5 Nigerian Women Share Period Pain Stories

May 28, 2021

By Oreoluwa Olukorode

For most women, period pain was a whole new experience no one prepared them for. From mild discomfort to unconsciousness, five Nigerian Women share their period pain stories and how they have been dealing with it. This was compiled to celebrate Menstrual Hygiene Day which is today, May 28, 2021, as solidarity to all women around the world who experience different symptoms every month.  The theme for this year is “Action and Investment in Menstrual Hygiene and Health” 

Period pain

Mariam, 27

I’ve always had this awful pain during my period since I was nine years old and it was strange because no one talked about the pain during the menstrual hygiene talks at my secondary school. I thought something was awfully wrong with me and I couldn’t tell anyone. When I was 14, I decided to try my hands at the painkillers we had at home. I made sure I had a pack in my bag in case I felt the pain at school. When I did (as expected), I immediately popped diclofenac and I’m not sure this act worsened the pain or if it was taking pills on an empty stomach but I passed out and woke up in a clinic with my mum by my bedside. 

After seeing a gynaecologist, I was advised to stay off painkillers because of my ulcer. My period became more painful over the years too. I always have to leave work to take care of myself which has gotten me fired a couple of times and I frequently go to the hospital, especially for the first 3 days. I take injections almost every month for the pain and sometimes, my hot water bottle helps in a way.

I honestly can’t wait to have kids because I heard the pain reduces right after. 

Chika, 25

I experience cramps every month a few days before my period starts. When the pain starts, I get these terrible headaches and I start vomiting uncontrollably then I lose appetite for a few days –I keep asking God why he created me like this.

Nothing works for my pain. I’ve tried pills, injections, and hot water bottles. Ice packs help in a way but it’s difficult to get one, especially in a city with abysmal power supply like Lagos.

I remember when I just started seeing this guy, we went to the movies together and I passed out from how painful my cramps were. People poured water on me, slapped me, dragged me, it was chaotic. When I opened my eyes, people were asking if I had an abortion, I was embarrassed. The guy stopped talking to me after that. I don’t blame him though, he was probably scared to death. 

Oyindamola, 22

I started menstruating when I was 11years. I don’t remember having any serious pain when I first started but then, my period wasn’t regular for about a year after. Few years later, I had this terrible pain that I was rushed to the hospital. I could not stand or eat or do anything for a while. I was given injections then it got better.

When I was in my senior year in Secondary school, I used to go to the school clinic several times to get injections for the pain. I get the injection, sleep and wake up better. Rinse, repeat. Just a few years ago, I had to leave a service in the church because of how bad the pain was. It was so serious that I started praying to God for forgiveness, I thought I was going to die. 

Recently, I’d say the pain has reduced but I still hardly do anything on the first day. Painkillers help me feel better, especially when I take them on an empty stomach. The issue now is I have Ulcer so I am always careful of the NSAIDS I use. I have period diarrhoea too but I don’t use a specific drug for it. For most people, I hear the period pain stops after the first day. For me, it lasts throughout or comes towards the end of the period. It’s exhausting.

Debby, 23

My period flow used to be relatively normal; 2 heavy days with mild cramps that just require me to curl up in my bed for ten minutes or so, but ever since I recovered from COVID-19, my flow took a wild turn. I’m aware that different things could have caused this wild shake-up but it coinciding with the time I contracted the virus is scary.

Now, I get this excruciatingly painful headache that affects my vision that I find it hard to walk around. Not to mention, I now experience five days of heavy wrenching flow that I have to use about 6 pads daily, and the cramping is so severe. My doctor advised me to exercise and eat healthy because this might just be my body adjusting to the sedentary life of working from home. I really hope that this is just a phase. 

Ire, 32

This might sound a little extra but what I experience when I’m on my period is not “pain”. It is more of contractions like someone is hitting on my pelvis with a bat. I started menstruating when I was ten years old and I only had cramps whenever I ate too much junk in the week leading up to my period so I just watched my sugar consumption.

After I had my son, the period contractions started. I even thought I was having a miscarriage the first time I experienced it, it was crazy. I now spend long hours in the toilet because the contractions trigger my menstrual diarrhoea. I also try to sit over a bucket of hot water, it relaxes my vagina.

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