PERIOD SHAMING IS STOPPING YOUNG GIRLS WITH SECONDARY DYSMENORRHEA FROM GETTING HELP
I was 12 years of age when I experienced my first period and it felt weird seeing my panties stained in red. It all began with the normal crampy sensation you get at the bottom of your stomach and having never experienced this before, I concluded that I just needed to ‘poo’ to feel alright. But since the pain wasn’t so intense, I continued to go about with my daily activities.
Just as I had finished and was about to get into the mood and become my normal playful self, the unexpected visitor arrived. I began to feel more uncomfortable than usual and immediately, I ran to use the toilet only for me to see my panties soaked in red. I screamed on seeing this (like how on earth did my poo turn red) but luckily for me, I had an elder sister to put me through and tell me all I needed to know about menstruation.
According to Women’s Health Concern, around 80% of women experience period pain at some stage in their lifetime and 10% of women suffer severe pain which starts in their early or mid-twenties. The technical name for period pain is dysmenorrhea derived from an Ancient Greek expression meaning ‘difficult monthly flow.‘
While most young girls experience the normal period pain also known as ‘primary dysmenorrhea‘, about 10% of young girls face severe pain known as ‘secondary dysmenorrhea‘. Secondary dysmenorrhea is pain that is caused by a medical disorder in the woman’s reproductive organs, such as endometriosis, adenomyosis, uterine fibroids, or infection.
Young girls who go through this are shying away form getting help and creating a wall of silence around this issue because of the stigma and taboo around it. A new survey by girls’ right charity Plan International Uk revealed that 79% of girls and young women who experience secondary dysemenorrhea haven’t seen a health professional. While 27% gave their reason has being to embarrassed to talk about it with nearly one in 10% saying they didn’t feel comfortable talking to male doctors about it.
Tanya Barron, chief executive of Plan International UK said:
The stigma and taboo around periods is creating a wall of silence, with girls struggling to understand their own bodies, and feeling too ashamed to speak out when they think there’s a problem. Better education for both boys and girls is needed to bust taboos and make sure girls know when the symptoms they have are healthy and normal or when they need to seek medical advice.
Below are few symptoms of secondary dysmenorrhea:
- Cramps starting few days before period and lasting throughout the period and even after in most cases.
- Severe Pain
- Heavy Period
- Prolonged Period
It has being revealed that Endometriosis, Fibroids, Ovarian Cysts, Adenomyosis, Problems with the uterine lining and Infection are likely causes of secondary dysmenorrhea.
Incase you experience any of this symptoms, it is important to see a doctor immediately as secondary dysmenorrhea may lead to infertility.