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

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.

grace-period-300x199
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!

Stick It Before You Kick It! The 101 on the Birth Control Patch!

Happy 2014!!

This is the first blog of the year! Yay! It’s also the last Friday of the month! Why is that important? Well, I will now only be posting new blogs on the last Friday of the month! I may sneak additional blogs in from time to time but from here on out, you can expect to see a new post at the end of the month. Don’t worry though; you can still contact me by email anytime you have any questions – askshawna@yahoo.com

The first blog of the year is about the birth control patch. I have gotten several emails lately with questions about the patch and so I’m here to tell you all about it! And as always, feel free to comment or email any additional questions you may have.

What is the birth control patch?

T_BC_the-patchThe birth control patch is a small patch that sticks to your skin to prevent pregnancy. Like other methods of birth control, the patch includes a combination of an estrogen (estradiol) and progestogen (progestin) to prevent pregnancy. If used correctly, the patch is a very effective (meaning it works really well) at preventing pregnancy.

How does the birth control patch work?

The patch works by “telling” the ovaries not to release an egg (called ovulation). If no egg is released, there is nothing for sperm to fertilize (the fertilization of an egg by sperm results in pregnancy). However, if the patch is missed or used incorrectly, the ovaries don’t get the message (and may release an egg) making pregnancy possible if there has been recent unprotected sex (sex without a condom).

How to use the patch:

Patch How ToWear the first patch for 7 days. At the end of the 7 days, take off the first patch and apply a new patch in a different location (see below for acceptable patch locations). At the end of those 7 days, take the second patch off and apply a new one in a different location. After the end of those 7 days, take the patch off and DO NOT apply another one. Instead, leave the patch off for 7 days. That’s, 3 weeks on & 1 week off.

It’s during those 7 days of NOT wearing a patch that most women get their period (however, some women may or may not bleed the entire 7 days). Regardless of whether or not you are still bleeding, start a new patch only when the 7 days are complete. No sooner and no later.

Never go more than 7 days without wearing a patch, if you do, you may get pregnant.

Don’t use lotions or makeup on your skin near where the patch is

Don’t put the patch on the same part of your body for 2 weeks in a row – skin may become irritated. Also, don’t wear the path on your legs or breasts.

Some women experience breast tenderness when they first start using the patch. That generally goes away within a few weeks.

Before applying a new patch, think about the clothes you may wear that week and whether or not the patch may be visible.

Why some people love the birth control patch:

What to do if a patch falls off or I make a mistake?  

Issues and mistakes with the patch happen. Although the patch is designed not to come off the skin, it’s definitely possible. Also, sometimes patch users forget when to take off or put on a new patch (if you forget often, you might want to consider switching birth control methods). Knowing what to do if that happens can help prevent an unplanned pregnancy. Read the following for some general instructions on what to do if a patch mistake happens!

If a Patch edge lifts up:

Press down firmly on the Patch with the palm of your hand for 10 seconds, making sure that the whole Patch adheres to your skin. Run your fingers over the entire surface area to smooth out any “wrinkles” around the edges of the Patch.

  • If your Patch does not stick completely, remove it and apply a replacement Patch (no backup method is needed and your Patch Change Day will stay the same). Ask your healthcare professional for a replacement Patch prescription so you always have an extra Patch available.
  • Do not tape or wrap the Patch to your skin or reapply a Patch that is partially adhered to clothing

If your Patch has been off or partially off:

  • For less than 1 Day, try to reapply it. If the Patch does not adhere completely, apply a new patch immediately. (No backup contraception is needed and your Patch Change Day will stay the same)
  • For more than 1 Day or if you are not sure for how long, you may become pregnant. To reduce this risk, apply a new Patch and start a new 4-week cycle. You will now have a new Patch Change Day and must use non-hormonal backup contraception (such as a condoms) for the first week of your new cycle

How to purchase a REPLACEMENT Patch:

  • You can get a replacement Patch at the pharmacy where you filled your prescription
  • You will need a replacement Patch prescription from your healthcare professional
  • Unfortunately, Family Pact does not pay for the replacement patch. You will need to pay for the replacement Patch when you pick it up at the pharmacy.

From the Ortho Evra website:

http://www.orthoevra.com/how-use-loose-fall.html

In happiness & health,

Shawna

Reviewed by Kohar Der Simonian, MD and Andrea Raider, NP

Dare to Bare? Shaving tips for pubic hair removal!

Pubic hair (hair around the penis, vulva, or anus) is a totally normal part of becoming an adult. However, some people (and it’s not just the ladies) would rather not have it, so they choose to shorten it or remove it all together (but if you aren’t one of them, don’t worry! Pubic hair is totally normal). The most common way of removing pubic hair is by shaving. Although shaving is meant to leave the area smooth and hairless, it can instead leave the area irritated! Razor burn and ingrown hairs are common concerns for those just starting to shave their pubic area so New Gen has come up with a few tips to help ya out.

Pubic Hair

1. If you have long hairs (usually those who have never shaved or haven’t shaved in a long time), trim the hairs with clippers or scissors first. Electric clippers are best for this purpose.

Trimming

2. The softer the hairs, the easier it will be for you to shave. Try taking a long, warm bath before shaving, or choose to shave at the end of your shower.

3. Apply shaving gel a few minutes before shaving to soften hairs. If you have sensitive skin, you might want to try a hypoallergenic or fragrance-free brand.

4. Use a sharp and or new razor. The sharper the razor blade, the better it will work and less irritation it will cause to your skin.

New razor

5. When shaving, don’t move the razor over the same area more than twice. This will help reduce skin irritation.

         On the first stroke, go with the direction of hair growth to remove most of the hair.

         On the second stroke, go against the direction of hair growth for a smooth, close shave. If going against the direction of the hair growth tends to irritate you (and for many it does, especially when they are new to shaving), then skip that and do both strokes going the same direction of hair growth.

shaving_directions

6. Clean the area after shaving with mild soap and water to reduce the risk of infection. Continue to practice clean hygiene, washing the area at least once a day to reduce sweat and oil build-up.

7. Go as long as possible between shavings to reduce skin irritation.

A few extra tips:

1. The skin around your genitals is extra sensitive. Some people can be allergic to some types of shave gel. If you have sensitive skin, you might want to try a hypoallergenic or fragrance-free brand of shave gel.

2. To reduce the risk of ingrown hairs and razor bumps after shaving, use an exfoliating brush or loofah sponge when washing the area daily.

ingrownhair razor bump

3. When the hair starts growing back, it can be uncomfortable and itchy. Chaffing is nearly unavoidable, but exfoliating the area regularly can help. Exfoliating means removing the outer most layer of dead skin cells. This can be done with a loofah or wash cloth.

Towels with Bath Spa Kit and Gladiolus

4. If you have tried shaving and you don’t like it for whatever reason but still want a sleeker look, consider closely trimming your hair instead of shaving. It provides many of the benefits of shaving without all the risks!

street_art_big_size_17

In happiness & health,

Shawna

Reviewed by Kohar Der Simonian, MD

Does the URGE to Go Leave You BURNING to Know? The Dreadful Urinary Tract Infection!

Hi Shawna,

I feel like I have to pee all the time and when I go nothing happens except for a lot of pain and burning. What’s wrong?

-Anonymous

Hi,

Before I begin to answer your question you need to know that I cannot diagnose your problem via email (meaning I can’t tell you exactly what’s wrong). Only an in-person visit with a clinician can tell you what is going on. If you live in the Bay Area, give us a call at 415.502.8336 to schedule an appointment.

That being said, I can tell you that these symptoms are commonly associated with a urinary tract infection.What is a urinary tract infection?

A urinary tract infection, often referred to as a UTI, is an infection in any part of your urinary system (the part of your body that makes pee) — your kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. Most infections happen in the lower urinary tract system — the bladder and the urethra. The bladder is where urine is stored before leaving the body. The urethra is the tube that connects the bladder to the outside of the body.Check out the diagram below.

UTIAlthough men can get UTI’s, it isn’t very common. That’s because the urethra, the tube that connects the bladder to the outside of the body, is shorter in women then it is in men making it much easier for bacteria (the germs that cause the infection) to travel from the outside of the body into the inside.

Most UTI symptoms include

  • A frequent and strong urge to pee
  • Despite the frequent and strong urge to pee, there may actually be little to no pee when trying to go
  • A burning sensation when peeing
  • Pee that appears cloudy
  • Pee that appears red, bright pink or cola-colored — a sign that blood may be present in your pee (not a good thing)
  • Strong-smelling pee
  • Pelvic pain in women (lower abdominal/stomach area pain)
  • Rectal pain in men (pain in the butt, literally)

It’s important to see a clinician right away if you are experiencing any of these symptoms because an untreated UTI can lead to more serious complications, like a kidney infection. Once a clinician diagnoses a UTI, antibiotics are given to clear the infection.

There are a few things you can do to prevent UTI’s and that includes wiping from front to back after using the bathroom. That will help prevent bacteria from the anus (butt-hole) finding their way into the urethra and into the bladder. Also, drinking plenty of water and peeing when you feel the need will flush bacteria from the bladder often and prevent them from multiplying and causing a problem. Lastly, for women, emptying your bladder right before and right after sex can really help reduce your risk of getting a UTI!

As always, let me know if you have any questions.

In happiness & health,

Shawna

Reviewed by Koher Der Simonian, MD

Happy Pride Everyone!!!

New Gen joins in on celebrating LGBTQI Pride!

We are not claiming to be experts on this subject. Like all kinds of people, many LGBTQI people have their own way of explaining what their identity means to them or what their experience may be . This blog is just a brief view into what is a huge and active conversation around the world. If you find yourself wanting to learn more, or want to join in on that conversation, we include some sites to check out at the end of this blog.

This past weekend, June 29-30, was Pride Weekend in San Francisco—a weekend when people from across the country and throughout the Bay Area come together to celebrate the LGBTQI community. According to the SFPride website, this event is “the largest LGBT gathering in the nation.” This is something for all San Franciscans to be proud of!

Identifying with one or more of these terms is totally personal. It is 100% OK if you don’t identify with any of these terms or don’t know which of these you consider yourself right now. It’s also totally normal if how you identify changes over a lifetime. While the identities represented by all these letters may be separate, many of the people in these groups have come together to support each other and work for a common cause of acceptance, equal rights and access to services. Even if we don’t personally identify with any of these letters, many of us have loved ones, friends, coworkers, and neighbors who do. As a clinic, we welcome LGBTQI patients and do our best to make every person comfortable!

 So what do all these letters stand for exactly? They represent different kinds of

Sexualities—Based on sexual attraction and romantic love: homosexual, heterosexual, bisexual, queer.

Gender Expression—Based on how a person wants the world to see them: feminine, masculine, transgender*, androgynous*,   or genderqueer*.

*Some transgender people may identify simply as female or male, while others may identify as trans.

*Androgynous: some people desire to look neither masculine nor feminine.

*Genderqueer: some people desire to look sometimes feminine, sometimes masculine, sometimes both or neither, and not stick to one gender at all times.

Biological sexesBased on sexual anatomy: male, female, intersex.

All three of these identities can and do include more than just appearance — identity is never that simple. As you read on, you’ll see there is a lot of grey in between.

Gingerbread

http://itspronouncedmetrosexual.com/2011/11/breaking-through-the-binary-gender-explained-using-continuums/

L: Lesbian. Women who are attracted to other women.

G: Gay. Someone who is attracted to other people of the same sex. A man who is attracted to other men OR a woman who is attracted to other women.

B: Bisexual. A person who is attracted to people of both sexes.

T: Transgender. A person who identifies as a different gender than the biological sex they were assigned at birth based on their sexual organs. The gender with which someone identifies does not necessarily have to do with their sexual orientation (heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, queer).

Q: Queer. Some people prefer to call themselves “queer” instead of “gay” or “bisexual” because they feel it is less confining (they may feel attracted to people regardless of gender or not want to think about attraction in terms of two genders or sexes).

I: Intersex. A person who is biologically both sexes. This can mean they have the hormones, genes, and/or anatomy of both a male and female.

It can be a huge leap for someone to open up to friends, family, health care providers, employers or coworkers about any one of these identities. That’s what make events like Pride Weekend so awesome!

Happy Pride Everyone! This past weekend and everyday!

Barbara Haupt

For more information check out:

San Francisco LGBT Community Center – Resources for LGBTQI people an queer education.

LyricActivities, tutoring, recreation, health and sex ed. for GLBTQ youth

SFQueer A Calendar for Queer events and activities in the Bay Area

The Trevor Project 24 hr. suicide prevention and crisis hotline

Transgendered San Francisco Support and social group for the Transgender community.

Intersex Society for North America

National Center for Lesbian Rights