Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Menstruation and Me

It seems like a good time to spill a little of my menstrual history to give some more context for this blog. I've always had heavy periods right from the get go. Heavy and painful, a winning combination. Fortunately for me I got on just fine with the Pill from my teens, through my 20s and into my 30s. This took the edge off the worst of it and for most of that time I considered my periods a nuisance but they were manageable. My luck only held so long and a raft of side-effects started to make themselves known and I stopped taking the Pill.

Little by little my periods got heavier and more painful and lasted longer. Initially I thought my body was just adjusting; I took a lot of Feminax and hoped for the best. I realised this was no longer an option one Saturday morning when my parents popped into the shop where I worked to say hello, only to find me doubled up with cramps and fighting back tears. I went to the doctor soon after.

This was about six or seven years ago now, I think. Since then I been to the doctor's numerous times, had tests and been referred to a gynaecologist. The treatments I have been recommended and tried are:

  • Tranexamic acid for the bleeding and mefanamic acid for the pain. Tranexamic acid maybe helps a little on reasonably heavy days but not on uncontrollable ones. Mefanamic acid didn't touch my pain.
  • A Mirena coil. An utter horror story, one of the worst experiences of my life, and completely ineffective.
  • A progesterone only Pill. Helped initially but after a year things got worse.

A hysterectomy was half-heartedly mentioned by the gynaecologist but I'll save my thoughts about that for another day. I will mention my disquiet on another subject - that so many of the therapies for heavy and painful periods are actually methods of contraception first and foremost. None of them come from research into alleviating period problems, seemingly.

I was taking the progesterone Pill until a couple of weeks ago. I had to stop so I could take Norethisterone, another progesterone tablet, to stop the ridiculously heavy period I'd been having for the previous two and a half weeks and was making me very poorly. Probably not helped by the two week period I'd had a fortnight beforehand either. The Norethisterone did give me a break for a week, but within 48 hours of finishing the pack my period was back. That was eight days ago and it's not stopped yet, but I have now gone two days without flooding or losing great clumps of gunk (actual medical term). I'm staying off the Pill for now to see what happens.

Obviously I have to go back to the doctor's soon but I don't hold out much hope of being told anything different. And when I look at the paltry list of solutions above, it makes me feel a bit fed up. That's not a lot of help offered over several years and numerous appointments with my GP. When I do go again, I'll report back here. If anyone has any suggestions or advice please shout. In the meantime I'll continue to renew my tranexamic acid prescription and cocktail paracetamol and codeine with ibuprofen on really bad days.

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