Lauren Lee-Crane co-founded Semaine Health with her twin sister, Catherine, and husband, Matt. Lauren and Catherine both spent years of struggling with painful periods due to endometriosis and felt that the medical and pharmaceutical industries did not take period pain seriously enough. Semaine is an all-natural supplement taken for one week each month to reduce inflammation and relieve menstrual pain. We chatted with Lauren to learn more about her and the company.
How did you start Semaine Health?
I’ve always suffered from painful periods, and in my late 20s, I was diagnosed with endometriosis (a condition where endometrial-like tissue grows on organs in your body and can cause scarring, tremendous pain and complications). Even after multiple surgeries to remove the endometriosis, I still have a lot of pain during my period and was fed-up with taking over-the-counter pain meds that had some nasty side-effects. My husband and cofounder Matt, watched me go through decades of pain and used his Ph.D and research background to discover which plant extracts and minerals have been clinically studied and shown to help lessen inflammation linked to period pain. After a year of mixing different plant powders together, I had a completely pain free period. And Semaine was born!
What is the most important thing you’d like people to know about Semaine?
We created Semaine because of the inequities in healthcare. 80% of womxn (trans women, cis-gendered women, and non-binary people) experience painful periods in their lifetime, and yet the only “treatments” for period pain are over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen and/or hormonal birth control. There has been far more research into erectile dysfunction than period pain or any period-related condition (like endometriosis, adenomyosis, PCOS, fibroids, etc.).
Often womxn’s pain is dismissed as “normal” or “just part of being a woman”. And WoC are dismissed more often than their white counterparts. We’ve seen in the news recently how high the maternal mortality in the U.S. is for Black womxn. The inequities in healthcare need to be addressed and changed — and we’re hoping to be a big part of that healthcare revolution.
What is a fun fact about you that Semaine customers would not know?
My twin sister and I call ourselves AsianCajuns: our dad’s family is from China and our mom’s family is from the Cajun part of Louisiana.
What else do you do to help manage unpleasant symptoms during your menstrual cycle?
I try to keep my stress levels down as low as possible and eat an anti-inflammatory diet. But I still eat dark chocolate as often as I can — for the endorphins!
Are there any myths about PMS, periods, or women’s bodies in general that you wish would just go away?
Absolutely! There are so many. I wish there was no stigma around periods. We still treat them as this hush-hush or embarrassing thing. And that stigma is dangerous. I think it’s directly related to why there isn’t more research and innovation in the period space — we’re taught that period pain is normal and we shouldn’t push our doctors to give us more options. Just because period pain is common (it affects 80% of womxn in their lifetime) doesn’t mean it should be normalized.
What does self-care mean to you?
It is not drinking green smoothies or expensive Gwenyth Paltrow-endorsed treatments — those are fun, but not necessary. Self-care is resting when I need it and not having to feel like I should be busy all the time to have self worth. Self-care is moving my body once a day, not to get a certain physique, but for my mental-health. Self-care is eating a piece of dark chocolate cake and enjoying every single bite!