From the day of my menarche and over the following 27 years, I had always suffered with difficult painful periods. They were so bad that friends could tell the moment a menstruation appeared. I’d go pale, quiet followed by being doubled over in pain. I couldn’t face going out anywhere, let alone socialising. I would self medicate with the strongest pain relief medication I could find, if there was nothing strong around, that would mean triple or quadrupling up on weaker medication. I knew this would be causing potential damage with my liver and gut, but I didn’t know of any other way to live through this. Filling up with painkillers just made me like a zombie for a day or two, but at least I got pain relief for a few hours.
GP appointment after GP appointment back then resulted in trying every different form of contraceptive pill on the market. That was really the only way that the western medical profession and anyone else knew how to deal with dysmenorrhea at the time. That and a hysterectomy in your 40s. The contraceptive pills did not agree with me at all. They started to have an effect on my mental health. Paranoia so bad, that I would walk into a room and believe everyone had just stopped talking about me. And I still had to experience pain. The GPs just didn’t know what to do.
At one appointment, in desperation, I was sent to the local drug advice service, all because I had mentioned that I had smoked cannabis ‘back in the day’. It was almost like a light had come on in th GPs eyes. He became convinced that was the reason why my dysmenorrhea was so bad (conveniently forgetting that it had been this way from the start) and that I needed drug counselling from something I did years ago. It’s also worth mentioning here that a great colleague and friend of mine in the UK once told me she was advised to wear track suit bottoms by her GP, to help her dysmenorrhea!
I went for my appointment at the drugs counselling service. The therapist couldn’t understand why I was there and neither could I. The confusion in her eyes when I explained why I had been referred was priceless. There was nothing she could do for my period pains, she said. After a lovely chat she suggested that I become a therapist too. Maybe I will, I thought.
That was the last time that I used the conventional medicine approach for my problem. It has never been asked about or mentioned again by any GP in the 13 years since. I immediately stopped taking the contraceptive pill and never suffered with paranoia ever again
The years rolled on and I truly feared my menstruation times. I tried many natural approaches, acupressure, supplements, tinctures, reiki, frequency therapy – all with short term effects.
I started experimenting with clean eating, vegetarianism, veganism, Gerson technique, and whilst all these made quite an improvement on my condition, I was still experiencing levels of pain that wiped me out.
Whilst I was studying Kinesiology, I mentioned my condition to my tutor. This resulted in me taking a day trip whilst on a period, flying out to Gatwick early in the morning, for a 2 hour appointment with my tutor in Epsom and taking the last flight home. The treatment she did actually reignited hope in me.
I arrived sore, tired and just wanting to curl up in bed instead of having to navigate through airports, planes and taxis. I lay on the bed, my tutor used Kinesiology testing techniques and discovered that my uterus was out of balance. She then applied the Kinesiology technique to balance the uterus. If you’ve ever had this done, which plenty of my clients have by me, you will know that this is not the most relaxing or pleasant of techniques. Especially when you’re in the midst of a horrible period. When she finished, I lay there feeling no different. And then I sat up and got off the bed and… ALL THE PAIN WAS GONE! I couldn’t believe it! I was overjoyed and returned home full of positivity.
The following two menstruations were more bearable. Since that treatment 6 years ago, my pain has gone from every day of the menstruation, to only the first 2 days and a bit of discomfort on the last day. Even though the length of time in discomfort reduced, the level of pain returned. Except now, I had hope that something could be done.
I started noticing that now when I changed my eating styles, the benefits lasted a little bit longer. That’s when the piece of the puzzle started to fit. If something is only temporarily beneficial, then there is also something else going on. For example, before when I cut out sugar and practiced clean eating, the pain only reduced slightly and would return a month later. After the uterine balance, eating clean reduced the pain even more and benefited me for about 3 months.
For the next few years I concentrated experimenting with different ways that foods affected my period pain, different herbs, vitamins and tinctures, expensive frequency therapy sessions. I had reflexology to determine which ovary was causing the issue. I used acupuncture to give me immediate relief. Liver and gallbladder cleanses to start cleaning up the hormonal system. I explored the emotional underlying issues of dysmenorrhea (of which there are many), working through past traumas and defunct beliefs, bit by bit. However, I still needed to take a lot of painkillers, albeit for the first two days of a menstruation and my periods were now getting heavier. Still making myself a zombie, barely existing and just wishing I could curl up and rest.
Eventually I quit my software development career to become a full-time natural therapist. Now I was my own boss, I planned to take time off when it was my period. This new idea didn’t happen. I felt guilty taking time off, I felt I was under pressure from the males in my life to keep on going through it, I felt like I would let people down. I felt embarrassed, ashamed and weak having to explain why I wanted a few days a month off.
Then, in March 2020, lockdown happened and all of a sudden I had time. Time to think, time to ask for help, time to heal.
I was about to start yet another period and I mentioned my problems to a friend of mine in the UK. What happened next changed my periods for good.
My friend explained that if the menstruation issues were not dealt with at this point in my life, this would be carried on into menopause and could feel 10 times worse. It was like a switch had been flicked in my head. I took notice and truly realised I needed to work harder at this.
Over the phone she took me through a Female Ancestral Healing process that I immediately felt the physical effects of. In that call I realised that I feared my womb and the years of fear had left me with a disassociation to my womb. After the healing process I felt physically different, more connected and the fear I had was gone. For the first time ever, my abdomen felt relaxed. She suggested certain herbs and a daily practice to do, which I did religiously. Then she told me of a book, and it is this book that also changed EVERYTHING. From that phone call, I have been pain relief medication free during my periods for the past 12 months. To my friend Joanna, I will forever be grateful for what you did that day.
The book my friend suggested was called Wild Power by Alexandra Pope and Sjanie Hugo Wurlitzer. Alexandra and Sjanie run the Red School in the UK.
The Red School is a radical approach to women’s health helping menstruating, peri-menopausal, menopausal and post-menopausal women. Every woman’s experience of the Red School is different, individual and unique.
The gift that the school gave me was the confidence and the mindset to stand firm in my power, to realise that I am a woman, I have cyclic energies and processes and these must be respected. To continue living and working in a linear fashion, always on the go, putting up with it, carrying on when I felt crap, being superwoman to family, friends, colleagues and clients, feeling afraid to ask for a couple of days off, was detrimental to health.
Through working and truly understanding my cycle, I suddenly had more confidence, energy, I could get more done plus have my 3-4 days ‘woman cave’ time with no detrimental effects to my family life and business. Suddenly I was getting more done in 3 weeks than I ever could in 4. The financial losses I was so worried about never happened, in fact they improved greatly. The males in my life stopped asking why I was taking a few days off and stopped repeating the mantra ‘you need to get this sorted’. I became so much happier.
My working month now consists of:
- 3-4 days of ME time. No projects, no work, reduced/minimum chores. Replenishing and re-nurturing. My hibernation time. My inner Winter time. Some periods I get to do nothing, others there’s jobs to do, that’s life after all, and so I keep them to an absolute minimum.
- 3 weeks of using that new fresh Yang energy, built up in those 3-4 days of hibernation, to work 10-12 hours a day (I work a 4 day week)
- 2-3 days of slowly winding down, reducing my hours, as that Yin energy rises and I slowly prepare to come back into my inner Winter time for those 3-4 days of Me time.
I also discovered that the menstruation is a monthly health report of what is going on inside my body and mind. All cycles are normal cycles telling you what’s going on with the hormones, liver, gut, with feelings of self worth and our thoughts about our place and purpose in life.
I now have more energy than I’ve ever had before, I’m more calm and relaxed, I’m happier and confident. I very rarely get pains, and if I do, they are nowhere near as bad as they used to be and I just sit with it and the pain takes about an hour to pass. An hour! I now recognise that when I’m stressed, my pains increase. My periods are no longer super heavy, they’ve become more manageable, fresher and light. Now I can really feel the difference in other areas of my life when I practice clean eating, the benefits last longer. As peri-menopause approaches on the horizon, I’m confident that I am doing everything I can to help myself through the upcoming transformation, by healing my menstruation now.
Through this long journey, I now support girls and women who suffer with similar issues. Working with them, helping them to become aware of this amazing inner cycle, energy and power that they have within them. Working on any disassociation issues between the mind and the womb, building confidence in their menstruations, emotional coaching, female ancestral healing, pointing them in the right directions to those who can help with the many multi-layered aspects of truly healing the womb. The womb is a truly powerful organ and healing her needs to be approached from many different angles, requiring the help of multiple talented therapists. We also need to respect that we are human beings, not robots, and just like this planet, we too have seasons and cycles that need to be worked with.
Pain relief medication free from my menstruations for 1 year and proud.
Dedicated to all those special women in my life who helped me on this journey.