Recently, I have been blessed with menstrual cramps that would cripple a rhino. This is no hyperbole. Sometimes they are so bad, they feel like labor pains, only I don’t get a beautiful child at the end of it. I also get absolutely no sympathy from my family.
I’ve seen a doctor and after he checked to make sure it wasn’t anything serious, he told me that I’m going through perimenopause. This is the super fun time in a woman’s life when menopause symptoms can go on for as long as 15 years. Symptoms include: changes in menstruation, irritability, headaches, insomnia and hot flashes. My particular symptoms include: killer cramps and all that other crap.
Yes, there are many therapies I could use to ease my suffering. I could choose hormone replacement therapy (HRT). I could do acupuncture, take herbs, become a vegan, or chant to the crone goddess, but I don’t. Why? It’s too dang hard and I’m not sure if any of it really works. Also, I don’t recall having to do anything special when I first experienced menstruation (except cry) so why do I have to do anything at the end of it?
All of this makes me think that there’s an awful lot of stuff we women go through with regard to our bodies. Bleeding once a month, becoming pregnant, birthing children and then going through the great change when it’s all over…I mean, that’s a lot for one body to go through! I have often wondered what the world would be like if men had to deal with all of this change in their bodies instead of women.
How would a man handle cramps? If we take how men have handled the whole erectile dysfunction “problem” as a model, we can assume that it would be a big deal. Likely, there would be a special allowance of “cramp days” instead of “sick days” for men. No one would expect a man to be able to focus on work while he had debilitating cramps. Tons of money would be poured into finding a cure. If a cure could not easily be found, men would start foundations that would put on events like monster truck racing, fishing, or beer guzzling to raise money. All of these events would be sponsored by Budweiser and Moodify—a new drug to help men deal with their mood swings.
Men would quickly find out that some cramps do not abate with mere Midol or Pamprin. Some cramps are so severe that the pain throbs across the lower back and down the legs, making it difficult to be civil to another human being. Men would understand completely when his friend said, “It’s a heating pad kinda day.” When a man’s wife rolled her eyes every time he groaned as if he were in labor, he would secretly wish that she would show a little compassion.
Maybe, just maybe, things would slow down a bit, too. When men would hit that once a month crampfest, they would realize that there are more important things in life than fantasy football or world domination. Maybe men might even want to talk about how they’re feeling without the guilt or shame. There might be more hugs involved in every day life and men would not be worried about looking stupid or homosexual, unless they wanted to look stupid or homosexual. Men might start looking at each other differently. Rather than seeing a potential competitor or a feared stranger, maybe they would see someone who is going through the same mood swings, pain, and struggles that they are experiencing and feel some compassion. Perhaps there would be renewed interest in art, music, or other non-utilitarian pursuits within schools because somehow budgets would be freed up for such things.
Okay, I know this is all just idealistic daydreaming, but since I have to deal with horrendous cramps every month, it really makes me feel better to imagine a man in the same situation. I picture someone like David Beckham or Daniel Craig curled up on a couch with menstrual cramps, and that somehow makes the pain much more bearable for me.
You can read more from Dana Leipold on her blog.