Sometimes taking a walk helps, and other times I use a hot water bottle

Photo of a mother and daughter watching TV

Lisa, 22 years old:

“I have some minor digestive problems and gas about five days before my period starts, and I have to go to the bathroom more often.”

I was about 13 years old when I got my first period. At first I didn’t have any problems. But about half a year later I started getting bellyache. I had proper cramps. They really affected me.

My doctor gave me painkillers for the cramping, which really helped.

When I started taking birth control pills at the age of 17, the abdominal pain went away at first. They worked quite well against the pain. Over time the cramps started up again. They are always worst on the second and on the last day of my period. The pain doesn’t just go away, but gets worse. I’ve come to realize that I had better start taking painkillers at the first sign of cramping.

When I started taking the pill I noticed that my breasts were tender a few days before my period. It sometimes got to be so bad that even things like walking up stairs really hurt. If friends wanted to walk arm in arm with me, I’d stop them because even the slightest touch was really painful. Then I tried different types of birth control pills, but that didn’t help. Now I use a vaginal ring and have virtually no problems anymore. I still get cramps during my period, but they aren’t as bad as they used to be.

I can cope with the mood swings

I do have mood swings sometimes, and then I can’t even stand myself. But it’s not that extreme. One of my girlfriends is totally unapproachable when she has her period, it’s that bad with her.

I have some minor digestive problems and gas about five days before my period starts, and I have to go to the bathroom more often. Sometimes taking a walk helps, and other times it’s better to just lie down with a hot water bottle.

But I still take painkillers. I prefer to take tablets, especially because of work. I need to keep my head clear and not be distracted by the cramps. I can get the medication myself from a pharmacy. I don’t have any problems with side effects or anything.

When all of this started, my mother told me that I shouldn’t worry about the pain and that it would get better later on. She also said that when she was younger she had to stay home from school because the pain would get so bad. That was comforting to hear.

These problems have never been a big deal in our family. Whenever I wasn’t feeling well, I would call my mother or sister and they’d pick me up from school. That went without saying and was never questioned. Now my boyfriend takes very loving care of me when I’m in pain.


Our real-life stories summarize interviews with people who are affected by the medical condition. Our interview partners have given us permission to publish their stories. We would like to express our sincere thanks to them.

The real-life stories give an insight into how other people cope and live with a medical condition. Their opinions and comments are not recommendations by IQWiG.

Please note: The names of our interview partners have been changed to protect their identity. The photos are of models.

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Updated on May 18, 2022

Next planned update: 2025


Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG, Germany)

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