bright girl health

Meet Demi Spaccavento

 

I recently had the pleasure of chatting with passionate women’s health educator, author and high school teacher, Demi Spaccavento from Bright Girl Health.

She has presented to thousands of students across NSW Australia, helping them to be in tune with their body and never have to dread their period again. Demi has no filter when it comes to talking about period and believes that we should never be kept in the dark about our own bodies. She believes that the menstrual cycle does not have to be your enemy – it can be your greatest tool for better health and wellbeing!

 

the bright girl guide

1. Can you tell us a little about Bright Girl Health & why you created it? 

Bright Girl Health was born when I was looking into contraception for myself in my early 20s. Being a health conscious person, I wasn’t comfortable with taking a daily hormonal contraceptive with a list of side effects longer than most people realise. So I started reading and researching, and found fertility awareness. More than fertility awareness being a viablae method of contraception, learning fertility awareness taught me SO MUCH about my hormones, their role, how I can use them to my advantage, and how my menstrual cycle worked. I hadn’t learnt any of this information as a teen, or even in my early 20’s. 

I was kind of angry that no one had taught me this basic and really helpful information about my own body! Once I learned about my hormones and menstrual cycle more in depth it completely transformed the way I related to my menstrual cycle – I could accurately predict my next period and support my hormones so my period was on time, every time. Most importantly though, I now had a love and appreciation for my body that I didn’t have before.

I believed that this knowledge needed to be taught in schools to teenagers. As a teacher myself, I decided I wanted to develop a program where students learn the skills to appreciate their body and have better hormonal health.

2. Are there any common symptoms or conditions you are seeing a trend in amongst teenage girls right now? 

Some of the most prominent health concerns I have seen are based around body image and self esteem, mental health, and menstrual symptoms. A HUGE concern around health with young girls is how often their extreme period symptoms are dismissed as being ‘normal’.

Period pain is a way our body speaks to us, and extreme PMS symptoms are ways our body tells us it needs more support. Absent periods are one of our body’s ways of crying out for us to pay attention to it! Often with teenagers, the message from doctors and parents is that they just need to put up with their period symptoms because they’re common. But just because something is common, it doesn’t mean it is healthy. Period symptoms shouldn’t interfere with our everyday life.

My aim is to encourage teens to LISTEN to their bodies, and if their gut feeling is telling them that something is not quite right, they need to connect with a practitioner who specialises in women’s health and hormones. Not all practitioners specialise in these areas, so take the time to find someone who is willing to investigate and address the root cause of your period symptoms.

3. What sort of things do you talk about in your presentations? 

Bright Girl Health presentations are fun menstrual and reproductive health programs that equip young girls with the tools to understand their bodies and make better health choices. The students learn about:

– How the menstrual cycle really works –

– Our reproductive hormones and their role in making periods happen –

– How to use their hormones to their ADVANTAGE –

– How to accurately predict when their next period is coming (BBT tracking a cervical fluid observations) –

– Why we get period pain, PMS, heavy periods, missing periods and acne –

– How to use diet and lifestyle choices to support hormone balance and have a better period –

– The impact and side effects of hormonal contraception –

– How to identify PCOS and endometriosis, and what these conditions are –

– How to get the best help from medical professionals and advocate for answers –

4.  What are some common menstrual misconceptions you are often seeing amongst students?

Some of the common misconceptions around menstrual health I see are:

  1. How many holes do we have down there?

  2. Can a tampon get lost inside me?

  3. The pill fixes your period symptoms

  4. You can’t swim on your period

  5. It is possible to get pregnant every day of the month

  6. Bad period pain is just part of having a period and it’s normal

  7. Discharge means i have an infection

  8. Having a period means you can’t play sport

  9. You can’t get pregnant during your period

  10. You can get pregnant every day of your cycle

  11. Period should come exactly every 28 days

  12. You can only wear tampons if you’ve had sex

  13. Period pain is normal and you just have to put up with it

  14. You can’t have sex on your period

5. What sort of improvements have you seen in schools around menstrual awareness and education?

I see schools starting to make an effort to include more sustainable menstrual hygiene products into their lessons, exposing teens to things like menstrual cups, reusable pads and period-proof underwear.

With increased talk about the impact of single use items on the environment, more teens than ever are actually VERY interested in reusable menstrual hygiene options. We can use up to 11,000 disposable pads/tampons over a lifetime, and conventional pads and tampons can take up to 300-500 years to break down in the environment. Sustainable hygiene options are extremely vital to be exposing students to!

‘The Bright Girl Guide’ book and ebook  is the perfect resource for students to learn the facts about their menstrual cycle that will help them embrace their menstrual health! With beautiful graphs & illustrations, it takes the confusion out of hormones and can facilitate conversations between children and parents. Parents may learn a thing or two from this book too!

To find out more about Demi, head over to her website www.brightgirlhealth.com.

You can also find Demi at the below socials: