I am eagerly waiting for menopause!
Sunrita Mitra, an academician, suffers from chronic Dysmenorrhea or menstrual pain, which almost renders her immobile. Here she talks about how she copes with it physically and emotionally.
Please tell us a bit about your present condition.
At the age of 50 plus, I am eagerly waiting for my menopause but I am having painful periods at regular (28 plus/minus 2 days) intervals that last for 5 to 6 days. Pain starts two-three days prior to menstrual discharge and usually the first two days are extremely painful, rendering me almost non-functional. From the 3rd day, as the flow improves pain reduces but heavy flow makes the days uncomfortable and sometimes embarrassing. Behavioural (e.g. irritability) and psychological (e.g. depressed mood) problems are associated with this condition.
How long have you been suffering from menstrual cramps?
Right from the beginning when it started,at the age of 11 plus. After marriage, the problem lessened slightly. In the last seven or eight years, the problem has reappeared in a much aggravated scale. Now the cramps have become almost unbearable.
What were the early symptoms?
Intermittent painful cramps in lower abdomen along with low back pain. Sometimes, spotting starts a week prior to the periods.
Is there a history of this in your family?
My mother had a fibroid cured by hysterectomy at an early age (when she was 38 years).
Since you are a working woman, please tell us how you cope with it?
Coping with great difficulty. Sometimes, I am even forced to stay away from work. When absolutely necessary, I have to manage with the help of painkillers (which I usually avoid).
What was the reason for this menstrual pain? Is the start of menstrual pain correlated to anything in particular, like post-pregnancy?
I have been informed by the physician (corroborated by ultra-sonography report) that multiple uterine fibroids are responsible for the present condition.
Any related complications?
Difficulty in defecation when cramps exist.
What medications are you on?
Usually none, as I avoid painkillers unless I am compelled to due to some unavoidable assignments. The painkillers also have the side effect of extreme acidity.
Is there a change of flow ever since the pain started?
Flow has become heavy with the passage of clots. At the outset, in the first few days, there is a sense of obstruction to the flow.
What were some of the challenges you faced and what is your advice to patients who face similar challenges?
- Inability to sit for a long time (even an hour)
- Inability to focus on work, particularly of the physical kind
- mood disturbances
My advice to others would be to ignore the pain, if possible, by concentrating on something you enjoy. Avoid physical work as much as possible, particularly lifting heavy objects.
What kind of specialists do you consult and how often?
Once in a while a gynaecologist or my general physician.
Have you had to make changes to your lifestyle because of your condition?
I avoid travelling or scheduling events during those periods.
Have you tried complementary medicine or therapies, like homeopathy or yoga?
Sometimes a few yoga postures help in reducing the pain to some extent. I use hot-water bags for temporary relief.
Have the home remedies worked better than painkillers, as often claimed?
Difficult to say. When I have to go out for work, painkillers help as home remedies that I have tried are only able to give me temporary relief.
If it's uterine fibroids, why have you not opted for surgery - myemectomy or hysterectomy?
Once due to continuous spotting for two months, I had to take hormones which my body did not quite take to. So the doctor advised me to wait, because after hysterectomy, I would have to go through a hormone therapy, which again my body might have rejected.
Has it been difficult emotionally to cope with your condition?
Very much. I feel low, suffer from depression, and become irritable. Very often, I even feel guilty as I cannot perform optimally, both at work and at home.
Did you see a counsellor for support? Were you offered counselling by a doctor?
I have never been to any counsellor for support. I was advised by my physician as well as the gynaecologist to wait for my shortly expected menopause which is likely to alleviate the problem.