Similar. In middle school & high school, I'd often have to stay home for the first day or two when AF showed up. I notice that I get some mild cramping 24-48 hours before my period shows up, and then with the onset of the flow, cramps set in fast and heavy duty. Can't sleep through them, rolling around and moaning in agony, can't focus on anything. It really petrifies me for what labor will be like, since I imagine it'll be worse.
BC really helped a lot, and for about 8 months after going off birth control, it didn't hurt much. Some moderate cramping, but an Advil really took the edge off. This past cycle, the cramps set in really, really bad. Like high school again. I was miserable.
It's like extra punishment now. Pain AND no pregnancy. Hate visits from my dear Aunt Flo. At least when I was in college, I was glad that it meant I wasn't pregnant. Now I'm bummed. Will be great when she goes on a 9+ month vacation.