causing far greater cramping than a "normal" period would.
If you think your monthly cramping and other symptoms are more intense and last longer than they should, do some research on endometriosis and ask your doctor to evaluate you. Here's an article that tells more about it:
There's no need to be in that much pain. Get it checked out.
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