My neighbor and I have frequent conversations about girls in todays society developing faster than ever before. Her 11 year old daughter has been in a bra for a year and is quickly becoming a young woman. I can relate to her as I too developed quickly. However at the age of 10 I had began having periods and she still has yet to have one.
My first period was as normal and embarassing as every other womans, except my mother had to inform everyone of my journey into womanhood, including the school nurse who pulled me out of class to discuss the changes I was experiencing. I am still to this day mortified over that. I don’t recall having any pain and other than the embarassment I felt fine.
My second period was very different and I had lots of cramping. After reading all the materials from the nurse I figured this must be normal and didn’t think much about it. My Mom just said it was nothing to worry about and gave my some tylenol and sent me to bed. This continued on for a few months and the only time I would be in pain was the first day and after that I felt fine.
About a year later I was on a regular cycle and things got much worse. My cramps had become untolerable. I would cramp so bad I would vomit and my right thigh would tighten up and I would become unable to move. I used to wake up crying in so much pain from starting my period that I thought the world would end.
Things continued on like this for me until I was 17. My mom took me to a gynecologist who suggested birth control pills. After several months and no relief I was scheduled for a laproscopic surgery. During the surgery they discovered that I had endometriosis. The Dr. removed some spots and said I was good to go and that the endometriosis wouldn’t make me hurt anymore. I was so relived that I had hope to live a normal pain free life like everyone else.
The very next month the pain was back and was in full force, this time the Dr. said that there was a new birth control shot that just came out called Depo Provera and that it was known to eliminate periods in women. He wasn’t sure of side effects but I was desperate and would have tried anything at that point. The next month when my period started I was instructed to come in and get a shot. I went in full of hope and promise and got my shot and left with a hopeful heart.
The Depo shot did exactly as promised and completly eliminated my periods. I lived for going every 3 months and getting that miracle shot. For the first time in my life I felt free. There are no words to describe how good I felt. I wore white every day that summer. For 2 years I continued on this same pattern until one day I noticed that my hair was falling out and some how 80 pounds had crept up on me. It wasn’t until years later I learned that Depo Provera could cause metabolism issues. I decided to go off of the shot as I was experiencing some scary side effects.
The first 6 months after going off I didn’t have a period and when I started again it was really light. It was also at this time that I lost my health insurance so going to the Dr was no longer a affordable option for me. I also was feeling pretty good and thought maybe I might be cured.
Flash forward 7 years, after a year of light periods I once again became plagued with the long painful periods I had become acustomed to. However I was older and more aware of my body and began self medicating with sleeping pills the day I would start my period and spending hours upon hours in the bathtub just to get some relief. I still didn’t have health insurance and my job was becoming a bit annoyed with my constant abscenes from work.
I finally bit the bullet and went to the Dr. and paid cash for my visit. Without insurance I was at a loss for options and they placed me on yet another pill and provided me with free samples to help offset the cost. Told to begin the pills at the day of menstration I waited with little hope. However that day would be about 10 months later as I found out the very next week I was pregnant with the baby I thought I would never have. The Dr was amazed that I had conceived as I had been unprotected with my husband for 5 years with no results.
The pregnancy was great and I felt free again without the periods. The Dr. had even stated that maybe pregnancy would help lessen the pain when my periods would start again. I finally had health insurance again and was feeling confident that maybe he would be right.
Well things went downhill right after I had my first post baby period. The same pain, and agony was back, however this time something must be done as I had a new baby and no time to be in bed. Once again back to the Dr. to begin a series of birth control pills. This lasted for 6 months. We tried changing prescriptions several times and taking pills nonstop to no avail. At this point I honestly thought that there was no hope that I was doomed to a life of pain.
Finally the Dr referred me to a surgeon to go over options. The surgeon ran many tests and ultrasounds and was very careful in offering hysterectomy as the final and only option I had left at this point. He was very thorough in explaining the whole procedure to me and advised me to take time to think it over carefully as I was 27 and one of the youngest patients he would perform this on. After much considering and weighing out the pros and cons I went ahead and did the hysterectomy.
I am now 6 months postop and I can’t begin to tell you how good I feel. The recovery was well worth the end result. However I would advise anyone suffering to strongly seek out all options before going this drastic as new procedures are coming out all the time and are readily available in urban areas. There are mental affects and a sense of loss that occurs in some patients that the Drs. do not prepare you for.
Whatever treatment you choose know that you are not alone and that relief is achievable.