There was a time when I thought discussing my period was "unladylike." I would hide my tampon in the arm of my shirt and speed walk to the bathroom. When I started taking birth control to keep my heavy bleeding at bay, I discreetly took my pill so no one would see it. Oh, how things have changed.
Now, I openly talk about my period and experience with fibroids for two reasons: There is nothing to be ashamed of, and women who deal with fibroids need to know they aren't alone. Studies show 25 percent of Black women will suffer from fibroids by the age of 25. By age 50, 80 percent of Black women will have them. The statistics are disheartening. Especially since fibroids are not only responsible for heavy, painful periods—but the non-cancerous tumors can cause fertility complications as well.
2017 was the year I noticed a change in my cycle. I always had heavy periods, from the moment Mother Nature said hello in my teens. However, the debilitating pain and heavy flow (soaking through an ultra-sized tampon in minutes) was different. I made an appointment with my doctor, who was white and male, to express my concerns. I asked him about fibroids since many of the women in my family had them. He immediately told me—without an ultrasound or any further investigation—there was nothing wrong.
Five months later, I was in the ER. I have since found a Black, female doctor who specializes in caring for women with fibroids. She even performed my myomectomy to remove the apple-sized fibroid and polyp in my uterus.
Sadly, my surgery wasn't a cure for the condition. Though it did help. My pain is still there but my flow isn't as debilitating. Fibroids are a part of many of the lives of Black women I know.
For this reason, I want to share a few of the things that give me a little relief each month. I recognize a couple of products on this list aren't accessible to everyone because of their price points. Wellness, especially when it comes to period relief, shouldn't just be available to those who can afford or budget for it, and I hope the brands I list below are working to remedy that.
Foria Wellness Relief Suppositories with CBD
Until I stumbled across Foria, I didn't know relief alternatives existed. Popping ibuprofen became a large part of my pain management until I tried these. Truthfully, I was a bit of a pessimist about pain alternatives. However, the relief I felt was newsworthy, well, to me. My pain isn't gone completely, but these take it from a ten to a three, especially at night when cramps can get the best of me. Before I move on, I want to acknowledge that this product's price point is frankly, a bit steep—breaking down to about $9 a suppository. For that reason, I use these on my two worst pain days.
Aesthete Golden Milk Tea
Chai tea is my favorite. However, caffeine and dairy are two no-no's for me when my cycle comes to town. As an alternative, I drink turmeric tea. Turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties, and the hot beverage with a teaspoon of honey helps soothe my nausea.
Goodwipes Down There Flushable Wet Wipes
Never underestimate the power of a good wipe when you feel like hell. Each wipe comes individually-wrapped; they are PH-balanced, hypoallergenic, and 100 percent biodegradable.
Hugo Frosch Hot-Water Bottle With Microfiber Cover
I should be a spokesperson for hot water bottles. If you suffer from cramps, you should always have a hot water bottle on standby. Heating pads work well too, but a hot water bottle delivers a different kind of relief. This one is leak-proof, BPA-free, and comes with a two-year water tightness guarantee.
The Good Patch
When I ordered this patch, I had no expectations. I was just excited to see another pain management option on the market. I use the patch in conjunction with my hot water bottle, and while my pain hasn't vanished entirely, I can function. The ability to function is a major milestone in my world. $12 for one patch is pretty pricey. I hope that eventually, these patches will be economically accessible for all.
The Honey Pot Overnight Herbal Menstrual Pads
Bleeding through my underwear and sheets is normal for me, even post-surgery. My flow is so unpredictable. Overnight pads help give me a little peace of mind, even when I'm not sleeping. I appreciate The Honey Pot makes essential oil-infused period care items without artificial ingredients, and they help keep my clothes and sheets protected. I also enjoy supporting a brand that partners with Happy Period, an organization that menstrual hygiene kits to those in need.