Global Citizen is a community of people like you

People who want to learn about and take action on the world’s biggest challenges. Extreme poverty ends with you.

Alexis Brown/Unsplash
Water & Sanitation

Doctors Finally Acknowledge Period Pain Is as Painful as a 'Heart Attack’

An article in which a male doctor called period pain “almost as bad as having a heart attack” is going viral on social media and raising an important question from women around the world:

Why didn’t you listen to us before?

Take Action: #ItsBloodyTime to End the Taboo Around Menstruation

In the original article, published by Quartz two years ago, University College London reproductive health professor John Guillebaud said cramping pain is as “almost as bad as having a heart attack.

When the article resurfaced on social media, women responded with a mixture of anger that it took a man’s statement to legitimize their concerns and relief that their symptoms might be taken more seriously.   

The article also prompted a column in Marie Claire, which acknowledged the doctor for accurately depicting dysmenorrhea — the clinical term for menstrual cramps — but decried the need for a man to validate and confirm women’s experiences.

“Although we know that [period pain] can feel like you're being repeatedly punched in the stomach from the inside out, explaining this to other people (read: generally men) can feel like a lost cause,” wrote columnist George Driver. “Ignoring women's pain has been a concerning medical practice for, well, forever, with research showing that doctors generally take it less seriously than men's.”

Around the world, at least 20% of women and girls experience dysmenorrhea painful enough to disrupt their daily life and as many as 176 million women experience endometriosis, a painful affliction where tissue typically found in the uterus grows on other female reproductive organs and peels.

But, the Independent reports, there has been little research related to period pain, which means doctors often ignore or discount women’s complaints.

Global Citizen campaigns on ending gender discrimination and ensuring that every girl and woman’s voice is heard. You can take action here.

Read More: 12 Pads Per Month? Arizona Legislature Will Vote on Restrictive Menstruation Rules

Women on social media have compared their period pain to childbirth or like a “blender is slowly ripping my insides to pieces.”

Read More: Stock Images of Women in Pain Are Making Period Shame Worse, Study Suggests

But it seems that, finally, men are starting to listen.