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7 Important period facts you need to know

7 Important period facts you need to know

Period pain for women and individuals assigned female at birth is normalised and often overlooked. As Daye launches its Period Pain Clinic, Valentina Milanova shares seven facts about period pain 

Most women and assigned female at birth (AFAB) individuals have had an intimate encounter with period pain at some point in their lives. A silent, pervasive issue that has skirted around the periphery of public health discussions for far too long. Our team at Daye is set to transform the narrative by launching the world's first virtual Period Pain Clinic. This revolutionary service aims to spotlight the urgency of effective period pain management and deliver comprehensive solutions. 

Should period pain be considered a public health issue? We strongly feel that it should. We'll illustrate this point with seven little-known facts about the societal, economic and personal implications of period pain. 

Nine out of ten women and AFAB individuals suffer period pain

An overwhelming nine in 10 women and AFAB individuals in the UK suffer from period pain. This near-universal phenomenon silently infiltrates our lives, making its presence felt every month. Yet period pain seldom receives the acknowledgement and medical care it deserves.

The shared experience of menstrual cramps, common to women and AFAB individuals across continents, cultures, and socioeconomic statuses, should ideally result in public health policies and readily available gynaecological care resources. However, reality paints a different picture, with chronic period pain conditions such as endometriosis taking as long as a decade to diagnose.  

The pain of menstrual cramps is underestimated

Beyond period pain being underdiagnosed and under-treated, the severity of menstrual cramps is often underestimated. UCL (University College London) studies have exposed a startling comparison—period pain can be as severe as experiencing a heart attack.

Yet, due to the lack of comparable experiences for men and deep-rooted gender biases, period pain is often marginalised and inadequately addressed in healthcare discourse, with as many as 56 per cent of British women saying they feel their pain is dismissed and neglected by healthcare professionals.

"Period pain is often marginalised and inadequately addressed in healthcare discourse"

Reflect on this: when suffering from pain, women and non-binary individuals are statistically more likely to be prescribed sedatives instead of pain relief medication compared to their male counterparts. One study revealed that women who underwent coronary bypass surgery had only half the likelihood of being prescribed painkillers compared to men who had the same operation.

On average, women in the US endure a wait of 65 minutes before receiving analgesics for acute abdominal pain in the emergency room, while men only have to wait for approximately 49 minutes. 

Period pain affects productivity

In a stark reflection of how period pain affects day-to-day life, 57 per cent of British workers admit that it impedes their work. The productivity loss, which is estimated by the British Medical Journal to be as high as nine days lost per year, combined with mental strain, leads to significant personal and societal costs.

Period pain

Period pain may result in nine days of lost productivity

Even in the most developed countries, these factors contribute to gender inequality in the workplace, with women and AFAB forced to battle both physical discomfort and professional consequences. 

There is a lack of pain medication designed for period pain

Women and AFAB individuals, in their quest for relief, often resort to painkillers. Over-the-counter painkillers were never designed for period pain, and in most cases, never tested on female physiology, as women were only allowed to participate in clinical trials in 1993. In the 1970s, the FDA actively discouraged the inclusion of women in clinical research. Few women worked in medicine and science, and many believed that gynaecological health needs were a low priority.

As a result, there is a huge medical innovation gap, particularly when it comes to pain management. Studies show that as little as 30 per cent of women experience menstrual relief from painkillers. The urgent need for effective, safer alternatives to manage period pain is evident and cannot be overstated. 

Endometriosis may result in £40,000 in lost income

Endometriosis, a severe medical condition that can cause crippling period pain, may result in £40,000 in lost income, according to research by Endometriosis UK. This figure encompasses surgical treatments, hospital visits, and productivity loss. This is despite the fact that endometriosis affects as many as one in ten women, which is similar to the female patients who experience diabetes and asthma.

"Endometriosis may result in £40,000 in lost income"

The Guardian pointed out in 2015 that the US National Institutes of Health allocates approximately $35 annually per type 2 diabetes patient for research funding but invests less than $1 for each endometriosis patient. This significant disparity in funding is likely a primary factor contributing to the limited understanding of the causes of endometriosis and the optimal methods for treating it. 

Period pain can be a sign of underlying conditions

Period pain frequently signals underlying conditions like endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Yet, these prevalent conditions take an alarming seven to ten years on average to diagnose due to a culture that normalises period pain and lacks awareness.

Diagnosis of endometriosis

It can take seven to ten years to diagnose conditions like endometriosis and PCOS 

This delay extends suffering and complicates treatment, underlining the urgent need for increased education and improved diagnostic measures. In fact, the gender diagnosis gap is significant, with women getting diagnosed later than men in over 700 conditions, including cancer and diabetes. This unnecessary delay prevents patients from accessing the treatments that they need to improve their quality of life.  

Tools are being developed to combat period pain

The evolution of period pain management tools has brought us prescribed cannabidiol (CBD) tampons. These groundbreaking tools offer a potential respite from traditional painkillers. By combining the properties of CBD with the practicality of tampons, these products provide a unique, innovative alternative for many women and AFAB individuals.  

The societal norms that encourage women to tolerate and normalise period pain can have broader implications on women's health and wellbeing. By teaching women to simply bear discomfort, we are fostering a culture where women are expected to endure various forms of pain, be it physical or emotional, without seeking necessary support. This could extend to issues like experiencing painful sexual intercourse, labour pains, unfair workplace treatment, and even instances of emotional abuse. The potential danger in this is that it could inadvertently create barriers for women to acknowledge their suffering, seek help, and advocate for their health and wellbeing. 

"We want to send out a clear message: period pain can no longer be brushed under the carpet"

The advent of Daye's Period Pain Clinic heralds a new chapter in women's health. By offering professional consultation, comprehensive education, and novel pain management options, our initiative aims to holistically address period pain. In doing so, we are placing a spotlight on an issue that is widely experienced yet under-discussed. 

We want to send out a clear message: period pain can no longer be brushed under the carpet. It requires thorough, dedicated attention and effective management strategies. By breaking the silence surrounding period pain, Daye is pioneering a new era where women and AFAB individuals can navigate their menstrual cycles without undue suffering. 

In this progressive initiative, Daye is not only offering innovative solutions but also challenging society and healthcare systems globally to rise to meet this standard. Should robust, compassionate period pain care be the norm, not the exception? The launch of the world's first virtual Period Pain Clinic brings us one step closer to answering this question affirmatively.  

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