I like many have long been fed the myth that periods are supposed to be painful. Passing out or being sick? Melodramatic. Missing school or work? Melodramatic, everyone has painful periods you just have to get on with it. Yet, both of those things have happened to me and I’m only now learning, in my late 20s, what is medically normal and what needs further investigation. And in learning this, I’m learning that decades of medical bias means that women/people assigned female at birth (AFAB) means the way in which our hormones affect our entire bodies in totally different ways to AMAB, to the extent where even doses of over-the-counter drugs are designed with AMAB in mind, simply haven’t been studied or fully understood because hormones were “too complicated” to factor in. So, how can even medical professionals help us properly when they’re been trained through this broken, misogynistic system?
It’s taken me years of repeated appointments about the same issue to finally be taken seriously enough for a referral to gynaecology, which I hope will provide some answers but nothing is certain for the reasons explained above. Currently, my periods cause me to miss work because I am physically and emotionally incapable of being productive on one or two days of every month. We cannot allow this to continue being brushed under the carpet as I know I am not alone in this, and I want answers. We need urgent review of how menstrual issues are treated, more research into AFAB hormones full stop, and greater awareness of myth debunking around how we talk about and understand menstruation as a society.