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

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

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

LARC? What the heck is that??

LONG ACTING REVERSIBLE CONTRACEPTIVES!!!! So what does THAT mean?  It refers to birth control methods that last a long time (for YEARS) but are not permanent.  Meaning, once they are removed a woman can get pregnant!

What birth control methods are considered LARC?  The IUD (the Mirena & Paragard) and the Implanon/Nexplanon.

Although I have already written about the awesomeness of the IUD and the Implanon/Nexplanon why not hear from women who are actually using (and loving) them?  And yup, that’s me there in the video talking about why I LOVE my IUD.

Didn’t catch those articles? Just click here to read about the IUD and click here to read about the Implanon/Nexplanon.

Let me know what YOU think about these methods for a chance to win $25 to Old Navy.  You can tell me what you’ve heard about them, why you think people should or shouldn’t use them, or anything else you think is worth while to share about the IUD or Implanon/Nexplanon.  I love hearing what y’all have to say!

In happiness & health,

Shawna

When Aunt Flow DOESN’T Visit….P.S. There is a chance to win something in this post!

periods

Why is my period sometimes irregular?

If you miss your period and have had unprotected sex, the first thing to check for is pregnancy.  You can take a pregnancy test at home or come into to New Gen! Why would missing a period be a sign of pregnancy?? Leave a comment with the answer for a chance to win a $25 gift card to Old Navy!!!!

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Different pregnancy tests need different amounts of time after a sexual encounter to show pregnancy.  At our clinic, at least 10 days need to pass after a missed period.

That being said, when a pregnancy test comes back negative, many girls wonder why they would have missed a period or why they only get their period a few times a year without being pregnant.  Almost every woman misses a period at some point in her life, for many reasons:

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Age: For the first few years after a woman starts menstruating (in her teens) and for a few years leading up to her last period (in her 40’s or 50’s), it is common for periods to be irregular.  This has to do with the body’s adjustment to having a menstrual cycle or not having a menstrual cycle and changing hormone levels.  

Birth Control: Many birth control methods  can impact your cycle. Check out the list below to see which methods do what to your period.

  • The pill, patch and ring:  These methods usually cause very regular periods, happening during the fourth week of the method when there are no hormones.  Usually the periods are lighter, and shorter.  Women sometimes have some spotting at other times in the first month or two of starting this method
  • The Depo shot:  Bleeding can be very irregular at first, but will likely get lighter and lighter and possibly disappear entirely.
  • The Implanon:  Tends to make women’s bleeding irregular.  This could be many months of no bleeding, bleeding or spotting at irregular times, or spotting throughout the month.
  • The Mirena IUD (hormonal, 5 year): bleeding can be very irregular at first, but tends to get lighter and usually stops entirely.
  • The Paragard IUD (copper/non-hormonal, 10 year):  Women usually have a period in the same pattern as when using no hormonal birth control method (whether that is every month or not), but it is slightly longer, heavier and crampier than their normal periods.
  • Many women worry if they aren’t getting their periods that their bodies may be “clogging up” — but don’t worry, if you are not having your period because of a birth control method  it means that your body is simply not creating the uterine lining (hormones are what control the uterine lining development).
  • Missing a pill or patch – you can get unexpected bleeding or spotting for days afterward.
  • Stopping the shot – you can have several months of no bleeding or irregular bleeding before your normal period returns.
  • Taking the “morning after pill” can cause a little bleeding a day or two after you take it, and make your next period come a little earlier or later.

Stress/Changes:  If your period is usually regular, stress can cause a delayed period.  Perhaps you are feeling tired, worried, or dealing with a big change in your life.  For whatever reason your body may decide it is not a good time to get pregnant.  Over-exercise, poor nutrition, and sudden weight loss can all be kinds of “stress.”                        

Medical Problems: There are a couple medical problems that can cause skipped periods, including ovarian cysts, polycystic ovarian syndrome or amenorrhea.  If you are not getting your period and are not sure why, check with your doctor or make an appointment at New Gen.

As you can see, this is a complicated issue! Periods can be as different as women’s bodies are, and many, many life factors can have an effect on our cycles. We recommend using a calendar to keep track! There are many free menstrual calendars online as well as many popular phone apps!

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If your cycle ever changes or you simply have questions about your periods, come see us!

Next Week:  Pads and tampons aren’t the only options when it comes to managing your period!!!

-Barbara Haupt, AmeriCorps Member

Reviewed by Debbie Davidson, NP