I was 11 when I got my first period and I’m now in my late twenties. I am well-versed in my period-cyclopedia. I know when something is normal and when something is different or wrong.
Doctors, however, don’t share my confidence in knowing my own body. It started when I was a teenager and my very heavy periods sent me to the GP to ask for help.He put me on a contraceptive pill that he chose because he was getting free samples. Good choice. Very thoughtful. The Pill didn’t eleviate the heavy flow of my periods, didn’t ease the cramping and the only benefit was knowing when they were coming. I also started getting a weird feeling in my uterus-region and figured that it was the Pill considering it was the only difference. My doctor didn’t agree. He said I should stay on the pill and therefore my mum agreed.
Told I was wrong by a medical professional and my own mother, I just figured I was wrong and kept taking that pill. Turns out that Pill has been discontinued for years now – because it fucken sucked.
In my early 20s, I no longer needed my mum to take me to the doctor and I realised I could get a new doctor altogether. I somehow convinced this one to give me an internal ultrasound (a true delight, really just delightfuli) which revealed an ovarian cyst, caused – she thought – by the pill I’d been on. So she sent me off to a gynaecologist. Great! A vagina expert! However the gyno really only had one plan for me from the first (expensive) appointment and that was the Mirena. It sounded great from what she told me, I’d basically not even get a period! It would be pain free! Super light if I even got one! The Mirena lasts 5 years! She had to put me to sleep to put it in because I have vaginismus, which is basically when you’re too tight for life because your own vagina hates you. Thanks, pussy! She said it was because she only let mums have it put in without anasethetic… good luck mums.
Well I didn’t get any of the benefits. I continued to have heavy, painful, long periods and now they were unpredicatable. They would come every 10 days or if lucky, 2 weeks. They might last for 13 days if I was lucky. And the pain was a new level. I was told that ‘it would settle in and I’d stop having periods’ for the entire time I had a Mirena by every GP I went to. So many different GPs told me this. I moved towns so that gyno didn’t see me again, and no GP would refer me to a new one for the 4 years after that evil little T was put inside me.
The pain was no longer just regular period cramping but I was now experiencing weakness down my right leg, pain throughout my back and hips, and actual shooting pains in my vulva and butthole. My goddamn butthole. When one day I tried to drive somewhere and couldn’t sit up straight in the car seat because the pain was too intense, I cried, went home and called a Nurse On Call. With her encouragement I decided it was time to get assertive about my own uterus and all its problems.
I found a GP that had some specialising in Mirenas (that is, she was trained to take them out) and she actually listened to me. She agreed that it sounded like it wasn’t suiting me. I went to a good gynaecologist who spent 10 minutes listening to my history and then gave me an examination.
Sorry to get a little more graphic here but she placed a gloved finger inside of my vagina and pressed on a certain spot. The familiar pain and weakness started. Turns out that the Mirena was pressing into a nerve and my regular cramping made this pressing even worse during my periods. Now factor in how the periods were longer and more freqeunt and you get a lot of hell in your downstairs.
That little fucker was taken out, the pain was horrible, given the vaginismus (which this new gyno actually diagnosed) but it was gone. I was put on a pill that wasn’t given away as free samples or discontinued. And the best part was that all of those damned GPs I saw, multiple of them, all dismissed my pain and concerns outright but I was damn right. Here are some of the things they told me when I dared come in to ask about it:
‘So period pain is normal and this is how a period works…’
‘I think you should just wait for the Mirena to work…’
‘Some women just get more period pain than others…’
‘I guess I can prescribe you something that stops a long period (but only because you’ve begged me for 5 whole minutes)…’
Oh and the classic, ‘You probably have Chlamydia and that’s causing the pain….’ Spoiler alert, not once did those dang Chlamydia tests come back positive but why would the doctors believe that I’d already been tested multiple times and hadn’t changed my sexual habits since the last one? I sometimes chuckle imagining that by some chance the same lab guy got every one of my urine samples and thought I was majorly paranoid about Chlamydia.
To all those GPs who point-blank refused to believe me, belittled me, refused to help me and refused to take out that DAMN Mirena, fuck you. Fuck. You. You failed to be a human being and a doctor.
Women know our vaginas and our uteruses and we know when there is something wrong with them. Listen to us, for fucks sake. And remember, the Mirena isn’t a miracle cure for every woman.