By Alee Gonzalez
Similar active ingredients exist within two different drugs, each designed to treat two different conditions. One is intended to relieve symptoms associated with cold and flu, and the other relieves symptoms caused by menstruation. Can you guess which one is readily available?
Grippostad is the name of a pharmaceutical drug that consists of paracetamol, a painkiller, and caffeine, to treat aches and pains caused by occasional cold and flu. It is available throughout Europe, in various countries. Pamprin is the name of a pharmaceutical drug that contains combinations of: acetaminophen to relieve pain, pamabrom to relieve bloating, and caffeine to combat fatigue, all of which are caused by regular menstruation. The combined ingredients provide a buffer to “Mother Nature’s curse”, and allow women to retain autonomy over their normal lifestyles. Unfortunately, Pamprin is not readily available throughout Europe, and there does not seem to be a similar drug produced that is specifically designed to alleviate those symptoms experienced by women. Its counterpart, Midol, is another solution, but is limited to the United States and Canada.
From the onset of puberty, about one half of the world’s population are susceptible to experience chronic pain, brought on by a condition known as PMS. Premenstrual syndrome can be severe enough to interfere with social activities, hobbies, work, and school. A combination of joint pain, muscle pain, headache, fatigue, and weight gain can re-occur for the duration of half a month, every month. Yet, a degree of indifference surrounds the lack of available “period specific” medication, leaving women to endure what could otherwise be alleviated.
Common treatments that are suggested to women include herbal remedies, such as consumption of saffron and Vitamin E, standard pain relievers such as Ibuprofen, and, ironically, the use of birth control, which can bring with it even more side effects. These age-old recommendations are tired and reveal the relative lack of importance placed on women’s health; harmful at worst and insincere at best.
Women have always suffered the debilitating symptoms brought on by menstruation, and painful as it may be, they continue to endure it. But the lack of readily available relief for this chronic condition is a small piece of a larger puzzle. Sexist stereotypes portray a script where women are viewed as weak and their pain, therefore, is insubstantial.
Moreover, a study conducted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information in the United States, reveals that men wait an average of 49 minutes in the Emergency Room before receiving an analgesic for acute abdominal pain. Women, on the other hand, wait an average of 65 minutes to receive the same treatment. The study’s findings are not exactly surprising. Examples of discrimination towards women’s pain are evident in numerous scenarios, including the lack of available menstrual medication.
An unsettling question concerning women’s health remains; if PMS did not exclusively affect women, would treatment be taken more seriously?
By Alee Gonzalez