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

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

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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.

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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

Period pain? Birth control can help!

This week we have an awesome article written by New Gen’s very own clinician, Meredith Warden!!! The article was originally published on Bedsider but it’s a concern we hear at NGHC all the time so we thought it was worth sharing!

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Meredith Warden MD, MPH is a Family Planning Clinical Fellow and an Ob/Gyn at the University of California, San Francisco. She lives in San Francisco with her fantastic skateboarding husband and their little mini dachshund named Stretch. She loves being outside doing anything, and reading anywhere, anytime.

 

Hormonal birth control is one of the best ways to manage painful periods.

Having a painful period can mess up your day, or week—or weeks! Every woman’s period is different and the same woman’s periods are often different over time. So how do you know if the pain you have with your period is normal? And what can you do to make your periods  less painful?

For more information on periods, check out some previous blogs!

Aunt Flow’s Monthly Visit

When Aunt Flow DOESN’T Visit

My periods are really painful. Am I normal?

It’s normal for women to have some cramping, bloating, nausea, or diarrhea before their period starts each month. These symptoms can continue for a few days after the period starts, and they can be annoying—but they shouldn’t interfere with going to school or work, or with otherwise living life.

Here’s what’s not normal:

  • Moderate to severe cramps or lower belly pain with every period.
  • Periods so bad that they interfere with work, school, or life in general

crampsSo what’s the problem, exactly?

Periods like this may be dysmenorrhea—a fancy medical term for pain with menstruation. There are several possible causes of severe period pain, some of which have special treatment options.

  • The cells from the lining of the uterus may be growing into the muscles of the uterus (adenomyosis) or on other organs in the body (endometriosis).
  • The muscle of the uterus may be growing fibroids.
  • The uterus may be releasing too much of a substance called prostaglandins, causing its muscles to contract irregularly and leading to big-time pain.

The good news is that you don’t have to put up with this pain! If you’re having abnormally bad periods, talk to your health care provider about what might be causing the pain and how to treat it. There are a few things you can do to make your periods less painful, shorter, or go away altogether.

And what are the solutions?

1. Make your periods less painful. You can buy pain killers like ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) at the drug store. Start taking them right when you first start feeling symptoms, or if your cycle is really regular, take them just before you expect your period.

3-02-11-ibuprofen2. Make your periods lighter. All types of hormonal birth control are even better at reducing pain than over-the-counter meds. The hormonal IUD, the implant, the shot, the pill, the patch, and the ring will all make periods lighter. This is because these methods of birth control make the lining of the uterus thinner. There’s less tissue in the uterus to shed, so periods are lighter. One special note on the implant and the shot: for some women, these methods cause more days of spotting or bleeding, but periods become lighter and less painful overall.

3. Have fewer periods. The ultimate solution may be to have as few periods as possible. Several methods of birth control can make periods go away for months or even years at a time:

  • One of the best ways to treat painful periods is to get the hormonal IUD Mirena. This IUD makes periods lighter and shorter for nearly all women, and many stop getting periods even after one year of use. The chance that you’ll stop getting your period increases the longer you use it. Periods should be light or nonexistent as long as you use a Mirena—up to 5 years. (Of course you don’t have to use it for all 5 years—you can have it removed anytime you want to. Your ability to get pregnant returns right after it’s removed.)

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  • You can use the pill or the ring continuously. Some brands of the pill are packaged for 3 months of continuous use (e.g. Seasonale or Seasonique). But you don’t need a fancy brand: with a monophasic pill, instead of having a few days of placebo pills when you’d normally get your period, you can just start a new pack of active pills. Here are more details on how to use the pill this way. (However, this may not be an option for those using Family Pact, the little green card we give you at New Gen, to pay for their pills because Family Pact will only give 3 packs of pills every 3 months – ask NGHC for more information about this.) For the ring, instead of having the ring out for a few days when you’d normally get your period, you can just change your ring once a month and skip the week without one. After 3-6 months, you may have break-through bleeding.

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  • You can try the shot, which causes about half of women to stop getting periods after a year of use.

DMPAWhen hormonal birth control stops your period, it’s because the lining of the uterus gets so thin that there’s nothing to shed. It’s totally safe to skip periods this way, so if you suffer from serious period pain, talk to your provider about what you can do about it.

If you have questions or you are experiencing period pain, come see us at New Gen! We would love to help put an end to your period pain!

Thank you for reading,

Meredith Warden, MD