My life in Periods…Part Three

DAWN O'PORTER : 08 JULY 2010
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The pain that can be affiliated with your period can be crippling. I escaped this for the first few years – which I am grateful for, as a throbbing womb with the mad moments might have resulted in certain insanity by my 15th birthday. However, when I was 16 I experienced period pain for the first time and I am not exaggerating when I say that if I can get through what I got through that day then childbirth will be a synch. It was when the pain started to be a part of it all that I opened up a lot. I couldn’t hide what was happening because I needed help. My aunty, my teachers, people on the street…when the throb struck I would go to anyone but anyone for a hot water bottle. I was shameless, but I was still yet to go into a shop and buy my own tampons. I know. I know. So odd!

I was now in the senior school, The Ladies College.  It was girls only, with a more grown up version of the school uniform. Greenies were still very much on the scene but it was now only compulsory to wear them for sports. Still I wanted to ask ‘How do my greenies make me sportier?’  No one had an answer.

We were women now as far as we were concerned, many of us had been sexual, we had been drunk, we had been grounded – many times. As far as we were concerned, we had lived. But no life experience had prepared me for the horror that was period pain. I will never forget that first time as long as I live, and even though it has struck many times since, that first time still stands out as the worst pain I have ever experienced in my entire life.

It was during our lunch break that it hit me. Evil it was, pure evil. My memory is hazy, but I remember lying on the floor at the back of the classroom shifting between being on my knees and my front and back. I couldn’t get comfortable. Janet told me not to hug my knees and to stretch out, but stretching out felt like someone was seeing if my small intestine really could reach across the length of a football pitch (you know how people say it can?’)

I looked at the clock and saw that afternoon registration started in three minutes. At the time our form teacher was a man, who I had a little bit of a crush on and who I never wanted to see me in this state. My classmates formed a circle around me as I lay panting on the floor. I was so hot, so swollen, so convinced I was dying.

‘Give her water’ screeched Janet.

‘No, water will make her sick’ yelped someone else.

‘GIVE ME SOME FUCKING WATER’ I screamed!

That was the moment that Mr H walked in. The crowd around me dispersed.

‘Everything OK here’ he asked.

‘I feel like my womb is about to explode’ I replied.

And that was that, my inhibition around adults had gone. If periods were going to cause me that much pain, I wanted EVERYONE to know about it.

Due to being in three consecutive two year relationships from age sixteen I was on the pill for most if that. This was fabulous, being back in control of my body again gave me a thrill. My periods were not terrifying anymore, I could laugh about them because I knew what to expect. There is no fun in loving white jeans but never knowing when it is safe to wear them. Once bitten, twice shy etc etc…

I was reminded of how troublesome periods could be a few times when I went off the pill though. Not only was the pain worse, but I was sexual and that just opens up a whole new way to be humiliated by your body.

When I was about 18 I was between relationships, and I had started seeing an old friend of mine, it was quite weird as like I said, we were friends. He was at the stage where he just wanted sex, and I was a little less convinced to be honest. We had fooled around a bit but his determination to put his willy in me was actually quite annoying, but that is just teenage boys for you – fathers have every right to be protective.

One night after going clubbing, I had gone back to his to stay the night at his. We had partaken in various acts of drunken fumbling but I had managed to hold off on the ‘big one’. When we woke up in the morning his bedroom was so bright we might as well have been outside, as a teenager this was torture for me as I didn’t love my body, especially in broad daylight. I kept the duvet up around my chin and hoped he didn’t try to look at me.  He had woken up first and was rubbing himself against me before my eyes had even opened. I was so over him by this point and was plotting get out clauses as he got hornier and hornier. Very oddly, but luckily, he suddenly sprung out of bed and announced he wanted to have sex with me in the shower. It was so random. One of his friends had obviously done this recently and told all the boys. Now this guy wanted some of that action and putting sensuality aside he wanted me in the shower and fast.

I said I had a headache (the classic) and told him to go get in and that I would join him in a bit. I didn’t plan to go, I just needed more time to work out how to get out of it.

THANK YOU VAGINA!! …

For as soon as he had left the room I lifted the covers to look at my body and saw that my legs were covered in blood. OH MY GOD! By some miracle of the Lord it hadn’t yet spread to the sheets, but any wrong move would have been certain stainage. I jumped up and panicked in the way of repeating ‘shit shit shit’ but I didn’t know what to do.

The blood was now pouring out of me, I needed to mop it up but he was in the bathroom…AHHAGAHHAGH!

I grabbed a pair if his pants, wiped myself with them and put them in my bag, I then stuffed one of his socks into my pants, went into the bathroom and told him I just remembered we were having a family lunch and I was late and I walked home. Sock in pants. Hideous!

Our ‘friendship’ kind of evaporated after that, and that was just fine with me!

That wasn’t my only mortifying sexual experience either. Another time I was in bed with a guy I really liked when he got up to go for a wee and literally screamed from the bathroom. Without needing to give you too many details, that night became known as the night I gave him a ‘Ketchup Pie’ IN HIS FACE!

Again…OH MY GOD!!

This is where the pill comes in really handy. At least you can narrow down when your period is coming by at least a week. Unfortunately when I wasn’t in a relationship I freaked out a bit about being on the pill for no reason so I went off it in my early 20’s and actually that all went really well. My periods were regular, I would occasionally get pain but not really, and all in all I really enjoyed them.

But not for long. When I was about 25 something terrible started to happen. About five days before my period was due that same pain that I had when I was 16 at the back of the classroom started to come back. Around every 20minutes I would be bent double in pain, probably sick and there was also a large chance ‘the other end’ would kick off as well. It was a horrible, debilitating illness that I suffered for five days every month for about a year until I went to the doctor (don’t ask why, I am just rubbish at going to doctors) and he put me back on the pill.

It took me a while to realize it was my periods because as soon as the period came the pain stopped and everything was just perfect. I was in denial that these pains had anything to do with my menstrual cycle, but after missing lots of work and being a right pain in the arse to my housemate, I had to admit defeat.

I have been on the pill ever since. The pain is reduced by at least 80% and sometimes I don’t even get it at all. Also I am in a serious relationship so being on the pill feels justified, but I do worry that I will have to be on it forever. The fear I have of that pain coming back is much stronger than my problem I have with pumping myself full of hormones. If I mess up my packet at any time the pain comes back with a vengeance to remind me that I am not in control.

Wondering if there was something specific causing this agony, a few months ago I went to visit to see a gynecologist hoping for answers. I told her what was what and she offered me an ultrasound, which half way through she admitted to not being able to find my ovaries and womb. I asked her if I was a hermaphrodite. She didn’t answer me.

Determined that I would have one, she decided to examine me internally and lubed up a big probe that she soon after wedged up my fanny.

It turns out my womb is really wonky and tilts so far back that my organs are hidden. Apparently this isn’t normal but it isn’t a problem. However it does explain my pains. With my womb pressing onto my bowels I get all sorts of sensations that I would rather not discuss, and the angle at which my womb falls also means that actual process of menstruation struggles a little therefore causes cramps. Although it was good to have an answer, I was upset that it didn’t seem curable.

‘Am I stuck with this forever’ I asked, expecting the worst.

‘No, maybe not’ she answered ‘there is something you can do that might loosen it all up a bit’.

‘Oh yeah, what is that?’ I asked.

‘Have a baby’.

Right then, looks like the pain won’t be going anywhere anytime soon!

Wow, I just really went off on one about periods. Obviously needed to get that off my chest. Looking forward to sharing embarrassing stories with you, I could do that all night long!

The End x