Birth Control

 There are many different types of birth control methods and choosing the one that works best for you can be a challenging task. There are many pros and cons of birth control, so here we have outlined some of the pros and cons and misconceptions about two forms of birth control: the pill and the IUD.

Pros

  • Birth Control costs can vary depending on the type and health insurance plan, however the birth control pill typically costs between $0-50 a month.
  • An IUD can cost anywhere between $0-1,000 depending on type and insurance plan
  • An IUD may cost more up front, but may save you money in the future because of how long they last (hormonal options last between 3-6 years, and non-hormonal options last up to 12 years)
  • Positive birth control side affects can include: lighter periods and less menstrual cramps from both the birth control pill and the IUD.

Cons

  • Negative birth control side affects from the pill can include: irregular menstrual bleeding, mood changes, nausea, headaches, dizziness and breast tenderness.
  • Negative birth control side affects from an IUD can include: irregular menstrual bleeding and heavier menstrual bleeding during the first few weeks after it has been inserted
  • Not all women should use the birth control pill: women who experience migraine headaches and blood clots should not be on it.
  • Missed birth control pills can decrease the effectiveness of the pill because birth control pills work best when taken at the same time every day

Misconceptions

  • Birth control will cause weight gain: “In 2011, researchers at the Cochran Database System Review analyzed 49 studies that compared a variety of birth control methods with placebos and found no evidence that birth control causes weight gain.” (Women’s Health)
  • Being on the pill will cause fertility problems: “The pill isn’t going to cause any problems with infertility even if you are on it for 20 years,” says Mills. After going off the pill, “your body is going to do what your body is going to do.” (Self Magazine)

What is PMS? 

PMS. Those famous three letters we hear so often. PMS is often spoken with references to chocolate cravings, the feeling of unwanted crying and the feeling of sharp stabs in the stomach. Most women, especially because of PMS, dread that time of month. PMS (premenstrual syndrome) occurs during a woman’s period. PMS or period symptoms include emotional and physical symptoms. Period cramps are one of the most common symptoms of menstruation we hear about.    

During PMS, a woman can experience a variety of PMS symptoms. Emotional symptoms can include mood swings, irritability, anxiety and change in appetite. Physical symptoms can include headaches, painful cramps and period bloating. A number of women can also experience menstrual cycle back pain. Back pain during your period “is typically muscular in nature and thought to be caused by hormone changes. Prostaglandins (hormones released during a menstrual cycle to promote uterine contraction to shed the uterine lining) can affect the lower back muscles.” (Virginia Spine Institute)    

What are cramps and what causes them? 

Period cramps are a sign of PMS and is a PMS symptom that can occur before menstruation. Menstrual cramps are caused by contractions in the uterus. They can cause an aching pain in the belly and pain in the hips and lower back.     

How much blood is too much?

Ever wondered the amount of normal menstrual blood loss a woman will experience during her period?

I am sure every woman at some point in her life has wondered how much blood she actually loses during her menstrual period and if it is too much blood loss. Those pad commercials with the blue liquid aren’t exactly the most helpful either! The amount of blood lost during menstruation may be less than you think. The average premenopausal woman will lose between 10 to 35 ml of period blood per period, and “the usual length of menstrual bleeding is four to six days.” (Dr. Jerilynn C. Prior, Centre for Menstrual Cycle and Ovulation Research, 2013) Period blood may vary in colour, brown menstrual blood near the beginning or end of your period is normal. Blood loss during menstruation can vary among different women depending on certain factors. For example, “women who are taller, have had children and are in perimenopause have the heaviest flow.” (Dr. Jerilynn C. Prior, Centre for Menstrual Cycle and Ovulation Research, 2013) Perimenopause occurs shortly before the stage of menopause, and during this time approximately 25% of women will have at least one heavy period.

So what happens if you think you are bleeding a lot during your period?

Very heavy menstrual bleeding or passing period blood clots, which is referred to as Menorrhagia, is when a woman’s period flow is more than 80 ml per menstrual period. Many women can experience heavy periods, and too much bleeding during her period. However, it is not always easy to determine exactly what causes a woman to have Menorrhagia. “Heavy flow is most common in the teens and in perimenopause—both are times of the lifecycle when estrogen levels tend to be higher and progesterone levels to be lower.” (Dr. Jerilynn C. Prior, Centre for Menstrual Cycle and Ovulation Research, 2013) In order to help determine if you have heavy menstrual bleeding, you can use the following as a guideline; one soaked, normal-sized sanitary product holds about 5 ml of blood, and then keep a record of how many normal-sized sanitary products you soak a day. “Very heavy menstrual bleeding means soaking 12 or more regular sanitary products in one period.” (Dr. Jerilynn C. Prior, Centre for Menstrual Cycle and Ovulation Research, 2013)

What can you do if you have heavy menstrual bleeding?

Women who experience Menorrhagia can take some simple steps to help ease the effects of a heavy period.

Some tips to keep in mind!Increase Your Iron Intake from Foods

Some examples of high iron foods are: red meat, liver, egg yolks, deep green vegetables and dried fruits like raisins and prunes. These types of foods can help increase your iron intake!

Increase Salty Fluids and Drink More

If blood volume is low in your body you may feel dizzy, to help that “drink more and increase the salty fluids you drink such as tomato or other vegetable juices or salty broths (like bouillon).” (Dr. Jerilynn C. Prior, Centre for Menstrual Cycle and Ovulation Research, 2013) 

Your discharge is unique (just like you) 

 Vaginal discharge is one of the most common symptoms of a healthy vagina and almost every girl/woman/lady will experience discharge at some point. But it’s also one of the tabooest subjects, ever (but why).  

How often does vaginal discharge come up in conversation with you and your friends? Probably never. Well we’re here to let you know that it is normal to experience discharge and it shouldn’t be anything to be embarrassed about. First of all, what is vaginal discharge? The discharge your vagina produces is its way of self-cleaning. The vaginal fluid helps maintain the pH balance and clears away bacteria and dead cells, to ensure everything is A-ok. You don’t need any fancy floral scented washes to keep clean, your vagina does takes care of it itself (another reason why women are basically superhero’s amirite). 

Discharge is usually clear/white/kinda yellow and it may even smell a little. The texture can also change and it might be sticky/stretchy/kinda pasty. Discharge changes throughout different parts of your cycle too, let’s learn more.  

Your discharge probably follows a pretty repetitive cycle.  

The first few days post period: If your period just finished, you might notice from dark red, or brown spotting. This is normal, it’s just your uterus shedding the last of its lining.  

The time between the end of your period and ovulation is when you’ll notice very light or almost non-existent discharge. If you do have white discharge after your period, during this time, it’s likely thinner than during the rest of your cycle.  

Mid-point of your cycle and around ovulation, vaginal discharge will probably increase for a day or two, as estrogen rises It will probably be a similar color to an egg white and a sticky texture. If you’re trying to get pregnant, this is a sign that your fertile. If you’re trying to avoid pregnancy, double check your birth control method.  

Post-ovulation and the days leading up to your period, the discharge will be thicker and clear.  You can expect thick, white discharge before your period as a signal that you will  

The few days before you period, you can expect your discharge to become even thicker and whiter. This is a signal your period is starting soon. If you’re pregnant, you can expect to see this type of discharge throughout your entire cycle.  

Now that we know what to expect, let’s talk about what not to expect. Your vaginal discharge can tell you a lot about your health and it’s important to be aware and pay attention so you can see your doctor if you need to.  

Look out for the following 

- Lumpy or frothy texture

 - Greenish/greyish colour 

- Cottage cheesish, curdly discharge

 - Vaginal burning, itching and irritation 

- A lot of vaginal discharge  

- A change in smell  

Everything you want to know about Plan B

The world of birth control can be a confusing place especially when you find yourself in an emergency situation where a pregnancy could be the outcome. 

The Plan B pill is an emergency contraceptive readily available at most pharmacies, but just like any other medication it is important to be fully informed about how it works.

What is Plan B?

Plan B pill is a single dose of the Levonorgestrel hormone that when used in a 72-hour window after sexual activity can prevent a potential pregnancy. In the sex health world, it is referred to as “emergency contraception”. This just means you do not take this pill regularly like your daily birth control pills but only when needed.

When would you use Plan B/ How soon does Plan B work?

Plan B should be taken as a back-up method when you are fearful the first contraceptive you used did not work or there was no contraceptive used during sex. This can mean, you forgot to take your birth control pill several times, had unprotected sex, the condom broke, you got caught up in the heat of the moment, etc.. it happens! Whatever the reason is, Plan B is the emergency option.Plan B pills are most effective the sooner they are taken, ideally within 12 hours of having sex. However, you can take the pill up to three days after. If used within the first 24 hours, it is 95% effective. Meanwhile, if you take the pill after 3 days, it’s only 61% effective.

How does Plan B work? The Plan B pill is a “progesterone only” pill and stops pregnancy by doing three main things:

  1. Temporarily stops the release of an egg so it cannot be fertilized
  2. Prevents fertilization of the egg
  3. Prevents a fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus by thickening the mucus lining.

*It is important to note that by taking the Plan B pills you are not having an abortion by medical standards as there is no implantation of the egg. But the decision is up to you.

Things to be aware of:

With any medication, the Plan B pill can have side effects. 

The most common being:·       

Nausea

Abdominal Pain 

Fatigue 

Headache 

Dizziness

Breast Tenderness

Vomiting

Diarrhea

Irregular bleeding 

Some things too take note of about Plan B are:

  • You should get your next period on time or a few days late, spotting is normal
  • Plan B taken in frequent doses can lessen the effectiveness
  • If you vomit within 2 hours of taking the Plan B medicine you may not have absorbed the medication properly

The Plan B pill is considered the most effective emergency contraceptive on the market. It is regularly available without a prescription or age restriction and is often behind the pharmacist’s desk. Costs can vary depending on where you live but the average cost is $40. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about Plan B to make sure it is the best option for you. 

Keep Menstrual Cramps Away

Painful menstrual cramps interfere with the daily lives of at least one in five women. The absolute worst feeling is when Aunt Flow pays you a visit before a big vacation, and you’re forced to deal with PMS symptoms during your family vacation, that romantic getaway or the long-awaited girls trip.

My senior year of highschool I was lucky enough to go on a trip to Europe with my school. Unfortunately for me, this trip coincided with my monthly cycle, and I was pleased to find myself a victim of relentlessly painful cramps. Had I known what I know now, the vacation could have been a much more pleasant experience, and myself a much more pleasant person.

After spending the entire day in excruciating pain, it was time for my class to stop at the Palace of Versailles for a guided tour, to walk the same halls that once housed the likes of Kings, Queens, and Kimye. As we perused the elaborate embellished hallways, I experienced menstrual cramps that were unrivalled to anything I had ever felt before. I was doubled over with pain, feeling that I was forced to suffer in silence, and feeling guilty that the once in a lifetime opportunity should’ve detracted from the debilitating pain.

For some women, the pain from menstrual cramps can be as painful as having a heart attack.

As more research is being done into the causes and cures of painful cramps, women are turning to natural remedies, and some old fashioned TLC of body and mind. You can combat the PMS blues and make the best of a trip, even if you’re on your period.

Here as some of the ways to prevent and treat pain to ensure a more enjoyable vacation experience:

Ibuprofen and Naproxen can be used alone to reduce cramping in the uterus, lighten the flow of blood, and relieve discomfort. However, for many women, this alone just won’t cut it, pain from cramps can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, and pain of this severity cannot be contained with such a simple solution.

Evening Primrose Oil is a natural remedy with remarkable healing properties. The primrose oil contains essential fatty acids including  GLA, which “support regular hormone functioning and can help to lessen menstrual cramps”. This natural remedy can work to reduce the “breast tenderness, bloating, water retention, acne, depression, irritability, foggy thinking and headaches” that accompany your period, to help you get out of your PMS blues and into your bathing suit on vacation this summer.

Red Raspberry Leaf Tea, made from the leaves of raspberries, has been proven to “aid in fertility, regulate your menstrual cycle and reduce menstrual cramps”.You don’t need to be locked up in the hotel due to excruciating pain, just make yourself a cup, and “the tannins in raspberry leaf give it astringent properties which make it soothing both internally and externally”Further, Raspberry leaf tea is a herbal remedy packed with nutrients you may be lacking during your time of the month, “including iron, calcium, manganese and magnesium, vitamins B1, B3, C, and E”.

Black Cohosh, a plant used in herbal medicines is used to balance hormones that are thrown out of order during your period. It can also be used as a pain treatment, as “the Native Americans used black cohosh for muscle pain because it is a natural painkiller”, and it can be used to treat ”cramping, excessive bleeding, unusual or abnormal bleeding, headaches, water retention and hormone imbalance” caused by your period.

Valerian Root is a herbal remedy and “nerve tonic to help with the pull you out of distress, restlessness, and downright hysteria” that come with mood swings during that time of the month. Valerian root is also an excellent pain reliever to help kick painful menstrual cramps to the curb and get back to feeling like your fabulous self.

With these tips in your repertoire, pack a few of these natural remedies in your suitcase for your next trip, and don’t let your period “cramp” your style this summer.  

50 Shades of Blood

 Period blood, not exactly an ideal conversation to bring up at the dinner table, am I right? But it is such an important topic to talk about because our blood can give us health insights if we just pay a little more attention. Blood makes me super squeamish (who's with me), so I don't want to pay more attention to any type of blood than I have to. BUT the colour of our period blood, when we experience bleeding, and the amount blood lost during menstruation are helpful signs in order to better understand our body and health.

First let’s get back to basics: When you are menstruating “your body sheds the lining of the uterus (womb). Menstrual blood flows from the uterus through the small opening in the cervix and passes out of the body through the vagina.” Note to my 11 year old self, a period is bleeding from the vagina, not from the same place where pee comes out (the urethra). If this is news to you, don't feel bad, it was news to me (ladies, we have three holes). Girls and women often don’t know enough about their own reproductive system and anatomy, and that is why educating and creating a conversation surrounding menstrual health is so crucial.

Sometimes at the beginning or ending of your period, the blood might change colour. Instead of the usual red as the colour of the blood that flows, it might be brown. Brown menstrual blood near the beginning or end of your period is normal, and is just a sign that the discharged blood is older. Certain girls and women experience brown period blood in between periods, however this is more common in younger girls who are just starting to have their periods, women starting birth control, or women nearing menopause. 

Bleeding after your menstrual cycle ends, in between periods, or bleeding after intercourse can be a concern in certain cases, and it’s always good to see a doctor to make sure it’s not a symptom of a health condition. Orange period blood can be the sign of period blood mixed with cervical fluids, however bright orange menstrual blood can also indicate an infection so you may want to consider seeing a doctor.

During your period you might also be wondering if you're experiencing normal menstrual blood loss and is it too much blood loss? Well good news, it is probably nowhere near as much as you think it is. On average, a woman will lose between 10 to 35 ml of period blood per menstrual cycle. For reference, 30 ml is only two tablespoons! However, too much bleeding during a period and period blood clots can be a sign of Menorrhagia, which is when a woman’s period flow is more than 80 ml per menstrual period.

It is always important to recognize and understand the signs of your menstruation to ensure you are a happy and healthy you! 

 5 Tips to Have Your Best Period Yet   

“It’s already been a month?” Yep, nothing like your period to remind you how quickly time goes by. Even though the time in between periods can fly by, the time you spend having your period can feel like a never-ending quest of wondering when the pain, cravings and unnecessary emotions will end. But fear not, we have 5 tips to help you have a healthier, more pleasant period!     

1. Turn that “Ugh” into “Yay.” On average, a woman will have 500 periods in her lifetime, so instead of dreading it each month, why not make it a routine to do something nice for yourself or someone else (or both)… because your period will be a natural monthly reminder!    

2. Use organic feminine hygiene products: You may not know this, but the FDA doesn’t require brands to disclose what’s in tampons so mainstream brands have ingredients like chlorine, bleach and pesticides. The vaginal wall is the absorbent part of your body. Use 100% organic cotton or tampon alternatives because you deserve better!    

3. Exercise: Some of are thinking, “Are you serious, the last thing I feel like doing is exercising,” - don’t worry - we aren’t saying you have to summit Mt. Everest, but light to moderate exercise can help alleviate cramps, boost your mood and alleviate stress! Thinking of driving up to the grocery store to pick up some mint chocolate chip ice cream to fulfill those cravings? Why not walk instead?    

4. Spend some time with friends or family. It will boost your happiness! Grab a cup of herbal tea and have a conversation with those who mean the most to you. That Netflix series can wait.    

5. Foods to eat and to avoid: Try eating more leafy greens, they are a great choice to eat during your period because they are filled with iron. Don’t forget about chocolate either, but make sure it is dark chocolate (less sugar, more antioxidants.) There are certain food stressors, irritants and stimulants that can make PMS worse. Try avoiding processed foods, foods high in sugar and high salt foods.   

 “It’s not you, it’s me.” 

So, you’ve decided that you want to ditch all types of hormonal birth control. How will your body react?   

A relationship with hormonal birth control can last a long time, even outlasting a relationship (or two). A hormonal IUD can last up to 6 years, and some women are continuously on the pill for many years. So, when that time comes to say goodbye to a certain birth control method for another, or choosing to completely ditch any type of hormonal birth control, you may be wondering how your body is going to handle the break up.    

Many women choose a hormonal birth control method, such as the pill for added benefits such as having lighter periods and less severe period cramps. However, there are pros and cons of birth control, and going off the pill may be a pro or con depending on the type of side affects you experienced from the pill. Once you go off the pill your period will most likely be similar to your pre-pill periods, so if you did experience unpleasant visits each month, have that heat pack ready. However, “your period can change throughout your lifetime, whether you go on hormonal birth control or not, says Streicher. So if you've been on birth control since you were 15, you may end up finding that your period is different now that you're off it.” A period tracking app can also be helpful, especially if you experienced irregular periods pre-pill. After going off the pill the hormones from the pill will be gone in a couple of days, but your normal menstrual cycle will most likely return after one or two months.    

You may also experience changes in your body, aside from the changes in your period, after going off the pill. 

 · Progesterone and estrogen will be flowing more freely, and that means your breasts might feel more swollen and tender when you are ovulating.  

· You may notice your skin isn’t quite as clear as it was on the pill. The pill suppresses testosterone- which can be skin unfriendly.  

· Your mood may change due to the sudden hormonal change.    

And if you were using the pill to prevent pregnancy, be sure to use a different method of birth control, because experts say you can get pregnant immediately after you have gone off the pill. Non-hormonal methods of birth control include condoms, the copper IUD, and the diaphragm.  

 They’re sisters, not twins. When to go get a breast exam

There’s one thing all women have known since the dawn of time; being a girl is hard work. Whether you’re a working woman, a student, a mother or grandmother, we all have dozens of hats we are trying to juggle at once. When you’re busy however, the most important thing seems to always slip through the crack; you. Self care is immensely important for busy women who are on the go, and health can often sit on the backburner. The most important thing you can do for yourself as a woman is to prioritize your health and self care, and the first step to this is knowing your body. One important part of this is breast health.Taking special care to know what your breasts look and feel like can be a warning sign to show you what to look out for. 

When is there cause for concern?  Well for starters, don’t fret if your breasts are different sizes and are uneven – they’re sisters, not twins! This is very common in most women, so don’t worry; you’re not the only one. Further, if one breast  is hanging lower than the other, or if you have hair around your nipples, this is also very common for most women and is not cause for any worry. Some women get alarmed when they experience breast pain or tenderness, but often this occurs just before or during your period, and may just be a sign that Aunt Flo’ is coming to pay you your favourite visit of the month.When should you see your doctor? If you feel anything unusual or feel a breast lump do not wait on it – go see your doctor immediately. Most women are afraid of going because they dread hearing a bad result, but only 20% of breast lumps are cancerous.One thing that’s important to note is that just because it doesn’t run in the family does not mean you’re guaranteed to also be safe. “Only 5-10% of breast cancers are hereditary, whereas 90% is attributed to lifestyle and environmental factors.” Listen to your body – it could save your life.Definitely see your doctor if:

- You experience swelling around your breast, collar bone, or armpit 

- Dry, cracked, red, or thickened skin (like an orange peel) around your nipple 

- Blood or fluid (besides milk) leaking from your nipples

- Warmth or itching in your breasts

Reader beware: these symptoms don’t necessarily mean that there is something wrong, but it’s best to leave the deciding to the medical professionals, as opposed to Googling symptoms in a panic at 3 AM. 

 To lower your risk, “maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly and limit the amount of alcohol consumption”, and get checked regularly with a monthly breast exam! You owe it to yourself,your body, and your busy lifestyle to help keep you going for as long as possible. 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer at some point in her life. Mammograms can prevent cancer by detecting it early on when it is most treatable. A great tool to Assess Your Risk before your first appointment is https://www.assessyourrisk.org/ to find out your susceptibility, but remember to care for your body and give your lady parts some extra TLC. Knowing your body and getting regular breast exams could save your life.  Knowing your body and getting regular breast exams could save your life. 

 Getting Ready for Your First Period 

With your first period comes many questions - we’re here to guide you with answers and tips so you can feel prepared! You may have already searched up a few things like signs of your period or even first period kits. The most important thing to remember is that there is no “right way” when it comes to how you approach your period – the internet can be a great tool, but the decisions you make about your body will always, always be yours alone.  Wondering how to tell if your first period may be coming? 

Here are some signs of your period:  · Cramps – menstrual cramps can be more painful for some than others. Usually, taking over-the-counter painkillers such as Advil can help alleviate cramping. There are also tons of great natural remedies out there. However, if pain from cramping feels more severe or stops you from going to school, sports, or your usual activities, be sure to check in with your doctor.  

· Fatigue and tiredness – it’s normal to feel a little more tired than usual around your period, but it doesn’t happen to everyone – it may not happen every single time for you either, because each period can be different!   

· Breakouts and blemishes – pesky blemishes and breakouts are often a telltale sign of your period. There are lots of great spot treatments out there, many from your local drugstore. Salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide spot treatments are easy to find and use. 

However, one size does not fit all – natural remedies such as tea tree oil and clay are also great options. If you feel like your breakouts are more severe, or don’t respond to spot treatments, you can always visit your doctor.   

There are tons of options out there for your first period, from pads and tampons to starter kits.  

· Starter sets and starter kits – these are a great option for your first period because they usually include both tampons and pads. Many starter kits include tips, tricks, and treats. Kits also don’t have to be used on just your first period.   

· Pads – nowadays there are all kinds of pads, from ones you can rely on overnight, to ultra thin pads that are often great for days where your flow is lighter.   

· Tampons – tampons get the reputation of being harder to use than pads, but the most important part is learning how to use tampons, getting to know your flow, and remembering to change it. Luckily there are great instructions and tips available on YouTube, blogs, and websites.    

Tampons and pads aren’t the only choices out there. Keep in mind that menstrual cups and washable menstrual pads are other alternatives you can look into! As you get ready for your first period, you can always reach out to friends you trust. Periods aren’t something you have to keep a secret or ever feel ashamed about.  However, keep in mind you never have to talk about your period to anyone if you don’t want to. You may choose to use a journal or track your period with an app instead!  

Getting to know to know your Hormones

Hormones impact almost everything we do, because they impact our mood, energy, libido, and sleep. Getting familiar with signs of hormonal changes or signs of hormonal imbalance is an important part of being in touch with your body – hormones don’t only affect us during our periods. An entire menstrual cycle lasts roughly 4 weeks. During your cycle, three main hormones (estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone) rise and fall.  During the first two weeks or so of your cycle, estrogen rises and generally brings positive effects. You may feel more energetic. Libido tends to go up due to rising of testosterone. Around the third week, you may experience the beginning signs of PMS, and in the fourth week your body prepares for menstruation. (Hormonology, 2017).  While it’s great to have an idea of what actually happens in your body during your cycle, remember that we’re all individual! Perhaps you’ve already read about what happens in a cycle; don’t panic if you don’t experience all telltale symptoms at exactly the week they typically occur.  Wondering how to tell if you’re experiencing imbalance? Here are some common signs you may choose to bring up with your doctor: · Irregular or absent periods – if you miss a period, it can be due to stress. If you were not trying for pregnancy and tested negative, missing one period usually isn’t something to panic over. However, some women experience only a few periods per year. Absent or irregular periods can also be a sign of PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome).   

· Acne – getting breakouts around your period are unfortunately common among a lot of us, but persistent hormonal acne occurs because of excess androgens. If you’re experiencing persistent, unresponsive acne, reach out to your doctor or dermatologist. Acne doesn’t just affect teens, and the effects of chronic acne aren’t only physical; it can impact your emotional wellbeing and self-esteem. Don’t hesitate to tell your doctor if your acne makes you feel less confident, less sociable, depressed, or anxious – there are some great acne treatments and hormonal acne treatments out there.   

· Ongoing fatigue – Excess progesterone can be a reason you experience ongoing fatigue. Your doctor may also recommend a blood test to check in on your thyroid.     Contraceptives: Birth control and contraceptives are also related to hormones. Hormonal birth control methods include birth control pills, hormonal IUDs, and a vaginal ring more commonly known as NuvaRing. Each of us is unique, and so is your decision about contraceptives.  Perhaps you’ve experienced negative side affects to hormonal contraceptives, or are sensitive to hormonal treatments.  

Hormonal IUDs tout great benefits such as lighter periods, extremely high effectiveness (more than 99%), and convenience. The copper IUD is a great alternative that allows you to use no additional hormones at all.  

Hormone Replacement Therapy:  Hormone replacement therapy is often used to help individuals struggling with menopausal symptoms. It is one of the most effective treatments, because it replaces hormones your body no longer makes. Hormone replacement therapy is also used for individuals transitioning from male to female or female to male.  The rate of change can vary depending on genetics, or the age you begin treatment (UCSF Transgender Care), and includes physical, sexual, and possibly emotional changes. Speak to a doctor you trust as you explore options and important details such as your medical history.    

Can Emojis Break the Period Taboo

The taboo surrounding menstruation affects individuals of all ages and genders. Women, men, tweens and grandmas probably aren’t jumping at the idea of talking about periods. How can we change that?A person’s first period often still comes as a surprise and can be difficult to talk about. However the taboo surrounding menstruation can extend far into a person’s lifetime. Research conducted by Plan International found that, “Seven out of 10 women said they felt uncomfortable talking about their period with their male co-workers. And only one in three women felt happy to speak about it to their female bosses. At school, almost half reported feeling ashamed to speak to their female teachers and 75% said they wouldn’t discuss it with their male teachers.” (The Guardian)Recently, we have seen women take action and speak out about the taboo surrounding menstruation. For example Kiran Gandhi, a musician and Harvard Business School graduate, ran the London Marathon free bleeding on her period. And athletes Jazmin Sawyers and Fu Yuanhui both publicly discussed how menstruating while competing affected their performances. However, the conversation surrounding menstruation is still not largely discussed in the public sphere. So, could emojis be a part of the solution?  

 Online conversations have transformed the way we communicate. “More than 92% of the online population use emojis every day to communicate between friends and across cultures.” (The Guardian) The casual conversational tone of texting and emojis could help break down the stigma surrounding menstruation and allow individuals to feel more comfortable speaking about it, in an everyday setting.There are over 1,000 emojis on an iPhone. The new iOS system can even convert your words into emojis. Want to roll your eyes at someone? There is an emoji for that. Want to talk about certain bodily functions, yep there is a smiley poop emoji. But still there are no emojis representing menstruation in any way. So hey Apple if you are reading this, what about a tampon emoji, or someone grasping for their stomach to represent the pains of period cramps? 

 In a technology filled world, maybe emojis can be one of the ways we start to change the way we publicly talk about menstruation.Ellebox exists to create conversation, and education surrounding menstrual health. 

What is a Period Policy

 Your alarm goes off for work again at an ungodly hour. You groan and slam the “off” button as you roll out of bed and rub your tired eyes to face the long workday ahead. As soon as you stand up, the stomach pain hits you suddenly like a blow the gut, and like a scene from a horror movie you realize that familiar creeping feeling. The reality of women who are menstruating, is that regardless of how mentally and physically exhausted you feel; you still have to show up for your job and act like nothing’s wrong. 

 Women in the workplace are too often faced with emotional labour, forced to manage their emotions according to organizational and societal expectations. Apart of this emotional labour is managing the physical and emotional distress they are forced to endure during their periods. 

 Cramps, PMS, back pain, and mood swings are just a few of the symptoms women are faced with, and whilst working they must minimize and trivialize these symptoms to complete their day to day duties. Some women’s cramps are so bad they can’t even walk, and some feel faint or dizzy, but when it comes between missing a pay-cheque or going to work in pain, many don’t have the luxury to take a day off when they please. In addition, women with painful periods often have irregular periods, “so it’s not just something you can book off with the Human Resources department a month in advance[1]”.  

The real question here is how come more companies don’t have a “period policy” for that dreaded time of the month? Japan was ahead of the game, offering leave for women on their periods as early as 1947. Italy is the first Western country to propose a law, that “will mandate companies to grant three days of paid leave each month to female employees who experience painful periods”[2]. Nike introduced a menstrual leave policy in 2007, and “makes business partners sign a memorandum of understanding to ensure they maintain the company’s standards” .Further, the UK company Coexist was the first British firm to introduce a period policy, with the founder Bex Baxter citing the belief that this policy will increase productivity. 

 The argument put forward by many is that menstrual leave will increase the gender disparity between men and women and will “further the unconscious gender bias”, holding back women in senior leadership roles. In some places, it’s even become an obstacle to equal pay for women workers.[3] The double standard put forward is that women on their period are ill-equipped for the workforce, and simply don’t serve a company’s bottom line. However, Baxter from Coexist says that the period policy can be “working more flexibly and efficiently around their menstrual cycle and encouraging a work-life balance.”We can only wait to see how the law plays out in Italy, and hope that more Western companies follow suit, understanding the plight of some women in the workforce deserves fair treatment and a policy that reflects that. 

 Does Anybody have Tide-To-Go?

 It’s summer time and you’ve finally bought those white shorts that you have been eyeing down for weeks. You slip them on and head out the door, knowing you look fabulous in them. The day is going great until oh sh*t code red has just happened (literally). You see a period blood stain on your new white shorts. And all you can think to yourself is “seriously, I JUST bought these!” 

But don’t worry,  we’ve all been betrayed by Mother Nature, we have tips and tricks on how to remove period stains from clothing and fabric, and even how to remove blood stains from white clothes.Removing blood stains from fabric and removing blood stains from clothing even if it is white, is very similar so whether it is your sheets or your shorts, try doing these tips and tricks for ultimate removal.First things first, if you can, try to act quickly and remove the blood stain right away after you notice it. Blood stains are much easier to remove before they set in. Removing dried blood stains from clothing can be a lot trickier. 

 Household items that can be used to remove menstrual blood stains are:

  • Vinegar: put white vinegar on the stain and let it soak for 5-10 minutes.
  • Hydrogen peroxide: Note that hydrogen peroxide can bleach or weaken certain fabrics, so try using it on a very small area first. And it only works on wet blood. Put 3% hydrogen peroxide on the stain, then rinse with fresh water and wash as normal.
  • Cold salt water: soak the fabric in cold salt water for 3-4 hours then rub the stain with laundry detergent and put it in the wash.
  • Baking soda: run the stain under cold water, then sprinkle with baking soda and lastly rub the fabric gently and run again under water then wash as normal.

 If you are not at home:

  • Try grabbing a can of cola (pop) and begin soaking the stain. (Yes, seriously!) The reason it can break up stains is because of the carbonic and phosphoric acid inside.
  • Rub soap and cold water on the stain and scrub together. Make sure to use cold water, because hot water can make the stain set it in!

Removing dried blood stains from clothing can be a bit tricky, but still try these tips, even if you don’t notice the stain until much later.

  • Rinse and Wash: If there is any dried blood on the surface of the clothing or fabric try scraping it off. Rinse the stain with cold water from the back.
  • Baking soda: make a paste by mixing one part baking soda and two parts cold water and dab it onto the blood stain with a cloth. Leave for 30-40 minutes then wipe it off.

Finally after completing either of those options, wash the item as usual in your washing machine. 

There's Two Types of People

Write you Pads or tampons? Pads with wings or no wings? Thin pads or thick ones? With so many questions and choices for menstrual hygiene products it can be overwhelming, especially when a person gets their first period. At Ellebox we exist to simplify your period!Pads vs. tampons has always been a long standing rivalry. Think of it like the dog vs. cat person debate, some people prefer only cats or only dogs or some like both! Likewise, some people only like using tampons, some people only like using pads, or some people like to use both. But, whatever your personal preferences are we’re here to give you the low down on pads and tampons.Pads:

  • Come in different absorbencies, and shapes and should be changed every 4-8 hours.
  • Some pads are thinner than others depending on the absorbency.
  • Some pads have wings, which is just extra material on the sides that folds over the edges of your underwear and sticks to it, to enhance leak protection.
  • Some people find that pads are not as comfortable as tampons for sporting activities, however that is a personal preference.
  • Pads should not be used for swimming.r rich text here!

 Tampons:

  • Come in different absorbencies and they can either have plastic applicators, cardboard applicators or no applicators at all.
  • They are a safe option as a feminine hygiene product, as long as they are used properly and changed every 4-8 hours to ensure that you do not experience toxic shock syndrome (TSS).
  • Tampons are suitable for swimming

 Whether you use pads or tampons or both, try using 100% organic menstrual hygiene. Because you may not know this but mainstream feminine hygiene brands have all sorts of nasty stuff in them, like wood pulp, chlorine, bleach, dioxin, pesticides, synthetic fibers, crude oil and rayon. And the vagina is the most absorbent part of your body. So you all deserve better!