About half of the world’s population suffers from it every month, but even today, mystery still surrounds menstrual pain.
- More than 80% of teenage girls have had period pain
- Researchers are trying to figure out why it’s more serious for some
- They are currently recruiting participants in the Northern Territory
How can some people endure their periods with painkillers, while others experience such unbearable agony that they cannot leave the house?
A first Australian study, led by the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, aims to ensure that young women and girls with debilitating period pain no longer need to miss out on life by identifying effective treatments early on.
To do this, the researchers follow more than 3,000 young women and girls over the age of five, who have been treated for menstrual pain.
Lead researcher and gynecologist Professor Sonia Grover said that “if we intervene early, we may well be able to change the course of this problem”.
“You lose iron, you lose energy”
For some, periods can cause debilitating pain, rage, depression, and suicidal thoughts.
Darwin student Emma King was among those who endured abnormally long periods of time before seeking help.
“I was bleeding for three weeks every month, for several months steadily,” the 16-year-old said.
“The toll it takes on you physically is incredibly taxing, more taxing than you can imagine.
“You lose iron, you lose energy, you’re moody, you’re hungry, you’re tired.”
At times, Emma said she felt so tired that she was forced to skip social activities and save energy to catch up on her studies instead.
It wasn’t just fatigue that bothered Emma.
“It’s really painful,” she said.
Young people are missing
For many women, girls and some people of diverse gender identities, Emma’s experience is all too familiar.
But Professor Grover said it didn’t have to be.
“Periods shouldn’t ruin your life,” she said.
More than 80 per cent of teenage girls suffer from period pain, while 20 per cent have had it so badly they’ve missed school and other activities, Professor Grover said.
The study, known as the LongSTEPPP Project, builds on preliminary findings that show treating symptoms early can help reduce rates of infertility and endometriosis later in life.
As part of their mission to collect data from across Australia, the researchers have now focused on recruitment in the Northern Territory using social media and outreach programs in remote communities.
Darwin-based gynecologist Namiko Aleker said NT was particularly unique for three reasons:
- It has a younger population of women and girls than the rest of Australia
- It has a large population of indigenous women and girls
- More people live remotely in the NT than in the rest of Australia.
“These three challenges create an environment where providing health care – especially to women and girls at a really, very vulnerable time in their lives – is a challenge,” Dr. Aleker said.
Professor Grover said the project was the first of its kind because of its focus on young people.
“A lot of the work that’s been done on endometriosis or pelvic pain has been done on 25, 35, 40 year old women,” she said.
“And yet, we know that these women often said ‘I had pain since adolescence.
“It seems like we should start when it starts, rather than taking on a problem when it may well have turned into something more difficult to deal with.”
To be eligible for the study, participants must be between the ages of 10 and 18 and have been referred to a gynecologist for menstruation or pelvic pain or endometriosis.
As part of the study, participants are required to complete an online survey once a year for five years.
In Emma’s eyes, it’s a small price to pay for shedding light on a taboo subject.
#Australian #study #aims #uncover #mystery #extreme #menstrual #pain #young #people