Welcome to Period Routines, where we spotlight a different member of the LOLA community to learn how they manage their period. We want the ins and outs of their monthly routine — how they feel, how they deal, and what they can’t live without.
Want to share your period routine? Leave a comment below.
Today, we’re sitting down with Chelsea VonChaz, founder and CEO of a nonprofit based in Los Angeles. Chelsea tells us about her natural approach to managing her period, and why she thinks all women should keep a period journal.
Occupation: Founder and CEO of #HappyPeriod, a charitable organization that provides menstrual products to homeless, low-income, and LGBTQ+ communities.
Industry: Nonprofit sector
First Period Story
I got my period when I was ten, at home. I was well-prepped since I’d already gotten the period talk from everyone: my mama, my auntie, my grandma, my teacher. I don’t really remember feeling anything in the moment besides prepared. I just looked down and thought “Oh. Ok…here is this thing.” I told my mom, took a bath and put a pad on and that was it. Afterwards I do remember the feeling of bleeding all day and thinking it felt gross.
I got my period on the weekend, and told my 5th grade teacher when I got to school the next Monday. She was so excited, like “Oh my god, welcome!” She showed me where the extra pads were in her drawer, and told me if I needed anything to let her know. Her name was Miss Lucy Jackson and she was amazing. I wish more teachers made their students feel so comfortable when getting their period for the first time.
My Period Routine
My period hits right at the 30 day mark. She might be here for five to seven days. Before my thirties I was a three to four day bleeder, and now it’s longer. I have always bled light and still bleed light now.
I do get PMS. The shift in my attitude comes first. All the sudden I hate everybody and everything annoys me. Then I feel bloating and discomfort. Followed by really sensitive breasts, especially around the areola and nipple.
When my period arrives, I get cramps and discomfort. Sometimes I get hot — it feels like a hot flash. And there’s a lot of pooping! It can be extreme, because even if my period has already started, and I haven’t gone to the bathroom yet, once I do go it releases a rush of hormones and PMS symptoms. After that I really feel the cramping and bloating.
When I’m on my period I take it as a “pause” and do nothing. Because my period is on a set schedule I’m able to prepare for it. I don’t work out, I take time off work, and I kind of just lay around. I have a lot of friends who are musicians so I’ll listen to this playlist with their music. I’ll take a bubble bath and read. I’ll definitely indulge in cannabis. I’m more into edibles when I’m on my period — they have a higher dosage that helps with the discomfort.
I have a lot of friends who are musicians so I’ll listen to this playlist with their music.
I don’t usually wear clothes during this pause. I’m usually naked (besides period panties), and bound to my room, in the bed. I might wear a robe if I’m walking around, or a big t-shirt. Ruby Love has period swimwear, so in the summer months I’ll just have a swimsuit on. I wear whatever I want to be more comfortable during my period.
Taking a Natural Approach
I have more of a natural, holistic approach to taking care of my body and dealing with PMS. I don’t use over-the-counter medication; instead I medicate with cannabis and CBD.
I also take a lot of power herbs: black cohosh, dong quai, raspberry leaf. Those herbs help with the discomfort, the bloating and headaches. I use a lot of balms that have CBD — I’ll rub it on my stomach, my back, even the top of my vulva. I’ll also put CBD liquid in my tea.
For herbs, I go to a Black-owned business called Nappily Naturals in LA. It’s an amazing apothecary. They have everything and the quality of their herbs is great. I buy a bunch, brew all of it and drink it as a tea.
I may resort back to a liner on my lightest days, depending on what I have on. But otherwise, period panties are my number one thing. I will still try out products — Hello Cup is a good menstrual cup because it comes in lots of sizes — but nothing beats the comfort of laying around inside and free bleeding.
My hack is keeping track of my own period. I’ve kept a period journal for the last two years. I’ve had fibroids for a long time — they are really small and didn’t require surgery, but they were causing me discomfort. I was so triggered by going to the OBGYN and having her only recommendation for dealing with my fibroids be birth control. I’m not anti-birth control, but there are these other factors like diet and lifestyle that contribute to health issues and I wanted to take a different approach to my treatment.
So I started to take notes. I put everything in this journal to monitor my own process with fibroids. This was when I got into herbs. I kept track of my symptoms, my blood flow, what happened when I modified my diet and herbal treatment. I was really mindful about it, and it ultimately helped me discover a natural way to manage my fibroids and symptoms.
Keeping a period journal is something I really want more women to do. It really tripped out my doctors, that I had my own notes. It helped me advocate for my body, to show them my notes about my symptoms and how they changed as I tried different things. I want people to take charge of their own health, and hold their doctors accountable. It’s about finding the treatment that works best for you.
— As told to LOLA. Illustrations by Eugenia Mello