It is that period of the month and many women dread it. The Red Aunt comes visiting for a few days and many do not look forward to her visit. She brings pain, mood swings and even feelings of shame because women have been programmed to feel dirty and ugly during her visit.
Seen as a taboo in many cultures, it makes talking about menstruation openly difficult. Many women suffer during this very natural but culturally tabooed period in their lives. From having to deal with ridicule and lack of proper hygienic conditions to take care of themselves, many of these women also undergo menstrual cramps and pains which create a lot of discomfort during this period.
For a sickle cell patient, these menstrual cramps could become a totally different issue. It could even mean the difference between life and death with urgent care needed to avert any life threatening disaster and yet, because of the taboo associated with it, many rather suffer in silence than speak out about how they feel.
I have had many of my worst crises during my menstrual flow. At first, I couldn’t understand the interrelationship between my period and frequency of crises. As I got to understand my menstrual circle and my body better, it became easier to relate the two and take precautionary steps to prevent the cramps becoming full blown crises. This is a situation which affects many sickle cell women and researches like this show that crises are connected to menstrual cramps. Men also face painful moments which are known as priapism. I provided another link which better explains this since I am not a medic.
Steps to take to avoid full blown crises.
There is very little chance in escaping menstrual cramps and the resulting pain. However, for a warrior, some steps can be taken to prevent the pains becoming full blown crises that lands you into hospital and sometimes intensity care.
– Understand your body well and learn to pick out tell tale signs. For me, pains around my waist or lower abdomen are indications to raid my mini pharmacy or handbag asap.
– Always have a mild or over the counter pain reliever like paracetamol or your regular pain killers with you and take them as soon as you feel any discomfort.
– Stay hydrated and eat healthy. There is a need to replenish your blood flow so as to avoid becoming anaemic. This is important because the S shaped red blood cells die faster in sickle cell warriors during crises. For me, these as shown in the picture work just well.
– A little exercise around the house can be helpful but be careful not to overdo it. Avoid getting stressed out.
– Rest and sleep well.
– Practice menstrual hygiene and in case you get sick, do not be afraid to ask for help in cleaning yourself and changing your pads or whatever you use. Maintain good hygiene to avoid the risk of developing other diseases associated with a lack of proper menstrual hygiene. Knowledge is power.
Menstruating is part of being a woman, part of our biological circle so we cannot do away with it. The most we can do while undergoing this biological function is to take precautionary steps and stay as pain free and healthy as possible.
*Woman with hot water bottle photo credit: http://pad1.whstatic.com/
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ARREY E. AGBOR-NDAKAW.