Before I get started, I wanted to add a little disclaimer and warning.
I am not a professional and what works for me will be different for everyone, consult with your doctor first if you're unsure of why your periods are bad.
Secondly, this post is going to be about menstruation, if it makes you uncomfortable, please do not read on. It's also going to be a long read but I really hope you read all of it because it's imperative that we see that having extremely painful and heavy periods are NOT normal.
Okay, now that I said all of that, let's get to the reason why I'm writing this post. The first time I got my period was probably the only time that it did not physically make me feel like I was being ripped from the inside out. I was around 11 or 12 give or take and I knew this must have been the infamous period that all my older cousins were talking about that made them officially a "young woman".
I didn't want to get my period and becoming a young woman was something that terrified me. I liked being one of the guys who enjoyed playing dodgeball and manhunt. But of course it is the way life works and my periods soon after would be hell on Earth.
I have this one memory of me laying on my living room floor, crying and punching my stomach because the pain was too much to handle. I don't think anyone in my family really cared because painful periods were deemed normal. Who knew that society considers this normal, that women and young girls are subjected to this pain and have to be okay with dealing with it because it comes with being a female.
I'm twenty-six years old and throughout my journey with having a period, I have found ways to find as much relief as possible.
Normally my first day is the worst, my cramps are unbearable to the point it makes me dizzy and at times I have fainted from the pain. I cannot move, I'm immobile and crying because nothing seems to work. I usually have to take 8-10 Midol (DON'T DO THIS) pills throughout the day to feel somewhat like a human being. Taking these many pills is NOT recommended whatsoever because I do get side effects from taking this amount, but I'd rather have the side effects of that than feel my horrible period pains.
The next thing in my arsenal of period hacks is a huge heating pad that I put on my bed and lay on top of. Heat is "apparently" a great way to get rid of cramps and all that unfortunate shit that comes with periods, like bloat. To me, it doesn't work that much and only gives me some small relief for my lower back cramps but I'm always desperate for any type of relief. For my front cramps, I use my fiancé's Marc Pro, which is basically a machine that stimulates the muscles through electric stimulation. In the photo posted, you can see where I lay the sticky tabs on my lower abdomen to help alleviate the cramping. This also isn't a drastic pain reliever but it does help me feel like it's moving shit around in there.
These little tips and tricks that I have acquired throughout the years have helped me get by and yet, for three days I am still immobile and unable to move.
As much as society wants to throw in my damn face that this is normal, I know this isn't. I decided in December to take a visit to my gynecologist to see what he thought. He checked me and said that having cramps is normal but not to the extent that it leaves me immobilized for two to three days. He put me on birth control (again!) because he said it helps many women with their bad period symptoms and I should be able to live a "normal" life. Unfortunately, it has not helped one bit except for making my periods shorter. He also diagnosed me with PMDD (Pre-Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder) but that will have to be another blog post itself because this new diagnosis has changed my life completely.
For 13 years, my periods have been this way and looking back now, I'm not even sure how I've made it this far. I think because of how it was viewed in the past, I just accepted that this would be my life until I got older.
In January, I went to a health and wellness event and saw a stand that caught my eye. It talked about acupuncture, your tongue and how to can determine a lot about your health (Chinese medical practice) and irregular periods. I've taken acupuncture before but never for my periods and I must admit, I was pretty skeptical that acupuncture could even do anything for that. Erin of Erin Kumpf Acupuncture & Herbs and I talked about my unfortunate periods and said that it isn't normal to be feeling so much pain that it keeps me immobile and unable to do everyday tasks.
My first session was like any normal session of acupuncture, I did an intake sheet, listed all of my problems ( I have a lot LOL) and figured out what I wanted out of this journey. I knew that I was extremely desperate to find relief for my periods and PMDD wanted to find help that was not just me popping pills like a mad woman. Erin explained to me how a normal period should feel and how my lifestyle, body temperature and sleeping habits all play a huge part on my body's overall health, duh right?! But to me, it was like I was learning so much new information that so many young girls and even older women are not taught about our own biology.
For example, every morning right when I get out of bed, I take my temperature. If it's high it can play a huge part in why I'm having problems sleeping at night because my body isn't cool downed enough to relax. I'm sure that's why I toss and turn a lot!
Also the tongue can determine a lot about blood flow and temperature and if you're sick. I don't want to talk much about this because I don't really know a lot and don't want to throw out false information but please if you are interested and in the Jersey City/Hoboken/NYC area, you should check out Erin Kumpf Acupuncture & Herbs for yourself. Now back to my journey, Erin told me that I needed to see her twice a week for a few weeks until she saw progress. I won't lie, the price is extremely steep since she doesn't take insurance; I have to pay $97 a session and adding that up twice a week for a month is a huge chuck of money. (Now I see her only once a week!) But when you're desperate to feel like a normal human being, the money is worth it.
It's like normal acupuncture except she gets spots that are connected with my uterus and other parts that will help make my blood flow easier in my body. Sometimes it hurts because I'm sensitive AF and bruise for EVERYTHING but I get to relax, talk to my body & God and count my blessings that I'm trying to heal. With acupuncture, I also take these root herb droplets that she sells, they taste like dirt and feet but I chug it to get it over with. If you get this, heat up warm water, don't put a lot because you will want to chug it and add the amount of drops stated and then bam, easy peasy.
I have to say the first period I had after doing all of this was like a complete 180. I did still have cramps BUT they were so manageable that I was able to move around, work and do stuff like a normal human being! I basically had the same symptoms but on a scale of 0-10, it was a 4 rather than the usual 15. I was pretty skeptical but because I noticed that my extreme irritability was not as much as it normally was during that time, I knew something had to be working.
I know this won't be the answer for every woman who has irregular periods but to know that there is something out there that can actually work and has nothing to do with popping pills that leave you zombie-like, is a huge win for me. I wanted to write this because Erin and her acupuncture has literally changed my life. As I write this, I'm on my second period after trying acupuncture and again it's extremely manageable. I wouldn't have written about this if I didn't think it was important.
THIS IS SO IMPORTANT BECAUSE THERE ARE SO MANY YOUNG GIRLS AND WOMEN LIVING WITH A PERIOD THAT TAKES OVER THEIR LIVES. Society has tried to implant in us that being a woman and having a painful period is a part of the experience but that's all a lie! Ladies, if you have daughters teach them the importance of their bodily health, if their periods are extremely painful, get them checked out by a gynecologist, don't wait till their 18. The taboo that they are too young to see a gynecologist is what is hurting our young girls, get them checked and if everything is ruled out like, endometriosis and PCOS, try acupuncture.
I'm a new woman because I decided to take a chance on myself, I hope you do too.
Until then, xoxo