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Extremely painful periods; help?

I need advice. I'm going to tell you about my periods. I am not one to play the victim card, but I legitimately feel like I lost many days of my life to my debilitating period pain, that I strongly feel is more than just dysmenorrhea and I feel the need medical advice to learn what was/is going on. Here we go.

I got my first period when I was 12. Every single month, for the first 2 days of my period (lasting on average around 6 days) I would be in absolutely debilitating pain. I would say I have a relatively normal pain tolerance, and I can say without a doubt the pain I experienced from my periods was worse than anything I've experienced. It would start with lower back pain and painful cramps and escalate into extreme fatigue, dizziness and excessive sweating that lasted about 30 minutes. It was always too painful to stand up and I would be curled up in fetal position after taking several Advils, waiting for the pain to go away. I had to leave school each time to go home because of this. Sometimes my vision would go blurry and I would not be able to see my hand if I put it in front of my face. I would feel like I had to pass out for 10 minutes. Every time this would escalate in nausea and ultimately throwing up. I would never feel better until I'd throw up at least 5-10 times. This happened each month from the time I was 12 until I was 18, when I finally decided enough was enough.

After doing a decent amount of research, I decided to take control of the situation and go on birth control (age 18). After being on the pill for a couple of months, I noticed that my periods were much lighter and I no longer had the dizziness/ nausea/ throwing up. I was on the pill for about 3 years, and I've currently been off of it for about 6 months. I no longer have the same issues that I was experiencing before I went on the pill.

Some other information that may be relevant: I'm a 5'7" 130 pound female. I'm currently 22, I exercise regularly and have a relatively healthy diet. I am on no medications, and the only medication I've ever been on was the birth control for the issues described above. I have been diagnosed with major depressive disorder, and my mental health is something that I have struggled with in the past but currently is very well under control. I have no other diagnosed medical conditions.

I would really, really appreciate it if anyone is able to offer any insight as to what was going on with me. I strongly believe that suffering from these severe issues was not simply just "period cramps" or me "overreacting." I have a degree in biology, and I am very interested in this topic, so please do not spare me the details.

1) What are possible diagnoses for what I've described?

2) Why did the severe pain/dizziness/ throwing up stop after I came off of the pill? Can I expect these issues to resurface after a certain amount of time, or is it not something to worry about anymore?

Thank you so much! I apologize if this post was too long, but it was something I had to get off my chest in full detail!
1 Responses
973741 tn?1342342773
COMMUNITY LEADER
Thanks for this question!  I have one point for you to clarify though.  Your symptoms got BETTER with the pill, correct?  You mention dizziness and debilitating pain during the first couple of days of your cycle but that was PRE pill and got better when you took it.  Has that come back now that you are off?  Just trying to understand exactly what you are saying.

I also have a super bad first true day of my period.  I say true day because I have light spotting for a day and then I'm in FULL swing.  It is very heavy and I have terrible cramps, headache, etc.  It's just one day though so I power through it and kind of plan around it.  It's not bad enough that I can't do that.  If it were just a little bit worse, I might be bed ridden on those days.  lol  Not fun!  So, I do understand where you are coming from. This is very disruptive to your life.  

I think if you have not, a full exam is again in order. You want to make sure you don't have something like endometriosis which can cause these types of issues. You also could have a fibroid (s). Even if you didn't in the past, you want to rule that out now.  So, you want to make sure things like this are not going on. And while you are at it, get your thyroid checked.  

Once you are done with that, you can then think in terms of what to do next.  Is going back on the pill warranted if you are still having the issues?  

Now, you also mention the issues with depression. There are mood disorders directly related to our period.  (lucky us).  One that comes to mind is Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder.  Psychiatrists work with patients that have this going on.  This could be a game changer for you.  Here's some general information https://www.med.unc.edu/psych/wmd/mood-disorders/menstrually-related/  AND https://www.medicinenet.com/premenstrual_dysphoric_disorder_pmdd/article.htm#what_is_premenstrual_dysphoric_disorder_pmdd

In my area, we have some very savvy ob/gyn's that try to screen for this and psychiatrists that have this as a subspecialty of their practice.  Sometimes they decide to treat with traditional medications for depression/anxiety. Some women do best when they take an SSRI all the time for this but they also can be different protocols that are off label (not how the FDA has given the permission to put in their packaging) which might include not taking the medication every day.  

So, those are some things to think about for your situation.  I feel for you.  This is interfering with your life!  
2 Comments
Yes, the pill diminished my symptoms and I no longer have the symptoms, even after being off of the pill for several months now. I'm more trying to understand what was happening with me and why the pill helped because I'm extremely interested in medicine and I want to know what was going on.
I suspected endometriosis for a while, but unfortunately it's really difficult to be diagnosed with without invasive and expensive procedures. As far as I know the same goes for PCOS.

Thanks for your response!
It could be endometriosis. I had that, and all the symptoms you described, and the pill really helped. (I had a hysterectomy at 33 because of it - mine got really, really bad).

It could also be that your body regulated itself with time, and everything is okay now.

Diagnosis endo can be invasive. Some docs diagnose on symptoms, and treat based on those. Sometimes it's necessary to do surgery. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/endometriosis/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20354661

Diagnosing PCOS is a lot simpler, in ways, and not so much in other ways. There is no one test that tells you if you have it, but there are some blood tests that can help, and perhaps you'll need an ultrasound, but that's usually it. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/pcos/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20353443

If you don't have medical coverage, yes, it could get very expensive. :(

Try not to worry for now. If it's anything like endo or PCOS, your body will let you know. Just enjoy feeling better for now. :)
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