Podcast Diaries: The Flow Down Episode 9

Why we love it:

Period pain can be a bitch, trust us we know. However, there is so little support for women whose period pain affects their daily lives because of conditions they don't even know they have. In this episode, Jess and Steph talk about period pain, what can cause period pain and the stigma around women's pain. If you're curious about period pain and where it all comes from then this is the episode for you.

We're sure you'll love this episode just as much as we do so make sure to give it a lesson below and subscribe to The Flow Down on your favourite podcast app. 

Listen & Learn:

The Transcript:

When it comes to menstrual cramps, you've heard it before.

Oh, these cramps. How long until menopause?

I've got Advil, Tylenol.

No, I'm a menstrual case. Cramps, bloating, plus I'm wiped out.

For all that, there's only one option.

Sex change?

Midol.

Oh, fabulous.

For strong relief from cramps, plus bloating and fatigue, Midol is all you need.

And a good pair of sweatpants.

Beyond being completely passe and offensive to trans-identifying folks, this commercial sends a really common message, that period pain should not stop you from living your life.

Yeah, just pop a Midol and deal. Well, we'll see about that. I'm Steph, a woman's health coach.

And I'm Jess, a journalist. We've got a lot to unpack today on the topic of period pain. Welcome to the Flow Down.

We're going to start today's show with a story. A story of resilience, intuition, and of navigating a world eager to dismiss our pain.

Hey, how's it going?

I'm good. How are you?

Doing well.

That's Brit Julius. She's 31 years old, born and raised in Chicago.

I am a writer and an editor and a performer, as well.

A few years ago, Brit went public with her period pain. She wrote a story you can find on the Internet, called Why As a Black Woman, I Struggle to Manage My Period Pain. It's really powerful and really important. When we read it, we knew we wanted to share some of Brit's story on the Flow Down. Brit got her first period when she was 11. In some ways it was pretty uneventful, her sister helped her slap on a pad and that was about it. But there was one complicating factor, it was Halloween. And to Brit, that meant something.

I was like, "Oh, that's very symbolic and that's very dark. My period's probably not going to be a great thing from here on out and it's going to be tricky and complicated for me." I don't remember really knowing, these are cramps and they are painful and they are bad. I don't really have that memory until I entered high school. Sophomore, Junior year, Sophomore especially of high school, where my body was going through a lot of changes, so I think the way I was eating and the way that my body was developing, lead to my periods becoming much more painful and much more memorable in my mind. Where it was the sort of thing where I couldn't function in class, I had to leave class and I would go to the nurse's office.

The periods went from being four days to being 10 days, to being two weeks and the cramps would go from being the day before my period and the first day of my period to lasting through the end of the period. I was missing school and I was missing dance team practice. My parents were getting frustrated with me, I remember my dad being frustrated with me. He was like, "You can't keep missing school like this." I almost felt like I was going crazy. I was like, "Well, everyone tells me I just have to push through this." But I know that I can't even, I'm in so much pain that my vision is becoming blurry and I feel like I'm going to puke in the middle of AP English. All of these things. I'm like, "Something has to be wrong."

And so, when I was able to next go to my doctor, I was able to finally go to her and be like, "Listen, my periods, they are really painful. I know they're supposed to be painful and they tell you they're painful and you'll feel these things. But I'm telling you that, I am unable to function." I remember, unfortunately, during my first time, she really dismissed me and was like, "Well, that's how they are, that's how they happen. Take more ibuprofen and just use a heating pad and do X, Y, and Z. It's probably because of how you're eating." I was like, "Sure, whatever."

But then the next time I came to see her, I'm like, "Listen, hasn't gotten better, it's gotten worse. I need you to take me seriously because this is ridiculous and I can't keep having this every single month." And so, that was when I finally got an answer because she took my blood and told me that I was anaemic. It was such a relief because I was like, "I know I'm not just in my head. I know this is not just me not being able to handle normal cramps from a period. This is actually something more severe."

So Brit integrated iron supplements into her diet and her period symptoms improved, drastically. She had more energy, could finally digest food. And even her cramps were more manageable. Period pain started to feel like something of the past.

It was really great and yes, that lasted for more than a decade, more or less. I didn't though start having issues again until I was 29 years old and so, that was two years ago. When it first started again, it was very much the same, so cramps lasting a little bit longer, a period going from maybe three or four days to four to five days, five to six days. And then, the pain was happening a few days before my period and lasting through that third day of my period. I'm like, "This is six days of cramps. What's happening here?"

The symptoms started getting a lot worse as well. It was all these really bad symptoms that I remember from my early teens, were coming back. That's when I started thinking, "Something's not going right." A lot of my friends, again, they were like, "Well, this is what happens." I had read that your period changes at around every seven years or so, so I was like, "Maybe this is just what's happening and maybe it's getting a little bit worse for me, but I'll figure something out." But it just kept getting worse, I think it was maybe the second or third day of my period, and I just woke up in bed and I was like, "I can't move."

I don't know what's happening. Did I strain something? Did I pull something? What's happening? I was just in my bed, in that same position of laying down for a good four or five hours because anytime I would try to move a little bit, it felt like just the most intense stabbing pain like someone was stabbing a machete into me. It wasn't in the entirety of my body, it was only in one specific part on my right side, right underneath where my breast and the breastbone is.

Eventually, I was able to crawl out of bed, with the most intense pain, crawling on the floor from my bedroom to the bathroom. And then, I was eventually able to again, crawl from my bathroom to the living room, to the couch because I knew my living room couch was lower to the ground than my bed. I eventually called my mother and I was on the couch and talking to her, and it was really hard for me to just even speak those words because I was using up so much air. And the way I'm breathing is, breathing in for two seconds, and then out for five seconds. That's the most I could do.

She was like, "Are these cramps?" I was like, "I guess they're cramps. I've never experienced cramps this bad or maybe I pulled something in the night. Because I do tend to move my limbs around a lot." At one point I felt a little bit better, I was able to stand up, and I have this big mirror in my living room, or I did at that time. I lifted up my shirt and it looked like, I don't know if it really was swollen, but it looked like it was swollen. Maybe in my head, I was like, "Maybe there's something else more wrong."

So I call a Lyft and I go to a nearby urgent care centre and they were just about to close. And so, they were like, "Sorry, we can't help you." I was like, "Are you fucking kidding me?" And so, I look up another one, I see that it's open for another hour and a half. I see someone and they tell me they think it's my gallbladder. They were like, "You have an inflamed gallbladder. If it gets worse tomorrow, go to the emergency room but, stick to a BRAT diet. Bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast for the next couple of days." The next day it got better, I still was in pain but it wasn't the debilitating pain that I was in before. And so, I was like, "It must just be my gallbladder." And left it as that.

I didn't have that pain again for the next couple of months, I didn't have it in September when I had my period, October, November, December when I had my period. It wasn't until January, where I was working at a new place and once again, it happened there and it happened in the middle of the workday. It was so painful that I just could not function or sit up in the chair. I went to see my general practitioner and she had said, "Oh, it's probably... " She didn't even say it was the gallbladder. I'm not sure what she said it was, in general. She said it's maybe related to my asthma. And so, she just prescribed me a new daily inhaler.

That did not work and it wasn't until that March when it happened again when I went to see my ob/gyn to have my annual exam. She was like, "Has anything else been going on?" I'm like, "Well, " I was like, "I've been having this really intense pain, where I can't breathe, " and I was like, "I can't move, " and I said, "I can't move my arms, I can't move my legs, I can't get out of bed, I can't function, I can't look at the screen." I was like, "I feel like I'm just choking on air or something. And it's this stabbing, shooting pain." And she was like, "Hmm, okay." She asked me, "When is this happening?" And I'm like, "What do you mean?" She was like, "Is it happening during your period?" I'm like, "Yeah, it is happening during my period."

So she says from there, "I think you might have this really rare form of endometriosis." I knew as soon as she started explaining what the symptoms are, how it feels, what happens, the timeframe of it, I was like, "Yeah, that's what I have."

Brit learned she had thoracic endometriosis. That's where tissue from the inner lining of the uterus, also called the endometrium, becomes displaced and attaches to areas in or around the lungs. The most common symptom is chest pain, usually right before or during menstruation. She was also diagnosed with multiple uterine fibroids and ovarian cysts.

I guess my first instinct a lot of times is to feel angry, so I was just pissed. I was like, "This is some fucking bullshit." I was like, "Imagine if someone had fucking listened to me back in August." I would have had some solutions and I could've been making more changes and I could have been doing X, Y, and Z things and know more about myself and how often this has happened to other people. All those questions were running through my head.

It is so much more mentally reassuring for myself to just understand what's going on, to understand what exactly is happening and why my body has changed in the ways that it has. For example, I always had a really flat stomach, and then my stomach got bigger as I got more fibroids and more bloating and things like that and not being able to really digest food or process things in the correct way. And so, having an answer for that stuff makes me so much more mentally reassured and that I know what to do to find relief or feel better. I know that eating these types of foods makes me feel really bad and eating these types of foods makes my periods worse. Or, taking calcium and fish oil supplements makes my periods tremendously better and doing that has allowed me to, I haven't had one of that catamenial pneumothorax, that's the pain I was feeling, I haven't had an incidence of catamenial pneumothorax since I started taking those supplements.

Things like that, it's such a relief even though I know I'm not at 100%, having answers for the pain that I was previously feeling and doing my research and getting guidance and advice from my doctors, it has allowed me to find some solutions. Some solutions for me, are better than no solutions, basically.

Most women suffering from endometriosis see multiple doctors before they receive a diagnosis. That can take years. Anywhere between 20 to 80% of women will develop fibroids by the time they turn 50. Black women are about three times more likely than white women to develop fibroids and usually at a younger age. We asked Brit what advice she would give to other women, and especially to black women, who are struggling to understand their own pain and to know if there's anything that they can do about it.

For black people, for black families, for black women especially, we are taught to, rather than examine or try to eliminate the pain in our lives, we are taught that pain is just a normal, everyday facet of our lives. It is just what you are going to experience as a black person, as a black woman, if you're queer, as a black queer woman. And this is pain that's mental or physical or emotional, we're taught that all pain is normal and that all suffering is universal. That's not going to allow you to really see things as they are, and so if you accept pain as truth and reality, how are you going to be able to really recognise when something is very much wrong? That to me, that is this learned pain and that, it really is taught from generation to generation, at least in the United States, I should say.

The most important thing in terms of discerning between learned pain and more severe medical pain is, really trusting your gut. That is the biggest thing. No one knows you better than you. And so, you know what you're feeling, you know what is going on. If you can recognise that those feelings that are happening within you are even more than what you can explain in words, that's when I would say, "Look into it. Do some more research. Go to a doctor. Maybe it's difficult for you to say what you're feeling, but maybe try to write it out and go into specifics of, 'The feeling is like this and it's so painful that I felt like I was going to throw up and it felt like that happened and that happened.'" Being as detailed as possible, because people are so often ready to dismiss you.

The way that the medical industry works now is, doctors only have a certain amount of time to see patients. Unfortunately, not everyone's going to be looking at your individual case and really trying to take the time to examine it and go and dive deeper into what is happening with you. And so, you have to really take agency and ownership and responsibility for yourself. Going through this whole experience, more than the physical relief and the dietary changes, I have become a much more spiritual person in general. That spirituality comes through, for me, in terms of meditation and gratitude and mindfulness. That's how I express my spiritual side. It has really just helped me feel more respectfully and peacefully aligned with my body. So instead of feeling this anger or frustration or just focus only on the pain, I instead feel grateful to just be here and grateful to have answers, and hopeful for the future.

Thank you so much, Brit.

Thank you.

Wow.

I know, Steph. Brit is so resilient and so intuitive.

Incredible. I'm so grateful to be able to use this space to share her story and hopefully give voice to women who also might be having a hard time with their period, so thank you, Jess, for finding Brit and for leading us through her story.

Absolutely, Steph. I know that sharing our stories and breaking the silence around these taboos can have such a huge impact. Brit really puts words to something that so many other women suffer through, many of them alone. And we know, research shows in so many instances that women of colour are ignored and dismissed at disproportionally high rates.

It's tragic. This is why I feel so-called to be here together, validating the pain. Because if the advice stays the same, that periods are painful, just push through it, women are going to continue to feel deterred from bringing up their pain and seeking support. It will be equally hard for them to receive the answers that they need, whether it be a diagnosis or resources or a long term solution.

Right. When women are ignored and dismissed they're missing out on all this critical information and insight about themselves. Not only that, but they're also being made to believe that they're crazy, that they're hysterical.

Yeah, as the commercial says, pop a Midol.

We're here today to tell you that, you are not crazy. Let's be clear, Midol does not work for everyone.

Definitely not. And when it doesn't work, women aren't given many other options. The most typical recommendation is to go on the birth control pill. It usually works because essentially it switches off the menstrual cycle, though it doesn't necessarily heal or correct the underlying cause of painful periods. Actually in one case, so fibroids can cause period pain and going on the pill can help with the pain. It can also help with heavy bleeding that sometimes comes along with fibroids. But the effects that the hormones in the pill have on the fibroids can actually cause them to grow larger. So, all that to say, personally, it just leaves me wanting more and better options for women.

Absolutely.

So, I can't help but imagine how things could be different if, when we showed up in our doctor's office, asking for support with our painful periods, we heard something like, "Wow, it really sounds like you're having a hard time with your period. Periods aren't always comfortable, but this doesn't quite seem right to me. It sounds like your body is trying to tell you something, so let's find out what it is. And when we do, don't worry, there's plenty we can do to help you feel better."

So, so different than what I think many of us are used to hearing. I love that, it's so you. I feel like you would totally say that to somebody who came to you with painful periods.

Thank you, I would.

So in Brit's case, we know that at least some of her pain stemmed from fibroids, from cysts, from endometriosis. What are other things that can cause period pain stuff?

There are a plethora of reasons women feel period pain. There's also a spectrum for the pain too, which I think is worth noting. The baseline, I'd say, is some mild cramping, tightness in the lower abdomen, which makes sense since the uterus in contracting as it sheds its lining. This all feels very relevant right now because I just got my period today. And from there, the pain becomes more and more severe.

For some, their cramps are uncomfortable to the extent that, if they take something, they feel better. For others, they have cramps that are so painful that they can't get out of bed. So there's a spectrum, and it even varies, menstruator to menstruator. And then, if we want to get technical, the medical term for painful periods is dysmenorrhea. And sometimes doctors can't find a reason for it. Other times, they'll find that something like endometriosis or fibroids or some underlying condition is causing the cramps.

So full disclosure, I recently learned that I have a small fibroid. In my case, it is definitely something that I can feel. It does cause pain and tenderness before my period. Can you briefly explain to me and our listeners what endometriosis and fibroids actually are?

Sure, I would love to. So endometriosis sounds like endometrium. The endometrium is the lining of the uterus and in the case of endometriosis, the tissue that's similar to the endometrium grows in other areas of the pelvis or even other areas of the body entirely. It can be hard to diagnose, and as we heard, extremely difficult and painful to live through. And then we also mentioned fibroids and fibroids are non-cancerous tumours that grow in or on the uterus, and they can be small, big. They can be bothersome, they might not be, they might go away, they might grow larger. There's a lot to consider there.

In either case, whether you've been diagnosed with a condition that you know is causing your period pain or whether you haven't been, if there really is no obvious reason for it, we'd want to consider the same things. In terms of, what might be happening in the body to cause the pain and what might be helpful?

So then, let's get into a little bit of the potential root causes of period pain. That'll give our listeners something to work with.

Well, one thing to consider is inflammation in the body and inflammation can stem from many things, including stress, including your diet. And actually, studies show that women with painful cramps tend to have high levels of an inflammatory hormone called prostaglandin F2 alpha. What it does is causes the uterus to spasm, and so think about it, if you've got a lot of it in your body, you're probably going to have painful cramps.

Also, hormonal imbalance is an important root cause to consider, specifically what's referred to as estrogen dominance, which is when there's too much estrogen relative to progesterone, another cycle hormone. That can really cause the painful periods, can cause conditions like endometriosis and fibroids, a lot of the discomfort around our cycles. Other things to consider are a lack of blood flow to the reproductive organs, which can stem from not moving enough. That can cause cramps.

And then there's also, some practitioners who believe that there's an emotional and psychological and even spiritual tie to period pain. Some things that are talked about there are, a blocked second chakra or feeling frustrated and unfulfilled in your life. My favourite resource for that conversation is Doctor Christian Northrup. She is incredible.

So inflammation, hormonal imbalance, blood flow, emotional ties, there's so much to explore. I think it's empowering just to have this understanding of the possibilities. It's a great starting point to explore, to know that your pain is not the be all end all, there are a lot of things to look into and to learn more about.

Yeah. Your pain is real, it is valid. I also think it's a message from your body to dig deeper and you deserve to be acknowledged at home, in the doctor's office and be supported in the process of healing.

Now, as we made clear in this episode, every patient is so different. What works for one person might not work for another and vice versa. But, there are a few tools and remedies for period pain that are worth looking into now.

And so, to close out our episode, we decided to bring on Doctor Eden Fromberg. She is an osteopathic physician, board-certified in obstetrics and gynaecology, and integrative holistic medicine. She is the director and founder of Wholistic Gynecology, New York. She sees women who suffer from period pain and takes a deep dive into what's happening in their body and provides an alternative approach to healing.

Steph asked Doctor Fromberg to share with us just a few suggestions for things that are accessible for our listeners to get started with at home. Let's go ahead and play it.

Welcome, Doctor Fromberg, to the Flow Down.

Thank you so much, it's my pleasure to be here with you.

Thank you. Doctor Fromberg, we're devoting this episode to validating the pain that some menstruators feel month to month around their periods. I'd love to ask you, what empowering words could you offer a woman who's suffering from period pain?

I would say do not despair, because often that's the first place that we go, it's just... There are so many potential resources that you could tap into.

I love that you say there are a variety of resources, that's so helpful. I also want to take a moment to acknowledge that I think that's a very different perspective than what many women who are seeking support for painful periods are used to hearing. I know that women are often given the option to go on the pill, to deal with severe cramps. So, I wanted to ask you to explain, what's happening in your body when you're on hormonal birth control? And why would that even be considered an option for someone who has dysmenorrhea?

The benefit and why anybody would even think about going on the pill for their period would be because the pill dampens the natural cycle. Essentially, it superimposes the hormones of the pill on the hormones of your body. They're not the same hormones at all, so they have to be some synthetic, artificial hormone and it does shut down the natural cycles and puts on the pill cycle. There's nothing inherently wrong with that, it's just that from the perspective of how we evolved with our natural and rhythms and cycles, in terms of nature and the cycles of day and night and seasons and all like that. It does create a conflict. It jars and it directly conflicts with that evolution. It's tricking our body into feeling or thinking that it's slightly pregnant, and so that possibility of being slightly pregnant is what makes the body not produce the egg every month. And if you don't have an egg to fertilise, you can't get pregnant.

I really appreciate you explaining that. So, the pill shuts down the menstrual cycle. No cycle, no pain. I don't think women always get that full explanation of how it works. And now I've got to say, I'm excited to explore some effective natural treatments for cramps. I know you spend hours with your patients, Doctor Fromberg. But are there any recommendations you can offer to listeners as a starting point for dealing with period pain?

So I would usually start with some healthy [prostoglen 00:30:38] and precursor, like evening primrose or black currant seed oil every single day. During the period, I would use something like red raspberry leaf tea, blackberry leaf tea as a uterine muscle toner, that could actually be used all month. But then something very specific to deal with the cramps in the moment, there is actually a great deal of clinical effectiveness to the herb cramp bark, it comes from the Native American tradition, it's sometimes combined with other herbs. But cramp bark itself, it's actually extremely effective for cramps.

Remembering right now a patient of mine, I've seen her on and off for quite a number of years and when she first started to come, that was actually the reason she started to come, she had really, really severe period pain. It was just unbelievably severe. She couldn't even believe it. She was a yoga teacher and so she really thought about things a lot and breathed about it and meditated about it. So she really was doing a lot of her work, she was eating a healthy diet. Cramp bark was really the answer for her. She had been using Motrin, it worked better than Motrin for her, so that's an example of how, even with other things that are helpful, something like cramp bark even alone can really make a huge difference for somebody.

Then the nutritional aspect, and then the manual and movement therapy aspects. Doing some movement practice on a regular basis and then, certain practices that you can discover that are especially helpful for you. Whether it's hip opener or breathing into your belly, different things at the time of the period would be a good idea.

Thank you. This is wonderful. I'll just mention that we'll put links to these resources on our website. Actually, let me grab my notes and give a little recap. So you've mentioned supplementing with evening primrose oil or black currant seed oil, plus taking the herb cramp bark. You've also mentioned red raspberry leaf tea or a blackberry leaf tea. You also spoke to movement, hip openers or yoga, breathing. And you touched on nutrition, which is a big focus of mine. Can you share even one thing, I know there are so many, but one thing to be mindful of when it comes to diet?

We do have to look at the diet throughout the entire month and make sure that we're getting healthy saturated fats from either animal fats or coconut oil, which make the cell membranes springy as well. So, that's just one aspect. The fats also play into our brains, which are ultimately where we're going to perceive or feel pain.

Perfect, since healthy fats are in style these days. Speaking of making a comeback, Doctor Fromberg, I have got to ask your take on yoni steaming. So for those of us who aren't familiar with it, yoni steaming is an ancient practice that's on-trend right now. Yoni is the Sanskrit word for vagina. Yoni steaming is squatting or sitting over herbal steam and letting it permeate the vagina. What are your thoughts?

So vaginal steaming or yoni steaming is something that a lot of women are getting into nowadays and it can be really helpful with period cramps and pain and other types of symptoms and sensations in the pelvic area and the female anatomy. And so, different herbs can be used and different herbs have different qualities. For example, rose is connected with heart energy. Or chamomile can be soothing to cramping and there's mother wart and even the cramp bark we talked about, they can be ingested as a herbal tincture or supplement. It can be used in steaming of the vaginal and vulvar tissues. What it is, is all of our pores in our body are opening into channels that go to much deeper levels. We really do absorb things through our skin and our vaginal mucosa.

People have probably heard of sublingual, where somebody puts a medication or a substance under their tongue to absorb it. So our vaginas, when we're steaming them, they open up like flowers literally in the vulvar area. And then, the steam is able to penetrate those tissues, both on the outer tissues but also into the vaginal tissues and bring the healing energy of the plants into those areas.

Really, really cool stuff. Thank you. Doctor Fromberg, you also say that you combine the sacred with science. Can you talk a little bit about the emotional tie to period pain?

So, I used to really hesitate about even mentioning spirituality because I thought, "Spiritual stuff? I'm really into science and spiritual stuff people won't think it's real." I think that discovering who we are is really something we can do by going internally and with breathing practices, and looking at the body through an energetic and spiritual perspective, we can gain a lot of wisdom and knowledge that we can bring back into our daily lives and our physical bodies and know how to best proceed.

This is something that Brit mentioned as well, in her story. I think it's probably the most powerful advice. Well, the last thing I'd like to ask you is, what are your thoughts on tampons, in the context of this conversation? I tend to think that tampons cause more cramping. Would you agree?

Many women know this, anecdotally, that wearing a tampon during the period will cause more cramping. It's just because the tampon is creating pressure on the organs and on the ligaments in different ways that can cause more pain.

Wow. I think that can be so helpful to hear. Thank you so, so much, Doctor Fromberg. This has been a pleasure. Please tell us where we can find you.

It has definitely been my pleasure. My website is dredenfromberg.com, D-R-E-D-E-N-F-R-O-M-B-E-R-G.com. I am also excited to announce that I will be opening my flagship centre in the Hudson Valley in Columbia County, New York, sometime in 2019. We're currently building it, but it's going to have a manual and movement therapy studio, medically appointed space where we're going to do things differently and a women's medicinal herb garden and a production facility. So, come steam your yonis with me in upstate New York.

I'll be there. I'll take the roasting, please.

I'm so into trying that, I will be there.

Well, that wraps up today's episode. The topic of period pain is important and one we will continue to explore on the show. For now, we hope the message came through loud and clear. Trust your intuition, what you're feeling is valid and please seek support. What we shared today is meant to be inspiring and empowering and by no means a substitution for a trip to the doctor. We also suggest you check with a qualified practitioner before beginning new supplements. Supplements and herbs can have potential side effects or interactions with other drugs, all of which you should take into consideration.

Just a reminder to get on our newsletter list, to stay up to date with all the Flow Down happenings and to receive special goodies, like recipes for during your period. We'll have a special full moon edition of the newsletter edition this Friday, so you can sign up for that at flowdownpod.com.

The Flow Down is edited by Jessica Weiss and our theme song is Crimson Wave, performed by Taco Cat, courtesy of Hardly Art Records. Additional music used in this episode is by Lobo Loco and John Banrock.

On our next episode, we'll be talking with Rayka Zehtabchi. She's the director of the documentary, Period, End of Sentence, which is currently on the shortlist for an Oscar in the best short documentary category. We'll see you then.

Bye-bye.

Show notes:

From cramps to fibroids to endometriosis, many women suffer from pain around their periods. And the typical response? “Just push through it.” After years of pain and trips to the doctor’s office, writer Britt Julious opens up about her journey to seek answers. And we speak to Dr. Eden Fromberg, a holistic gynaecologist, who shares tips for at-home remedies to try now. The Flow Down is here to validate your pain and provide insight into ways we can better understand our bodies and find solutions.

Resources + links

Periods and the cycle of learned pain in black families - Britt Julious for The Establishment on Medium

University Of Virginia study links disparities in pain management to racial bias

Dr. Fromberg’s general suggestions for getting started with period pain: evening primrose oil, black currant seed oil, cramp bark, red raspberry tea and blackberry tea; animal fats and coconut oil; hip openers and deep belly breathing.

Chapter 6 (“The Uterus”) of Dr. Christiane Northrup’s book, Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom, discusses the role emotions play in period pain.

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