Monthly Archives: February 2013

PMS a Problem? Iron May Help

If you are among the millions of women who struggle with PMS symptoms (or love someone who does), take a moment and read Annie Hauser’s article, posted yesterday in Everyday Health‘s Women’s Health section.

Her article, “Forget Midol: More Iron May Stop PMS, Study Says,” reports on the latest PMS information gathered by researchers at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and reported in the American Journal of Epidemiology. (Read the Abstract of the report here.) She also quotes Joan Salge Blake, RD, a clinical professor of nutrition at Boston University who did not work on the study.

Excerpts follow.

Women who eat diets rich in iron are 30 to 40 percent less likely to develop pre-menstrual syndrome, or PMS, than women who consume lower amounts….

The study suggests that the link between iron intake and PMS may reflect iron’s role in the body’s production of serotonin, a chemical that regulates mood and emotions.

Researchers used self-reported data from about 3,000 women enrolled in the prospective Nurses’ Health Study II.

The women who consumed the most non-heme iron — the form found in plant foods and in iron supplements — had the lowest PMS risk. Interestingly, the level of iron associated with a lower risk of PMS was slightly higher than the current recommended daily amount — 20 mg, up from 18 mg.

Blake says that…the key to plant-based iron sources is to pair them with a vitamin C-rich food to help boost iron absorption. “If you’re eating a whole wheat pasta that’s enriched in iron, pair it with tomato sauce,” she suggests. “If you’re having cereal in the morning, have a citrus fruit to go with it.”

Because a high iron intake can come with health risks, women should always consult a doctor and a registered dietitian before starting iron supplements, Blake says.

High intake of zinc was also associated with a lower PMS risk in the study.

Women consuming the highest amount of potassium — found in bananas and potatoes — had a higher risk of a PMS diagnosis than the women who consumed the lowest amount of potassium.

To hear what The Doctors have to say about nutrition and PMS, view the video below, but keep in mind the statement above about potatoes.

For more on PMS, visit Women’s Health.

I invite you to share your own period wise PMS thoughts, remedies, advice and what works for you.

Life-Changing Cups

Kim Rosas, the menstrualcupsfbbrains behind Dirty Diaper Laundry and Cloth Diaper Finder, wrote a delightful and informative piece – “Menstrual Cups: What Every Woman Should Know.”

“In all honesty using a cup can change your life for the better.  All women should know this is an option, especially teenagers who have decades of periods to look forward to.  This video will answer all of your questions about how and why menstrual cups are the greatest things since sliced bread.  If not I have some more information for you to read in this post and links to even more helpful resources.”  

In her post you will find

  • The video
  • Choosing a Cup
  • Using the Cup
  • Benefits of Using the Cup
  • Troubleshooting the Cup
  • Getting over the ICK factor and “Owing it”
  • Where to buy?
  • Win one!

Take a few minutes and view the video.  It’s well done and well worth the 8 minutes you will invest in it.

Menstrual Facts: 12 Things You May Not Know About Your Period

On February 12, 2013, Christina Huffington posted an absolutely wonderful piece entitled “Menstrual Facts: Twelve Things You May Not Know About Your Period”.

I became aware of it shortly after it posted and wondered how I could incorporate it into PeriodWise without plagiarizing.  Oh, how I wanted to claim what she had written as my own.  :)

Others had placed bits and pieces on their blogs, some with links to the original work…others leaving the reader to assume it originated with them.

I was in a quandary as to what to do and how to do.

After all, it contains great period wise information – and is well worth sharing.

Two comments lead into her Twelve Things:

  1. If you want to view VICE’s 2012 photo series “There Will Be Blood,” you have to confirm you are over 18 years old. The series is neither violent — as its title might imply — nor sexualized, so why the NSFW label? Because the photographer, Emma Arvida Bystrom, captured women visibly menstruating while engaging in otherwise ordinary daily tasks. Your period, as HuffPost Women Associate Editor Emma Gray put it, is something that we’re taught “should be covered, hidden and cleaned up.” 
  2. That may be why some women don’t seem to know important details about how their bodies work. For instance, a 2012 Australian survey found that only “13 percent of women could correctly answer which days of their menstrual cycle they were fertile.”

(I had seen VICE’s 2012 photo series “There Will Be Blood” last year before PeriodWise began – awesome pictures – and had forgotten about it.  If you’ve not seen the pictures, I encourage you to do so.)

I’ll admit, I was surprised by the Australian survey’s findings that only 13% of women could correctly answer which days of their cycle they are fertile.  I wonder…how period wise are my readers? Do YOU know which days of your cycle you are fertile/ovulate? Do YOU know how to know your fertile days?

Hardly a day goes by that I don’t learn something new about menstruation, the menstrual cycle or participants in it (female AND male).

Christina Huffington‘s “Twelve Things You May Not Know About Your Period” follows.  Take a moment and read through the list.  You might learn something.  I did.

Twelve Things You May Not Know About Your Period – by Christina Huffington

1. You can get pregnant on your period. Yes, it is highly unlikely but it’s not impossible so don’t use menstruating as an excuse not to use protection.

2. You are most fertile during — and around — ovulation. Ovulation — the release of an egg from an ovary — typically happens midway through a woman’s cycle. Ovulation calculators are helpful in tracking your cycle.

3. Irregular periods can mean any number of things. Irregular menstruation — whether in the form of missing a period, spotting between periods or a period lasting more than seven days — can be caused by everything from extreme weight loss or stress to pregnancy to the use of certain drugs to serious illnesses like uterine cancer. Consult your doctor if you are concerned about an irregular period.

4. Walt Disney made a movie about it. In 1946, Disney released The Story Of Menstruation as an educational aid for sex ed classes. It is rumored that the film was the first to use the word “vagina.” Betcha didn’t expect that from the pretty princess factory!

5. The average period releases less than a cup of blood. Complain about heavy flow all you want, but the fact is that most women lose between a few tablespoons and a cup each month. This is not to say that Tampax ‘super plus’ are not sometimes necessary.

6. Menstruation by any other name is still menstruation. Remember in middle school when you were embarrassed to say you were on your period so you and your friends made up code names? No? Uh, well… Code names through the ages include Crimson Tide, TOM (time of the month), Elmo riding the cotton pony, Aunt Flo, the rag and the, er, crime scene.

7. Views on period sex vary. We know sexual preference is individual — there’s a spectrum on everything from preferred gender to preferred position — so it makes sense that opinion on period sex would be individual too. (This goes for both men and women.)

8. On that note, your period might make you frisker than usual. Progesterone — the hormone believed to potentially lower your libido — is at its lowest during your period so if you’re craving more than a Snickers, chances are you’re not alone.

9. No one knows if period syncing is a real thing. Yes, it’s very well possible that you / your sister / your roommate / your partner share more than just secrets. The science behind the theory continues to be controversial, but as anyone who has ever found themselves reaching for Midol and a pair of sweatpants at the same time as their BFF can attest, it seems pretty legitimate.

10. Menstruation is still considered taboo in some places. While pre-teen girls in America may have to endure teasing from their less-than-understanding male classmates, in places like rural India girls are told not to cook food lest it be polluted, not to touch idols lest they be defiled and not to handle pickles because they will go rotten.

11. Always was the first company to show blood in an advertisement for sanitary napkins — in 2011. They broke the “women bleed blue liquid” trend but the ad still only appeared in print. Guess the taboo factor still stands.

12. The average age a girl in the United States gets her period is 12. Girls are getting their periods younger than ever and it is unknown what’s causing the puberty speedup, with theories ranging from environmental factors to higher fat diets to stress.

Who Determines Your Worth?

I picked up the Avon book (Campaign 4, 2013) lying on my desk and leafed through it.

I’m not a girly-girl and don’t have much interest in jewelry, perfume, makeup, or “fashionable” things.  (Who exactly is it that determines what’s fashionable and what’s not??)

But, I do enjoy looking at the colors and shapes of things Avon wants me to purchase.

AND, I enjoy reading the descriptions of the items for sale.

Here’s one: “Put your best face forward. Leave your flaws behind.”  You’ve probably guessed this is an attempt to sell their foundation (makeup that covers your face and hides “flaws.”)

Isn’t that hilarious?

Have you ever considered that Avon (and others) assume you are ugly and kindly suggest their makeup is better than putting a bag over your head?  Read it again if you don’t believe me.  Would you buy something from someone who has the gall to assume that you are ugly without their makeup?

Hello?  Leave your flaws behind? What flaws?

  • The wrinkles that crease my face?  Hey, I’ve earned every one of them!
  • The freckles that grace my cheeks? Those are kisses from the sun!
  • The scar above my right eyebrow? I won that!
  • My rosy cheeks?  That’s the color of health!
  • That little bump on my chin? That’s proof my hormones are still working!

These “flaws” are what make me uniquely ME!  When I look in the mirror I want to see ME, not some Barbie Doll image of me.

Put my best face forward?  I only have one face and it’s the one my friends and family love to see.  Why would I want to cover it?  Who do I need to hide myself from?

My dad said “a little paint will make any old barn look better” and I guess there’s truth in that statement. Enhancing what we like about ourselves – that’s one thing.  Feeling we have to cover up “flaws” to put our “best face forward” is quite another.

And, I’ll admit it angers me.  If grown women are falling for this type of advertisement, what about girls?

When a girl reads Avon’s words: “put your best face forward – leave your flaws behind” her first thought is to look in the mirror and find her “flaws.” And, she will use the air brushed picture of the make up covered model as the template for determining what “flaws” she has.

Who determines your worth?

Companies and corporations that know nothing about us and care only for our money tell us what to think about ourselves, how to see ourselves, and that without their product we are less than we should be.

We believe their lies.


Because we want to look the best we can and care little about being the best we can.  Beauty comes from within – not from something applied to the surface.

Before you buy, ask yourself why.

At 6 years of age, I pointed to a young friend who had a mark on her face and said “look, she has a mole!”  Mom quietly corrected me and my opinion of her worth – “it’s not a mole, it’s a beauty mark.”

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  Look in the mirror and see who you really are.  You might be surprised.

Full Throttle

Yesterday, Danica Patrick became the first woman to secure the top spot for any race in NASCAR’s premier circuit when she won the Daytona 500 pole with a 196.434 mph lap.

“I was brought up to be the fastest driver, not the fastest girl. That was instilled in me from very young, from the beginning. Then I feel like thriving in those moments, where the pressure’s on, has also been a help for me. I also feel like I’ve been lucky in my career to be with good teams and have good people around me. I don’t think any of it would have been possible without that. For those reasons, I’ve been lucky enough to make history, be the first woman to do many things. I really just hope that I don’t stop doing that. We have a lot more history to make. We are excited to do it.” — Danica Patrick

I wonder…what are we instilling in our girls?

My hope is we are encouraging them to embrace life and live it full throttle!

When Words Won’t Flow

Have you ever had days when you just can’t find the words?

Communication is harder and though there may be a conversation going on in your head, getting it out and sharing it with others is nearly impossible.

Rambling, disjointed thoughts jotted on paper are the extent of and result of any writing exercise.

Why is it some days we just can’t seem to find the words to express ourselves?

Can it be that hormones are to blame?

Dr. Laura Berman, in Hormones 101, says yes.

Hormones are the driving force behind our bodies, minds, and bedrooms.

Researchers have found that hormones control almost all our physical, emotional, and sexual functions. Hormones dictate hunger, sleep, sexual response, weight, and even your mood.

While her post centers on hormonal fluctuations experienced during menopause, she offers sound advice for all of us, no matter where in our menstrual experience we find ourselves.

We all experience frustration. We all experience days where we wonder what the heck is going on and if our minds/bodies will ever get in sync.

On days like this, patience is truly a virtue.

#PeriodTalk – Are You Missing Out?

If you’ve never attended the monthly TweetChat #PeriodTalk, I’d like you to glimpse what you’re missing.

This past Friday, hosted Learning to Love Yourself & Your Period.

A sampling of the #PeriodTalk follows.

nicolemjardim Women have many different opinions about their period based on their very first period experience #periodtalk -1:11 PM Feb 8th, 2013

MenMenstruation @nicolemjardim My first experience w/ periods (even if not my own) was of fascination and curiousity. It drove me to learn more! #PeriodTalk -1:17 PM Feb 8th, 2013

FebyTweets @nicolemjardim Communication is crucial. We have to break the cycle of shame. #PeriodTalk -1:18 PM Feb 8th, 2013

_EndoHappy @nicolemjardim it’s so important that girls are encouraged to talk openly about it #periodtalk -1:20 PM Feb 8th, 2013

MenMenstruation @nicolemjardim Unfortunately periods were a topic to be hidden from boys and all things around it was hush-hush. #PeriodTalk -1:21 PM Feb 8th, 2013

FebyTweets @nicolemjardim In a perfect world, every culture would treat menarche with respect and celebrate it. #PeriodTalk -1:23 PM Feb 8th, 2013

Lunapads A4: Positive, releasing, life-affirming, cleansing, powerful. #PeriodTalk -1:23 PM Feb 8th, 2013

JesDrummond A4: I adore my cycle now that I understand it. Hope it will b around for many more years. #PeriodTalk -1:23 PM Feb 8th, 2013

nicolemjardim Many of us have been taught to not acknowledge our periods because there are many more important things to worry about #periodtalk -1:24 PM Feb 8th, 2013

MenMenstruation The worst thing for boys AND girls is that attempting to hide all things #period only makes for a negative attitude towards it! #PeriodTalk -1:26 PM Feb 8th, 2013

nicolemjardim The first step to period love is to begin honoring your body and all that it offers you on a monthly basis #periodtalk -1:26 PM Feb 8th, 2013

GladRags My favorite reason for not going out is “sorry, i’m really busy menstruating right now.” It’s a task all by itself! 😀 #periodtalk -1:27 PM Feb 8th, 2013

Mommy_to_5 I also think I wouldn’t mind my period so much if it was an aunt flow kind of period instead of an aunt flood kind of period #periodtalk -1:29 PM Feb 8th, 2013

FebyTweets Understanding the menstrual cycle and honouring the different phases is empowering. #PeriodTalk -1:34 PM Feb 8th, 2013

Mommy_to_5 I am open to anything that makes aunt flood become a distant relative that I only have to deal with on occasion #periodtalk -1:34 PM Feb 8th, 2013

AlisonLeipzig Body confidence is loving and owning who you really are. THAT is self-love. #periodtalk -1:36 PM Feb 8th, 2013

Lunettecup @AlisonLeipzig Q6: I love that I’m not typical. I have curves. Although I hate the cellulite I love the curves! I am WOMAN! :) #periodtalk -1:41 PM Feb 8th, 2013

AlisonLeipzig I used to feel like my body betrayed me and that my body was my enemy and there was a ton of emotion attached! #periodtalk -1:42 PM Feb 8th, 2013

JesDrummond It’s hard standing on the cliff again watching my 9 year old girl. I’m careful to love even my flaws for her. #PeriodTalk -1:46 PM Feb 8th, 2013

The next #PeriodTalk TweetChat will be held on March 8, 2013 at 2 pm ET.

#PeriodTalk Learning to Love Yourself & Your Period

Today at 2 PM Eastern Time, #PeriodTalk TweetChat Learning to Love Yourself & Your Period

Guests are Nicole Jardim, Founder of The Healthy Elements & Alison Leipzig, Body Confidence Coach

If that’s not enough to interest you – here are some excerpts from Nicole’s February 4, 2013 blog post Period Love = Self Love.

Do you know that your very first period experience can determine your perspective on your future periods? It can even have an effect on how you view your female body and whether you experience health problems with your reproductive organs. That’s why a positive experience can be so crucial to a girl’s image of her body and her period.

My point is that period love and self-love go hand in hand and we need to improve this sad state of affairs. I waited way too long to start loving myself and if I can help a girl see herself in a more positive light then I’m moving in the right direction!

So with that said, I want to invite you to join me for a Tweet Chat hosted by Be Prepared Period on Friday February 8th at 2pm Eastern. The topic is Learning to Love Yourself & Your Period, naturally :) . I am a guest along with my good friend Alison Leipzig a Body Confidence Coach. I’ll give you the low-down on how to love and honor your body’s unique cyclical nature as well as tips and practices to implement now. Alison will show you how to become BFF’s with your body and give you the tools to ignite your own body confidence!

If you miss the TweetChat a transcript will be available at Be Prepared Period.


Periods – A Guy’s View

If you haven’t read John Corrigan’s piece, Time of the Month a Time of Care, in The Temple News (December 4, 2012), I hope you will take a few minutes and do so.

Not sure you want to?  Here’s a sampling.

The calendar failed me once again, refusing to mention it’s that time of the month. No one prepares guys for how to handle their ladies’ menstrual cycle.

Since you can’t prevent the pain, you have to remain cautious around your agonizing girlfriend.

Conversing with your girlfriend while Aunt Flo is visiting is like navigating through a minefield — anything can set her off.

They call it a period, but an exclamation point is more appropriate.