Thank you, Readers!

Hi Everyone!!!

It is with a sad heart that I inform you that I am no longer the Clinic Coordinator at New Generation Health Center. That being said, I will no longer be writing regular blogs (I will be a very very busy nursing student at Samuel Merritt University). I will still answer questions submitted to the blog but those answers (or anything I say here) will no longer be affiliated with New Generation Health Center. I can’t thank you all enough for subscribing and reading over the years.

indexIn happiness & health,

Shawna

Out Run Aunt Flow! – Exercising on your Period!

periods

Running is one of my favorite things to do. But it can be even more challenging when you’re on your period. If you’re anything like me, your period can leave you feeling bloated, crampy, and irritable. Ugh! Exercise is often the last thing women want to do feeling like that! However, exercising on your period is not only safe; it’s actually GOOD for you!!!

Menstrual Cramps:

Exercising on your period has all kinds of benefits! Exercise releases endorphins (chemicals in your brain) which naturally reduce pain!!! Yes, exercise can actually make cramps less painful! That’s because the endorphins help break down the hormone that causes menstrual cramps!

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However, if you feel really ill or have extreme cramps, don’t force yourself to exercise. Sometimes when your body is asking for rest, it’s because all it really needs to recover is a bit of rest.

Protection:

Okay, so exercise is good for cramps but many women still worry about “springing a leak.” Fortunately, you can keep your period a secret by using the right tools!

Try using a tampon or menstrual cup rather than pads or panty liners; these options will trap the blood before it even leaves your body. If you’re still worried, double up your protection by using a panty liner with a tampon or menstrual cup.

Tampons:

A tampon is a cotton insert or other absorbent material placed into the vaginal canal to absorb menstrual flow. They come in all different sizes and with different (or no) applicators so you may want to try a few to see what feels most comfortable. And contrary to popular belief, tampons do not have any effect on virginity. I promise. Oh, they can also be worn while swimming!

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Menstrual Cup:

A menstrual cup is a flexible cup (usually made from medical grade silicone) worn inside the vagina during menstruation to collect menstrual fluid. Unlike tampons and pads, the cup collects menstrual fluid rather than absorbing it and can be worn for up to 12 hours! Menstrual cups are more cost-efficient and environmentally friendly than tampons, most cups are reusable, and can be used for up to 5-10 years. Like tampons, can also be worn while swimming!
CupsPanty Liners:

Super thin pad designed to absorb daily vaginal discharge, light menstrual flow, or “spotting.” Also used as a backup for tampons and menstrual cups.

Blog3Clothing:

Wearing the right workout clothes is always important but even more so when you’re on your period. Try wearing loose-fitting clothing; tight clothing can add pressure to an already bloated tummy (definitely not comfortable). Sports bras are the exception to that rule. Sports bras should be snug but not super tight (you should be able to comfortably take a deep breath). The straps should be wider than a normal bra and should not dig into your shoulders. Test the bra’s support by jumping or running in place. You’ll be able to feel whether it’s sufficiently supportive or not.

Sports Bras

For more information, click here to check out some tips to picking the right sports bra! Thanks Runner’s World!

ApixChoose pants that are in a dark color (black always works best). Avoid wearing anything super tight or super short. Also, avoid wearing thongs. Instead, wear boy-short type underwear which not only work great with panty liners but adds an additional layer of clothing in case of a leak. Lastly, throw on a dark sweatshirt or jacket before you head out; if you experience any leaks you can use the sweatshirt or jacket to tie around your waist to hide it! Outfit2

Want to learn more about periods? Check out these previously published posts or send me an email at justaskshawna@yahoo.com!

Aunt Flow’s Monthly Visit

Managing Your Period – Toolbox for Aunt Flow

When Aunt Flow Doesn’t Visit

In happiness & health,

Shawna

Reviewed by Andrea Raider, NP

Success Baby

Pearly Penile What???

Hi Shawna,

I just started having sex with my new boyfriend and I noticed he had some small bumps around the head of his penis. I asked him about it and he said that his doctor told him it was normal. He said it was called pearly pimples or something like that. What is that and is it something I should worry about it?

Thanks!
______________________________________________________________________

Great Question! Does it look something like this???

pearly-penile-papules

This is called Pearly Penile Papules, often abbreviated to PPP. They are tiny bumps that form a ring around the head of the penis. PPP is fairly common; about 20%-30% of the male population has them. We don’t know what causes them but we do know that PPP is nothing to worry about. PPP is not a sexually transmitted infection, it is not contagious, and poses no health risks. Although normal and totally not harmful, some men may choose to have them removed for aesthetic reasons (meaning, they don’t know like the way they look).

While PPP are harmless, other lumps or bumps in the genital area may not be. It’s always a good idea to be checked out by a clinician whenever in doubt.

In happiness & health,

Shawna

Reviewed by Kohar Der Simonian, MD

On and Off the Birth Control Train

Hi Shawna,

I’ve stopped taking my pills a month ago because I wanted to try a different method but I changed my mind and want to stick to pills. I still have 3 filled packs. Is it safe if I start again tomorrow?

Questions about the Pill

PrintHi,

This is a great question!!

You can definitely restart your pills tomorrow or whenever you’d like! Just remember to use a backup method, like condoms, for the entire first week. In fact, you should always use condoms if you are concerned about STD’s or HIV. Also, your period might be slightly off for the first pill pack, but that is normal and OK. If you don’t get a period in 4 weeks, come in for a pregnancy test.

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Hope this helps answer your question!

In happiness & health,

Shawna

Want more information about the pill, like what to do if you miss a pill, click here!

Reviewed by Kohar Der Simonian, MD

To bleed or not to bleed?? How to control your period using the NuvaRing!

Hi Shawna,

I am going on vacation soon and really don’t want to be on my period. I am using the NuvaRing and my best friend told me that if I kept it in, I would skip my period. Is that true?

-Anonymous

Swim-when-You-Are-on-Your-Period-Step-5

Hi,

Great question! Your friend is right!

Although I have written about the ring before, I have not written about how to use it to skip periods (which is totally safe). For those who have never heard of the NuvaRing or still a bit confused about it, check out my previous blog post by clicking here.

NuvaRing 1

It’s actually pretty simple to skip a period using the ring. Instead of taking the ring out after 3 weeks and going ring free for a week, simply leave the ring in for 4 weeks and immediately replace it with a new ring when the 4 weeks is up. This means there will not be a time in which you aren’t wearing a ring. Don’t worry; your ring is still protecting you against pregnancy during the 4th week, just don’t forget to remove it and replace it when the 4th week is up. You can do this just once or continually. And remember, it’s totally safe not to have a period, so using your ring in this way is a great option for people who hate having their periods.

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Let me know if you have any other questions!

In happiness & health,

Shawna

Reviewed by Kohar Der Simonian, MD

Get the Skinny on Weight Gain & Birth Control

Many women are worried about gaining wight on birth control. In fact, it’s something women ask us about nearly every day here at New Gen. Fortunately, it’s not necessarily true. Check out this article written for Bedsider by Jessica Morse, MD, MPH. Some of you might even remember Dr. Morse, she was a clinician here at New Gen a few years ago and she is most definitely missed!

BCM & Weight Gain

What myths have you heard about birth control??? First 3 people who leave a comment about a birth control myth they’ve heard will win a $5 gift card to Starbucks or Jamba Juice.

Gaining weight: Is it the birth control?
If those skinny jeans are feeling a bit too skinny, don’t assume your birth control is the cause.

It’s a common story. A woman starts using hormonal birth control, finds herself gaining weight, and assumes the birth control is to blame. The tricky thing is that lots of research about hormonal birth control shows that, with one important exception, it’s probably not the birth control.

A note on personal experiences vs. the big picture:
Before we lay out the evidence, we want to acknowledge the difference between looking at lots of women on average versus an individual woman. Research tells us about women on average, but not about specific women’s experiences. When we describe what happens for women on average, we are not dissing personal stories. (Bedsider has big love for personal stories!)

Here’s why the big picture is important: it sets our expectations. Being influenced by our expectations is a basic part of human nature. That’s why the placebo effect exists, and it’s why this hatpin trick is gross even though we know it’s fake.
The big picture

Researchers have looked at whether hormonal birth control makes it more likely to get bloated or hungry. They’ve also looked at women’s weight changes over time when using specific birth control methods and compared them with women using methods with no hormones. With one exception, they’ve found no direct link between using hormonal birth control and gaining weight. Here are the details.

IUDs: There are two kinds of IUDs. One kind releases a low dose of progestin hormone (Mirena and Skyla) and the other kind has no hormones (ParaGard). Both kinds of IUDs mainly work inside the uterus, so there are minimal effects on the rest of the body. Studies show no difference in weight changes between women using hormonal IUDs and women using birth control without hormones.

The implant: The implant also releases a low dose of progestin hormone. Because the implant is relatively new, there are fewer studies about it. Early studies showed that about 5% of women using the implant got them removed due to concerns about weight gain. However, the weight changes don’t appear to be different between women using the implant and women using birth control without hormones.

The pill, the patch, and the ring: Birth control pills contain both an estrogen and progestin hormone, and are probably one of the most studied medicines on Earth. Many studies show that the pill does not cause weight gain, yet concern about weight gain is the main reason why women quit taking it. The ring and the patch are similar to the pill in terms of their ingredients and dose, so are not likely to cause weight gain, either.

That important exception

The shot: Most women don’t gain weight because of the shot, but some do. Interestingly, weight gain on the shot seems to be more common in young women who are already considered overweight. Additionally, the women prone to gaining weight because of the shot will usually notice a change within the first six months. If weight gain is absolutely not okay for you, the shot may not be the best choice.

The takeaway:

Understanding all of the details that can affect weight—like diet, exercise, and genetics—can feel overwhelming. The tendency is for people to gain weight throughout their lives, so being a year older is more likely to cause weight gain than birth control. But like we said—this is on average and doesn’t take into account women’s personal experiences. If you think your birth control is affecting your weight in a way you don’t like, talk to your health care provider to find another effective method that works for you.

No matter what birth control you’re using, it’s important to get a daily cardiovascular workout. And no one says you have to leave the bedroom for that.

Jessica Morse, MD, MPH

Exercise & Eating

Thank you Bedsider and Dr. Morse for busting this common myth!

In happiness & health,

Shawna

Don’t forget to leave a comment about birth control myths you’ve heard to win a $5 gift card to Starbucks of Jamba Juice!