I’m so glad this community exists! I’ve been told that it’s an excellent resource for issues like what I’m dealing with, so hopefully some of you will be able to point me in the right direction. I’m desperate for advice… I can’t keep losing a day or more per month because of this pain.
Background: I’m 25 years old, not sexually active, borderline underweight at the moment. I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Disease in 2009, and a pelvic ultrasound detected a few functional hemorrhagic ovarian cysts in 2008 (with a note that it maybe, possibly could also be endometriata). I currently take Synthroid and Cytomel for the Hashimoto’s and Lexapro for anxiety. The thyroid disease isn’t 100% under control yet.
I started menstruating at age 13. Since about age 14, I’ve dealt with excruciatingly painful menstrual cramps, primarily on the first day of my period. They almost always follow the exact same pattern with the only variation between cycles being the intensity of the pain. It’s like clockwork: about 5 to 7 hours after the first sign of blood, I will begin to get contraction-like cramps in my lower abdomen. These contractions come and go in waves, increasing in intensity over a several-hour period. Sometimes the pain radiates into my thighs and down my back; other times I’ll get jabs of pain in my lower pelvis and by my ovaries. It feels the way I imagine childbirth to be. I will have a wave of contraction pain, then it dies down to nothing for a minute, then pain again.
During this time, I’m totally useless. I can’t get out of bed or even function. I just lie there in a fetal position, pumping my legs (which I guess helps with the pain) until I either fall asleep or the cramps gradually die down and go away. The few times I tried to function on the first day of my period often ended badly… I’ve had near-fainting incidents, and I’ve turned pale and had hot/cold sweats as well.
Over the years, I have been to multiple gynecologists, talked to my GPs, tried different medications, and nothing has made a difference. Nor have I ever gotten any kind of diagnosis besides “normal lady cramps” and finally at age 21-ish “hemorrhagic ovarian cysts”. It took forever to get anyone to take my pain seriously. Because my period is regular as clockwork every 28 days, all the gynecologists so far have brushed it off as no big deal. I was told to take more painkillers, that cramps this bad are normal, etc. It wasn’t until maybe 2008 that I finally had a pelvic ultrasound that revealed the ovarian cysts, and even then the response was basically “we can’t do anything about it”.
Since starting treatment for the thyroid disease, my cramps have gotten a little bit better, and my period itself has shortened in duration. Still have cramps on the first day, though, and my period discomfort is beginning to hang around through days 2-3. Actually, what sucks now is that I never know how painful it will be anymore. Sometimes I get almost nothing, other times, like my most recent period, I get horrendous pain. It’s a crapshoot.
Also, since summer of 2011, I’ve started having PMDD-like symptoms as well as a general loss of appetite and weight loss. There were a few periods during which even drinking water caused my stomach to get upset. Fall 2011 was the worst, and sometimes the week prior to my periods I got borderline suicidal. This has lessened since my endocrinologist added Cytomel to my thyroid regimen. However, my most recent period has left me totally wiped out. I barely have the energy to move around and do things. I feel like I need to sleep all the time. I also have no appetite.
I have tried painkillers for the cramps, but it takes about 3-4 Advil to begin to make a dent in the pain. That, and the painkillers do nothing for the fatigue and sometimes leave me nauseous.
I know I should go see someone about this, but I have yet to find a gynecologist who isn’t a.) a jerk and/or b.) a total shill for the pharmaceutical industry. I guess I’m just afraid of being brushed off again. Seriously, every gynecologist I’ve been to thus far has done nothing but throw birth control at me and tell me that my cramps are normal and I should take more ibuprofen. I just cannot see how it’s normal to have cramps so bad that you cannot stand up, that you turn pale and get hot-cold sweats while rolling around in agony. Hormonal birth control does not work for me; I tried oral BC twice, once in my teens and once in my 20s, and it made my depression worse every time while doing nada about the pain. None of the doctors have been willing to look at my hormones (estrogen, estradiol, progesterone), the reasoning being that because the timing of my cycle is normal, all of the hormones must be normal too.
Any idea what might be causing these cramps? And where I should go from here? I’m so soured by my past experiences, I feel like trying to get a diagnosis will be an exercise in futility. I appreciate any and all advice you may have. Thanks for reading that massive wall of text!