It’s Monday morning, you pull your chair up to your desk ready to tackle a pile of emails that have accumulated over the weekend and boom: Aunt Flo visits a day early! You search your desk drawers, dig through your purse or Slack a few gal colleagues asking if they have a tampon. Getting our period is difficult for us no matter what. Physically it puts a toll on our bodies with fatigue, hormone fluctuation, and things like anxiety and depression. It makes it a difficult time of the month. We’re digging in and talking about managing your period at work!
What happens to your body during your period?
The menstrual phase is the first stage of the menstrual cycle. It’s also when you get your period. This phase starts when an egg isn’t fertilized. Because pregnancy hasn’t taken place, levels of the hormone progesterone drop.
The thickened lining of your uterus, which would support a pregnancy, is no longer needed, so it sheds through your vagina. During your period, you release a combination of blood, mucus, and tissue from your uterus.
Due to the fluctuation of hormones, many women say they experience these symptoms:
lower back pain
On average, women are in the menstrual phase of their cycle for 3 to 7 days. If you have questions regarding your period or are trying to regulate it, we recommend Period Repair Manual! Lara Briden breaks down every little (and big) thing that affects us, our periods, and our hormones.
Why do I get emotional during my period?
Thank PMS! With the rollercoaster hormones come hard-to-handle moods, and it’s completely normal. They can be difficult during working hours, especially when all you want to do is curl up at home and binge Netflix! Tracking your period and logging symptoms can really help you know what to expect during the days of menstruation so you can plan accordingly and help you manage your period at work. Using some easy remedies to balance you out can help too!
Normal PMS symptoms are:
Have you been sitting at your desk feeling overwhelmed or about to burst into tears? None of this means you’re inadequate or a poor fit for your job! You’re feeling everything that’s happening in your body and it’s important to give yourself grace during this time.
How do I handle my period at work?
Plan ahead. Getting caught short in the office is never fun (unless your employer provides free period care in the restrooms)! If you’re without a tampon or pad, it can really disrupt your day and make you lose focus from your work. Have you thought about using a menstrual cup? A menstrual cup is a small flexible cup made of medical-grade silicone. It fits in the vaginal canal and collects menstrual blood (leak free!) for up to 12 hours!
Be comfortable. Nothing is worse than being stuck in a desk chair wearing something snug or uncomfortable. Especially if you are prone to bloating on your cycle, wearing loose fitting clothing can help get your mind off of that and on to your work. Your midsection isn’t the only place that bloats! Are you constantly on your feet at work? Think about comfortable shoes too.
Cope with the cramping. Dehydration can make cramping even worse, so making sure you’re drinking plenty of water and electrolyte drinks is key. Maybe slow up on the caffeine-laden things like coffee or sodas. Another idea would be to keep a heating pad handy. If you’re sitting at a desk most of your shift, you could easily have one around your back or abdomen!
Additional supplements. On top of your daily multi-vitamin, taking vitamin B can help with energy when you’re feeling fatigued. Also, magnesium helps tremendously with cramping if you suffer the first few days of your period. Nuts are high in magnesium as well as dark chocolate. Who would argue with chocolate during their period!? #nobrainer
Notice what you’re eating. What did you pack for lunch? While our cravings will most likely have us reaching for something salty, sweet or greasy (comfort food, right?) the best things to have during our period are the exact opposite. Think light! Fruits, leafy greens and anti-inflammatory foods like turmeric and ginger. For proteins, think chicken, fish and tofu.
Exercise. Keep a pair of sneakers under your desk and take a walk around the block on your lunch break! The fresh air and exercise are suggested to be helpful during our periods and can decrease PMS symptoms. If you struggle with your mental health during your period, exercising causes your body to release chemicals such as dopamine and endorphins in your brain that make you feel happy. Not only is your brain dumping out feel-good chemicals, but exercise also helps your brain get rid of chemicals that make you feel stressed and anxious!
Can you take time off of work during your period?
This is a tricky one. The U.S. currently doesn’t acknowledge menstruating women in the workplace. If you have sick days or personal days accumulated, taking one during the worst part of your period wouldn’t be considered poor work performance or cause attendance issues. There is a long history of women (and employers) coping with their periods while still being professional. If you have really hard periods, our advice to you is to talk to your doctor, use your best judgment, and listen to your body. Again, tracking your period can be extremely helpful in making you feel equipped when that time of the month rolls around including managing your period at work.
Many women around the world run into period problems. Some greater than others. A woman who is facing cultural shame would likely miss work during her cycle. A schoolgirl in Kenya will miss up to six weeks of school due to menstruation and the lack of period care available to her.
Here at Pixie Cup, we believe in period freedom for all women. It is our mission! We do this through our Buy One, Give One program. Every time a Pixie Cup is purchased, we give one to a woman in need. You’re saying ‘YES’ to period freedom for yourself, and at the same time, you’re saying ‘YES’ to changing someone else’s life too.
As women, our bodies endure a lot. You should probably start every single day with patting yourself on the back. You do hard things! Half the time you don’t even know it. Through our whole menstrual cycle (25-40 days) a lot is happening. There are peaks and valleys all leading up to our actual menstruation. I like to think of menstruation as the time that our bodies let go of that which doesn’t serve us anymore. There is pain, it’s uncomfortable some of the time, but on the other side, you’re at your best and ready to take on the world. During your period, it’s super important to be easy on yourself. Your emotions are run by your hormones during this time and if you’re like me, I can make a mountain out of a molehill! We’ve put together some of our favorite things for self-care during our period.
Self-care ideas for during our period
Get outside. I probably can’t stress this one enough. The world feels like it’s crumbling when I’m on my period, and if nothing else, I force myself to at least go for a walk. It’s proven that when you exercise, your brain releases the feel-good hormones called endorphins. These endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain or anxiety or stress. You’ve probably heard the term “runner’s high” or something of that nature. That’s exactly what they are referring to!
Eat better. I know everything in you is craving a pint of ice cream and a good movie. Those desires may actually be a bi-product of a deficiency! Ever want to eat a pan full of brownies?! Your body could be craving magnesium. Magnesium helps ease cramps and overall has a calming effect on the body. Check out this cool article about periods and magnesium. Another big one is iron. Your body is discharging up to 16 teaspoons of blood during your period. That’s a crazy amount. (Remember what I said about you doing hard things?) I take a food-derived liquid iron supplement during my menstrual phase and I physically feel the difference. If you are low on iron your energy will fall through the floor.
Reusable menstrual products. This was a total game changer for me! When I discovered menstrual cups, my mind was blown. I was no longer a slave to tampons and carrying them with me, remembering them on the grocery list or making mad dashes to the corner store. I was free to swim on my period, to not have to jog with a pad in my spandex pants or pack my glove box with a “just in case” stash. I literally forget that I’m on my period and it’s the best thing ever. Have you ever thought about making the switch to a menstrual cup? We know it’s definitely a change and we’ve got your fears covered.
Slow down. We live such a fast paced life that having quiet time or downtime can actually make some of us uncomfortable. (I’m over here raising my hand) This can come from a number of things. An internal programming of guilt that we aren’t “being productive” or that our lives take a lot of work to make ends meet and juggling all the demands equals zero free time. Most of us know when our periods are coming. Maybe schedule that week to be a little lighter? Ask someone to share responsibilities with you? If your planner is your BFF, physically write down and block off time for yourself. It’s so much easier said than done, I get it, but I think you will find the return will be richer. You’ll have the creative juices and the energy to tackle what you need to.
Have a journal. This is perfect for a couple of reasons. First, on a very physical level, you will be able to spot trends in your mood, in your body, and differences in your cycle. We highly recommend keeping a journal of your period anyways, and we even have this handy downloadable period tracker! Also, if you’re anxiety-prone, taking thoughts out of your head and putting them on paper is super helpful too. This is a great mental self-care tactic during your period.
Sleep. We probably can’t stress this factor enough. You need sleep and a good amount of it, especially on your period. We recently talked about how sleep and fatigue affect us and 7 tips on getting better sleep during our periods. While we are tired and especially exhausted during our period, sometimes it’s hard to sleep due to the hormone fluctuations going on in our bodies. Oh, the irony…
Grounding. This topic deserves a blog post all on its own. Grounding is the act of connecting to the earth and to your body. It’s doing something that brings you back to the moment (back to center), it heightens bodily awareness and overall calms you. My body tells me to ground myself when I know I have a busy day ahead of me, I’m stressed out or if anxiety starts getting the best of me. In some sense, I’ve allowed outside influencers to disconnect me. Grounding can happen in a number of ways. Taking a few minutes to unplug and go into your yard barefoot. This enables you to soak up electrical energy from the earth. For me, gardening or pruning/watering my plants, getting my hands in the dirt does the trick.
How do you define self-care?
Up until a couple of years ago, self-care was a foreign concept to me. I quite literally furrowed my brow when someone mentioned “self-care” one day. If you’re like me, the idea of taking care of yourself was unknown because you constantly self-sacrifice to make sure others are taken care of or your life does not lend itself to time off, let alone sitting and watching a movie and giving yourself a pedicure or curling up with a book and a cup of tea. The definition of self-care isn’t the same for everyone. It’s whatever calms you, whatever serves you, whatever makes you feel like you are important too. Here are some myths that can certainly be applied for self-care during your period also.
How do you self care during your period? We’d love to hear your ideas on how you are kind to yourself. Tell us what brings you joy! If you’ve thought about switching to a reusable menstrual product like a menstrual cup, we’ve got you covered! Head over to our store and see the different sizes and styles. If you need help knowing which is best for you, we’ve got you covered there too. Let’s bust those menstrual cup fears and the self-care myths.
PLEASE NOTE: This blog post is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice of your doctor. You should regularly consult a physician in matters relating to your health and particularly with respect to anything related to menstruation. If you have any concerns about using a Pixie Cup, consult your doctor before use. If you have any gynecological conditions, please talk to your physician before using any menstrual cup.
Essential oils are a powerful tool for our health. You’re taking all the goodness from the plant and concentrating it. They have been used for relieving headaches to relaxing muscles, correcting digestive issues to calming nerves. Naturally, we want to know if essential oils can helpduring our menstrual cycles! Here are some practical and easy tips to help you.
What are essential oils?
Essential oils are often used in aromatherapy, a form of alternative medicine that employs plant extracts to support health and well-being. Essential oils are basically plant extracts. They’re made by steaming or pressing various parts of a plant (flowers, bark, leaves or fruit) to capture the compounds that produce fragrance. It can take several pounds of a plant to produce a single bottle of essential oil. In addition to creating scent, essential oils perform other functions in plants, too. Essential oils are the essence of the plant that are captured via distillation or mechanical methods like cold-pressing, depending on the plant type.
Because essential oils are incredibly strong and concentrated, it is vitally important to read up on the individual oil prior to using. Some are safe to apply full strength and others have to be heavily diluted with a carrier oil or lotion to diminish its concentration. Something as common and loved as peppermint needs to be significantly thinned so it doesn’t chemically burn your skin.
Please always read the instructions on the side of the bottle before administering.
Common ways to safely use essential oils include:
Aroma Therapy. Diffusing is the most popular essential oil use! Diffusers can be found in all shapes, sizes and colors and use water to vaporize the oils. Necklaces, bracelets and keychains made with absorbent materials you apply essential oils to and sniff throughout the day. Even something like an essential oil inhaler! These portable plastic sticks have an absorbent wick that soaks up essential oil.
Topically. A mixture of essential oils with a carrier oil such as olive, jojoba or coconut oil that can be massaged into skin. But again, because essential oils are concentrated, they can cause irritation. Avoid using them full-strength on skin.
How can I use essential oils during my menstrual cycle?
Hormones are all over the place during our menstrual cycles, we know this, right? We feel empowered during parts of our cycle, potentially anxiety-ridden during other parts and overall fatigued depending on the day of our cycle! Certain essential oils or oil blends are tied to potentially giving relief for different symptoms. Here are some popular essential oils to use during your period and menstrual cycle.
Menstruation. This is where we feel most exhausted! You’ll most likely crave alone time or rest. Frankincense or sandalwood or a grounding blend to overall settle you. At this point in the menstrual cycle, you should do things that aid in your comfort. To help with cramping, there are blends of essential oils for your menstrual cycles like this DIY recipe . If you’re prone to cramping, have you thought about trying a menstrual cup?
Pre-Ovulation. At this point you’re feeling your best! Your energy has come back and peaked and you’re ready to conquer the world. If you ever see a pattern of motivation or need for accomplishment, you’ll probably notice it’s just after your period ends! During this time you’ll reach for energizing oils such as peppermint and citrus like orange or grapefruit.
Ovulation. You’re feeling good about yourself, sultry, attractive, and active! You may find you’ll apply a little more makeup or pick an outfit that makes you feel the best about yourself. Floral and earthy essential oils are popular during this menstrual phase. Scents like jasmine, rose, vetiver, and patchouli.
Pre-menstrual. Our body is gearing up to release and let go and this is the phase we start craving the comfort foods and the desire to curl up and relax. If you’re feeling crampy, clary sage diluted with a lotion and rubbed on the abdomen can help relax the muscles and balance the hormones that are spiking during this time. Much like we reach for ginger tea when we feel unwell, ginger essential oil can help ground and calm us.
If you’re prone to cramping like we mentioned earlier, you should consider trying a menstrual cup! Women have commonly said that tampons cause cramping especially during the first couple days of your period. Menstrual cups are an egg-shaped vessel that collects menses versus a dry, porous material that absorbs all fluid it comes in contact with. You’re able to safely leave them in your vagina for up to 12 hours! The first couple days of your period you may have to empty the cup sooner than that due to heavy flow. If you’ve ever wondered which menstrual cup size or style is best for you, we have some pointers. We’d love to hear from you if you’ve used essential oils for a menstrual cycle and if you’ve ever considered switching to a menstrual cup!
PLEASE NOTE: This blog post is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice of your doctor. You should regularly consult a physician in matters relating to your health and particularly with respect to anything related to menstruation. If you have any concerns about using a Pixie Cup, consult your doctor before use. If you have any gynecological conditions, please talk to your physician before using any menstrual cup.Pixie Cup has not been sponsored in this post and any links or suggestions are not affiliates, they are purely from personal use or experience.
If you’ve used a menstrual cup or researched menstrual cups at all, you’ve probably read about the importance of measuring your cervix for the proper fit and placement.
Cervix position is likely something you have never thought much about. But it can actually tell you a lot about what’s going on in your body at different times during your cycle. And while measuring your cervix isn’t required in order to use a menstrual cup, being familiar with the placement and position of your cervix may make it easier to find the perfect fit and help you feel more comfortable using a cup!
On the Pixie Cup Blog, we do our best to tell you everything you could ever want to know about your period… and that includes answering frequently asked questions such as “is it normal for my cervix to move during my period?”
The short answer is yes! Your cervix actually goes through lots of changes during the month due to hormonal fluctuations. In fact, not only does your cervix move, it also feels different depending on where you are in your cycle.
What is the cervix?
Before we go any further, let’s talk about what the cervix is. The cervix is the lower part of the uterus. It forms the passage between the uterus and the vagina.
The opening of the cervix is small — it may feel like a thin slit or a dimple. (If you’ve vaginally delivered children, the opening to your cervix may be slightly larger.) That means if you’re using a menstrual cup, it can’t get “lost” in the vagina or be inserted too far. Your cup can only go so far before it hits your cervix!
How to find your cervix
You can locate your cervix by inserting a finger into the vagina (wash your hands first!). If you feel squeamish about checking your cervical position, this is perfectly normal! It’s not something most of us are used to doing, but it will get easier in time. Breathe slowly and try to relax. It may help to squat or put one foot up on the edge of the bathtub. Slowly slide your finger in until you feel the firmer tissue at the top of your vaginal canal. That’s your cervix.
You can tell the difference between your vagina and the cervix because, while vaginal tissue is soft and gives way to pressure, the cervix is more firm. It may feel like the tip of your nose.
Depending on where you are in your cycle, the position and feel of the cervix can change. If you are ovulating, your cervix may be softer, higher, and more difficult to reach. If you’re tracking your cycle, these cervical changes provide important signals about your cycle and your fertility, such as when you’re more likely to get pregnant.
Here’s what happens to your cervix during the different phases of your menstrual cycle, and what all those changes mean.
Cervix position during menstruation
During your period, your cervix is likely low and firmer to the touch, and the opening is a bit larger to allow the menstrual flow to escape.
This is why, if you’re trying to find the right menstrual cup for you, it’s best to measure your cervix right before or during your period. You don’t want to measure your cervix during a time when it’s higher, only to find your menstrual cup doesn’t fit.
Some women find that their cervix is still high during menstruation. If this sounds like you, it could mean that your uterus is situated higher in your abdominal region. Many women also have a tilted or tipped uterus, which can affect the position of the cervix. A high cervix, a high uterus, or a tilted uterus is usually not a cause for concern, and many women don’t even know about these factors until they become pregnant.
Cervix position directly after menstruation
After your period ends, your cervix remains low and firm for a little while. The opening of your cervix will begin to close after the menstrual flow has finished.
Cervix position nearing ovulation
In the days leading up to ovulation, increasing levels of estrogen cause the cervical tissue to soften. The cervix begins to prepare for conception by becoming softer, higher, and more open. At this point, your cervix may feel more like your lips, and it may be hard to reach. All of this means your body is preparing for a possible pregnancy, so if you’re trying to conceive, these are important signs to watch for!
Cervix position during ovulation
During ovulation, your body is most fertile. At this time, your cervix will rise very high, while growing very wet, soft, and open. This is often referred to as SHOW: soft, high, open, wet. This is to allow sperm to pass into the uterus to create a pregnancy.
Cervix position after ovulation
After ovulation, as estrogen levels decline, your cervix will begin to close and drop low once again, becoming firm to the touch.
Cervix position during pregnancy
If you become pregnant, the cervix will not drop, but will remain high and soft. It may feel more closed than it does during ovulation. However, a high cervix following ovulation doesn’t necessarily mean you’re pregnant. Everyone’s body is different, and it may take a while for your body to adjust to the changing hormones throughout your cycle. Regularly tracking your cycle will help you learn what’s normal for you. (Interested in tracking your cycle? Try our free period tracker download!)
Live free every day of the month
At Pixie Cup, our mission is to empower women to live in freedom every day of the year. We believe gaining a greater understanding of all the changes happening during our menstrual cycle will help us do exactly that! It may take some time to get comfortable measuring your cervix and to learn what it all means, but in time you’ll find that it all helps you understand your body better.
Have questions about your cervix or your cycle? Drop them in the comments below!
Your Pixie Cup purchase helps a woman in need
We’re also on a mission to empower every woman in the world with a life-changing period by putting a Pixie Cup in their hands through our Buy One Give One program. It’s a big mission, but with your help, we can do it. As of today, we’ve given over 60,000 cups to those in period poverty — and we won’t stop until every single woman or girl in need has the resources to manage her period with dignity.
This content was originally written on September 9, 2019, and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.
If you’re like most of us, we don’t spend a lot of time thinking about what’s in our tampons. We take some time to figure out what brand works for us, or we spend time in the aisle of Target each month browsing, wanting to try something new. Have you ever noticed that the typical tampon box doesn’t tell you what tampons are made of? We’re tackling that today!
What is a tampon?
We need to start with the basics. If you’re like me, you may have never looked at a tampon let alone used one! I was in my 20s before I strayed from pads and braved the idea of a tampon. A tampon is a rolled sheet of cotton or cotton-like material such as rayon and has a string sewn in. It’s designed to expand in the vagina as it absorbs menstrual fluid.
What are tampons made of?
As we mentioned, tampons are typically constructed out of cotton or a blend with the cotton such as rayon or polyester. While tampons are an approved medical device by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the FDA does not require them to label or disclose what other things may actually be in the tampons. Some of these may not be direct ingredients, but bi-products of the harvesting, growing and production process. So the concept of the tampon is approved, the idea of an absorbent material being inserted into the vagina for menses and being removable by a string. However, not necessarily what it’s made of. Make sense? We don’t think so either.
What chemicals could be in tampons?
Pesticides. On a super basic level, if you don’t reach for an organic tampon option, you could be running the risk of pesticides remaining on the cotton from the growing process.
Fragrances. It’s your period. You typically feel gross and you’re hypersensitive to how you may smell. It’s super tempting to reach for a box of scented tampons! The term ‘fragrance’ is a tricky one here in America. The FDA allows companies to put countless chemicals under the banner of fragrance, unfortunately, without having to specifically name them.
Dioxins + furans. These are part of the bleaching process. Unbleached cotton looks much different than bleached cotton and tampons are not exempt from the bleaching process unless you specifically buy unbleached organic tampons.
What are the side effects of using a tampon?
We’ve talked about what tampons are made of and you’re probably wondering how that affects you directly. Your vagina is a muscle structure that’s super sensitive. You’ve probably heard that most anything you put on your skin (lotion, etc) is absorbed and in your bloodstream in less than a minute. Same goes for your vagina. It’s a very complex environment and the probability of toxins, bleaches and pesticides entering your body via your vagina is high. We also recently spoke about how tampons could negatively effect the vaginal flora that makes up the delicate ecosystem of your vagina. Tampons have been long linked to Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) so we don’t really have to spend a lot of time talking about that.
What is an alternative to tampons?
Thankfully, women’s active and busy lifestyles have demanded a more reliable period protection option. Have you ever thought about a menstrual cup? A menstrual cup is a flexible egg-shaped cup typically made of medical-grade silicone. It’s folded and inserted in the vagina and left to collect period menses. Get a load of this: it can be left in the vagina (safely) for up to 12 hours! Let’s say ‘hello’ to period freedom, shall we? Because a menstrual cup is solid and doesn’t absorb, there isn’t a worry of it affecting your vaginal flora, potentially leading to infection. We haven’t even mentioned how eco-friendly a menstrual cup is and how many tampons it saves from entering landfills!
Talk to us! Ask any questions you may have about menstrual cups or leaving traditional period protection. If you’d rather watch videos, we have a full Youtube channel on questions, tutorials, and common techniques. Head over to our store to see what sizes and styles we have to fit your needs! If you’re wondering what cup is best for you, check this page out too.
Being a menstrual company, we are all about periods all the time. We also get asked a lot of questions regarding female anatomy, menstrual cups and functioning while on your period. A common one is if you are able to poop and pee with a menstrual cup. The short answer is ‘yes!’ Keep reading for the reasons why.
Can I go pee with a menstrual cup?
Yes! It depends on your unique anatomy, whether or not you may have to do some adjusting to your menstrual cup before or after going to the bathroom. Both urinating and having a bowel movement while wearing your menstrual cup is possible! You’ll figure out what works best for you.
Women have two front openings.
The urethra. This is the first opening in the female anatomy. It’s just above the vaginal opening and its job is releasing urine.
The vaginal opening. Bingo! It’s the vagina!
Going pee with a menstrual cup is easy-peasy. If your period cup is positioned properly, you shouldn’t feel it at all. If it has fallen lower in the vaginal canal, it can push against the vaginal wall, creating pressure against your urethra, making it feel like you have to pee constantly. It could make it hard for urine to flow freely as well. If you’ve experienced either of these, you know exactly what I’m talking about! If, when you are wearing your menstrual cup, you feel like you constantly have to pee, try squatting or sitting on the toilet and pushing your period cup up further. Another tip from our friends at Put A Cup In It is to opt for a softer cup! Our Pixie Cup Slim is our softest, most pliable cup yet.
Can I go poop with a menstrual cup?
Some women prefer to remove their menstrual cup before having a bowel movement. A common concern is pushing the menstrual cup out while you’re pooping. We all have the less-than-ideal image in our minds of fishing a period cup from the toilet bowl. We get it! You’ll figure out what is best for you and your body, but we recommend removing your menstrual cup prior to having a bowel movement to free your mind. If you choose to leave it in, just know you more than likely will have to adjust its positioning once you’re through. So much is happening in our bodies during our periods. We’re basically rock stars. Did you know that you actually have to poop morewhen you’re on your period? If you’ve ever thought that, then no, you aren’t going crazy!
Do menstrual cups cause urinary tract infections?
There haven’t been studies done on this specific question but it’s thought that a period cup directly doesn’t cause UTIs, however, our hygiene and use of them may. As we mentioned above, having your period cup positioned properly really will make or break your experience! If you feel like your urine stream is confined when going pee with a menstrual cup, it could stop your bladder from being able to empty fully. UTIs are caused also by bacteria and it’s extremely possible for these germs to be on your hands when you insert your menstrual cup. It’s very important to make sure your hands are cleaned before and after insertion and that you are sterilizing your menstrual cup regularly.