HOW TO DEAL WITH PERIOD PAIN (ENDOMETRIOSIS)
I'm on my period. Right now. As I'm writing this post (Too much information?). And as I bleed to death, I thought it would be a good idea to share with you my tips and tricks on how to survive period pain. First of all, let's give you a bit of a backstory, for all of y'all who don't know what Endometriosis is: the lining of the uterus is called the Endometrium, and Endometriosis is when this tissue also grows outside of your uterus (ovaries, bowel,...). Now I'm not going to go into any details because that would take forever, but the point is, Endometriosis makes your period pains 10 times worse. I distinctively remember being 15 (back then I didn't know how to deal with the pain and make it more manageable), lying on my bed in my room with the lights off (I had migraines), crying, wishing I would die (granted, I was a dramatic teen, but the pain really was that awful), with my family members casually entering and exiting my room from time to time, trying to comfort me.
Nowadays, however, If I plan accordingly, I barely notice the pain. There's no magic trick for it, chances are if you've landed on this post you probably know the 3 Themes: Medication, Heat, and Workout. So here's what I do:
Paracetamol won't cut it here folks. What you need is an anti-inflammatory: your period pain is mostly due to a something called prostaglandins, and anti-inflammatories have the power to lower their production and thus decrease the inflammation and pain that you feel. If you're into natural stuff, there are natural alternatives like fruits that contain Bromelain ( think pineapple), Omega-3 fatty acids (fish), or Turmeric (you can try the tea version or buy the turmeric/curcumin capsules). If you have really hardcore period pain like me, a good tip would be to monitor your period (if it's regular) and plan on your drug administration accordingly. What that means for me is that if I know on which day my period will come, I take 2 anti-inflammatory pills a couple of hours before the blood hits. I won't tell you which medication I use because you might be allergic to it, make sure you're body can tolerate any drugs before you take it!
Imagine your period suddenly shows up, completely unannounced, or that you run out of medication and forget to refill it, or simply that this period pain wave is stronger than the ones you usually feel. The solution: Heat. You have a couple of options here, one of the items listed below might be enough to ease your pain, but sometimes it feel like I need to use all of them just to get by:
The rice sock. You've read that correctly. The rice sock was my first method of pain relief - before medication, before modern heat-producing equipment. The great thing about this technique is that you probably have everything you need for it in your house right now. You need rice, a long sock (Coton), and a microwave. Put rice in the sock until it's 3/4 full, tie a knot, put it in the microwave for one minute: and voilà, your rice-sock-heating system is complete. Apply the rice sock to the area where you feel the pain (stomach, back or tight for me), and relax as it fades away into oblivion.
Electrically heated blankets. This is for when you feel pain all over your body, or if the rice sock idea isn't up your alley (which it should be unless you hate rice). The extra added value to using these kinds of blankets is that you won't need to re-heat them (like the sock in the microwave) since they're basically plugged into a power outlet (or rechargeable). There's also the fact that it's way more comfortable and relaxing than a sock.
Heated packs. I went to South Korea for the first time in late 2016 during the winter and let me tell you, Korean winters are colder than a freezer, I tried everything to stay warm, nearly gave up and then discovered heated packs. They worked so well at keeping me warm that I though about using them for my period and it worked. I think the rice sock works better because you can heat it up to the level you'd like in the microwave (but don't go crazy with that, because you know, fire), but I'm mentioning heated packs because some of them come with a part you can stick unto your skin. So if you have a lot of pain but you still need to go out and don't want to carry a rice sock with you, you can just stick a pack to your area of choice. A good tip would be to carry more than one pack so you can switch it when the first one runs out of heat (heat time tends to vary by pack).
A hot drink. I don't know if this one is obvious, but drinking something hot also helps. A lot of people don't recommend drinking caffeine because it apparently enhances your pain, but I've never personally felt that ( everybody is different), either way, my preferred drink isn't coffee, it's tea. Green tea. Hot green tea. Drink it, put the warm cup on your tummy if you have to.
A hot shower. This one is definitely obvious but well worth mentioning. If all else fails, strip yourself naked and jump into a hot bathtub (or shower). Add some bath salts, a bath bomb, or oil, the key is to make it as relaxing and hot as you can tolerate.
I'm not going to sit here and tell you that yoga or boxing is going to save your life. But they'll come close to it. Exercising one day before your period won't do much, but regularly exercising (at least 3 times a week) will make a difference. It won't stop the pain, but it will turn agonizing pain into a manageable one. This will depend on your actual workouts and on your body chemistry, but most people find that exercising helps. For me, it eases the pain, and sometimes I even get period where I almost don't feel anything. I like doing yoga (6 days a week) and going to the gym (3/5 times), but that's just my preference, there's no real guidebook that I'm aware of, so try as you go.
And good luck.