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A blog from the women of GladRags and our customers too.

Discussions on menstruation, environmental living, women's health, relevant politics, and other interesting matters - we like to go with the flow around here.

uhohSo you got your new menstrual cup, waited patiently for your period to start, figured out how to insert it (thanks, YouTube videos!) and now… it’s leaking! Before you give up, remember the first time you used a tampon. Did you get it right on the very first try? Probably not. Trying something new–especially something so personal!–can be scary, especially as an adult. Cut yourself some slack, pour yourself a glass of wine, and read on for my top tips for those new to reusable menstrual cups.

1. The pop

When you insert a menstrual cup, you need to make sure that it’s popped completely open once its inside your body. Some women can feel the “pop” and some women can’t. You may need to run your finger around the inside of your cup while it’s inserted to see if it feels completely open and round, or slightly smushed or flat on one side. If it feels a little flat, you’ll need to reposition or reinsert the cup.

2. The shimmy

This helps if your cup is flattened or if it’s simply not quite in the right position. To perform the shimmy, grip the base of the cup (or the stem) between your thumb and forefinger and gently wiggle the cup back and forth to help your cup find its perfect position in your body.

3. The twist

The twist can be a bit controversial in that it is super helpful for some, while simply impossible for others. It’s worth a try or two if you’re new to the world of menstrual cups. Just grab the base of your cup and rotate it gently within your body. Some women are able to give it a full turn, while others manage just a slight twist. Either way, it can help your new menstrual cup form a seal and prevent leaks.

Overall, the most important thing is to relax and remind yourself that it’s totally normal to need some time to adjust to a new menstrual product! While you get used to it, just make sure to wear a pantyliner as a back-up (and maybe keep those skin-tight white jeggings in the closet for a few days).

If you need some personalized support, feel free to get in touch with us to ask questions! We’re more than happy to help you get through the learning curve of switching to a menstrual cup.

About the author of this post:

tracy is the owner of GladRags and is passionate about period positivity and empowering women everywhere. In her free time, she likes to read, travel, practice yoga, and hang out with her cats.

 

Let’s-break-the-vicious-circle-of-menstrual-tabboo1

“Today I learnt something new at school. Periods. Momma says I’m a big girl now. I should be careful and should not talk about it in front of Papa and my brother. I should also sit with my legs close together and behave properly.”

These are some of the eternal statements that young girls usually get to hear from their mothers. I don’t really remember the story of my first menses, but there were a few taboos that I found unacceptable even back then as a teenager and upon which I would now like to throw some light.

I find it very problematic that most mothers don’t discuss menstruation with their daughters before they begin to menstruate. This discussion always takes place after the shock and for a girl between the ages of 10-14 years or even younger, it really does come as a shock to see their favourite dress stained with blood one fine day all of a sudden. Some might even think that they are sick or have hurt themselves ‘in the place where they pee from’. Yes, that’s what it is called. I have had experiences of mothers either pointing downwards or using the phrase above but never really explaining things the right way.

Then there is the school which plays its part in further hushing up the topic and creating more confusion in the minds of young girls and majorly in boys as well. I remember when we once had a seminar on menses when I was in the seventh grade. Mine hadn’t started yet, but I had a vague idea about them. While the boys were sent out to play, the girls were made to gather around in a room where they were introduced to menstruation and sanitary napkins for the first time. As expected later, the girls were all giggly and the boys were seen strutting around, hinting that they knew what it was all about and additionally shouting out the names of popular sanitary napkin companies in order to embarrass the girls. Schools really do a great job in messing up young girls and boys in this regard because instead of having a co-ed seminar and focusing on sensitising the topic, they go for the most convenient route they can find, which is by segregation.

I also remember that during the first few years of menstruating was when other girls and I were taught to keep this hushed up so that this was not even mentioned in front of fathers, uncles, brothers, elders and such. Again, this kind of attitude just reinforces the fact that menstruation is something to be embarrassed about and should be kept a secret. Or the time when you go to buy a packet of sanitary napkins, the discomfort you feel when you tell the man standing there that you need Whisper Ultra which is then compounded by the fact that he in turn puts it into a black polythene bag so that nobody should see what a girl is carrying because it is considered to be a shameful act. In the later years that follow, boys again make fun of girls which further forces them to go further inside their shells.

Sadly, there are still a lot of women and not just middle-aged mothers and elderly grandmothers but also many educated women who still contribute to the tabooing of menstruation and the process of shaming and embarrassing young girls on its account. We still do not take our ability to menstruate as a source of pride.

On this note, I would like to end my take on people’s attitude towards menstruation and the taboos surrounding it and would additionally like to recommend Gloria Steinem’s If Men Could Menstruate for a hearty laugh and for taking pride in your monthly struggle.

This post originally appeared on the Menstrupedia blog.

About the author of this post:

Japleen-PasrichaJapleen Pasricha is a feminist and a German research scholar at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. An aspiring educator and activist, Japleeen is very interested in Gender Studies and wishes to work with a women’s organisation someday. She firmly believes that she can and will bring about a change. She blogs hereand also has a page on feminism to boot.

GladRags is lucky to be on the shelves of so many wonderful retailers, from independent grocery cooperatives to mama & baby boutiques. Here’s just one of the many amazing places you can purchase GladRags products!

jackschoice

Jack’s Choice focuses on all-natural and eco-friendly products for the whole family.  Inspired by her son, Jack, owner Staci McKinley strives to support WAHMs (that’s work at home moms!) by featuring them in her store. Jack’s Choice features a personal shopping service and will search over 15,000 products to find the perfect fit for you!

Know a store that should carry GladRags cloth pads but doesn’t? Email us!

About the author of this post:

tracy  is the owner of GladRags and is passionate about period positivity and empowering women everywhere. In her free time, she likes to read, travel, practice yoga, and hang out with her cats.

Thanks to Nikki for suggesting the winning name: Olive You!

name this print and win

Want a free GladRags Day Pad? Just suggest the best name for our new print! To enter, leave your idea in the comments below by January 31st, and we’ll choose our favorite to win one of our all-cotton Day pads! Want to buy day padspantyliners, or night pads in this print? They’ll be available for purchase shortly after the name is chosen!

Please note: you must log in or enter your email address when prompted — if you leave a comment as a ‘guest’ we won’t be able to contact you if you’ve won!

bthechange

The Oregon state motto is she flies with her own wings. Lovely, isn’t it? I learned it during the ceremony on January 2nd, in which GladRags became an inaugural Benefit Company in Oregon (that’s me with Secretary of State Kate Brown). Oregon follows in the footsteps of the 19 other states that have enacted laws recognizing Benefit Companies as a new type of legal incorporation status for businesses, but set its own record with 29 companies officially registering on the first day.

oregon benefit company gladrags

So what’s a Benefit Company? It can get a little confusing, as companies can choose to be a Benefit Company (registered with the state and following a specific set of regulations), a certified Benefit Corporation (reviewed and approved by the non-profit B Lab), or both. But what it boils down to is this: we’re looking to use business as a force for good.

GladRags, like a growing number of companies around the world, believes that there’s more to life than profits. We believe in supporting our community, treating workers well, and being good stewards of the environment — and we believe that these values makes us stronger as a company.

Today, we’re part of a new campaign with our friends at B Lab. It’s called B the Change, and we’re asking our supporters to to help us spread the word that there’s a new way of doing business. Watch the video below to learn more about this global movement and visit bthechange.com to learn what else you can do to spread the word.

Help build a global movement to redefine success in business! It’s time to #bthechange — Tweet this!

About the author of this post:

tracy is the owner of GladRags and is passionate about period positivity and empowering women everywhere. In her free time, she likes to read, travel, practice yoga, and hang out with her cats.

Your period doesn’t have to be painful- celebrate how your body works and rejoice in your fertility. Don’t let the fact that you have your period stop you from doing things you love!

Your period doesn’t have to be painful- celebrate how your body works and rejoice in your fertility. Don’t let the fact that you have your period stop you from doing things you love!

During menstruation, you might feel a little different than the usual; you may be more tired, fatigued or in pain from menstrual cramps. This happens to all of us- I guarantee there isn’t a person with a vagina out there who’s never faced an unpleasant side effect of menstruation!

With that being said, it doesn’t mean that you have to limit yourself during your period. Feel free to engage in all of the activities and hobbies that you normally carry out. Just make sure that you are practicing self-care and giving your body what it’s telling you it needs.

1. Cramps- Cramps are the result of your uterus pushing it’s lining and blood into your vagina, that will ultimately flow out. Some will experience cramping on their lower abdomen (where your ovaries and uterus are) while others will feel pain in their lower back. If your cramps are unbearably painful and causing you to miss school or work, please visit your doctor as soon as possible. Otherwise, you might find it soothing to place a heating pad on your lower abdomen or back to help soothe you. Believe it or not, exercise can also help in easing cramps, so you could also go for a run or a swim. If you are into meditation or yoga, this can also serve as a great way to help ease your cramps. Also, make sure to wear loose, comfortable clothing, as anything tight can cause your cramps to worsen.

2. Fatigue- You might be feeling a little more lethargic during your period, due to the fact that your estrogen and testosterone levels are low. Make sure to get enough rest and listen to the cues from your body. It won’t hurt to factor in some exercise and sticking to a healthy diet as well.

3. Bloating- Many women will experience bloating during their period- the Mayo Clinic estimates that 85% of women will bloat during their periods. This is due to water retention because of the changes in your hormones. To combat this, make sure that you aren’t eating too much sodium, since doing so will exacerbate the bloating. Also make sure to not drink too much caffeine or alcohol as this will dehydrate you and cause your body to then keep its water supply intact. Good hydrators to drink are herbal teas, water with lemon and fresh fruit and vegetable juices.

Your period doesn’t have to be painful- celebrate how your body works and rejoice in your fertility. Don’t let the fact that you have your period stop you from doing things you love! However, if you are in excruciating pain, make sure to see your doctor and consider availing hormonal birth control, since this can help to ease the symptoms of menstruation. Make your period a time for self-care and remember to take care of yourself and your body!

This post originally appeared on the Menstrupedia blog.

About the author of this post:

Erin-McKelleErin McKelle is an e-activist, video blogger, student and non-profit advocate. As a fierce feminist, she has launched several projects including Fearless Feminism and Consent is Sexy, a web series about healthy sexuality. She will be attending Ohio University in May as a Women’s Studies major. You can find her blogging at Fearless Feminism, making videos on YouTube and blogging about menstruation love at Period Positive.

Fertility awareness. The name itself conjures up all sorts of strange connotations. You may hear fertility and immediately jump to people trying to get pregnant and assisted reproductive technologies. Or perhaps you equate fertility awareness with the rhythm method or other outdated forms of natural birth control.

In reality, fertility awareness is now the common name specifically for the sympto-thermal method of fertility awareness, which can be quite a mouthful. This method combines at least two fertility signals (namely, temperature and cervical fluid) in order to determine your current state of fertility.

It is based on scientific facts, described below, and you do not need a regular cycle to practice it. All you need is a natural curiosity about your body and a bit of desire to avoid or achieve pregnancy (though there are those that practice it solely for more knowledge about their hormones).

So what’s the real deal with the sympto-thermal method? Many times people use the terms “natural family planning” or “fertility awareness method” to denote ANY method that encompasses periodic abstinence or use of an alternate birth control method. I have even heard of people using the term fertility awareness as synonymous with withdrawal.

This leads to most people believing that the method is ineffective, too hard to learn, difficult to practice, or only acceptable if no other method will work for you.

These assumptions can be true for many of the methods that encompass periodic abstinence. None are true in regards to the sympto-thermal method.

The pros and cons of using the sympto-thermal method of fertility awareness

In reality, the method is over 99% effective, has no side effects or health ramifications, it connects you to your sexuality and to your partner in new ways, helps you be more aware of your health as well as responsible for it, can empower you in your reproductive health and decision making, give you more understanding of and respect for your feminine nature, is environmentally friendly (no dumping hormones into waters or using disposable products), and is cost effective.

Another great benefit is that it can apply to you throughout your entire reproductive years, as you can use it to understand your hormones, avoid pregnancy, or consciously choose to conceive.

With all of these amazing extras why would anyone choose to not use this method?

Some of the less stellar components are that it requires time to learn (about 3 hours plus time for gaining experience that is best used practicing another form of birth control), it requires discipline to chart regularly, it requires consistent and correct use in order to be used effectively, it requires motivation and responsibility, and it doesn’t protect against STIs.

But really, In my experience, most people shy away from the method because the amount of power and responsibility that they are given does not seem appropriate to them on a subconscious level. They are accustomed to doctors knowing best and do not think that their body contains the information they need to avoid or achieve pregnancy, nor that they could be capable of understanding such signals.

But you can. And it’s fun!

charting your cycle

How the method actually works

So, what’s the science behind the method? Why should you trust it? Here are some facts about fertility. Keep in mind the signals that you are checking are basal body temperature and cervical fluid.

  • Sperm need cervical fluid to survive, swim, and be effectively “washed” and capable of fertilizing an egg. It can live in fertile cervical fluid for up to 5 days, but dies quickly in the natural acidic vaginal environment.
  • Cervical fluid builds up in response to estrogen, which is released by the developing sacs that hold the egg. This is happening in the days leading up to ovulation.
  • The egg can only live for 12-24 hours, and ovulation can only happen once in a cycle. If two eggs are released, the second comes within 24 hours of the first, after which ovulation is inhibited by high levels of progesterone.
  • Progesterone is released from the corpus luteum, which is what the sac that held the egg turns into after ovulation has taken place. This raises the body temperature, dries cervical fluid, and inhibits a second ovulation.

The basis of the method is a combination of male and female fertility. This includes both how long sperm can survive and how long an egg can survive, as well as knowing the window that the egg was released in.

Learning how to chart your cycles

The sympto-thermal method of fertility awareness is 1.) very unforgiving if practiced incorrectly and 2.) best learned through another person (Your experience will be unique to you, and having someone to work with you on any questions you may have while learning is priceless). It is best to look for a fertility awareness educator to teach you.

That being said, I would also recommend Taking Charge of Your Fertility as an excellent book that explains the sympto-thermal method in depth.

Do not attempt to use the method just through information that you glean online. Those who do generally are those that have unplanned pregnancies.

Even if you aren’t sure if you would like to use the method, you can gain enormous amounts learning about it, and will learn a lot about your body practicing it, even just for awareness.

So, I want to hear from you: Do you chart your cycles for natural birth control? If not, do you have fears holding you back? What are they?

About the author of this post:

hannah Hannah Ransom is a fertility awareness educator and the founder of holistic hormonal health. She’s obsessed with hormonal health and sustainability. You can visit her website to learn more about fertility awareness.

how much will you save with cloth pads?

Ever wonder how much money you could save by switching to GladRags cloth menstrual pads?

A few weeks ago, we shared this message from GladRags user Lilith on Facebook:

I was just wondering about how much money I’ve saved since beginning cloth pad use and came up with this for my usage:

Average box of tampons – $7 at about 9 boxes per year
Average box of pantiliners – $6 at about 12 boxes per year
Approximate amount of money I have spent on cloth pads since the beginning – $200
Number of years on cloth instead of disposables – 12

Adding taxes at 10%, which is what it averages around here means that my total money saved by using reusable menstrual products is about $1,562. And that’s not even counting the savings of gas money to and from the store each month. I didn’t adjust for laundry costs, because I just throw them in with loads I was already going to do. Impressive total!  I can definitely think of better ways to spend that much money than throwing it into a landfill!

Inspired by this post, GladRags user S. sent us this email:

A few weeks ago you posted someone’s savings by using cloth. I just sat down and figured it out. The numbers are staggering! I am sure you hear that often though. :)

Before I get into the numbers, I feel it only fair to share my circumstances and what brought me to using cloth pads. I started trying them out because I was dealing with a heavy flow with flooding. When I say heavy, I mean an ultra tampon and 2 overnight pads an hour heavy. Often, I could only get a half hour. After 5 years of this, I spoke with my doc and got the flow to a more average level. This did put me in the position of having surprise spotting now and then so I now wear a liner between periods. I have purchased several brands of pads/liners and have made some of my own. This has all been taken into account when figuring the cost and savings. Now for the numbers.

The grand total for disposable pads/liners for the past 10 years for me would have been $3565.20. The total spent on cloth pads/pantyliners $952.82. A nice savings of $2612.82. Even before I figured out the savings, I have wished I started using cloth sooner due to the comfort. This savings is just the icing on the cake. :)

How much have you saved since switching to cloth? Let us know in the comments! If you haven’t made the switch yet — order your own GladRags now and don’t waste another penny!

About the author of this post:

tracy is the owner of GladRags and is passionate about period positivity and empowering women everywhere. In her free time, she likes to read, travel, practice yoga, and hang out with her cats.

winyourwishlist

Wishing for something from GladRags.com? You could win up to three items on your list!

How it works:

  • Create Your Wishlist – use the widget below to tell us what you’d like to win from GladRags.com
  • Earn Extra Entries – you get one entry just for making your wishlist… then you’ll be presented with simple options to earn extra entries
  • Contest Closes on Dec 25th – winners will be contacted in early January for shipping information!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Moon and forest by Broo_am (Andy B), on Flickr

It’s been my goal for two years to synch my menstrual cycle with the moon. To ovulate when the moon is full and menstruate when the moon is new. A tad perfectionist, I know. But at the time I was suffering from amenorrhea and wanted desperately to reclaim my cyclical flow. It’s been such an amazing journey, and now, for three cycles in a row I have ovulated exactly on the date of the full moon. Pretty darn amazing if you ask me. I feel so spiritually connected with the rhythms of nature. So in tune with the movement all around me.

So I wanted to share the journey—how you can synch your cycles with those of the rhythms of nature. After all, our bodies are so intimately influenced by the continuous cycles around us, and if your menstrual cycle is absent or irregular, even better! You can borrow from the phases of nature to regulate the phases of your body.

Use Day Light

Just as light cues your body to be awake, and dark cues your body to be asleep, the light of the moon cues your body to ovulate and the dark of the moon cues your body to menstruate. But we have become disconnected from this light. We keep artificial lights on at night and sit indoors during the light of the day. That’s why the first step in finding your cyclical rhythm, is to follow your circadian rhythm: When it’s light outside, keep it light inside. If it’s dark outside, keep it dark inside.

During the day, keep sunglasses to a minimum, especially during your ovulatory phase when your body most needs to absorb the light. During the evening, keep lights to a minimum. My husband and I have only one light that goes on in the evenings; the rest of our house is lit by candlelight. Just before dark, I settle into my nightly ritual of lighting the many candles all over my house and even bathroom. We even brush our teeth by candlelight! At the end of the evening I ceremoniously blow them all out and settle into the darkness of bedtime.

Use Moon Light

Just as important as our daily rhythms, our monthly rhythms are greatly influenced by the phases of the moon. Sleeping with a 100-watt light bulb on during the five days of the full moon has been shown to regulate menstrual cycles and help women sync up with the moon. For that reason, I sleep with a light on during the five days of the full moon and sleep in complete darkness the rest of the month, mimicking the cycles of nature and allowing my body to fall into step.

Light therapy is best done in tune with your body so if you already have a menstrual cycle, no matter how regular, follow the full moon of your body and keep the light on during the five days surrounding your ovulation date. If your menstrual cycles are longer than 35 days in length, turn the light on during days 13-17 of your cycle and then keep it dark the remainder of the month. If you don’t have a menstrual cycle, follow the light of the moon!

If you want to get fancy with your moonlight, there’s an app for that! Luness learns the cycles of your body, automatically lighting up during your ovulatory phase and keeping it dark during your menstrual phase. All you have to do is enter the first day of your period each month and then press the button every night before bed.

 Celebrate The Moon

In addition, I always spend the five days of the full moon celebrating the moonlight by basking in its beautiful rays. Sometimes it’s just a quick drink outdoors, other times I host sacred moon parties with my girlfriends where we drink wine until our lips turn red. By celebrating the moonlight and being aware of its presence we can start to take advantage of the rhythm it offers us. After all, we’ll have plenty of time to sleep when it’s dark, but the full moon is a chance to stay up late and have a party. Hang out with friends or just get out under the moon for a moonlit kayak, horseback ride, or walk down the street. It doesn’t take much, just find a tiny way to celebrate, appreciate, and bathe in the light of the moon!

Get Back to Nature

Finally, just getting outside greatly affects your menstrual cycle. By getting out under the trees, hearing the songs of the birds, and feeling the wind on your skin your body has the opportunity to reconnect, plug back in, and get back in the flow. And when indoors? It doesn’t hurt to keep a window open and have a few plants around. No matter the weather I always make sure fresh air is getting into my home through at least one of my windows.

There are plenty of ways to get your body reconnected with the rhythms of nature. Certainly these are only a few. However you do it, find ways to get out under the moon and back into the wild. The health benefits are endless!

About the author of this post:

elle griffin

Elle Griffin is a natural fertility expert and feminine vitality coach on a mission to help women fall in love with their menstrual cycles and heal their bodies.

Elle is offering Glad Rags readers a chance to read her ebook: Ditch Your Birth Control, all about how you can get off the hormones and onto safe, sexy, birth control for life. Download your free copy here!