Period pain is common for a lot of women. Bloating, nausea and cramps are all part of the package that comes with menstruating for the majority. But when the pain becomes unbearable to the point of passing out- that definitely is something to be concerned with.
Undiagnosed Dermoid Cyst: Calle Hack’s “Little Monster”
Growing up, Calle Hack always had problems with her period. Since 15 she would experience “painful bouts of dry heaving, blacking out and intense inflammation” on the first day of her cycle and it got worse with age. The worst experience being at her then-boyfriend’s house; she woke up crippled with unbearable cramps. She made her way to the bathroom to take a bath in the hopes that it would help relieve the pain. When she reached the bathroom her mouth was filled with the taste of copper and she began getting hot flashes. Calle’s vision became blurry, she started vomiting and eventually fainted to the floor shaking.
Seventeen years and five doctors later, Calle was finally able to find a gynecologist who listened to her terrifying story and agreed that what she was experiencing was not normal. An ultrasound discovered she had a dermoid cyst the size of an orange growing on her right ovary. Calle refers to it as her “little monster”, as it is a type of teratoma tumor (teratoma is Greek for “monster”).
The doctor suggested that they remove it as soon as possible. Four months after surgery Calle is now feeling fine and is having a better time with her periods. (1)
What is a Dermoid Cyst? (And How to Know if You Have One)
A dermoid cyst is a growth made up of cells that have been there since birth, these cells are used to produce dermal tissue so it can grow fat, skin, hair, and teeth. It’s caused when skin and its structures are trapped during fetal development. Calle had an ovarian dermoid cyst which develops in women during their reproductive years. It can lead to complications such as torsion, infection, rupture, and even cancer. (2)
There are ways to check if you have a dermoid cyst. Symptoms to look out for are:
- Bloating or pressure in the abdomen
- Abdominal pain
- Nausea or vomiting
- Frequent urination
- Sudden and severe pain
The only way to treat a dermoid cyst is to have it removed by a doctor. It is important to get it removed professionally and to seek immediate attention if it is causing pain or fever. (3)
The most important lesson to be taken from Calle’s story is to listen to your body and seek medical help whenever you feel something isn’t right. It can be frustrating for women to seek medical help because we are often not taken seriously by doctors. Calle shares that she felt lucky to find a doctor who listened and get the help she needed.
When it comes to talking to your doctor Calle encourages other women to speak up. She says, “The medical community needs to shift its perspective when it comes to women and women’s health. And we need to be clear, consistent, and strong when advocating for ourselves. It’s trying, exhausting, and frustrating to always have to fight for your well-being, but it’s important.” (1)
- HACK, C. My Period Pain Was Unbearable for Years — Turns Out, There Was a Monster Growing Inside MeHack, C. (2018). My Period Pain Was Unbearable for Years — Turns Out, There Was a Monster Growing Inside Me. [online] Good Housekeeping. Available at: https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/health/a20053932/period-pain-dermoid-cyst-surgery/
- AN OVERVIEW OF DERMOID CYSTS
- WebMD. (2018). An Overview of Dermoid Cysts. [online] Available at: https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/sdermoid-cyst#1
- WEBER, MD, M. AND PIETRANGELO, A.
- Complex Ovarian Cyst: Symptoms, Treatment, and More
- Weber, MD, M. and Pietrangelo, A. (2018). Complex Ovarian Cyst: Symptoms, Treatment, and More. [online] Healthline. Available at: https://www.healthline.com/health/womens-health/complex-ovarian-cyst#symptoms
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