‘If men had periods, they’d have found a cure for the pain by now.’ So said my mother to a 12 year old me in agony and taking days off school to deal with horrific cramps.
Millions of women suffer from hideously painful periods each month, an issue which many feel has not been afforded the importance it might, particularly when those pains can signal greater complications.
FOUNDER: Le’Nise Brothers
Indeed, a report earlier this year from an All Party Parliamentary Group on Women’s Health found that 40% of women with endometriosis needed 10 GP appointments or more before being referred and, worryingly, that 67% of women said they got most of their information from the internet.
Whilst there is no cure for endometriosis and it can be difficult to treat, unforgivably slow pathways to care combined with feeling dismissed, ignored and not taken seriously, its no surprise that many are seeking additional support outside the NHS to combat symptoms.
We spoke to Le’Nise Brothers – registered Naturopathic Nutritional Therapist and Founder of Eat, Love, Move. Passionate about breaking the taboos around grown-up women’s health and helping women understand their hormones, Le’Nise works with women who struggle with low energy, hormonal issues such as PMS, PCOS, endometriosis, perimenopause, menopause and fertility. ‘No-one should have painful periods. Its not normal to have PMS and, amongst other things, I want to get rid of that myth.’
Having spent years working in media agencies, once pregnant Le’Nise, like so many women, suddenly found the landscape of her career was changing. She resigned, began freelancing then took the decision to turn her passion for food and well-being into a business and qualified at the London College of Naturopathic Medicine.
Working online or face-to-face with women who have issues surrounding their periods, hormones or menopause, Le’Nise made a conscious decision to work with women over 30, many of whom feel they have been short-changed by the NHS.
‘Women come to me after being diagnosed with varying conditions. Most commonly they are tired, gave birth a short while ago and don’t feel the same or at least, as they thought they would.’
After a 20 minute initial session, discussing problems and client’s vision for their health, Le’Nise talks through how they can work together. Her diet plans are all bespoke to the client, timed and targeted. Clients range from those preparing for a donor embryo transplant, to those suffering from perimenopause and not knowing what to eat or how to use food to get to grips with hot flashes.
‘I have one client and I am delighted every time I see her. She came to me originally with horrendous PMS – 7 days before her period she lost who she was. She has two children and felt completely depleted. We worked to improve and get rid of her PMS and balance out her periods. After just 2 weeks she had her period and – for the first time – hadn’t known it was coming. She got back to who she was. She then decided to have another child.’
Let’s hope for all our sakes that we are working towards a time when all pain will be taken as seriously as a broken bone.
What is – or has been – your greatest struggle? Learning how to incorporate the role of mother into my identity and not letting it define me. I love being a mother, but I am more than just a mother.
What did you want to be when you were growing up? A journalist. I nearly went to journalism school, before I did a complete 180 and decided to teach English in Japan instead! I still love to write and love the power of the written word. I blog regularly, as part of my mission to help women improve their health and understand their hormones.
Best advice ever received and from whom? There’s no such thing as luck, just a lot of hard work.
Who do you most admire? Michelle Obama. She has never lost her sense of humour, despite dealing with so much slander and abuse as First Lady. I can’t wait to see what she does next.
What keeps you up at night? I have so many ideas for different directions to take my business and my brain often fizzes with all the ideas I have. A good bedtime routine helps me wind down and turn off my brain.
When were you happiest? I’m always happiest when I spend concentrated time with my little family, whether it’s exploring different parts of London or going on holiday together. Second to that, I’m always happy when I get to swim in the sea. Something about being in the water makes me go totally zen.
Favourite object you possess? Can I choose three? 1. My yoga mat. I do yoga nearly every day and without my yoga practice, I would be less calm and less centred. 2. My kitchen knives. I believe that everyone has capacity to make a simple, nutritious meal, and it starts with a good, sharp knife. 3. My camera. I love taking photographs and finding new ways to see the world.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse? How many portions of vegetables have you had today? How much water have you drunk? Be honest!
What is the most important lesson life has taught you? I can’t do everything myself, no matter how much I’d like to. It’s important to accept and embrace help from those around me.
What is your guiltiest pleasure? Pleasures should never be guilty! I’m a huge advocate of self-care and doing things that bring me pleasure in order to ‘fill my cup’ so that I can be a better mother and wife.
What change do you hope for in your lifetime? Gender and racial equality and an end to the destruction of the environment.
Who might help you next? Any female founders who have experience scaling a tech product.
Please recommend a brilliant female-led brand or business you have used recently.
I love Loom, a female-led reproductive hub based in LA. I also love Primal Pantry bars, set up by Suzie Walker and LA Brewery Kombucha, set up by Louise Avery.