I used take a few ibuprofen a month and get on with my life. Then I came across Lara Briden's revolutionary idea that periods are not meant to be painful.
This sounded too good to be true, but I was curious so I bought her book anyway -
I was sceptical because Lara is a naturopath and some terrible people claim to be naturopaths.
People who suggest green tea supplements that ruin livers, or claim they can cure cancer with alkaline injections.
Lara did not seem like a terrible person, but all the supplements she recommended made me nervous.
Apparently harmless supplements and vitamins can mess with our prescribed medication, and our general health, as well as being expensive.
I'm also slightly wary of Lara because she recommends the Daysy fertility device and I'm not the biggest fan of apps and devices.
But mainstream medicine isn’t risk-free either – especially for women.
Thousands are currently going through hell thanks to the medically approved vaginal mesh.
And regulators are failing to protect us from all sorts of harmful products – watch the Bleeding Edge documentary on Netflix to find out more, or read Bad Pharma.
So I was both wary of Lara’s approach and not completely resistant to trying something a bit different.
Yes the pill has its place, but putting your cycle to sleep is an extreme fix for period pain. It's good to have more low-key options.
The foundation of Lara's book is all those sensible lifestyle things that we know about but might struggle with.
You know the drill. Don’t smoke. Avoid too much alcohol and sugar. Eat proper meals. Exercise in a way you enjoy. Sleep enough. Look after your mental health.
She expresses all this in an inspiring way: "honour your hunger", "honour your emotions."
She also recommends an anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle.
That means taking things up a notch and avoiding gluten and the "wrong" kind of dairy (milk), among other things.
I can't fully embrace the anti-inflammatory approach, or all the vitamins and supplements, but I appreciate Lara's experience and research (there's lots of references), and I like her focus on your period as way to judge your overall health - your “monthly report card.”
One supplement she makes a strong case for is magnesium.
The NHS website says you should be able to get all the magnesium you need from food, but it also says a supplement of less than 400mg a day is unlikely to cause harm.
And this review article suggests magnesium can help women with all kinds of cycle problems - including headaches, hot flushes and more.
All this was enough to persuade me to take one 375mg tablet a day in the evening after food.
It's my body. I can do experiments if I want. I was amazed to find that my period pain disappeared and I no longer had spotting before my period!
Revolutionary stuff. Except, there was a snag. I got stomach problems.
As the NHS website warns, magnesium is a laxative, which was not the kind of revolution I was looking for.
I eventually resolved these by lowering my dose to about one tablet every 3 or 4 days. More expensive magnesium is another option, but that didn't work for me - a low dose of Boots magnesium was fine.
Of course magnesium might not fix your period pain, but it's worth a try.
Just keep your dose low, or use a spray, and check with a pharmacist that there are no interactions if you are on any medication.
If you can't fix your period pain with magnesium or a few painkillers please see your doctor. Get a new one if they are unsympathetic. Women's pain, including period pain, should not be seen as inevitable.