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Navigating Chronic Period Pain, with Jennifer Vrouvides, Founder of Your Period Called

Table of Contents

What is your experience with period pain?

My cycle and pain were not always associated. My cramps were not particularly heavy during my younger years, but got significantly worse when I was 16 or so. Sadly it was just a preview of what was to come as every year after that they would get worse. The physical pain was absolutely terrible, a gnawing at your insides which was so horrid. However, there is also this deep mental pain that comes alongside knowing your period is coming. There is a pain in knowing you are going to need to shut down your life for a few days until you balance out again.

Have your beliefs about your period pain evolved over time?

In my experience, and in that of many others I have gotten to know over the years, period pain is a kind of silent suffering. This is less the case now as menstruation is talked about more than ever, but it really wasn’t like this ten years ago. I identify as a pretty open person and until the friends and colleagues I had around me moved to a space where talking about the functions of our bodies was more comfortable and normalized, I was quite silent about it (and so sad!). At times I genuinely wondered if I was dying and just never talked about it. 

My experience with period pain has changed over the past four years because I got an Intrauterine Device (IUD). While one of the main reasons for the IUD was that I was moving from Canada to Europe and wanted convenience while not worrying about pregnancy, knowing my cramps would lessen was a very attractive feature. What I got, however, was incredible chronic pain for 6 months right as I was settling into my new life abroad. My body adjusting to the IUD was like 10 periods in one where I was in pain and bled everyday, for 6 months. I was abroad, scared, didn’t speak the language, and constantly wondered if the pain associated with an IUD was normal or would ever go away. The internet was definitely not my friend at this moment either. 

Period pain and hormonal IUDs

It’s 2021 and our options for reducing period pain without hormones are still so limited, we all know a heat pack will only get you so far.

Once the IUD settled into its new home, there was a year of almost no period, sometimes light cramps, but nothing to write home about. In the past year or so, however, as the IUD is coming toward needing to be changed, the cramps are coming back. I’m already searching for alternatives to the upcoming period cramps as I don’t think I want an IUD again. Having been on the pill for years, I know I don’t want to take that route again either. It’s 2021 and our options for reducing period pain without hormones are still so limited, we all know a heat pack will only get you so far.

My relationship to period pain has changed so much over the past few years. I used to feel like period pain was just part of having a uterus, that cramps are just a downside of the amazing ability to have a child in the future.

That said, the almost two decades of period pain leading up to a pregnancy I might not ever want is something I wish everyone could live without. And in the past little while, I have had a taste of what life was like without the pain. And I tell, you, pal, it is glorious.

I really wish I could go back in time and tell little me that there were alternatives, that the pill is not the only solution.

It came at a cost though, this perk came at the cost of injecting hormones into my body slowly and surely for years after 6 months of unimaginable daily pain. I want more than that for my body, I want hormone-free options for helping embracing this time of the month without disdain. I want more than that for younger people, my friends, my sister, and anyone with a uterus. I really wish I could go back in time and tell little me that there were alternatives, that the pill is not the only solution. I’d tell little me to keep exercising, go to therapy because those were big feelings for a young person to tackle alone, and that eating well is a great way to manage period pain! While those things aren’t by any means a cure-all, they definitely help. I’d also tell myself that ‘your boobs will grow’, don’t worry.


Who influenced your views on menstruation?

I always smile when I’ve been asked ‘who helped shape your views on menstruation’ because it’s not who most people would expect. The most influential person for me and my views on menstruation is my partner, who happens to be male! I made an offhand joke one day about how period cramps were like a woo-girl on a horse with a club in your uterus waving it around and he roared. Between the giggles after my mini dramatic reenactment he said, “I’m so sorry you feel this way, but that was really funny and I think your jokes and way of trying to make light of your cramps would resonate with a lot of people”. Turns out, he was right!

I started learning that cramps were not ‘just the way it is’ and that the pill is not the only solution to period pain.

He encouraged me to actually learn more about the space and connect with other people. From that, the Your Period Called (@yourperiodcalled) Instagram account was born which led me to connect with hundreds of other people in the menstruation space. I started learning that cramps were not ‘just the way it is’ and that the pill is not the only solution to period pain. My mind was blown and my heart was kind of healed, I really wasn’t alone and there were some very smart people coming up with solutions. From there, and after a lot more encouragement from him, I created the Your Period Called website as a place to really connect with both myself as I learn more and help others express themselves. As well as provide a space for factually correct information on menstruation, as well as stories on first periods for young people.

Your Period Called.jpg

How is Your Period Called helping shape the dialogue around menstruation?

As time rolled on, I wanted to be one of those people who helped come up with solutions. While I am no doctor, but do work with many, something that helped me was connecting with other people, sharing stories, learning that there are people fighting for science to recognize the reality of period pain millions experience across the globe. Your Period Called helps to address period pain by tackling the stigma around it through talking about it, helping us giggle at our worst moments to help get us through it. I love connecting and showing the world what amazing writers, non-profits, menstrual product offerings, and cramp solutions there are in the world. 

It finally feels like science is catching up to the need and value of addressing period pain worldwide. Companies like Moonai, for example, are tackling period pain in a way that’s exactly what I’m excited to try. As someone who does not want more hormones, I’m in need of a solution that can be portable, non-intrusive, and actually effective. Period pain is being viewed as something that is real, something that matters, and something that a birth control pill and hot water bottle can’t always be a solution for. 

I’m really excited about the future for those with periods, it’s all up from here. 

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