Guys, you may wish to look away now. This week I’d like to write about something us ladies go through quite a lot, once a month to be correct, so you are probably guessing what I mean by that. From time to time my fellow females have asked me about the effects of RA in our monthly cycles and how it affects me. Before I haven’t so wished to talk about it (as it is quite a private matter). However, I know that some ladies are concerned that symptoms of RA have worsened around their ‘time of the month’. To be honest I have never really noticed this before but have made a conscious effort to study this in my own life before discussing it.
Now I have looked at it, I too have noticed that my RA is particularly bad around this time. More specifically, the lead up to that dreaded few days. I noticed increased pain levels, horrendous mood swings (which believe it or not I never really suffered before), and an increased level of fatigue. I know that it is perfectly normal for us ladies to have these kinds of symptoms around that time of the month but for ladies with RA is it any worse? The simple answer is, it totally depends on your body. Before my diagnosis, I was never particularly affected by (and here’s the horrible word) periods. I never suffered cramps or pain, I was generally in a bad mood every day of the month anyway (haha) and don’t recall feeling more tired or uncomfortable. That is the key word here for me, uncomfortable. I can only describe how I have felt recently around this time as INCREDIBLY uncomfortable. I actually want to ram most people’s heads into a fridge, bang my own head against the wall and generally want to curl up and die. (You may think this is a bit extreme but I’ve just had one of these weeks where I was so incredibly frustrated with everything and everyone that I didn’t even want to talk to the people I love).
The increase in pain was significant, especially as I have been doing reasonably well lately so I really have noticed it. The main thing is that horrible flu like feeling where you ache like hell from head to toe and want to sleep all the time was amplified by about a million percent. My sleep pattern was disturbed, not that I sleep that great anyways these days but waking up every hour on the hour in the night is not a good look throughout the day. My eyes look like they are carrying large, dark suitcases right now.
Scientifically, and here’s the evidence bit, when women are experiencing periods and hormonal changes their pain thresholds are lower and sleep is disturbed. I had this confirmed by my doctor this week. Therefore, if your pain threshold is not as high, you will feel your RA pain more and if sleep is disturbed your fatigue will worsen. I am sure we don’t all suffer the same but it’s interesting to see the connection between your gender and the severity of RA.
One positive piece of news I discovered this week is that I was sure I had read somewhere that when considering to have children, I would have to come off all treatment one year before conception. Apparently, according to my rheumatologist, this isn’t the case. It is only six months prior to conception that you need to be free of treatment for. So this is great news for me, coming up to twenty five this year it’s nice to know I don’t have to necessarily plan so far ahead how my life is going to go. And don’t worry; I don’t plan on any mini me’s anytime soon. Besides, I have rammed my boyfriends head into a fridge so I don’t think we will even be speaking for a while..... I’m just kidding.