I’ve struggled with severe period pain three days of every month for the past 18 years. That’s about 648 days when I’ve had cramps that felt like someone was stabbing my insides, heavy bleeding that ruined more pairs of underwear than I can count, and waves of nausea that prevented me from doing even the most basic tasks.
Taking the maximum dose of painkillers alleviated my symptoms only briefly. I’d dread how tired I’d be the next day while doubled over in pain on the toilet, wondering if I needed to throw up or empty my bowels.
Sometimes, I’d faint from the intensity of my cramping— a rare but embarrassing incident, whether I was 14 at dance rehearsal or 25 in the bathroom of my childhood home. My pain was so debilitating that I’d miss classes, work, birthdays, holidays, and anniversaries.