I've always had excruciating period pain, even though my two sisters and mom didn't. I would miss school and activities because of the pain and just always thought it was normal. My turning point was a year in a half ago when I collapsed at work because I was in so much pain. My co-worker took me to the Emergency Room. The male doctor told me I had cysts on my ovaries, basically telling me, "It is what is it. It's part of being a woman." I later went to an endometriosis specialist. He had great bedside manner, but my options were still limited. I was asked if I wanted to have children because if not, I could have my uterus removed, taking the pain away.
Deciding not to get a hysterectomy, I started doing my own research because I wanted to fix my body the natural way. I became obsessed with periods! How do we have healthy periods, and what does an unhealthy period look like? I also wanted to change the stigma around periods.
You may experience discomfort or cramping during your period, but you should never be in a place where it's debilitating pain, where you can't walk, can't function. I've been in so much pain that I urinated on myself while sitting on the couch because I couldn't get up and make it to the restroom. That's the kind of unbearable pain I've been in.
Heavy bleeding could be another sign of issues too. Sometimes it could be Estrogen Dominance, and if that's not treated, it can cause other problems like an increase in uterine fibroids, breast cancer, and other issues. If you have light bleeding, it could alert you to issues such as anemia or low blood count. We have vital signs like blood pressure, breathing rates, etc. Women's periods are also another vital sign that tells us a lot about what's going on in our bodies and if it's out of whack.
It's also important to be aware of the period products we are using. Growing up, I was told to use tampons because it's easy, and dealing with blood was seen as dirty. But I soon realized that tampons made me cramp more. There were a lot of chemicals in those products, so being mindful of what's in the products you're using and why you're using them can really impact your period. In regards to menstrual pads, I switched to chemical-free cotton pads such as Wombilee. Clean products truly make a difference when dealing with your body.
With Peaceful Periods, I want to change the narrative around the way we talk about periods. It should be embraced because if you can't love your own body, in this part of your body, then how can you expect your period to be good to you? How do you expect it not to have severe cramping, mood swings, craving, etc.? If you can't understand and respect that part of you, you can't expect it to treat you well.
Brittany Cheeks is the founder of Peaceful Periods, a period lifestyle brand that is changing the way the world thinks and talks about menstrual cycles and inspiring bleeders to live fully throughout all phases of their cycle. Regardless of nationality, economic status, race or religion, menstrual cycles are a natural part of a womxn's body. Yet oftentimes, there is little to no education about what is happening in the body, pain, cramps, and similar symptoms are considered "normal," and healthy and clean products aren't affordable. Through eating, education, and lifestyle shifts, Peaceful Periods is showing menstruators how to reclaim their bodies and their periods one cycle at a time.