The following blog post was written by Shaelagh Cull, Summer 2015 Public Programs Assistant .
“My pen cannot express the anguish and pain suffered by some women…”:
Dysmenorrhea can be extremely painful and can sometimes be accompanied by headache, bloating, diarrhea, constipation or backache. Source: tipstimes.com/menstrual
For many women, each month until menopause will bring with it a new menstrual cycle. Anywhere between twenty to ninety percent of women will experience painful cramping, medically known as dysmenorrhea. At its most basic level, menstrual cramps are the body’s way of getting rid of the nutrient-rich lining of the uterus. The body replaces this lining monthly in preparation for a potential pregnancy. The pain associated with this process can become so severe that it can lead to dizziness or fainting, and is associated with other uncomfortable symptoms such as headache, bloating, diarrhea, constipation or backache. While in the throes of menstrual pain, women today often turn to over-the-counter painkillers, such as Advil, Midol or Tylenol to treat the discomfort, or to heat, in the form of electric heating-pads or hot water bottles to ease abdominal cramping. Even with such easily accessible and effective treatments, menstrual cramps can still take their toll – research has shown that dysmenorrhea is responsible for the majority of short-term school absences among adolescent girls, and some studies have suggested similar findings for adults in the workplace, although this has been difficult to properly test. If menstrual cramps continue to significantly affect women today, even with accessibility to modern painkillers, how did the women of the past attempt to treat the pain associated with their monthly menstrual cycles? Continue reading
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