menstrual cramps

page updated: 31-Mar-2004

Menstrual cramps really have nothing to do with my vagina, but I included them in here anyway to make my coverage of bleeding complete. Not to ignore my vagina completely, it does get tender and occasionally achy during the first couple days of my period. This can afflict either my actual vagina or various parts of my vulva. I can't decide whether I like the word vulva or the word vagina better. I don't like either of them very much. I think I prefer vulva. It reminds me of "evolve" and of "Volvo."

I didn't get cramps for several years after getting my period, but I would get an achy lower back, which I suppose was actually back cramps because it stayed tense and uncomfortable even under the influence of painkillers. When I was 16 I suddenly started getting intense cramps. I don't think that people who have never had menstrual cramps understand that they are much different than regular muscle cramps, or stomach cramps. I didn't even recognise them as cramps at first.

My cramps would be a serious, serious ache in the pit of my abdomen, nestled just above my pubic bone, and a feeling of heat. My belly would actually get warm to the touch. This pain would bring on all kinds of other symptoms including nausea, migraines, sweats, grey-green skin and fainting. Often my vagina itself would be achy if I had cramps.

They lasted anywhere up to about 10 hours.

Once I actually had cramps, none of the drugs we had around the house would help. Usually I would take 2 or 3 acetomenophen with codeine (generic Tylenol 1) and try to go to sleep. Also I found that pads were much more comfortable than anything internal if I had bad cramps. My mum, sister and a cousin of ours all started getting sick with cramps when we were around 16. I've missed classes and work with them and their associated headaches.

I've never had a prescription for cramps, but I know several people who have, commonly an anti-inflammatory and relaxant called Naproxen. My mum takes the same drug for migraines. It seems that a lot of girls I know get really bad cramps. At least seven or eight, not even considering people I've never talked about cramps with. An increase in menstrual cramps can be a sign of developing endometriosis (it was for my mum), but it can also happen as a girl progresses through puberty and starts producing more hormones and grows a bigger, stronger, meaner uterus.

I don't like to take a hot bath for cramps, because although it feels good to be in the tub, I almost always feel awful when I try to get out and am all hot and steamy. I get dizzy and sick and things. I prefer to stand in a scalding shower with the water on my tummy. A hot water bottle can be nice too. The best thing was when I had cramps and special boy had a raging fever, and I could use his bum to sooth my cramps. I'm not up on particular herbs that help cramps, but sometimes I have tea just for the warm liquid.

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In 2001 I figured out how to massage my cramps away.

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