Period poverty is real and impacting folks in your city today.
Here's how you can help.
Period poverty is real and impacting folks in your city today.
Here's how you can help.
Over the last week, your social feed might’ve been a little bit more period positive than you’re used to. That’s because May 28 was Menstrual Hygiene Day, a day dedicated to raising awareness of the challenges people face because of their periods and how we might address those challenges.
Now hold up. Some of you might be thinking, “OK, OK, so cramps are evil and sometimes my period seriously takes me out for an entire day, but what’s this whole ‘menstrual hygiene’ thing? Are you implying my period makes me dirty? Rude.”
Not at all. Your period is a natural bodily function. But across the globe – and even in your own neighborhood – there are people experiencing homelessness and poverty who:
So what are they using for period products? Sadly, anything they can find, including rags, newspapers, bunched up toilet paper and any other materials they can find to create makeshift pads and tampons. This is incredibly unhygienic, and it’s causing people to get infections, miss school, miss work, ruin what few clothes they might have, and much more.
We shouldn’t let this happen if we’re able to help. When periods are a fact of life for people with uteruses, people shouldn’t be forced to create unclean, makeshift period products.
And that’s the whole point of Menstrual Hygiene Day. Even though periods are a natural bodily function, they’re still (oddly) a taboo subject, so we still need a big awareness campaign to educate people about the problem.
Menstrual Hygiene Affects Us All
So Menstrual Hygiene Day is a big step for period positivity, but the campaign’s got a long way to go as far as inclusivity goes. The Menstrual Hygiene Day campaign materials are designed with the gender binary in mind. They’re very pink, feature only graphics of girls, and use gendered language. Basically, they think only girls get periods.
Not only are women not the only people who get periods, but they’re also not the only people who experience poverty and homelessness. In both Canada and the United States, transgender communities face a higher level of poverty and homelessness than cisgender communities. And many trans people report facing discrimination at shelters because they are transgender.
Imagine the challenges the trans communities face when it comes to menstrual hygiene. I mean, how are you supposed to get period products when people don’t even believe you get a period?
Let’s say it together: menstrual hygiene affects us all.
Menstrual Hygiene is a Year-Round Issue
Menstrual Hygiene Day may only be one day a year, but that doesn’t mean our efforts to help those in need should only happen on May 28.
Globally, Menstrual Hygiene Day events will continue through June, with:
More locally – and on the opposite coast from where Lunapads is located – The Period Purse, a grassroots organization that provides purses filled with pads, tampons and wellness items directly to the homeless, abused and impoverished across Canada, is hosting several events in the Toronto area to support menstrual hygiene awareness:
And, remember, Lunapads created the program One4Her in partnership with AFRIpads. A portion of Lunapads’ gross annual sales plus customer donations goes toward projects that support menstrual and reproductive health in Uganda. That means you’re making a difference just by shopping Lunapads. How cool is that?
Cover image courtesy of The Homeless Period.
Mika Doyle is a writer and poet whose work has appeared in Bitch Media, Role/Reboot, and Everyday Feminism (under a pseudonym). Follow her on Twitter at @mikadoyle and visit her website at mikadoyle.com.
“I laughed so hard, tears ran down my legs!”
“When I sneeze, I cross my legs and hope for the best!”
“Trampoline? Not without a change of pants!”
March is endometriosis awareness month! Whether you’re wondering if you have endometriosis, or you’ve never heard anything about it, this quick primer will help you know what to look out for.
Endometriosis is a medical condition that causes the tissue that normally lines the uterus—endometrium, to grow outside of the uterus. It generally affects people with uteruses from their teens to their early 40’s. Sometimes this condition has no symptoms, other times it can cause painful periods and infertility. At least 5 million people in the US have endometriosis, but the number is likely higher, since many people don’t realize they even have it.
How does it work?
The tissue inside of your uterus is called endometrium. Each month, your hormones cause the endometrium to thicken in preparation for ovulation. If pregnancy results, the fertilized egg attaches to the tissue and begins to grow. When you’re not pregnant, the uterine lining sheds - causing that wonderful process called menstruation.
If someone has endometriosis, the tissue develops outside of the uterus, most commonly on ovaries, fallopian tubes, and the tissue lining the pelvis. Tissue outside of the uterus can’t exit the body during menstruation, so although it thickens and breaks down with each menstrual cycle just like it would inside the uterus, it has no way to exit the body and becomes trapped.
When this tissue develops on the ovaries, it can create fluid filled sacs (cysts). Endometriosis can also cause scarring of the reproductive organs, which may cause the reproductive organs to stick together. These issues can create fertility challenges in people who hope to become pregnant.
What are the symptoms?
Always consult a doctor if you’re suffering from any of the symptoms listed above.
Are some people more likely to get endometriosis?
Endometriosis can affect anyone who menstruates, but it’s most common for people who menstruate in their 30s and 40s. Other risk factors include family members with endometriosis, never having children, and short menstrual cycles.
What causes endometriosis?
The exact cause of endometriosis hasn’t been determined yet, but scientists do know that estrogen makes the problem worse.
Sometimes endometriosis occurs due to a condition called retrograde menstruation. In a person with retrograde menstruation, instead of menstrual blood and tissue flowing out of the body through the cervix, it flows back into the body through the fallopian tubes.
How can I prevent endometriosis?
There’s no sure way to prevent endometriosis, but you can reduce your chances of developing it by keeping your estrogen levels lower. This may include switching to hormonal birth control with lower doses of estrogen, reducing alcohol and caffeine and staying physically active.
How is endometriosis treated?
Endometriosis is still a poorly understood condition but you’re not alone. If you think you’re possibly suffering from endometriosis, please seek treatment from a period-positive medical professional. You can also seek support from organizations like the Endometriosis Network in Canada, and the US-based Endometriosis Association. As always, feel empowered to advocate for your own health - you deserve it!
Our guest blogger is Kate Willett - a freelance writer located in Los Angeles, CA. She writes about health, politics, and comedy. She is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley. Photography courtesy of Ed Uthman.
February is the month for luuurve, but let's face it - you might not be feeling it for any number of reasons. To bring you a shot of awesome, we're proud to feature this guest blog by the inspiring babe Virgie Tovar - author, activist and expert on fat discrimination and body image. Virgie originated the hashtag #LoseHateNotWeight, and is currently piloting the lifechanging Babecamp. She's guesting on the blog this month to share her story with the Lunaverse - about how she learned to love her awesome body and own her sexuality. Lots of love from all of us at Lunapads!
I want you to imagine me at 14: a chubby and supremely horny Mexican nerd wearing enormous off-trend glasses and cut-off shorts rolled allll the way up, watering the lawn while eating a popsicle. I was a burgeoning babe who didn’t know she was a total catch, and I spent most of my waking hours scheming about how to lose enough weight to get a boy to touch my boobs. I didn’t know it then but as a Taurus, I was ruled by Venus. I was a sexually frustrated Pentecostal Venutian stuck in a boring suburb with a bunch of fatphobic assholes.
At church I learned that sexual desire was a sin. I would lie in the bathtub often willing myself not to masturbate, and I would fail. Every time it happened I would become paralyzed with fear that the Baby Jesus had finally broken my coochie, then I would cry for an hour, pray for forgiveness and vow never ever to do that again.
At school I learned that boys didn’t like fat girls. They told me no one was ever going to touch me, date me, or love me until I lost weight. I wasn’t a delicate flower like other girls. I was big and strong.
My sexuality was fraught and confusing. Religion and fat shaming had made me too embarrassed to name my desire, and so I learned how to silence that part of me.
I started meeting dudes and found surprisingly that I didn’t have any trouble being touched, dated, or loved. Sex began to play a crucial role in healing my relationship to my fat body.
Many years later, my inner Venus got her first break. I was up late watching TV when a commercial for a telephone personals service came on. Did I want to talk to local singles? Fuck yes. I started meeting dudes and found surprisingly that I didn’t have any trouble being touched, dated, or loved. Sex began to play a crucial role in healing my relationship to my fat body. I can honestly say that without it, I can’t imagine having made the eventual decision to stop dieting and accept my destiny as a bad ass fat babe – fat rolls, stretch marks and all.
When I started having sex, I didn’t let anyone touch my belly or my back fat, corralling their hands to the parts of me that were less squishy or more universally desirable – there was a lot of breast and ankle touching. Beyond that, though, my sexual curiosity knew no bounds.
I felt like I had bypassed some kind of sacred rule, living in a secret world that I had been taught didn’t exist.
I felt like I had bypassed some kind of sacred rule, living in a secret world that I had been taught didn’t exist, and it was that fantastical sense that allowed me more room to experiment. I had no idea there were people who either had no size-related specifications (I would later come to label these people as “normal non-bigots”) or who preferred my bigness.
Once I met a guy who really liked wrestling with women. I liked that I was bigger and stronger than him. So we went for a walk to my old elementary school on a Sunday and tussled in the grass for about 2 hours. I totally won.
I went to grad school with someone who upon graduation shyly confessed his interest in me over coffee, and then later confessed his love of my belly. I liked the idea of him lusting after my belly. Why was it any different from someone liking me because I had a cute face or nice butt? So we had epic, athletic sex on the floor of his apartment. My tummy was the star of the show.
Nowadays I like it when my lovers touch and squeeze my belly while we eat chocolate-covered alfajores in bed. I love it when my jiggly thighs get grabbed. I need my lovers to recognize my fat body and name their desire for it. Sex feels, for the most part, like an exercise in the deepest kind of embodiment.
I want to be honest and say that not every single experience was borne of a total and loving acceptance of me and my body. I don’t always need that, honestly. More than that, these experiences worked for me and changed the way I saw myself. I no longer felt like someone who had to be accepted despite her body. I began to see my body as part of the totality of my desirability. And I began to see that I had been taught that other people’s sexual desire or curiosity about my body was culturally positioned as automatically strange and wrong, but it didn’t have to be that way. It could be whatever I wanted.
Every person – no matter what their size - deserves to have an amazing sex life on their own terms. Period.
For the person reading this and thinking “oh my gosh, that’s great for you, Virg, but that could never be me,” I’d like to say: I was you once! Every person – no matter what their size - deserves to have an amazing sex life on their own terms. Period. Bodies have inherent worth and beauty. So, spend some time watching media that portrays your body positively, get acquainted with your jiggly parts, spend a little extra time in the bathtub soaping up that part of you that you have a hard time loving, write a love letter to your back fat. Revel in the body you have right now because it’s wondrous and perfect and sexy.
Photo courtesy of Andria Lo. Check out her Insta right now.
Body image, sexuality, strength in the face of societal and peer pressure. Raising kids is a tough job. Add the daunting task of fighting against the menstruation taboo to your #parentinggoals and you’ve got your work cut out for you.
Raising period positive kids doesn’t necessarily have to be challenging, however. With the right tools and a positive mindset, teaching your kids to view menstruation as it really is - a healthy, normal part of life - will be far easier than teaching them to drive.
When my daughter was 3, she walked in on me changing my tampon (this was before my days as a champion for reusable menstruation products) and blurted out, "Mommy, why are you bleeding from your butt?". She then proceeded to offer me a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle bandaid. It was then that I knew I had to start being more conscious of the conversations we had and the language I used if I was going to raise a child free from period and body shame.
Instead of shooing her out the door (yes, I know some of us just want to pee alone), I let her know what was happening. She literally did not care at all and promptly proceeded to color on the wall. Moments like these are the perfect time to open up a dialogue, see if they have any questions, and show that there’s no shame in your period game. Though she had no concern with my period at 3, I know that over the span of her childhood there will be times when she has more questions about periods. By not shutting your child down when you’re presented with these sometimes awkward-feeling moments, you let them know that it’s okay to ask questions and talk openly about their bodies.
One of the most effective ways to dismantle the centuries-old stigma placed on menstruation is to take back the conversation about it. By being open about periods - in both a general sense and in a personal sense - you help lift the veil of secrecy on what should be a very normal topic. With less secrecy comes more questions, more teachable moments, and more honesty. Your kids will grow up thinking (correctly) that menstruation is as normal a discussion as what’s for dinner.
Vagina. Uterus. Vulva. Period. The language you use when it comes to period talk matters greatly. If you grew up calling your genitals your "private parts", like I did, it may feel slightly clinical to use the anatomically correct names with your kids. Using the correct terms for body parts and bodily functions shouldn’t feel shameful. In fact, it’s a lot more uncomfortable to try to convince your child that your vagina isn’t part of your butt. Trust me.
Though society often deems words like vagina or penis as unacceptable for public conversation, cutesy and nonsensical nicknames, like cupcake or hoo-ha, can subconsciously create a sense of shame around body parts that are absolutely not shameful. If you use the correct terms from the time your kids start to talk, you’ll find that they don’t experience embarrassment from saying them as they get older.
Using positive words when it comes to menstrual discussions is equally important as using the proper terminology. If your children grow up hearing you complain about "the curse" of your period or bemoaning the aches and pains you experience from PMS, they’re going to view it in a negative light.
But, yes, sometimes periods just plain suck. You don’t have to pretend that your menses is a glorious week that you look forward to each month. Just be honest. If you’re cramping and irritable, tell your kids why and teach them through your actions how to handle the side effects of menstruating. One day, they too may experience the bloating, the cramps, the headaches, and the cravings that often come with menstruation. They’ll look back and remember that, while having a period wasn’t always comfortable for you, you didn’t think of it as a bad thing.
Our bodies do some pretty awesome things - including shedding the uterine lining when an egg isn’t fertilized. The more kids understand these processes, the easier it will be to have frank discussions and the less they will view these bodily functions as shameful, mysterious, or gross.
Despite most health and sex educators best efforts, the funding to cover menstruation in depth is rare in most parts of the United States. This often results in a glossed over approach, leaving kids confused about what their bodies do. Many go into puberty without knowing what is happening to them. This leaves them susceptible to period-shaming which, obviously, is something to avoid if you’re raising period positive kids.
If you have older children with periods, introducing them to apps that help them better understand their period could prove incredibly valuable. San Francisco-based Glow is working to demystify bodies and periods by giving data based information about their user’s menstrual cycles in a fun way. Even though I started using their period tracking app, Eve, as an adult it’s done wonders in helping me better understand what my body is going through at any given time. Giving your kids the tools and education to truly understand menstruation will go a long way in helping them understand periods in a factual, positive light.
If you google "how to explain menstruation to my child" you’ll be met with a full page of results - on how to explain periods to your daughter. Often, our sons are left out of the menstrual conversation which doesn’t do any good for anyone, especially them. Menstruation and reproductive rights affect us all and should be talked about as a human issue, rather than a woman’s issue. One of the reasons I’m so fond of Lunapads is their determination to create a welcoming, inclusive environment for all people with periods.
When I talk to my now 5-year-old about periods, I’m mindful of using inclusive language. Though she may not fully understand the depth of what I’m saying now, teaching kids from a young age will give them a foundation that their understanding of gender and inclusivity will be built on for the rest of their lives.
Raising period positive kids is no light matter and, of course, society will have some impact on the way they perceive their bodies and periods. Starting the conversation at home gives our kids a leg up - and a safe place to explore these sometimes confusing topics. We can build the foundation for a lifetime of body positivity and love by doing our best to have home be the place where they know that their bodies will be accepted for what they are and their questions answered without embarrassment.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt personally victimized by period-shaming. Now, raise your hand if you’ve ever been made to feel like a "slut". Chances are, if you raised your hand to the first, you also raised it to the second. People who have periods have been taught by society that their menstruation is dirty, shameful, and embarrassing. Those who freely enjoy sex - specifically women, or those perceived to be female - are made to feel that their sexuality is something that shouldn’t be proudly displayed, for the same reasons. Nevermind that more often than not, the same people who do the sexualizing are also the ones who do the shaming, but more on that another time.
Period-shaming and slut-shaming are deeply intertwined and only a true understanding of how they perpetuate each other will help bring an end to either one.
When I was 14, my friend’s older sister had her friend walk me home. He was 18 and before we got to my driveway, he kissed me. This was my first kiss and it didn’t feel right, so I told him to stop. Thankfully, he did. What he also did was tell me not to tell anyone. This request for secrecy made me feel ashamed, dirty even. It’s the same concept with periods. We’re taught by society, by marketers, and sometimes even by our own parents to sneak tampons into our pockets and bury our wrapped up pads in the bottom of the trash can so no one will know that we’re menstruating. We’re told (often not in so many words) that it’s a secret and it should be kept that way. Secrecy of this kind breeds nothing but shame, more secrecy, and sometimes even violence, resulting in a vicious cycle that can keep us stuck in damaging patterns of embarrassment and guilt.
When I told my parents about the kiss, the reaction perpetuated the cycle even more. I was told I shouldn’t have put myself in a situation where that could happen, that I shouldn’t have led him on, and that they were disappointed in me. This unintentional slut-shaming made me feel like I did something wrong and deterred me from telling my parents of any other sexual encounters throughout my adolescence and even into adulthood. I didn’t go to them for birth control or to tell them I lost my virginity (I’m pretty sure they’re in denial about that, even though I have a 5-year-old) or to ask questions I had about my body. I also didn’t tell my mom when I had my period. I would sneak to the store and buy tampons instead. Why? I was ashamed.
“Ew.” “Gross!” “That’s disgusting.” We’re not supposed to talk about our vaginas in any way - whether it be the monthly blood that flows out of them or the number of people we allow to have access to them. Around the same age that many girls get their periods, they also come to understand in a more comprehensive way what the term “slut” means - and know right away that it’s something they want to avoid being called. A study done at Pennsylvania State University found that, starting in 6th grade, girls who have sex are more likely to lose friends while boys who have sex gain them. It’s this kind of double standard of sexuality that leads to girls (and women) being ashamed of their sexuality - much like they are ashamed of someone finding out that they’re on their period.
In the same study, researchers found that girls gained peer approval for making out with boys, but lost it for having intercourse, further perpetuating the societal construct that a fine line has to be walked between being not sexual enough and too sexual. The degrading language used around menstruation and sexuality is often very similar and, many times, undue correlations are drawn. For example, If a girl has a late period, she may be called out by her friends for being promiscuous (when in reality, many girls don’t have consistent periods for the first 2 years after starting their periods and late periods can be caused by stress, change in diet or other health factors). This kind of shaming is taught by the media, by parents, and most importantly, by the refusal of society as a whole to allow girls autonomy over their own bodies.
Half the population will likely experience a period at some point in their life. So, why then, is menstruation shrouded in secrecy, embarrassment, and shame?
Period shaming is not a new phenomenon. Historically, periods have been vilified and, between shame-based marketing and misogyny in general, modern society hasn’t exactly made substantial progress when it comes to fighting period prejudice. Even with all the recent movements working to release the stigma of having a period, many people treat their menses as if it were a deep, dark secret that they must - at all costs - keep under wraps.
Even if you’re not among the ranks of menstrual activists who are turning their period blood into art, you deserve to live a life free from period shame. These tips can help break through the societal barrier and give you the courage to bleed with pride.
1. Appreciate the beauty of bleeding
The revulsion of menstrual blood fails to realize that having a period is a normal and natural bodily function. Menstrual blood kept every single one of us alive in the womb for nine months. This life-giving blood (whether you choose to reproduce or not) is something to take pride in, not be ashamed of. In fact, Bodyform released an ad recently that highlights the glory of bleeding and made a point to actually show blood. Simply revolutionary.
2. Understand the truth behind shame-based marketing
Whether it’s a commercial promising that their super secret plastic-concealing wrapper will keep your dirty secret safe or companies touting fragrant douches to get your vagina squeaky clean and smelling fresh (um, vaginas aren’t dirty in the first place and douches are super unnecessary), shame-based marketing only occurs in an effort to instill insecurities to perpetuate demand and commodify menstruation. What they are telling consumers isn’t the truth - just a way to make money. Remember this.
3. Revel in the shared experience of menstruating
You are definitely not the only one bleeding from your vagina every month. In fact, you are among the ranks of hundreds of thousands of people of different races, socioeconomic classes, and geographical locations who experience the beauty, the pain, and sometimes the heartbreak that is menstruating. Stand tall knowing that you’re not going through your period alone.
4. Be honest about the good and the bad
With your doctor, with your best friend, with your mother - be honest. You don’t have to put on a pretty face and pretend that all is well if it’s not. With having a period can come cramps, irritability, mood swings, exhaustion, and just a general sense of feeling less than awesome. Periods can also come at some seriously inopportune moments (pool party, anyone?). While you may not want to let your blood flow freely as an ode to Kiran Gandhi, the marathon runner who made headlines for free bleeding during the London Marathon to bring menstrual inequality to light, do what you need to do to move on. Be real about what sucks, ask for support where you need it, and simply appreciate how good it feels to not hide the symptoms of having a period.
5. Start talking about menstruation
One of the best ways to release period shame is to simply talk about your period. The more you engage in conversations about it, the more natural it will become. Every generation that’s already born will experience period shaming to some degree, but having open and honest conversations about menstruation is the first step to helping ease the shame we’ve been burdened with and ensure that future generations can bleed shame-free.
So many factors influence the way we feel about our bodies, our periods, and our lives. Lunapads is a brand that consistently strives to make the menstruation conversation more normal, more comprehensive, and more inclusive. You can join in the movement by purchasing products from Lunapads which will help you have a healthier period and provide menstrual products to students in the global south through One4Her, a program that helps girls in Uganda stay in school by giving them access to menstrual products.
This is a guest blog post by Janet Kimmel, personal trainer, and founder of Hypopressives Vancouver.
It was in my early twenties during my final year of university that I started having heavier than usual menstrual cramps and bleeding.
My periods had always been bad, but this time it was unbearable. I also broke out in hives all over my face, and my abdomen swelled and ached to the point where I would double over, feel dizzy and struggle to breathe from the pain. The kind of pain where you really just want to pull the covers over your head and beg to fall asleep in the hope of some escape from the blood clots, the cramps and the nightmarishly nauseating pain.
I went from one doctor to the next and no one could figure out why this was happening until finally I found a gynecologist who felt sure I had what he described as 'chocolate cysts', medically known as a complication of endometriosis. I had my first surgery shortly after that, at the age of 23.
For those of you mercifully unaware of what endometriosis is, it's an often painful disorder in which tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus — the endometrium — grows outside your uterus. Endometriosis most commonly involves your ovaries, bowel or the tissue lining your pelvis.
In endometriosis, displaced endometrial tissue continues to act as it normally would — it thickens, breaks down and bleeds with each menstrual cycle. Because this displaced tissue has no way to exit your body, it becomes trapped. When endometriosis involves the ovaries, cysts called endometriomas may form. Surrounding tissue can become irritated, eventually developing scar tissue and adhesions — abnormal tissue that binds organs together.
Following my surgery, I woke up to find my gynecologist stooped over me, saying “I saved your ovaries, you have a chance to have babies one day”. Endo caused my ovaries to become glued down; the second gynecologist who was the operative assistant felt it would be easier to remove them. Thankfully, my gynecologist chose to take the time to carefully unglue as best he could, and to clean as much of the endo off them as possible.
In that moment I almost lost the choice or even ability to ever have children. I have come across women since then that did lose their ovaries. I know that sometimes there may be no way to save ovaries from endometriosis, and I feel lucky and grateful that mine got saved. I did however lose my appendix, which was covered in endometriosis and my uterus had some significant endo too, which they did their best to carefully remove.
Soon after that first surgery I realized that this was not over. I would have this condition - one way or another – until menopause. After the operation, when weird pains returned, I was informed about scar tissue and how scar tissue can lead to pain as well. The endo itself slowly worked its way back with every monthly cycle until I had my second, third and then fourth surgery.
Then there were the drugs. Straight after my first surgery we tried Lupron to which I had a severe reaction. We then tried different combinations of progesterone-dominant contraception pills. I would bleed through them all, end up in hives, severely moody with intense joint and body aches. Eventually we also came to the conclusion that this treatment was probably not working either because I had surgery 2, 3 and 4 while trying all of these pills. The pain did not budge, the blood clots were there every month and the physical and psychological exhaustion of keeping up with life when all you want to do is curl up in a fetal position until the pain and blood clots leave you, really plays havoc with your mood and quality of life in every way possible.
I never thought of this as something I was fighting or suffering from. I would say that in my 20’s I was in denial and in my early 30’s when we wanted to have babies, I just felt very scared and worried. Everyone else was having two babies during this time and I was still trying - with no luck - for my first. Nothing but blood clots and cramps greeted me every month. It was upsetting and maddening and totally out of my control.
In the end however, I did manage to get pregnant. It was really hard work - how do you stay calm to create the “right environment” while everything inside you is screaming "get this horrible endo out of me so I can have babies and a life!” But in the end my son was born and after a 4-year gap we also had a second baby - we needed a little more help then. By that stage my endo was worse and I was over the 35 year mark and due to all my previous laparoscopies, my ovaries had issues and I was low on some hormones. Our kids are my two miracles. They are strong willed beyond belief and I joke that only strong-willed eggs and sperm could have survived inside my body so it makes perfect sense that they are super lively.
My relationship with endometriosis continues. I’ve had some scar tissue removed, which helped, but the endo is back. I now also have the added condition of Adenomyosis, which is nasty and really not fun and probably a complication of endometriosis and /or previous surgeries. It takes a lot of energy just to be OK.
OK with a swollen abdomen, OK with low energy, OK with pain starting 5-7 days after my period ends and progressively getting worse until the blood clots, cramps and dullness hits me again. OK with being out of my mind moody and just wanting to snap people’s heads off or sob in the hope that it will all go away. OK with a fuzzy brain because you have to focus so hard on just rising above the pain and discomfort.
So what do I do about all of this? I ride the blood clot wave every month, breathe a sigh of relief, sometimes even thinking – “Hey, I am just being a wimp, I should try harder”…until it all comes back again and I think – this is hopeless. It is what it is, do the best you can, carry on.
The truth is I spend more than 3 weeks of a month in some degree of pain and discomfort. Endo affects my digestion, my mental state and even my desire to be social - there is nothing sexy about a bloated belly, gas, pain and blood clots plus hives and a pain-ridden angry face. It is sweatpants and cozy blanket time. I often find myself at work when all of a sudden a bolt of pain hits me and sends out dizzy stars to dance in front of me. I pause, take a breath- a big one - and carry on.
And what advice can I give you? The answer is - sometimes you manage and sometimes you just can’t. But here’s what I have found to help me through.
In the last 10 years I’ve worked hard to embrace endometriosis. How have I done this? By being realistic. Resting when I can (which is not often, but I try - it makes a difference). Eating as healthily as I can (I am human and don’t always succeed and often that glass of red wine looks just too good to pass up). I try and handle stress by being mindful but you know this is a stressful disease, it leads to anxiety, and dark places way to often. I do loads of exercise, get fresh air and stay hydrated. I try to avoid sugar, alcohol, refined carbs and processed foods. I do this not because I feel this will get rid of endometriosis. I do it because I have physically felt that it gives me just that much more energy and stability to help outweigh the symptoms of endometriosis and gives me some strength and some balance.
Endo is known to make you moody and cause weight gain. I don’t like that. Especially after all my efforts, so at times I am just discouraged and frustrated. Endo is lonely. I can’t expect my husband or friends or family (except my mom) to even remotely understand what this is about. It is dark and scary in there and it has been for over 22 years. I know this disease. Each time I hear of someone with it I know what they feel. What they live. And my heart goes out to them.
Maybe, not too far from now a cure will be available. My mom had endometriosis and a hysterectomy at 40. I am worried my little one will have endometriosis and I don’t wish this on anyone, let alone my little girl. I am now facing the choice of a hysterectomy this summer. Do I say thanks to my uterus for keeping my babies safe until it was time for them to be born, but it is time we part ways, or do I say "better the devil you know" and stay in this relationship with endometriosis for another 10 years or so until menopause? It is a choice that I have to make sometime soon. It is not an easy one, but it is finally something within my control that could have a real positive outcome for me.
I hope that with the attention endometriosis is getting (including from celebrities) and the research the medical field is finally undertaking, that not long from now no sufferer will have to make this decision because of endometriosis.
Janet on switching to Lunapads Performa Pads:
"Using soft, black cloth pads makes endometriosis less dramatic. I'm a very visual person, so blood stains and clots on a black surface is less dramatic. You can’t really see it that much. Having something less irritating (goodbye disposable pad rashes!) comfy and soft close to my body is much more comforting when I am already in pain and discomfort. It's nice to have products that calms the drama rather than adds to the already intense uncomfortable time I have with endo. I was worried that I would bleed through it all but I don’t. It works perfectly. I changed pads as often as I would with regular pads."
Our most recent guest post was written by Katie, who has severe multiple chemical sensitivities and mast cell activation syndrome. Katie is unable to use traditional disposable menstrual products because the fragrances, dyes, and plastics they contain make her feel very ill. She contacted us in April to learn more about our products and their suitability for someone with MCS and a fixed income. We're so happy to report that Lunapads are working wonderfully for her. Thanks for sharing your story, Katie!
I had the pleasure of being introduced to Lunapads while searching the internet for affordable, scent-free options to meet my menstrual needs. As someone with severe allergies to fragrances, it's been very difficult for me to find affordable fragrance-free products that won't make me sick. When I realized that the only truly scent-free products I could find were available at natural food stores for outrageous prices, I started to look into other options. It's hard enough to be allergic to so many things. With the added expense of scent-free/chemical-free shampoo, conditioner, detergents, food, etc, anything I can do to cut costs so I can afford to buy other things I really need is essential.
Lunapads offers an economical, scent-free, chemical-free, and sustainable product that I can count on. With disposables, I have no choice but to pay high prices for scent-free products. But with Lunapads, I can use and reuse the same washable cloth pads each month. I also feel like I am doing a huge service by not adding to the garbage and water filtration plants with countless pads and tampons.
The functionality of the pads and inserts is quite practical and absorbent. I was able to use 4 pads with 8 inserts in one cycle. I can use those same pads and inserts every month for the next year and save at least 20-30$ / month on scent-free pads and tampons.
Lunapads are cute and fun! The colorful prints and patterns make having your period that much more tolerable and something to not feel ashamed and dirty about.
I was worried that washing Lunapads would be time consuming and difficult but I bought a special soap to soak the pads in to take out the stains and “Voila, no stains!” I rinse them out, hang to dry, and they're ready for the next month!
We use washable diapers for babies and yet we don’t think to do the same thing for menstrual cycles, incontinence, or diapers for adults. But it makes a lot of sense to do so both for the long term savings and ecologically friendly aspects.
This post was written by Kim Vopni. Known as the Fitness Doula, Kim is a certified pre/postnatal fitness consultant, co-founder of Bellies Inc. and owner of Pelvienne Wellness Inc. Follow her on Twitter: @VaginaCoach
One in three women experience some form of bladder leakage or urinary incontinence. In my last post, I talked about how our obsession with core exercises can actually be harmful. “The Core” is the part of every fitness class that we dread: the endless crunches, the two-minute plank holds and the straight leg lowers – they all hurt so they must be doing something, right?! Truth is, the burn is causing more harm than good, and it’s time to re-think your core training (actually all of your training) and incorporate more natural movement into our lives.
Natural core strength. To truly build your core you need to first of all learn what it is and how it works, then find it so you know how to activate it and then be able to incorporate it into movement.
The core is made up of the breathing diaphragm, the pelvic floor, the transversus abdominis and the multifidus. They are what I like to call the Core 4 and in order for this team to work properly, it needs to be aligned.
In an ideal functioning core the rib cage needs to be overtop of the pelvis so that the diaphragm and pelvic floor can work synergistically with the breath. Most people however have a pelvis that is actually thrust forward with the tailbone tucked which means it inhibits this synergistic relationship which in turn leads to a poochy tummy, a flat butt and pelvic floor dysfunction.
How to improve your core without crunches and kegels:
1. Sit Less and Move More | Watch Video
Because of the amount of sitting that we as a society do, and because of the typical posture that we sit in, and because of the activities we choose for exercise (to make up for the amount of sitting that we do) the core isn’t working as it should. When you do sit or stand or move, you need to do so with your core well aligned.
2. Learn and Practice the Core Breath | Watch Video
Please watch this video before you do the exercises below or the inhale/exhale instructions won’t make much sense.
3. Core Breath + Movement
Incorporate the core breath into movement with the aim of retraining the Core 4 so it knows what to do without you having to think about it anymore. Here are a couple of movements that you can add the core breath to that will re-train your core and improve your overall form and function.
a) Bridge | Watch Video
b) Squat with Band Lat Pull Down | Watch Video
c) Stability Ball Push Ups | Watch Video