Every month, Olivia Goldhill has to visit a physiotherapist to treat the pain—worse than either of the slipped discs she's had—that contorts her body into an S during menstruation. So she's speaking from experience when she writes in Quartz: "It's time to talk about period pain." An estimated 20% of women suffer from dysmenorrhea—the medical term for painful menstruation that one professor says can be as "bad as having a heart attack"—and another 10% have endometriosis, which not only causes painful periods but can lead to infertility. "Any squeamishness around the subject is both ridiculous and harmful because too many women are suffering in silence," Goldhill writes. That's why the continuing dismissiveness of doctors and the lack of research into period pain is so frustrating to her.
"It may not be life threatening, but period pain is a painful condition that interferes with daily lives," Goldhill writes. "So why is it widely neglected by the medical establishment?" The causes of both dysmenorrhea and endometriosis are still largely unknown, and it takes an average of 10 years for a woman with endometriosis to be accurately diagnosed. One doctor who published findings showing Viagra can effectively treat severe period pain says no one will fund further research to get it approved as a treatment. “I think the bottom line is that nobody thinks menstrual cramps are an important public health issue,” he says. That's why Goldhill is imploring women living with painful periods to speak up. Read the full piece here. (Read more menstruation stories.)