A Man Called Menstrual Pain A "Myth"

by Mia Mercado

You’d think that as a society we’ve moved passed certain archaic sentiments, some ideologies that are just too absurd to say aloud. And yet, here we are, in the 2017th year of our lord and savior Beyoncé, with people still making egregious claims about things they surely don’t know about firsthand. The latest of these ridiculous remarks is by a man who tweeted that menstrual pain is a myth. Ah yes, that classic folklore about menses that was made up so no one knows the truth, that periods actually feel ~*super good*~.

It started when he posed a question to Twitter: “What is worse than a broken heart?” Perhaps the question was rhetorical, perhaps he was seeking solace. Regardless, another user responded with brutal honesty, tweeting, “Menstrual pain, homelessness, hunger etc.” While we applaud the levels of saltiness in that response, likely the last thing you want to hear when you’re feeling broken hearted or low in any regard is how someone else arguably has it worse.

However, the guy who posted the original question took issue with a very specific part of the response, tweeting, “As a guy, I think menstrual pain is a myth.” Understandably, Twitter was not having even the slightest bit of it. The tweet is verging on becoming an exemplar of the “Reply Ratio,” which is basically a mathematical way to see if you did a bad tweet. As author Luke O’Neil writes for Esquire, “If the number of replies to a tweet vastly outpaces its engagement in terms of likes and retweets, then something has gone horribly wrong.” Needless to say, something has indeed gone horribly wrong here.

I remember that awkward conversation with my mom when I was eleven or twelve about how my body would start changing and with that would come menstruation. “It will feel so, so good and normal to bleed from your private parts,” she said, “But! You mustn't tell a soul. It is the secret we all hold within us. It is the oath we take when we begin to bleed. It is our menstrual myth! So go forth: have periods and pretend like it hurts, like it is uncomfortable, like it is unpleasant to have chunks of your body dispelled from your body for five to seven days every damn month. Only we with the privilege of the period will know the truth, that period pain is a myth.”

The thing about period pain is that it is very real. Like, scientifically real and provable. Severe period pain even has a science-y name that has a lot of consonants and is hard to pronounce: dysmenorrhea. A 2012 study on dysmenorrhea found that one in four young women experiences menstrual pain that is so excessive it requires treatment by medication and being absent from social or academic activities.

While not everyone experiences menstrual cramps, having overall period pain is a typical menstrual symptom. Roughly 90 percent of women experience at least one symptom of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) in their lifetime. Period pain isn’t limited to cramps either. Head and backaches, tender breasts, feeling especially exhausted, and upset stomach are just some of the symptoms of periods or PMS. My very non-scientific explanation of what my particular brand of period cramps can feel like is, “Imagine that pre-diarrhea feeling you get when your stomach is upset but you can’t poop and also it lasts off and on for roughly a week.”

Lest I give this guy’s rather troll-y comment about period pain any more credence, I’ll leave you with this. The exact cause of period cramps is still widely understudied, in part because of sexist ideas like the aforementioned “is period pain even real tho?” Finding ways to fight period stigma is still incredibly necessary, as people continue to demonstrate that we’re still not societally okay with talking about periods in a healthy way. As evidenced by the aforementioned lack of research on period pain, that has some pretty significant consequences.

Also, a friendly reminder to everyone: just because you haven’t experienced something firsthand doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. So, if statements like, “As someone with minimal ear-related problems, I don’t think ear infections exist” or “As a girl, I’m pretty sure itchy balls are just a myth” sound absurd, comments about period pain being a “myth” from someone who’s never had a period probably should too.