Thursday, June 11, 2015

The pain has receded!

I finally had a mostly decent menstrual experience two weeks ago. I'd been suffering since November from horrible cramping that made me cry. On a scale of 1 to 10, the pain's grip spent hours at 10, leaving me unable to do anything but rock with pain and focus on making it stop, which I couldn't do even with painkillers, prescription drugs, exercise, relaxation, EFT, my heating pad, my hot water bottle and my yoga mat. But I've had a breakthrough.

The cramps started because I went off my birth control pills, which I started taking in 2008 to control the cramps. In 2014 I wanted to eliminate the negative effects of adding those hormones to my body, so after consulting with my gynecologist, I stopped taking them. And the pain came back. I saw a doctor who specializes in hormonal problems and she explained that cramping is caused when your hormones are out of balance. She showed me a chart that showed cause-and-effect relationships between estrogen levels, progesterone levels, other hormone levels and insulin levels. Apparently the beginning of the domino effect is insulin, and insulin is affected by what we eat and drink.

This led me back to the problem of my whole life: sugar. I swear processed sugar is the food of the damned.

Dr. Lindner told me to cut out all forms of sugar (including fruit and alcohol), grains, dairy and caffeine. These are the things that cause quick insulin increases in the bloodstream and my body just couldn't take any more. I couldn't believe I had to start this right before the holidays, but I needed to correct my blood glucose and insulin levels by staying off these foods until my period became manageable. Dr. Lindner assured me this was temporary and I could re-introduce these foods when my body healed. She also recommended healthy doses of vitamin D, magnesium and calcium, which I've also been taking.

It's been HARD. Most months I've only managed to stick to that diet 70-90% of the time.

Five weeks ago, when the cramps were better, but still making me cry, I talked to my doctor again. Why was the pain still so horrible? She asked about my diet and I admitted I hadn't been on it 100% of the time. She reminded me that that's what it takes, so I finally got serious. I gritted my teeth and spent all last month going 100% sugar-free, dairy-free, grain-free and caffeine-free.

And the cramps got significantly better! I was so happy! I finally had a period with a mostly comfortable amount of pain! Maybe that sounds funny, but by "comfortable pain" I mean pain I can control with pain relievers, heat and exercise, keeping it at a 3 or lower (on a scale of 1 to 10). That didn't quite happen this last time. The pain rose to level 7 a couple of times for a few hours, but I was extremely grateful that it never hit 10. The flow was also much lighter (I'd been experiencing floodwaters).

Less pain! Lighter flow! Joy! I can do this. (Plus I've lost weight because I've cut out all sweets and processed carbs.)

So that's it: I'm staying on the diet 100%, dammit, and will stay on it until I menstruate comfortably. I'm aiming for pain at level 3 at the highest. I'm sure I can do this. And now it's breakfast time for me: eggs, green peas, papadam, water and Yogi Moon Cycle tea (I've been drinking three cups a day for a month and it might also be helping, but who knows?). This is going to be a great, mostly-pain-free summer!


Sven Hansen said...

I knew sugar is evil but I didn't know it can lead to pain like that. Thanks for sharing.

Regina Rodríguez-Martin said...

Sven, when you eat so much sugar all the time that you develop hormone problems, yes, we can say that sugar causes pain. It also causes pain from inflammation.