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.
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.
Do you know how long your menstrual cycle is? When your period shows up every month, is it a surprise or do you know it’s coming? When you go to the doctor and they ask for the first date of your last period, are you prepared or do you give them a blank stare? Have you ever been on vacation and been completely caught off guard by Aunt Flo?
Tracking your period can help in all of these situations! Whether you use an app, write everything down on a paper period tracker, or do something completely unique and creative in a bullet journal, keeping track of different symptoms throughout the month can provide you with a wealth of information about your body. Not only will you know when to expect your period, you’ll also know when you’re about to ovulate and be able to identify any unusual symptoms that could indicate a health problem. And, arming yourself with all of this in-depth information about your own body will ultimately make you more comfortable with your cycle and help you feel more in control around “that time of the month.”
So how do you track your cycle? Let’s dive in!
What is a period tracker?
A period tracker is a tool for tracking various symptoms related to your menstrual cycle. Depending on your individual needs, this could include keeping track of information such as:
Your period start and end dates
Your basal body temperature
Your flow volume
PMS symptoms such as cramps or bloating
Irregularities or any areas of concern
Why should you track your period?
There are countless reasons to track your period! At a very basic level, it can help you understand essential information about your menstrual cycle, such as how long your cycle typically lasts. One of the most common reasons to track your period is so that you can predict when your period will start. No more wearing pantiliners for days “just in case” or wondering if it’s okay to plan that weekend camping trip!
Knowing what’s normal for your body will allow you to monitor your health more closely. If you notice any unusual symptoms emerge, you can share these with your doctor. A change in your menstrual cycle is often the first symptom of a health problem — even those that may not seem related to the reproductive system, such as a thyroid issue or diabetes.
Other benefits of tracking your cycle:
Plan important events around your period. You probably don’t want to worry about your period if you have an important event coming up, like a beach vacation or a wedding! Getting intimate with your cycle allows you to plan ahead.
Know when you’re ovulating. You can use this information to your advantage whether your goal is to conceive or avoid conception!
Plan around serious symptoms. Are you prone to anxiety, menstrual migraines, or severe cramps? You can look ahead and plan accordingly. Don’t make plans to go to a party if you know you’re going to want to binge watch your favorite show with a pint of ice cream!
Know right away if your period is later than expected.
How do you track your menstrual cycle?
The symptoms you choose to track are totally up to you! You can keep track of just the length of your cycle, or you can track everything on the list — even add your own information! Our downloadable period tracker includes spaces to track your flow, basal body temperature, cervical fluid, common PMS symptoms, and mood, along with blank lines so you can add any additional information you want to keep track of.
Let’s take a closer look at how to track and use some of this information.
This one is fairly self explanatory: keep track of when your period starts and how long it lasts. The first day of your period is Day One of your cycle, so start a new sheet on that day. Fill in the appropriate box for each day of your cycle according to how heavy your flow is. You may even want to use different colors to make it easy to spot changes over time.
If you like, you can include additional data such as blood color or flow volume.
Basal body temperature
What is basal body temperature (BBT)? Your BBT is the lowest body temperature reached during rest. As you sleep, your body temperature drops slightly. The average BBT range is between 97.0 and 97.7 during the first part of your cycle, and it increases slightly after ovulation.
If you’re interested in keeping track of when you ovulate, your basal body temperature can tell you! Start taking your temperature first thing every morning when you wake up, before you get out of bed. You can use a regular digital thermometer, or if you want to get super exact, use a basal body temperature thermometer specially designed for tracking ovulation.
Hormones released during ovulation make your BBT increase slightly. Midway through your cycle (typically around day 14), you should notice a sudden spike in your BBT. This means you have ovulated! If you’re trying to conceive, now is the perfect time to have intercourse. On the other hand, if you’re not trying to get pregnant, this is NOT a good time to have unprotected sex.
Have you ever noticed a white or off-white discharge in your underwear or on the toilet paper? This cervical mucus, or cervical fluid, is another indication that ovulation is approaching. Cervical fluid is produced by the cervix, and it changes in appearance and consistency as estrogen levels rise and your body prepares for ovulation.
For a few days after your period, you likely won’t see any fluid. During this time, a follicle in your ovary starts producing estrogen as it prepares to release an egg. As estrogen levels increase, more cervical fluid is released. It may change from a creamy, white fluid to a clear, stretchy fluid that is often compared to egg whites.
The purpose of cervical fluid is to help your body get pregnant. The fluid gives sperm a substance to swim in; otherwise, the sperm wouldn’t be able to reach the egg after it’s released. You can use your period tracker to keep track of cervical fluid so that you know when you’re about to ovulate.
Keep track of any other symptoms you experience, such as bloating, cramps, headaches, fatigue, or acne. After a few months of tracking, you may start to see some patterns emerge. This will help you predict when these symptoms are likely to occur during your next cycle so you can be prepared.
How do you calculate when your next period will be?
After ovulation, your cycle enters a stage known as the luteal phase, which lasts until menstruation. This is when the body prepares for a possible pregnancy. Levels of the hormone progesterone begin to rise, triggering the body to thicken the lining of the uterus. If you get pregnant, the fertilized egg has a nice, soft spot to implant and grow. If you don’t get pregnant, that lining is shed during your period.
Here’s the cool thing about the luteal phase: it’s very consistent. So if you know from tracking your cycle that your luteal phase is around 14 days, and if you also chart when you ovulate, you can get a really good idea of when your period will start.
What if your period is late?
Tracking your period will allow you to see right away if your period is late. After you’ve tracked for a few months and have a good idea of the length of your luteal phase, you should know within a couple of days if it’s time to go to the store for a pregnancy test!
You’ve probably heard that stress can delay menstruation. This is true — sort of. Stress can delay ovulation, but it won’t affect the luteal cycle. That means that stress during the first half of your cycle can delay your period, but stress that occurs after ovulation won’t have any effect on the length of your cycle. So if your period is late and you think worrying about it will just delay it further, it won’t! But, if you have severe or unusual stress around the middle of your cycle, it might be a good idea to note that on your tracker.
The end of your cycle
When your period starts again, it’s Day One of a new cycle. Make a note on your tracker of how long your cycle lasted. Unless you have a condition that affects menstruation, like PCOS, you’ll likely start to see a pattern emerge. If you know that your cycle is usually 28 days, you can plan around your period for months in advance!
Your period doesn’t have to be a mystery. Start tracking your cycle and you may be amazed at what you can learn about your own body! This is a lot of information, so don’t worry if it takes several cycles to get the hang of it! If you want to learn more about all of your menstrual symptoms and what they mean, check out the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility.
As always, if you have any questions, we’re here to help! We’d love to know how tracking your cycle has helped you. Drop a comment below to let us know!
A prolapsed uterus can affect women of any age, but primarily affect someone who has gone through menopause or women who have given vaginal birth. Thank goodness it’s not overly common… but it does happen. As scary as it sounds, prolapse isn’t hopeless! Once diagnosed, people dealing with prolapse have an array of options to help them get things back into place. Continue reading for facts and how to prevent or treat uterine prolapse.
What is a prolapsed uterus?
The uterus (or womb) is a muscular structure that’s held in place by pelvic muscles and ligaments. If these muscles or ligaments stretch or become weak, they’re no longer able to support the uterus, causing prolapse. The definition of ‘prolapse’ is slipping or moving downward. In the event of uterine prolapse, the uterus has migrated down from its original placement into the vaginal canal.
A prolapsed uterus may be labeled ‘incomplete’ or ‘complete’. Within those are 4 different degrees also. An incomplete prolapse occurs when the uterus is only partly sagging into the vagina. Complete prolapse occurs when the uterus falls so far down that some tissue protrudes outside of the vaginal opening.
First Degree – the cervix drops into the vagina.
Second Degree – the cervix drops into the vagina just before the opening.
Third Degree – The cervix is outside the vagina.
Fourth Degree – The entire uterus is outside the vagina. This condition is also called procidentia. This is caused by a weakness in all of the supporting muscles.
What causes prolapse?
As mentioned, ‘prolapse’ means movement or slipping downward. So actually this can happen to any organ in the pelvic region. A prolapsed uterus is primarily present in women 50+ or who are postmenopausal. However, it can happen to any woman with these leading factors:
Pregnancy/childbirths with normal or complicated delivery through the vagina (childbirth is probably the biggest strain to the pelvic region known to man)
Weakening and loss of tissue tone after menopause and loss of natural estrogen
Conditions leading to increased pressure in the abdomen such as chronic cough (with bronchitis and asthma), straining (with constipation)
Being overweight or obese with its additional strain on pelvic muscles
Major surgery in the pelvic area leading to loss of external support
Basically, it’s all about muscle and ligaments becoming weak; the uterus needs to be held in place, and if the structures that do that are no longer strong enough, it may slip. Consequently, when one pelvic organ prolapses, it increases the likelihood that others follow because it’s a waving red flag that the group of muscles holding things together in the pelvic area is weak.
Can a menstrual cup cause uterine prolapse?
With new trends and new devices, come new speculations. There aren’t conclusive studies that show menstrual cups cause prolapse of the uterus or other pelvic organs. Healthcare providers do suggest that it can further an already present issue by misuse of a menstrual cup.
When using a menstrual cup, do not bear down on the menstrual cup to lower it in the canal. When you’re wanting to remove the cup, be sure that you completely relax your pelvic muscles prior to removal. Breaking the seal is super important prior to removal. Do so by either pinching the base of the menstrual cup or putting one finger up the side of the cup and listen for the sound of air, meaning the seal has been broken.
What are the symptoms of a prolapsed uterus?
Here are some signs to keep in mind should you have any of the traits above. It greatly depends on the degree of prolapse that is occurring. If it’s mild, doctors will give you a list of exercises and send you on your way!
You feel like you’re sitting on a golf ball. All bodies are different and all situations are different. As mentioned previously, there are different degrees of severity with uterine prolapse. Feeling like you’re sitting on a ball would happen with degree 3 or 4 where the uterus is emerging from the vagina.
Difficulty urinating. Incontinence, urinary hesitancy, or incomplete bladder emptying which can lead to recurrent UTIs. Slow-release of the urine or feeling like something is pressing on your bladder.
Constant cramping or pulling in the pelvic region. This may seem like an obvious one but if one organ is moving away from where it should be, the effect could continue and cause a feeling of “heaviness” in the pelvic region.
Bowl issues. As I mentioned earlier, if something like your uterus is prolapsing, chances are the muscles in your pelvic region are very weak. This can lead to other muscles prolapsing. Props to you if you guessed intestine prolapse!
Seeing your cervix physically birthing from the vagina. At this point, the pain will be inevitable and this would qualify as a medical emergency and you be brought to the emergency room as soon as possible. But even if you just feel something peculiar inside your vagina alongside peculiar sensations in your pelvic area, you should still get yourself checked out as soon as possible.
How can I prevent uterine prolapse?
After all that, that is a really important question!
Exercises for the pelvic floor. You’re in luck! We recently spoke in great detail about strengthening your pelvic floor muscles. There are several exercises and stretches you can do in the comfort of your home on a daily basis that will help whip them into shape!
Kegel Exercises. To identify your pelvic floor muscles, stop urination in midstream. Once you’ve identified your pelvic floor muscles, you can do the exercises in any position, although you might find it easiest to do them lying down at first. To do Kegels, imagine you are sitting on a marble and tighten your pelvic muscles as if you’re lifting the marble. Try it for three seconds at a time, then relax for a count of three. It’s recommended to do these a handful of times a day!
Hormones. If you are postmenopausal, your production of estrogen goes down. This has been linked to the weakening of the muscles in the pelvic region. A doctor could suggest an estrogen cream or suppository to help balance you out. Again, this is only a suggestion for someone hormone-deficient.
Vaginal pessary. This is a vaginal device that supports the uterus and keeps it in position. Crazy right!? It is important to follow the instructions on care, removal, and insertion of the pessary. Discuss with your provider if this treatment is right for you.
Losing weight. Extra weight within the abdomen places unnecessary strain on the pelvic muscles.
Surgery. Thankfully this is the last option and only if your uterine prolapse is in the 3rd or 4th degree.
Using a menstrual cup with a prolapsed uterus
If you are experiencing slight uterine prolapse and you’re premenopausal, you will still have a period! Tampons could lead to easy irritation due to the position of the vagina and uterus if it is prolapsing. Have you thought about trying a menstrual cup? They are a medical-grade silicone cup-shaped device that folds and sits in the vaginal canal to collect menses.
Even with a prolapse, many people have been able to use a menstrual cup successfully and without pain. (yay!) Make sure to measure your cervix to get an idea of the space you’re working with. Most women have reported that a menstrual cup that is designed to sit lower in the vaginal canal works best. We have all the information about cup design and size right over here!
If you suspect you have a prolapse occurring, we urge you to go to your doctor to get checked out and diagnosed. Hopefully, this post made the idea of a prolapsed uterus a little less scary and with some hope for recovery!
Have you experienced a prolapsed uterus in the past? How did you bounce back? Did it affect your menstruation? Be sure to check out our selection of menstrual cups! With the different sizes and shapes, there is one sure to fit your needs!
Bullet journaling has become a super common way of using a planner. Some could say it’s a fad due to its rapid increase in popularity but actually it’s been around for decades! It’s a wonderful method that keeps a record of everything you could ever want to toss at it including tracking your period. It captures the eye of both the methodical record keepers and planners as well as that of the creative, whimsical crowd too. It’s so easily tailored to your personality, so many people have fallen in love with it! Bullet journal period tracking is a great way to keep track of important data related to your flow so that you can spot trends and gain a better understanding of your cycle.
Logging your period is as common as it is important; whether you’re trying to get pregnant, trying to avoid pregnancy or monitoring what your hormones are up to. The data collected provides incredible information on what’s actually happening in your body. Maybe you’re already marking a small ‘x’ or asterisk next to the date on your calendar when your period starts so you sort of know when you can expect Aunt Flo next. A true period bullet journal, though, is a bit more detailed that logs all your period-related symptoms for several months. What’s the first thing your gynecologist asks you when they first walk in the appointment room? 😉
“What’s the first day of your last period?”
Bullet journal tracking allows for more detail
There are many apps you can download from your phone’s app store that can keep this data at your fingertips. However, sometimes apps are limited in what they’re able to track or can tend to fit us into a box… and you, girlfriend, are anything but cookie-cutter! With bullet journaling your period, you’re able to customize it to fit you, through and through. You’re able to document symptoms that are important to you: are you prone to migraines? Need more deodorant? Are you extra fatigued? You can track anything from your mood, to how you’re physically feeling, what foods you’re craving… or really just when you bleed and when you don’t.
Apart from the obvious, here are some bullet journal period tracking ideas:
Your mood or mental health
Times you’ve had sex
Track enough menstrual cycles to capture important patterns
Our periods are there for a reason! They communicate so many things that are actually happening in our bodies. If something is off within us (physical, emotional or mental!) our period is a place where it could show. Hormones have their hand in just about everything and where our period is hormone-driven, the slightest hitch will be shown there!
If you and your physician are trying to get to the bottom of a potential health issue, tracking your period and as many details as you can is important. After a few months, a pattern will be noticeable!
Does your period leave you frustrated? Is it inconsistent? The Period Repair Manual is an awesome resource when questions circle your mind or if you’d just like to know more about the role your cycle plays in your life. This book is a must for any menstruating women’s library!
Keep notes on how you handled your period
We all have period products we know and love. Then there are some of us that haven’t really questioned it, we’ve just always used them because our mom or role model told us to. Trying something different might be a little scary, but it could be well worth it!
Do you use a tampon + a pad during the heavy first few days of your cycle?Does it taper off and you’re able to just use a tampon? Do you find you may be more crampy on the days you use a tampon?
Maybe you should try a menstrual cup! A menstrual cup is a reusable silicone product that holds menses in the vagina and can be worn for up to 12 hours. Most women report that they have less cramping and pain when using a menstrual cup and can even forget they are on their period! Imagine that. These 10 women shared how switching to a cup made their lives better.
How do you track your period? What are some game-changers you’ve learned along the way? We created this handy tracker for each month if you’re looking for something quick, easy and hassle-free!