I’ve taken some blows. For sport. Punches, kicks, being thrown. Though I’m (hopefully) always braced for what is coming. I’ve fallen off a motorcycle, and had it fall on me. I’ve broken bones and sustained injuries. I’ve messed up a variety of muscles and joints, and worked through their recovery. I’ve had my body go squirrelly on me, and had it get worse before it got better.
And I’ll tell you, the pains that only the women humans experience? Those ones feel the worst… and are treated the most lightly.
Not all women-humans experience the women-specific pains. But for those women who do (mind-meltingly awful periods, labour, IUD insertions), the response to these extraordinary and intense pains is not nearly far enough away from “bite down on this leather strap”.
We don’t have to bite the leather strap, or our tongues. It is stupid of us to suffer silently. It is a waste of our time and our lives.
We don’t have to bear pain. We don’t deserve pain. We shouldn’t put up with pain. Pain is not our lot in life, it is not our cross to bear, and it doesn’t have to be a big part of our lives.
Many women have experienced an IUD insertion. Including little ol’ me. So it’s my ‘for instance’. It is not clear exactly how many women experience pain during the procedure. A fair estimate is that 33% of women reported pain of 5 or more on a scale of 1-10.
But even something like this post, which is better written and more comprehensive than most of what’s out there, largely boils down to a pain strategy of focusing on the positive — that the outcomes are worth it, and that you won’t be one of the 1/3.
“It probably won’t happen to you” is not a pain plan.
I can take a punch (several actually), but I’ll tell you, when I had my IUD done, I took the 2 Advil I was given, and on a scale of 1-to-10, IUD insertion hurt “like fuck”.
“It’s over fast” is not good enough. A kick in the balls is “over fast”, but presented with a kick in the balls as an option, most men would still ask if there was another way.
Amy Poehler said, “Girls, if a boy says something that isn’t funny, you don’t have to laugh”. You don’t have to let people kick you in the lady balls either.
There are other pain medications we could try, techniques that can be refined. “A deep breath” and “mind-body” work is good and all, but it’s not nearly enough. What that does is make pain the particular woman’s problem. If you were still in too much pain, you just weren’t doing a good enough job of managing your pain, or managing your mind.
Well… that’s horseshit.
Breathing techniques are excellent. Mind-body awareness is essential to a healthy life. But you don’t fight fire with a song.
We shouldn’t have let it become a joke that women’s medical problems and procedures suck. We should be turning the suck down.
We deserve that.
We all deserve that.