Menstruation is a regular occurrence for half of the world’s population, so why are period problems rarely discussed out in the open?
Like many conditions that fall under the umbrella of “women’s” health, period issues are historically under-researched and under-diagnosed. Due to cultural stigmas, they’re often considered embarrassing or inappropriate to disclose. But we need to be talking about this. Painful or irregular periods can get in the way of a person’s ability to function normally — and that’s a huge problem since people with uteruses typically get their period every month until perimenopause.
Some common period issues, like cramps, are easily treated with at-home remedies or over-the-counter pain relievers. But severe pain or emotional distress during your period may signal a more serious medical issue.
One such condition is endometriosis, a reproductive health disorder in which tissue similar to that of the uterine lining grows outside of a person’s uterus. According to Mayo Clinic, this incurable condition can result in a range of uncomfortable and potentially debilitating symptoms — including, you guessed it, excruciatingly painful periods.
Endometriosis, or endo, affects an estimated 11 percent of American women ages 15–44. However, many people who have this condition suffer silently or struggle to get an accurate diagnosis. Too often, their period pain is written off as “just part of being a woman.”
And then there’s premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), another period-related condition. Johns Hopkins Medicine characterizes PMDD as a much more severe form of premenstrual syndrome, or PMS. People with PMDD typically experience a mix of distressing psychological symptoms — such as anxiety, depression, irritability, severe fatigue, or suicidal thoughts. These physiological issues often take place during the week before and a few days after their period begins. They, too, often go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed.
Again, endo and PMDD are just two examples of period problems. It’s important to normalize conversations about periods so that nobody has to suffer in silence.
The stigmas surrounding period talk are still alive and well, but in recent years, they’ve begun to erode. Notably, celebrities like Lena Dunham, Halsey, and Dakota Johnson have used their platforms to speak openly about their period problems. Their candid comments are inspiring others to seek help if they struggle with painful, irregular, or otherwise disconcerting periods.
Read on to learn more about nine celebrities who’ve opened up about their period problems.