Earlier this year, I had gotten my period in the middle of the night– which meant that I was up all night experiencing heat flashes, nausea, and cramping.
Personally, my periods are always hell. The pain is something I thought was "normal" and was just the consequences of having a menstrual cycle. Feeling light headed, nausea, cramping that would stop me in my tracks, being over-emotional, and having migraines was what I believed just came with being a female.
Anyways, I had to work later in the morning, and ultimately knew I wouldn’t be able to sit through my shift knowing I was going to be experiencing those symptoms. My first concern was calling into work sick. My job HATES when we call in sick, but I knew this was the one time I could not tough it out. They obviously can’t say, “No, you have to come in anyways,” so they said “Fine, but you need a medical excuse.” This part was most stressful and irritating.
Why must we, as females, have to validate the severity of our period pain with a medical excuse?
So, like the good employee I am, I went into QuickCare not knowing what to expect. I don’t like going to the doctor’s, and it is not something I do often. Honestly, I did not really know how to be like, “Yeah, I just need a written excuse for my period, thanks!”
I got called back, did the normal routine, and eventually met with the doctor. My doctor was male, and if I am being honest, that made me eerie because they don’t feel the pain of periods.
I explained what I was experiencing and how I needed an excuse for work. Because I was experiencing nausea and cramping, the doctor proceeded by diagnosing me with what he believed was a Gastrointestinal Infection– aka the stomach flu.
I assured him that the symptoms I was experiencing was normal with my period, not a viral or bacterial infection, that could be cured with medicine. He went on with “educating” me with the differences between period and flu symptoms. I didn’t feel like putting up a fight, so I let him win, and proceeded with obtaining my medical excuse. You apparently can’t put “period pain” on a medical excuse, so I got an excuse that stated my diagnosis as "Gastrointestinal Infection.” I gave it to my boss next time I worked, no questions were asked.
I got my medical excuse and was not penalized for missing work, which I am grateful for; however, the situation made me reflect on how I have had to handle talking about my period and dealing with it.
Why is it that expressing period pain is so disregarded or discouraged?
Why can’t period pain be validated at a medical center– or maybe it can, just not at mine?
Why are many women left feeling ashamed of the monthly occurrence that makes us women and is the reason we can bring life into the world?
Why are some people so ignorant to the realities of menstruation and its consequences?
Why in schools, can we go to the nurse for any obscene issue and go home, but for a period the best we get is, "You can take ibuprofen and lay down for no more than twenty minutes"? Even though, you may not be able to sit up without feeling like your about to throw up or pass out from the pain?
Why do women have to think, "Am I just being a baby for complaining about my period pain?"
Maybe it's just me, but I believe period pain should be taken just as seriously as other medical conditions. Periods are not something women ask for– they are something we are forced to deal with. That means we are forced to deal with how minor or how severe the symptoms can be. Yes, there is medicine that can weaken the intensity of the symptoms, but medicine can't cure all of the discomfort that comes with it. It's also irritating to me that when we speak up about what we are going through, we are immediately hushed and told that it is an inappropriate subject to speak about.
I understand that not all work and medical establishments handle situations involving periods the way my experience did. What I spoke about what was simply my experience. Hopefully, my experience is uncommon and doesn’t happen everywhere. However, I find myself thinking about all of the other girls and women who do have to deal with professionals who treat periods and menstrual cycles in such an inhumane way. Hopefully, this will change.
***If you experience severe menstrual symptoms, make sure to see a gynecologist, a Planned Parenthood, or a professional specializing in menstrual health! Severe period symptoms are not normal and should be addressed to make sure there is not a more serious condition or issue!