The beginning is always the same: a spasmodic pulling in my stomach pulls me out of my sleep and keeps me awake for the next few hours. The same questions always come with the pain: Why does it always have to start at night? Who is to blame for this crap? Why is the pharmaceutical industry so stupid and let the sales of an effective drug for menstrual pain escape? How much worse does that have to be for endometriosis patients? And statistically how long do I have until the redeeming menopause?
In the next two days, standing up straight becomes impossible again and again. Sometimes the pain is so severe and sudden that I have to hold onto something to keep from bending my knees. Normal – stop period.
So Ibu and Buscopan swallow, but that won’t help, and hold on to the hot-water bottle, it at least gives you a warm feeling in your stomach. Medicine has nothing more to offer than that, diet tips, yoga exercises and the advice “Just relax”. The only thing that seems to beat the interests of the pharmaceutical industry is patriarchy. Because despite the option of being able to sell half of humanity a drug that they would have to take monthly for years, pharmaceutical companies prefer to invest in drugs for erectile dysfunction. A comparatively small patient population. But the problem is obviously more familiar to the mostly male management floors. It is all the more astonishing that a man of all people, John Guillebaud from University College London, thinks that menstrual pain is underestimated in society and has not been scientifically researched enough. His conclusion: at least as severe as the pain of a heart attack.
My period is uncomfortable, but like a heart attack? And above all at least. In other words, worse than a heart attack is also possible.
Patriarchally well conditioned, there were exactly three reactions to this message: First, the man exaggerates. Secondly, heart attacks are either not that painful after all, or thirdly, my periods are probably not that bad in comparison. What am I complaining about here again?
But what if that’s true? The fact that women are treated differently than men in medical research and also in treatments has been discussed again and again for several years using new examples. Guillebaud’s thesis takes up two of them.
Women who go to the doctor with pain are often not taken seriously. Compared to men, they are prescribed significantly fewer painkillers for the same symptoms and the same illness – and no, that’s not due to their lower average weight. Men have pain that needs treatment. Women do what they always do: they exaggerate – even with their periods. Heart attacks are another area where we women lose out medically. Here’s why: Heart attacks in women often present with symptoms that don’t meet textbook standards, which is because that standard is male—and potentially fatal for women when it does.
Perhaps, if Guillebaud is right, the heart attack problem lies elsewhere. If this type of pain is part of everyday life for many women, why should we call an ambulance? Simply place the hot water bottle on your chest instead of on your stomach. Problem solved. In two or three days it will definitely be gone as usual. Don’t whine, or someone else will ask if we’re on our period.