I Had the Worst Period Cramps Ever - Now, They’re Gone for Good
And I don’t take any kind of birth control, either.
A little backstory
I started my period at 13 and I was so excited to finally become a woman.
When I turned 15, that’s when my cramps started to affect my quality of life. I know that sounds a little dramatic, but it’s the absolute truth.
There was a time in early high school when one of the English teachers found me passed out in the bathroom, after having pucked up my lunch from the severe pain my period cramps put me through.
Yes, my body’s way of dealing with intense pain is to vomit everything I ate that day, followed by an intense break out into a cold sweat, and then passing out to relieve myself from the excruciating pain.
I wish I was exaggerating that my period cramps were this bad, but I’m not. There were several times I called 911 - or someone else called 911 - to help me. Another example: in the middle of my entrance exams two weeks before grad school, I passed out in the middle of my aural skills exam and the professor had to call the ambulance. For the next two years at USC people in the music school recognized me as the girl who passed out during an exam...
Another instance - I had my Sunday church job and my period came that day. Right before the service I rushed to the Rite-Aid to get some pain meds, but knew I was about to vomit. I got stuck in the bathroom, puking, knowing that I couldn’t take the pain… so I called 911.
When I got to the ER the doctor told me that my vasovagal nerve was sensitive to pain and that’s why I react the way I do.
As ridiculous as it is, it’s the truth. But there had to be something to help my severe cramps. No one should live like this and put their life on hold every month because of debilitating period cramps.
I was prescribed birth control
After that incident in high school with the English teacher, doctors recommended I go on birth control to help with the pain.
I wasn’t sexually active until college, but my mother saw how it affected me and agreed to put me on the pill at 15.
It helped so I continued to take birth control for another 10 years or so.
All of college I was on birth control. When I moved back home after college I stopped taking the pill because I was too lazy to go to the doctor, and I wasn’t sexually active while living under my parent’s roof. That was too weird for me…
And yes, the cramps came back full-force. I thought, maybe, after all those years my horrible period cramps would diminish a bit, but nope. They came back raging and worse than ever.
It was also a crapshoot - I didn’t know if one month would be better than the next. All I knew was that I had to take several ibuprofen for a few days leading up to my period so that my uterus could calm down enough to not freak out when it came time to menstruate.
I was desperate to try anything.
While living at home, I went vegan
In no way is this me telling you to go vegan. I’m not vegan anymore anyway, so if want to know how I got rid of my horrible period cramps, keep reading.
So, yeah, I went vegan in 2014 and that seemed to help a bit. But after being vegan for some time, the cramps varied between being absolutely horrendous and tolerable with large amounts of pain meds.
I then went to grad school in the fall of 2014 and remained vegan for a few more months. I then switched to pescetarianism - eating fish - after an unfortunate incident that I won’t go into detail here, but in short, my hormones were out of control and veganism was no longer serving me in the way I wanted it to - for my health.
I then decided to get back on birth control because I was a sexually active woman in my early 20s and wasn’t ready to have a baby. Oh, and the cramps were definitely still a problem.
I started taking the pill again, but eventually got the hormonal IUD when I started dating my current partner.
I really didn’t want to take any more synthetic hormones, but I heard the copper IUD could make cramps worse, and I thought,
If my cramps get any worse I’ll actually die.
So, hormonal IUD it was.
Did my cramps go away?
Nope. It took a long time for my period to adjust to having an IUD and my flow never really lightened up in the 2.5 years that I had it.
Not to mention, I was still taking pain meds every month to manage my godawful period cramps.
Remember how I said that I threw up and passed out in the bathroom of a Rite-Aid right before the church service I was supposed to sing in?
Well, I ended up talking to this woman in the congregation the following week when I told her about how my body reacts to severe pain. It was a small church and everyone knew something happened, and I’m pretty honest and open about my period because this needs to be normalized.
Anyway, this woman told me that a lot of women are deficient in magnesium and that she suffered from really horrible period cramps growing up. So, she started taking a magnesium supplement and recommended I try it out.
I already thought this woman was pretty kooky - she was literally getting ready for a birthday party and in the process of dressing up as a clown while we talked in the bathroom, and she always wore the most eclectic clothes to church.
But at this point, I was desperate to find something that worked, anything…
So, I went to the Whole Foods by the church and picked up a magnesium citrate supplement - that was the specific supplement she recommended.
I was so skeptical and thought that it would never work… I mean, she wasn’t a doctor, so why the hell would I listen to her?!
I started taking one of these supplements every day
And I patiently waited for my period to arrive the following month.
Of course, I had my pain meds ready just in case it got to be too much. As long as I took my pain meds the moment I felt any discomfort, then I knew I could keep the vomit-inducing cramps at bay.
Well, it effing worked. I honestly couldn’t believe it. I suffered years upon years of dreading my period because it would knock me out for an entire day, or land me in the ER with some serious pain meds pumping through my veins…
You can ask any of my friends - they know how bad my cramps got.
I cried tears of joy knowing that I didn’t have to suffer anymore. Seriously, it was an ordeal trying to schedule my life around how painful my period might be.
All the times I had to call out sick from work, the classes I missed, the day cooped up in bed with a hot water bottle pressed against my uterus as I wiped my sweaty forehead after vomiting until there was nothing left in my stomach.
Graphic, I know, but this was my monthly reality.
All of that was over.
So, how has it been long term?
I have been off birth control (except for condoms) for almost two years. I got my hormonal IUD removed in June of 2019.
There were some months when my cramps were pretty uncomfortable, but that was because I wasn’t consistently taking my magnesium supplement.
But when I’m consistent my period is an absolute breeze. And if I’m not then I pop an ibuprofen or two when I feel some pain.
I am no doctor— please don’t take my advice as any kind of medical diagnosis or prescription.
This is what has worked for me and it’s been a blessing.
The magnesium I take now is in powder form called Natural Calm. It’s gotten pretty popular so you can find it in most stores. For sure at Whole Foods.
This is not sponsored in any way, and I make no money from talking about this product. It’s just what I use.
I like the unflavored one (even though I think it tastes kind of like lime) but that’s only because I haven’t tried any of the flavored versions. Maybe next time I restock I’ll get a flavored one…
But really, this might help you, too
I fully believe taking magnesium and eating well with adequate exercise has done wonders for my period cramps.
If that means taking a magnesium supplement for the rest of my life, sign me up. I’m a believer and convert and will never doubt the advice given to me by a woman dressed as a clown in a bathroom ever again.
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