(CBS Local) — After years of debate, doctors are publicly acknowledging the severity of pain linked to some women’s periods. With physicians admitting the pain can rival that of a heart attack, some are now questioning why more research hasn’t been done to stop the menstrual agony.
Dysmenorrhea, better known as cramps, is a painful menstruation that can be severe enough to interrupt the daily routine of one in five women, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians.
“Men don’t get it and it hasn’t been given the centrality it should have. I do believe it’s something that should be taken care of, like anything else in medicine,” University College London’s John Guillebaud told Quartz. The professor of reproductive health says many patients are legitimately suffering pain “almost as bad as having a heart attack.”
NorthShore University HealthSystem’s Frank Tu added that many physicians are taught that over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen “should be good enough” to help women get through their cramps.
“There is a long history of not taking menstrual pain seriously and even writing it off as women’s hysteria. We don’t talk about menstrual health, young girls’ knowledge about menstrual health is poor,” Dr. Annalise Weckesser told The Independent last year.
Physicians added that painful periods may also be a symptom of another severe condition known as endometriosis. While dysmenorrhea is treated with medication, endometriosis occurs when tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows in other areas of the body and requires surgery.