Silent Struggle: Navigating Endometriosis & Period Pain

Silent Struggle: Navigating Endometriosis & Period Pain

by Bontle Moka

Hey, Qraters!

Remember the stress you had to deal with at school when they started introducing the alphabet and Greek into mathematics while navigating all the things you were probably experiencing for the first time, like a crush, your first party, or breakouts on your face? Imagine dealing with all that AND the stress of a doctor telling you one day that you might need to fall pregnant as a teenager because you could be faced with a condition that could lead to infertility in the future and that you need to do so before your 21st birthday. It sounds like a Disney princess born with a curse, doesn’t it? 

Well, dealing with the Pythagoras Theory wasn’t exciting at all, but dealing with painful periods as a young girl was a nightmare and did feel like a curse put on me by some evil wicked witch, at least in hindsight, because at the time I thought it was completely normal and that it was everyone else’s experience. It turns out, almost 15 years after my first period, it was the beginning of a journey of dealing with endometriosis. 

Photo by Changbok Ko on Unsplash

As a parent, hearing a doctor tell your teenager that pregnancy might be a cure or solution to painful periods or potential future infertility is not easy. It seems straightforward to simply walk away and dismiss the doctor, but what happens if the doctor is right about the symptoms that eventually could lead to infertility in the future and does? Knowing what to do before it even gets that far can help so many young menstruators, and knowing what to look out for can make a huge difference and hopefully help get an early diagnosis and treatment, or possibly prevent it altogether. 

For those that don’t know, “Endometriosis is a disease in which tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows outside the uterus.” It is a whole-body disease that affects over 190 million people worldwide, and some of the symptoms include painful, heavy periods, severe bloating, nausea, fatigue, back, leg, and knee pain, and painful sex, which can lead to infertility. However, as a young girl, one is still getting to know one’s own body, and when you’re told “period equals pain,” you kind of just go with it. At times, you may tolerate more pain than normal, and although pain is common, it is not normal. 

I remember sharing with friends at times that I dealt with painful periods, but I knew something was quite off because I started my period quite young, and through the years I had seen doctors so frequently, all related to the same thing, something to do with my cycle. It was a painful, tiring, EXPENSIVE experience. Although I found healing through homeopathic remedies, changes in diet and nutrition, various pain medications, and a strengthened walk with God, it is still an uphill battle, and I am still on a healing journey as I still struggle with pain, infertility, and some of the unseen symptoms of this condition. 

Now, while some period pain and discomfort are normal, it’s important to recognize when your body might be signalling something more. Here’s a quick guide on what to look out for: 

  • Chronic Pelvic Pain with consistent pain that extends beyond menstruation and occurs at other times of the month 
  • Severe and prolonged pain that disrupts daily activities 
  • Heavy bleeding that requires frequent changes of sanitary products
  • Gastrointestinal Issues such as bloating, constipation, or diarrhoea
  • Fatigue that causes unexplained tiredness that persists throughout the menstrual cycle and beyond
  • Any Dizziness, Nausea, or Vomiting 
  • Family History can also play a role, along with the symptoms 
Signs Your Period Cramps Aren’t Normal by Parents

It might seem obvious to look out for symptoms that you can easily see, such as a painful period or heavy bleeding, because you might be curled up in a ball during that time, and if not, you might seem cranky because you still have to show up for that math class you’ve probably been dreading, but now you’re worried about the pain, or will there be a leak? Will the painkillers help? All that and managing the hormonal imbalances that you’re not even sure how to deal with yet. However, there is so much more to look out for than what’s on the surface, which is why endometriosis is known as one of the most painful ‘invisible illnesses’, which many consider a disability because of how crippling it can be. The impact is more than just physical, it can cause depression, anxiety, brain fog and so much more, which requires patience, a good support system, encouraging open conversations, and advocating for further investigations such as pelvic exams, ultrasounds, or laparoscopic procedures.

Early intervention and medical attention are crucial for managing endometriosis effectively. Remember to always keep a detailed account of symptoms; consult a healthcare professional; but don’t rush with treatment options; always get a second and maybe third opinion if you and normalise conversations about your period with friends, family, at home, and school, in different spaces to reduce stigma and create safe spaces for discussions that could help many young menstruaters get the help they need and avoid a long journey or dealing with chronic pain as adults. 

Written by Bontle Moka.

Bontle Moka is an Endometriosis Advocate and founder of Endometriosis South Africa. Follow her for insights and personal experiences. Explore her journey and gain valuable perspectives.

Qraters’ Voices: Let’s Create the Change we want to see

Qraters’ Voices: Let’s Create the Change we want to see

Hi my name is Faeeza Lok.

I am the founder of Voice of the People Movement. Voice of the People Movement was launched this year in April and our goal is to build stronger communities.

The Voice of the People Movement Team
The VOTP team out in Tembisa doing their FIRST community programme! Go team!

We recently launched our first community programme called the Community Enhancement Program (CEP). It was borne out of the belief in order for us to create a better world, we need to create a stronger community and we do that by enhancing the way we connect and relate with each other in the truest sense of Ubuntu.

Strong communities talk to each other and for the past 7 days, we went door to door in Tembisa. We listened and learned from community members on the challenges they face so that we can co-create solutions together. Through that experience I wanted to share THREE things I have learned from the program.

1) The pandemic has shown us we are all intrinsically linked with one another.

All of us share common aspirations- we all want to live in peace and security; to be educated, to work with dignity, to love our families and our communities. we should not be distracted by our differences, rather celebrate our commonalities. That should be the driving force behind our collective vision.

2) The future we want to create requires us to use our imaginations and be open to learn, unlearn and relearn.

The one thing which is constant is change, but when you are open to growth, you see every challenge in front of you as a way to grow and develop as a person, rather than a hinderance. Through this program, we saw positive behaviour change in our team leading and creating change around themselves and their environment independently. When you choose to grow as a person, we grow as a community.

The Voice of the Community Movement interacting with local community members

3) Change is always possible when people feel they are involved and listened to.

Feedback and knowledge sharing is part of our culture. We involve community members to co-create solutions and provide feedback on how we can improve as a movement. The goal of every organization is not to solve problems but to make the organization better, we make the organization better but creating a culture of inclusivity. We must be mindful that every voice is involved in the conversation, that every person feels comfortable to join in and offer his or her own perspective. Therefore creating a feeling of belonging and inclusion for everyone in the community.

4) Innovation is not the search for one big idea but the ability to implement small ideas which have a powerful cumulative impact.

As simple and small as starting a WhatsApp group. If you want to learn more about how grassroots organization work, if you want to become a community organiser, a change maker in your community, being part of a grassroots organiser is an opportunity to network, upscale and create change. Let’s help make South Africa better, let’s grow our community together.

Join us and let’s continue to commit ourselves to the future that we want to see.

About the Author

Faeeza Lok is a social entrepreneur, a bunny chow lover and the founder of Voice of the People Movement. Her ambition is to seek partnerships with more organisations to bring equality for all under represented persons.

Follow VOTP on social media:

Join their WhatsApp Group: +27 73 411 0046 | Instagram: @voice_za Facebook: Twitter: @votp_za Tik Tok: @votp_za

Mindfulness for Kids

Mindfulness for Kids

Mindfulness for kids

Mental health conditions are common worldwide, the World Health Organization says one in four people in the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives. It is therefore important that we take care of our mental wellbeing as it affects every aspect of our life, from emotional wellbeing to even physical wellbeing. It is important to understand that mental wellness affects your physical body. 

Mindfulness and Mental Health

The uses of mindfulness meditation are to prevent a relapse in major depression and for managing mental health conditions like stress, anxiety, sleeping disorders and even eating disorders.

Mindfulness meditation is a practice that teaches us to experience the current moment and how to integrate that awareness into our everyday life. Through mindfulness meditation we are aware of our thoughts, we learn to capture racing thoughts and analyze them thoroughly, let go of negativity and calm our mind and body. 

“There is no doubt, that there is a stigma attached to both these two. Mental health and mindfulness. People with mental health are often deemed as weak while mindfulness is shunned upon because let’s be honest confronting our thoughts and emotions can sometimes be scary… but it shouldn’t. We can either be a prisoner to our thoughts or we can hold them captive and control them.” 

Mindfulness and meditation are normally not associated with kids or teenagers but if we think about it stressful times come at us from the day we are born; infants get hungry, toddlers want expensive toys, teenagers get bullied. These are only a few examples but the point is from the moment we are born, life can get more stressful. 

 “Mindfulness is a learned practice. We get better at it in time.”

My belief is that if children and the youth learn this practice from as early as possible, the next generation will see a major drop in the rate of mental health conditions, which will actually lead to a drop in a lot of social issues affecting both children and adults today.

Here is a video below on the importance of teaching children Mindfulness. 

Mindfulness for Kids: What does being present mean?

Mindfulness - racing thoughts
Racing thoughts and overwhelming situations oftentimes feel like a fast train that seems impossible to stop.

Here’s a common technique to help us be present and stop racing thoughts and be more calm in our day to day lives, it’s ironically called the STOP technique. 

S – Stop everything that you are doing, pause for a minute

T – Take a few deep breaths, focus on breathing, follow your breath coming in and out of your nose

O – Observe your posture, mentally, emotionally and physically without judgment, this meaning just as it is, accept them. Then reflect on what is on your mind, notice your emotions for what they are and their effect on your body, also notice that thoughts are not facts and not permanent

P – Proceed with something that will cement this moment, ie, talk to someone who calms you or someone you love a friend or family, shake it off, rub your shoulders, rotate and relax them.

There is a lot of opportunities in the day to STOP, and you will definitely get better at it in time just give it a try and let’s be a more mindful, mentally aware and well generation QRATERs. 


Blessing Nemakanga aka Bleh is Qrate’s Public Relations intern doing her final year towards a Public Relations degree. She prides herself in Bringing Love Everywhere However (BLEH) today it’s through raising mindfulness-awareness. 

The Beginners Guide to Gender Equality

The Beginners Guide to Gender Equality

By Mangaliso Ngomane

When this all blows over you will have picked up a host of new habits if you have been following QRATE on Social Media and the recent #TogetherAtHome campaign, you’ll definitely gain some new skills. 

Today let’s talk a bit about equality. What is equality? Equality is the state of being equal, especially in status, rights or opportunities. Qrate, for example, aims to promote equality through various programmes with a focus, particularly on gender.

If you believe in gender equality then believe it or not: YOU are a feminist.

Photo by Jen Theodore on Unsplash - equality
Photo by Jen Theodore on Unsplash

I am Mangaliso Ngomane. And I am a Feminist. Forget what you’ve heard, men can also be feminists because all that Feminism is simply is a belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. This theory extends to the political, economic and social equality of the sexes.

Gender equality means that the different behaviours, aspirations, and needs of women and men are considered, valued and favoured equally. It respects the differences of the two and does not mean that women and men have to become the same, but that their rights, responsibilities, and opportunities will not depend on whether they are born male or female.

Gender equality is the concept that all human beings are free to develop their personal abilities and make choices without the limitations set by stereotypes, rigid gender roles and prejudices. That’s my favorite definition of it. Gender equality is freedom and freedom that is only for some is not freedom at all.

 “Gender equality is not just about equal opportunity but it is also about shedding some light on discrimination.

For example, a boy is not entitled to a better education than a girl, but all children have the right to quality education. A woman will become pregnant and a man will not, this is not grounds for unfair advantage with regards to payment and promotion in the workplace.

So serious is the issue of gender equality that it is number three on the list of Millenium Development Goals (MDGs). This is the world’s big to-do list of urgent issues to attend to by the year 2015. The world has met considerable progress with regard to meeting that goal.

My First Book of Feminism (for boys) - equality
Suggested Reading: My First Book of Feminism (for boys) by Julie Merberg

However even though society has made great strides from where we were only 100 years ago, there is still so much to be done. Even in 2020, women around the world still have to fight daily, at home and at work, to overcome gender inequality.

“Men are an important voice because these women do not live alone and discriminate against each other in isolation. Often it is men reinforcing these stereotypes and discriminatory behaviors by choosing to look away or not say anything.”

In her article, This is What a (Male) Feminist Looks Like, Heather K Adams rounded up five traits of a man who does not just use the feminist tag as a shield. Remember we’re all in this together and neither gender is “better” than the other. 

So gentlemen, here is the list: 

1. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
A man that is truly interested in being informed about an issue will show it by asking questions, don’t assume you already have the answers.

2. Listen closely.
Do not roll your eyes when you get an explanation of why something is important.

3. Learn. 
Show your commitment by paying attention.

4. Change. 
Being a Feminist is a process that involves learning and growth.

5. Try.
The Feminist man isn’t perfect, no one is, but he does all of the above all the time because the work of a Feminist is never over. Never stop trying.

You don’t have to start out by saying how much of a man you are or by asserting your masculinity before announcing your alliance with femininity. The idea isn’t about your gender at all. But your genuine belief in social justice and equality.

Gentlemen, if you run a race and win do you still feel like a real winner if your opponent ran and lost with an injury?

We’ll talk again about this very broad topic but until then check your privilege Qraters! And Stay Home. Stay Safe. 

Mangaliso Ngomane is Qrates Public Relations Intern. Mangaliso is a 27-year-old traditional man with a modern mindset. He is creative, but in today’s world who isn’t? His quest to make a change has to lead him here.

Mangaliso Ngomane - equality
Mangaliso Ngomane
Climate Change

Climate Change

climate change

The single resource that is aiding your life is being brutally damaged. Your dreams, aspiration, and ambitions are at stake. Your future is being deeply compromised. Why? The climate is changing- dramatically.

Humans are filling the earth with a MASSIVE amount of Greenhouse Gases. These are released from the burning of fossil fuels such as coal. As insignificant as it seems, this is destroying water and food sources, drying up the rivers but also making the levels of the sea rise, resulting in extremely hot and cold weather with sometimes less rain or very heavy rain. Essentially, our Earth is behaving in a strange and unprecedented manner. Scariest of all, our world leaders aren’t taking this seriously and doing anything to stop this. In 10 years, the effects of climate change could be completely irreversible. 

Industries and businesses that release large amounts of greenhouse gases such as coal-generated electricity are making their profits from literally destroying the earth and people’s lives. In South Africa’s case, we’ve experienced the drought in the Cape, the flooding in Kwa-Zulu Natal and most recently Covid-19. We’re also seeing a sharp rise in the cost of living and economic decline. Life is becoming more difficult. 

Climate change is THE defining threat of our time thus we need to take radical, drastic and urgent measure to protect humanity- you, I, your mother, partner, and their dog. But the youth will be most severely affected. Thus, it becomes a great responsibility of ours to repair the Earth. 

The youth should seek to galvanize itself into concerted Climate Action. Guess what? By reading this, you’ve participated in some climate action- you’ve gained some knowledge about the climate crisis. The next step could be to share this knowledge or research any questions that might have come up for you. This Youtube Video is a good start to introducing people to Climate Change. 

Climate Change: Crash Course for Kids

Once you find yourself taking these basic steps, you can encourage more people to become aware of the implications of climate crisis who can then also take action! It will take all 7 billion people of the world collectively adapting their lifestyles to fully combat climate change. These lifestyle changes could be eating less meat and using fewer plastic bags. 

Here are some guidelines on how to speak to kids about climate change are perhaps the most helpful. These include:

Kids aged 4-6: Be a good role model

– Talk about the environmentally-friendly things you do every day, like recycling, riding your bike, choosing public transport or having a more plant-based diet.
– By taking green action together now, you will have great answers as to how you fight climate change when your child is old enough to ask.
– Children rely on their parents. Don’t lie to them about the problems but always reassure your child that there are grown-ups handling the issues and keep your own concerns to yourself.

Kids aged 7-8: Instill hope and stay positive

– When asked a climate-related question, make sure you understand which answer your child is searching for to avoid letting your own concerns affect your answer.
– If you want to start a conversation about climate change yourself, start by asking ‘What do you know about climate change?’
– Don’t lie to them about the problems.

This kind of collective action will present a brilliant opportunity for us to connect with our peers, families, communities and the larger world by essentially recycling and minimizing wastage of stuff such as food and water. 


climate change

Written by:

Raeesah Noor-Mohammed (17) 

Munnira Katongole (16)