This is a long post, filled with more icky information than anyone probably ever wanted to know. You've been warned.
When I was young, I was fairly regular, although a little longer cycle than most, at 32 days. I've always been heavy the first couple days, and experienced flooding in the morning, or after sitting for long periods. Cramps were always in my lower back. Migraines through my late teens.
I delivered two healthy boys with a bit of laughing gas, and then had #3 at home, au naturel. Back in hospital for #4, midwife was booked up, husband was in South Carolina, and I caved and took a shot of demerol. All back labour pains.
It took about 8 months to recover from #4. My hips just didn't seem to want to go back into place. Contractions with every period.
He stopped breastfeeding at 16 months. I didn't quite stop lactating. Just a little, only noticeable before my period, a drop or two in the shower.
About 4 years ago, the breast swelling pre period was getting ridiculous. I was sore and swollen two weeks before my cycle, and a week afterwards. Cramping in my back was up to two weeks, and I was just a miserable person to be around. And then those couple of drops in the shower took on a greenish tinge.
I didn't tell anyone at first. And it got worse. I had sharp stabbing pains in my milk ducts. Like while breast feeding, how you feel your milk let down, but with an almost burning sensation. And the 'milk' was dark green. I started expressing up to a week before my period to relieve the swelling.
My periods got longer, 7-9 days. Heavier, flooding all the time. Closer together, sometimes within three weeks. Clotting. Cramping. Bloating. (I'd go from a size 10 to a 16 every month). Days that my hips and back hurt so bad I could barely walk from my room, across the hall, to the bathroom. And then I started having contractions.
Two years ago I saw a doctor. He sent me for x-rays, ultrasounds, mammogram, CT scan, MRI of my pituitary gland.
I have some small cysts, both breast and uterus. I have some 'spots' on my pituitary, but not enough to be concerned about. I have a cyst on my kidney (unrelated and probably nothing to worry about, they just happened to notice it while they were poking around). But no cancer, no endometriosis, nothing they could pinpoint and blame.
That took about 8 months, getting through all of the procedures. And in that time, things kind of settled down for me. Not great, but much better than it had been. Less swelling, breast and hips, less bloating, less frequent periods. By the time I got in to see the gynecologist, it wasn't too bad.
I'd never been good about keeping track of my cycles, had nothing written down, had no 'proof' of my condition. He did a pap smear (normal) and told me to come back in three months, and track my periods.
The following three months were very mild. Normal. Not bad at all. So, you know, I was 'fine'. He told me my clots were just coagulated blood. I was too young for menopause, so he wouldn't do a hysterectomy.
Two months later, I spent 8 hours on my hands and knees waiting for the contractions to stop. When I finally passed the clots, they were hard little gobs. I can't believe that's just coagulated blood.
Since then, it kind of comes and goes. Some months are ok, just a bit of cramping and bloating. Some months I'm a wreck. One month I missed, and I swear I wanted to throw a party. Bring on the menopause!!! The bad months are always accompanied by clots. This month, a lump about two inches long, attached to a smaller gob by a tube about two inches long. It looked like a tiny placenta. (Husband had a vasectomy 9 years ago).
I never did get an answer from anyone about the green slime coming out of my milk ducts. I did have a bladder infection a few months after the gyno visit though, and some heavy antibiotics. It's returned to an occasional drop of creamy white 'milk'. Internet research leads me to believe it's that same tonsilitus/sinusitus bacterium that's haunted me all my life.
I made some other changes. For one thing, I started tracking my periods, almost fanatically. I downloaded period calendar deluxe for my phone, and I swear it's the handiest thing ever.
I started watching what I ate, and how I reacted to it. MSG, which never seemed to bother me when I was younger, seemed to be smacking me upside the head, or rather, making me swell up like a beached whale. Not too hard to pinpoint the culprit at home- I never denied my period cravings for salt and chocolate, and my salt of choice has always been sour cream and onion potato chips. MSG to go. I switched to plain chips for awhile, then cut out chips completely for about 6 months. (It had been a bag a day habit every two weeks). I fulfilled my salt cravings with home made pretzels, and once even just licked salt out of my hand, with no ill effects. Summer came, too hot to bake, and I gave in to the potato chips again. Now one bag will get me through my period salt cravings, always plain. I just eat enough to calm the cravings and then put them away.
I started paying attention to bathroom issues. I've always had bathroom issues, especially if I'm not at home. But I started noticing that I get constipated every month when the swelling starts. The back pain subsides when things start moving again after my period starts. If I take a laxative, clean things out just before my period, I have less pain.
Dad suggested I start taking aspirin (blood thinner). Just one. The first few months I took two or three, and then I thought I was going to bleed to death from a cut on my finger. Oops. So just one, on the first day of my period, and it seems to be helping with the clots.
So probably now, 3 out of 4 periods are ok. And then there's a bad one. I just need to get through the bad ones.