Archives for December 2019

Brazen’s Healthy Period Handbook

September 06, 2019

1 minute read Throughout this guide, we’ll unpack what a healthy cycle looks and feels like and we’ll teach you how to read your own. As we explain the causes for abnormal flow, blood color, symptoms and more, you’ll begin to understand what these markers are telling you not only about your cycle but also about your overall health.

September 05, 2019

September 04, 2019

6 minute read If you read our article about duration and frequency, you already know that a normal/healthy period lasts for four days. But even if everyone had a normal four-day bleeding phase, what that phase looks like (literally) can be very different for different people, and it can even vary for the same person.

September 03, 2019

5 minute read It may sound a little crazy, but checking out the color and clottiness of your menstrual blood can be super interesting and empowering. It’s one of the reasons we love using a cup!

September 02, 2019

4 minute read PMS can make us feel a little rundown or full-on sick, bringing even the most powerful people you know to their knees. But things aren’t hopeless. You’re not stuck with your symptoms and you don’t need to “just deal with it.”

September 01, 2019

7 minute read It is extremely common that people with periods have menstrual cramps and many of us were taught to expect and accept them. But cramps are not part of a normal, healthy period.

August 31, 2019

1 minute read We hope that this guide serves as a starting point and that you choose to move forward with the changes needed to improve both your cycle and your overall health.

The Cheapest, Easiest Way to Improve Your Period

This blog post was written by Brazen founder, Kirsten Karchmer:

There are so many factors that significantly impact your period and determine how easy or hard that time of the month is for you. A non-exhaustive list would include stress and how you manage it, the quality and quantity of sleep you get, what and when you eat, the type of exercise you do and how frequently you do it, and how much water you drink throughout the day.

But the one thing that makes the biggest impact, and actually influences your ability to change the other factors, is your mind. This is not to say that your PMS, cramping, PCOS or Endometriosis is all in your head (IT’S NOT!). But your mind does have a tangible impact on your hormones and how effectively you can heal your body.

A recent study showed that telling people invented results from fake genetic tests could affect their production of the satiety hormone ghrelin (the hormone that makes you feel full).

In that study, participants fasted overnight and were given a 450 calorie meal the next day. After the meal, participants were asked how full they felt and their ghrelin levels were measured.

Then participants were told they’d be getting a genetic test to determine if they had the genes for making a lot of ghrelin (these people feel full easier) or just a little (higher risk for obesity). A week after the fake genetic test was administered, the overnight-fast-then-450-calorie-meal experiment was repeated.

Can you guess what happened? The group that was told that they had the gene for making a lot of ghrelin reported feeling significantly more full than they did after the baseline meal test and, more importantly, they actually produced two times as much ghrelin as the previous week. Double the ghrelin production just from being told that they had a gene that would do that!

Participants were told one piece of false information, they believed it, and it changed their hormones. That’s how much power your thoughts and beliefs have over your body.

So, what kinds of things does your mind tell YOU throughout the day?

Maybe things like:

  • Period suffering is normal.
  • You are fat.
  • You have endo so you are going to suffer until you have surgery or take more drugs.
  • You are sick.
  • You are not enough.

Your mind creates stories for you and, for better or for worse, your body responds to them every day.

If you're a person who really suffers during your period and you’ve struggled with it for a long time, you may think about how terrible your period is each month. You might have already decided that this is just the way it's going to be for the rest of your life until you finally go through menopause, that it’s impossible for it to be better. (I can't tell you how many women have told me their periods were so bad that they’d rather just have their uteri removed than continue to menstruate.)

If that is how you think about your period and your body, how might those thoughts impact the way your body responds?

What might happen if we were able to start changing that mindset? How would your hormones and period be different if you trained your mind to feed you the opposite narrative? To tell you:

  • You are not doomed to suffer and have bad periods.
  • There is hope and you can have a healthy, painless period.
  • You are beautiful.
  • You are healing.
  • You are enough.

We know. Some of you may be thinking, “How in the hell am I supposed to do that? My period is beyond awful and it’s unlikely to get better unless I have surgery or something radical like that.”

Here are a few steps that you can take today:

  1. Start really paying attention to what you think about and, more importantly, what feelings you experience throughout the day.

    I am all about going deep down to the root of the problems. Since our feelings drive our thoughts, being mindful of them is key.

  2. Try to identify the feelings you experience most often.

    It can be worry, fear, anger, sadness, or a host of other feelings.  The point here is to get yourself out of the dark and into the reality of what’s happening inside your head on an unconscious level. This is your habitual mindset.

  3. Look for patterns.

    Are certain feelings tied to certain activities or times of the day? What are you doing when you feel the feelings you identified in Step 2?

  4. Think about what you want to go on in your head.

    Your habits aren’t fixed. You can decide what you want to go on in your head. The two things to identify in this step are: (1) a feeling you want to experience less often and (2) the emotional state you would love to nurture and have as a habit – it could be joy, abundance, love, peace, or whatever floats your boat.

  5. Practice.

    Most people think changing your habits is hard. I think that is just another mindset trap that will keep you limited in your ability to have what you want in life.  At the end of the day, changing your habits comes down to practice. Once you’ve identified the current habitual feeling that you want to change and the feeling you want to experience instead,  all you have to do is set a few reminders on your phone and practice the feeling you want more of.

Step 5, the practice part, can trip people up sometimes – how the eff do you practice feeling an emotion? It is actually easier than you think.

I’ll use my own experience as an example. Working through steps 1-3, I noticed that I often feel overwhelmed, especially when it comes to planning and executing and even more so if I have a lot of errands on my to-do list that day.

In Step 4, I identified that the feeling I want more of is joy.

Putting step 5 into practice, here’s what I do: In the morning I take a look at the day I have ahead of me and identify times that I’m likely to feel overwhelmed (ie: blocks of time that involve errands, planning, and executing!). Then I tell myself that, during those times, I’m going to stay super focused on anything happening that might cause me to feel some joy. These joy-provoking things can be little things like snagging a good parking spot, getting free yummy samples at the grocery store, seeing a cute baby, or laughing at something random with my daughter in the car.

If I know an errand or planning session is going to happen at a certain time, I’ll even set a reminder on my phone so I get a little ping to focus on joy when I’m in a potentially overwhelming scenario. When I focus on the spark-joy things, the overwhelming feeling fades to the background and I’ve realized that I’m actually getting addicted to feeling joy. Every day, I remind myself that it is all a choice and decide that I’m going to continue to choose and look for examples of joy instead of overwhelm.

After that, it’s just rinse and repeat. Steps 1-4 are relatively quick, you can probably sort them out after observing yourself for just a couple of days. Step 5 takes repetition, but if you do it every day for a while, your subconscious will start to become more flexible and you will be able to get it to do amazing things.

So, what are your habits when it comes to thoughts and feelings? Which ones do you want to nurture and which ones you want to change?

I’d love to hear about what you are learning about yourself and your journey. Don’t hesitate to reach out to me at kirsten.karchmer@foreverbrazen.com to let me know how it is going and how I can help. (I read and answer every email personally.)

Period Talk🔻Volume 08

A weekly roundup for people with periods.
That Mysterious Blackish Stringy Stuff In Your Undies

Do you sometimes find mysterious blackish brownish stringy stuff in your undies around your period? If so, you should know that you’re not the only one. It'd also be good to know what it is, what it means, and what you can do to make it stop showing up. Our founder, Kirsten, has you covered with this 2-minute video (and a written explanation for the video-haters amongst us).

Why People on the Pill "Get Their Periods"

Did you know that the “periods” people on birth control pills get aren’t actually periods in the true sense of the word? They’re not menstruating, they’re experiencing withdrawal bleeding, which is completely unnecessary, medically speaking. This article shares the fascinating history of birth control pills and unpacks why placebos and bleeding periods were included.

The Year Women Got 'Horny'

For centuries, “horny” has been a word for men – even its origins have to do with the similarities between an erect penis and an animal’s horn. But now, women are finally opening up about their horniness (not just their sexuality). This article traces horny’s path into the mainstream through a “people’s history of horny culture” that focuses on the last 40 years and celebrates the likes of Madonna, Fleabag, & Big Mouth.

Tampon Cookie Protest
Sex Ed Needs to Be Less Straight

It is 2019 (2020, if we round up) and yet only ten states require schools to teach an inclusive sex ed curriculum. Worse still, seven states “actually mandate that if LGBTQ issues are mentioned, it must be in a negative light.” Some states literally require their teachers to say that homosexuality is “unacceptable” while others only allow it to be mentioned in relation to STIs. Fucking ridiculous.

This article breaks down the ramifications non-inclusive sex ed has on mental health, bullying and more. It also makes a case as to why inclusive sex ed is better for the whole school and highlights publications that are helping pick up our school systems’ slack, like Scarleteen (“Sex Ed for the Real World”).

How Gender-neutral Dolls Fall Short

Gender-neutral dolls seem like a step in the right direction, but will they actually shift gender norms? A 2017 study showed there is a far higher approval rating for parents encouraging their daughters to engage with traditionally masculine activities (thought to make them strong) than for parents encouraging their sons to engage with traditionally feminine activities (thought to make them weak). A Megan K Mass puts it, “Gender neutrality represents the absence of gender—not the tolerance of different gender expression. If we emphasize only the former, I believe femininity and the people who express it will remain devalued.” More on that, and a suggested alternative, here.

A Friendly Reminder

That Mysterious Blackish Stringy Stuff in Your Undies

Do you sometimes find mysterious blackish brownish stringy stuff in your undies around your period?

If so, you’re probably wondering what it is, what it means, and how to make it a thing of your past.

Our founder, Kirsten, has you covered with this 2-minute video. (If videos are not your thing, you can scroll down for the transcript.)

Kirsten’s explanation, typed out for your reading pleasure:

Sometimes, before your period starts (or during your period), you might notice that there's some stringy brown, nasty-looking, blackish stuff that's coming out of you and you don't know what the hell that is.

It's not too big of a deal. Essentially, it's mucus that has blood in it. It’s not cause for alarm, but it does tell you that you need to pay more attention to your digestion.

Mucus in menstrual blood is often confused with clotting. Here’s how to spot the difference: Mucus looks stringy while clotting looks more piece-y and clumpy.

When digestion is working really efficiently, there won't be much mucus. A lack of mucus shows that you're able to take the food you're eating, break it down, turn it into energy, extract the nutrients, and make blood – both regular blood and good menstrual blood.

When your digestive system is not working efficiently, your body produces mucus as a way to prevent the absorption of things that are not appropriately digested. So, the more mucus that you have in your menstrual blood, the more bloating that you'll have before your period, and the more bowel changes or period poop you’ll experience.

Here’s one thing you can do to improve your digestion (and by extension your bloating and bowel changes): eat a little bit more simply. In other words, don’t combine so many different types of food at once.

My digestion is kind of weak and I noticed a big difference when I stopped combining protein and carbohydrates in the same meal. I really don't like meat that much but I need it to feel healthy, and I’ve found I have way less mucus in my menstrual blood when I don’t eat carbohydrates along with the meat.

If you have mucus or digestion-related PMS symptoms (like bloating) you can also try taking the PMS Formula – it has lots of ingredients that help with digestion.

Try modifying your diet and/or taking the PMS formula, and see if you notice any changes. If you can take care of and improve your digestion, you should start to see not only less stringy black stuff before your cycle, but also less mucus in general, fewer allergies, and more energy. It's all a win.

13 Gifts for Feminists & People with Periods – Brazen Gift Guide

Whether you're looking to treat yourself or find the perfect gift for the feminists and PWPs in your life, the Brazen Gift Guide has you covered with books, vibrators, jewelry, a course on gender bias, supplements, playing cards, pussy swag, candles, and more:

It’s the Virgin Mary in vulva form.  Designed by Maria Conejo, all Pussy Virgin profits support Pussypedia, “a free, bilingual encyclopedia of the pussy, made for you to understand.”

Founded by two women, Dame is on a mission to “close the pleasure gap – the disparity in satisfaction that people with vulvas experience in the bedroom, versus their cis male counterparts.” They have a range of vibrators, some for solo play and some specifically meant to enjoy with a partner (there’s even a hands-free one that tucks into your labia, providing extra stimulation without getting in the way of penetrative sex).

​Know someone who’d want to bust gender biases? (If not, consider getting out there and meeting new people?) This online course will enable you (or whoever you gift it to) to “identify deep-seated implicit biases, explore how they impact decision making, and learn to recode them in a proactive and empowering way.” While the UnSchool does offer a broader class on cognitive science, this one is focused on gender biases, how they impede equity and what you can do about it. 

candle that smells like “the dismantling of male power structures that plague society.” Burn, baby, burn.

This book exists to help people with periods understand their cycles, ease their symptoms, and reclaim their health – and their power! As Simon & Schuster describes it, Seeing Red is “a bold, practical, and data-driven handbook for menstrual periods that provides an easy-to-navigate roadmap for improving your reproductive health—and your everyday quality of life.”
For feminists who love lipstick. This one is vegan, cruelty-free and “bad bitch berry”. Plus – and the real reason it’s on this list – it says Notorious RBG on it and “50% of all earnings go towards supporting organizations that embody her ethos.”
This beautiful vulva necklace is part of a collection that aims to “recuperate the significance of personal objects of devotement as an intimate reliquary.” It is handmade by Ale Bremer, who hails from the desert of Northern Mexico and describes her jewelry as “a nostalgic interpretation of the reflection of her culture”.  And yes, whoever wears this necklace can say, “Hey! My vulva’s up here.” (Or not.)
Described as the “everything you have always wanted to know about feminism but were afraid to ask” manual, the Guilty Feminist book is all of that and more. It unpacks complex concepts and systems (like the patriarchy) in an accessible just-chatting-with-a-brilliant-friend voice. And since it’s written by comic genius Deborah Frances White, it’s all incredibly witty. If you want a taste of what to expect before buying, give her podcast a listen. (Nothing on this list is sponsored – we are just fans.)

Think of all the amazing things feminists with periods do. Now, imagine how much more they could do if they weren’t suffering from cramps and/or PMS every month. By giving someone (or yourself) a Brazen supplement subscription, you're essentially giving them the gift of pain-free, symptom-free cycles – and there’s a lot of power that comes along with that.

Made by artist Naima Green, these playing cards are gorgeous. As her website states, “‘Pur·suit’ is a deck of 54 playing cards featuring photographs of queer womxn, trans, non-binary, and gender-nonconforming people. Inspired by Catherine Opie's ‘Dyke Deck,’ Green brings a new perspective and vision to an iconic foundational project.”

Is a skincare manual really feminist? It is if it’s this one, which is all about helping you break the hold that skincare and beauty products tend to have over us. This book will help you understand ingredient lists, enable you to identify the root cause of your skin problems, walk you through a product ‘detox’ program, and empower you to become your own apothecary. It’s got recipes for everything you could possibly need – like facial masks, cleansers, moisturizers, deodorant, and spot treatment – and makes the perfect gift for anyone who is into all-natural, zero-waste and/or DIY.

Six iconic female writer pins, for less than four bucks. We’ll just leave it at that.

Planned Parenthood needs our support now more than ever. You can give in the name of someone you love (make an honorary donation), or just give from yourself. (It’s tax-deductible!)

Period Talk🔻Volume 07

A weekly roundup for people with periods.
5 Foods That Ward Off PMS Headaches

Do you get PMS headaches? Are your periods typically short (1-3 days)? If your answer is yes to both of those questions, eating certain foods can help you reduce headaches, or avoid them altogether. It all comes down to giving your body what it needs to make blood. Our founder, Kirsten, explains in this 1-minute video. (There's a transcript too, in case you don't like videos.)

Cash, Consent & Sex Work

If you’re only going to read one thing today, make it this essay by Lorelei Lee (“writer, porn star, etc.”). It’s beautifully written, weaving personal experiences with the history of sex work in the US, while taking a critical look at what’s going on now and how many initiatives meant to “protect” or “save” sex workers actually harm them. It’ll make you think hard about the nuances that define consent, choice, coercion, performance, service, slavery, empowerment, and... work, which, at the end of the day, is what sex work is.

For more on sex worker rights, and some brilliant comic relief, listen to this Guilty Feminist episode with special guests Niki Adams (spokeswoman for the English Collective of Prostitutes) and Miranda Kane (“sex worker turned comedian writer”).

Holding a Grudge Can Make You Sick

Did you know your grudges can affect your mental and physical health? Essentially, holding on to grudges keeps your body in a state of fight-or-flight, causing great stress, and perpetuating negative thought cycles. Forgiveness is “the antidote” and it’s not just anecdotal – there are actually studies on this. For example, “a 2015 study found that forgiving others is associated with lower levels of depression, anxiety, and hostility and higher positive emotion and satisfaction with life.” (More studies, insights, and tips on how to forgive here.)

Tampon Cookie Protest

^ When did seventh-graders get so badass? We have so much to say to the principal, but instead, we'll share a statement from the Revolutionary Girls' Baking Society (Yep, that's what the girls behind the cookies are called!):

"We are three middle school friends who believe no woman or girl should be shamed by her period. She should feel confident and not secretive. It should just be the norm. Because it is. After our cookie protest, our principal and the school board are now working to make sure every girl in our town will have the products they need readily available so no girl misses a day of school. We are very grateful that the school has taken our action seriously and is making a change. Feminine hygiene is not a luxury or a privilege, and not having tampons and pads is a barrier to every girl’s education." 👏👏🙌

Universal Leave

Can we all agree that the “moms are primary caregivers” and “dads are secondary caregivers” dynamic is not only outdated but also kind of messed up? It reinforces gender stereotypes to kids at an impressionable age, restricts professional advancement for primary caregivers, and limits quality family time for the secondary. Universal leave, where both parents (regardless of gender) get equal leave and are considered co-caregivers, seems like the obvious way forward. @CEOs, please implement this in your companies!

On the Basis of Sex

We know it’s not a new movie, but it’s currently on Amazon Prime and we think it’s worth rewatching – or watching for the first time if you somehow resisted this drama about Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her fight for gender equity. Felicity Jones plays a young RGB and does not disappoint.

Reminder:

^This applies to periods too. Pain-free symptom-free cycles are possible, but you've got to put in the work.