Oral History: I’m a cisgender woman and I’ve had painful periods from the start

Lightning bolts, pink message bubbles and white envelopes rain down from a gray cloud on a background of pale blue and white.
Illustration by Maggie Denman.

Tone Madison is publishing oral histories related to abortion, miscarriage, birth control and reproductive health from people in the Madison area. Read more about this project and find information about sharing your story. We are also publishing brief messages of support for storytellers.

We ask that these stories are not reprinted in other outlets.


Below is a verbatim account from anonymous:

I’m a cisgender woman and I’ve had painful periods from the start. When I was 18 I finally convinced my mom to let me try the Pill, but she made it clear that she was against it because it would give me the option to have sex whenever I wanted (it didn’t matter that I wasn’t dating or interested in anyone at the time, and I came out as gay three years later). She gave in because of how much pain my periods caused me, and I tried it for two months, but I had so much shame about it that I didn’t renew the prescription (it hadn’t yet made a difference). It took me 12 more years (of painful, life-disrupting periods) to try again—this time with the Mirena IUD—and I’m finally now experiencing life without being miserable two days of the month. The insertion process is a horror story for another time, but six months later I’m glad I did it. I only wish I’d given myself permission to seek out the proven treatment for my painful periods 12 years ago. Birth control is health care, and the stigma around it affects so many people.

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