Archives for January 2020

Period Talk🔻Volume 14

A weekly roundup for people with periods.

Photo by Daantje Bons

Want to reduce PMS? Try these 3 recipes

Know what’s better than whatever fried/carby/chocolatey thing you crave while you’re PMSing? Foods that actually work to reduce your PMS – not just satisfy your cravings. Here are three hormone-regulating recipes our team loves, plus a breakdown of why they’re so good for your cycle. (Two are super easy, one is a little complex but worth it, and all three are delicious.)

Photo by Emilija Manevska (via Getty Images via Vice)

No, you should not take ibuprofen to reduce your flow

HELLO PEOPLE WITH PERIODS OF THE INTERNET! CAN YOU SEE US JUMPING UP AND DOWN WAVING OUR ARMS? TEXTUALLY SHOUTING WITH ALL CAPS? Okay, good. This Vice article, and by extension Laura Briden’s ‘Period Repair Manual’ and her advice to use ibuprofen to reduce menstrual flow, is what got us off our chairs. In short, just no. It’s terrible advice. It’s one thing to take an ibuprofen once every few months when you get a rare headache (etc.), but incorporating it into your monthly period management is not a sound strategy. As Vice called out, regular use of NSAIDS like ibuprofen come with a list of serious adverse side effects and they’re not worth it.​

Ignoring the adverse health risks that come with NSAIDs for a sec, do we even want to reduce our flow? A light flow may sound lucky and convenient but it’s actually not great in terms of your health because it means you have a thin uterine lining, which tells us that your body is struggling to build a healthy uterine lining. It’s only a good idea to try and reduce your menstrual flow if your flow is actually heavy, aka if you soak a regular tampon in 3 hours or less.

If you DO have a heavy flow and are looking to reduce it, two ways to do so are by reducing inflammation and promoting healthy bleeding. It may sound counter-intuitive to “promote bleeding” when you’re trying to reduce your flow, but it’s not. People get heavier flows because their bodies are having a hard time shedding their nice-and-thick uterine linings; if you promote healthy bleeding early on, the lining will shed sooner and you won’t have to deal with the heavy flow. If you’re wondering HOW to achieve a healthy flow (whether you’re trying to reduce it or increase it), read this.

BTW, if you’re taking ibuprofen or another NSAID to deal with cramps, know this: in randomized control trials involving 3,400 people with periods, herbal formulas (like ours) were found to be almost twice as effective in treating menstrual pain as pharmaceutical treatments like NSAIDs – and without all the associated risks. Okay, too-long-for-this-newsletter rant over.

Photo by Jeff Kravitz/Filmmagic, via Grammy.com

Lizzo on feminism & self-love

In honor of Lizzo’s 🔥🔥🔥 Grammy performance, we’re embracing #TBT and throwing it back to her NPR interview from May. In it she talks about feminism, the pop group she started when she was nine, her career as a flutist, binding her feet, her journey to self-acceptance and self-love, rapping as a “get-out-of-being-a-nerd-free pass,” and more. Also, from August. You’re welcome.

A still from the movie “Chhapaak,” via the New York Times

A Bollywood star takes on a global stigma

We’re a little behind on this, but after reading this NYT article about Chhapaak, it’s now on our must-watch-ASAP list. Based on the life of Laxmi Agarwal, an acid burn victim, activist, and badass, Chhapaak highlights the violence of acid attacks on women in India, the traumas they suffer, and the grit and strength they show in navigating life afterwards.

If it’s playing in a theater near you, consider seeing it on the big screen. When movies focused on strong female protagonists (and “women’s issues”) do well in theaters, it shows there is a market for it, and that’s a message we want people in Hollywood to hear 😉

Reminder:

Photo by @didudietho

Want to reduce PMS? Try these 3 recipes.

When you say “PMS” and “food,” people tend to think of chocolate, ice cream, and carbs (lots and lots of carbs). While those might be the foods you crave, they’re probably not going to help reduce your PMS symptoms.

If you want to take the food-is-medicine approach to reducing (or avoiding!) your PMS symptoms, you need to seek out foods that will help balance your hormones and leave you feeling better each cycle.

Chia seeds are one of our favorite foods when it comes to regulating your hormones, and we’ve got three delicious Brazen-tested recipes to help you incorporate it into your day-to-day diet.

Before we get to the recipes, here’s what makes chia seeds so special:

Chia seeds are rich in plant-based Omega 3s (ALA).

Known for their anti-inflammatory properties, studies have found that Omega-3s can help to soothe menstrual pain.

They’re also essential for you cell membranes, which control the traffic of hormones and nutrients that enter and leave your body.

(Note: Flax seeds are also rich in Omega 3s but, unlike chia seeds, they have a tendency to go rancid when exposed to light or heat.)

Chia seeds are rich in key minerals.

What do calcium, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, copper, zinc, and iron have in common? They all help to keep hormones balanced and chia seeds are rich in all of them.

Chia seeds are a great source of complete protein.

Chia seeds contain all of the nine essential amino acids that our bodies need, making them a great plant-based source of complete protein. Not only is their protein complete, it’s abundant; with four grams of complete protein for every two tablespoons of seeds, chia contains more protein than eggs.

When it comes to your menstrual health, consuming protein is key because your body needs it to produce quality blood.

Chia seeds are rich in soluble fiber.

Have you noticed how chia seeds form a gel around them when they’re left in water (or any other liquid)? That’s because they have a high content of soluble fiber.

That funny looking gel bead that surrounds the chia slows down the release of sugar, helps you feel full, controls your cravings, and keeps your blood sugar stable.

Chia’s soluble fiber also feeds the good bacteria in your gut, which both helps boost your immune system and promotes weight loss.

As for your hormones and your menstrual health, chia’s fiber helps your body eliminate excess hormones (including estrogen), which will help you feel more balanced pre-period.

Chia seeds can help regulate your blood sugar.

A 2007 study revealed people with periods have decreased insulin sensitivity during menstruation. That means when we’re on our periods we use blood glucose less efficiently and as a result, have higher blood sugar.

Research also suggests that this reduction in insulin sensitivity is related to our PMS symptoms (like bloating, cramps and mood swings). So, stabilizing our insulin sensitivity could mitigate PMS.

That’s where chia seeds come in; because of their high protein and fiber content, chia seeds help improve your blood sugar metabolism and reduce the changes in your insulin sensitivity. (Thanks, chia!)

3 of our favorite chia recipes:

  1. Quick & Easy 2-Ingredient Chia Pudding
    • One of our teammates swears by this recipe and has been making it for years. Like yogurt, it’s best enjoyed with toppings like fresh fruits, nuts, etc.
    • All you need is ¼ cup chia seeds and 1 ¼ cups coconut milk. A dash of vanilla extract makes for a great, but optional, addition.
    • The easiest way to do it is to use a mason jar (or any other leak-proof container). First pour the coconut milk in, then add the chia seeds, close the jar as quickly as possible, and begin to shake it. Keep shaking it for 40 seconds or so, until the seeds stay suspended in the liquid, instead of all sinking to the bottom.
    • Notes: if you’re slow to start shaking, the chia seeds will end up clumping together. If you’re making this in a bowl or something you can’t close and shake, you can whisk the seeds into the coconut milk using a fork. If you’re adding vanilla extract or a sweetener, add it to the coconut milk before adding the seeds. The chia pudding will keep in the fridge for about a week.
  2. Super Smooth & Creamy Chia Pudding
    • Our founder, Kirsten, is obsessed with this recipe from COOKIE+kate. It takes more work than the 2-ingredient version above, but it is really quite decadent and its smooth consistency is perfect for anyone weirded out by the gelly texture of soaked chia seeds.
  3. Agua Fresca with Chia
    • One of our teammates is based in Mexico City, where you’ll find “fresh water” or “water of the day” in most restaurants. More often than not, it’s water mixed with some fresh juice or an infusion of hibiscus or lemongrass. Sometimes (and here’s where this becomes relevant to this article) there will be chia seeds mixed in with the water.
    • If you don’t mind the gel, this is an incredibly simple consume-more-chia hack. You can essentially throw chia seeds in any chilled herbal tea or juice (or juice mixed with water).
    • One easy and kind of famous option is chia limeade (“agua de limon con chia”). According to the book ‘Born to Run,’ Mexican Tarahumara natives, “the world’s greatest distance runners” drank this for energy (their name for it was Iskiate).
    • To make it, just squeeze the juice of one lime into a large glass of water (~16 oz.), add a tablespoon or two of chia seeds, stir the seeds for 20 seconds or so, and then wait 2-3 hours before drinking it. If tart drinks are not your thing, you can sweeten this to taste with the sweetener of your choice.
    • Note: Make sure to wait before drinking this – the chia needs time to congeal.

Is Your Period Out Of Whack? Check These 6 Aspects Of Your Life

Is it okay to fangirl the founder of the company you work for? Not asking for a friend. Kirsten (our founder!) wrote an excellent “aha” eliciting article about out-of-whack periods for Mind Body Green, and it’s too good not to share. The excerpt below clears up why the differentiation between common and normal is SO important. As for the actionable part, you’ll have to head over to MBG and read the full article for guidance on the six aspects of your life you need to get in check for healthy (painless, symptom-free) cycles.

“A recent study showed that more than 82% of people with periods reported significant and life-interrupting PMS and cramping to their OB/GYNs. Every month, people tell us they are missing work, passing out, and throwing up from their cramps. Some with PMDD even tell us they feel suicidal or cut themselves with their cycles. While we would like to count these as outliers, studies show that this is more common than we think. It is so common that the large majority of people with periods that we talk to tell us this kind of monthly menstrual suffering is normal.

This is not true.

PMS and cramping are incredibly common. Just because something is common, that does not make something normal. After all, 420 million people have diabetes, but we don't say that is normal. We treat it.

As long as we continue to tell people with periods that the emotional and physical pain they are experiencing every month is normal, the 80 million women will continue to suffer and believe that this is just what it means to have a period, and the conversations about how we can fix them will continue to be silenced. When we are silent about our suffering, we are less likely to advocate for better research and solutions to have healthier cycles and overall health.

PMS and cramping are incredibly common, but they're not actually normal.

You might be thinking, "OK, common vs. normal—what's the big deal?"

When we say something is normal, we are saying it is without pathology. Let me give you an example. I go for a walk every morning. That's totally normal and without pathology. In fact, it is incredibly good for me. On the other hand, on many days, my legs are arms are weak from my neurological condition. I would never say that was normal. Rather, the weakness is a symptom signaling that my body still needs more attention than I am giving it. For me, that typically means more rest, better food, and upping my stress management strategies.

Your cycle is the same. Think of your menstrual cycle as your monthly report card that gives you feedback on how your body is responding to how you are caring for it. Whether you have PMS, cramping, irregular cycles, endometriosis, or PCOS, the symptoms you are experiencing are all signals that your body is asking for you to pay attention and take additional action in the ways you care for yourself.

So, what should you do?”

Period Talk🔻Volume 13

A weekly roundup for people with periods.

Photo by @julia___pero, via @allbodieshealth

Is Your Period Out Of Whack? Check These 6 Aspects Of Your Life

Our founder, Kirsten, wrote an “aha” eliciting article about out-of-whack periods for mindbodygreen. In it she 100% clears up why the distinction between normal and common is so important and shares her insights on the six areas of your life you need to get in check if you want healthy, painless, symptom-free cycles. (If you’re subscribed to this newsletter, we’re assuming that’s one of your goals. It’s certainly a big one for us.)

Photo via Quartz

How the Healthcare System Works Against Women

Why is healthcare so shitty AND so expensive for women? 😱 “According to the US Department of Labor, women incur health expenses of more than 80% higher than men—even though they aren’t treated as quickly or as aggressively, are more likely to wait longer than men in emergency rooms, and are more likely to be told their pain is simply a result of emotional stress.” This article unpacks why the healthcare industry continues to fail women and what we can do to demand better. (It also includes a couple of Fleabag references, which we truly appreciate.)

Illustration by Carolyn Figel (via Medium)

Sex is Better if You Exercise

If the carrots of reduced cramps and improved overall health haven’t sold you on the importance of exercising, perhaps this will: studies shows that “people who are physically active have more and better sex.” While research suggests this is true for both men and women, there are certain areas in which women stand to benefit even more; “Improving cardiovascular function in women may increase pleasure, arousal, and orgasm in women who once believed that their sexual dysfunctions were incurable or only treatable with hormonal supplements.” More on that here 😉

Illustration by Giacomo Bagnara, via Medium

Millennial Workers Choose Fertility Benefits Over Free Beer

It comes as no surprise that we Millenials are putting off parenthood longer than older generations – but it turns out it’s driven more by financial insecurities than by a lack of interest. Taking note, a growing number of employers are offering their employees fertility benefits and some will full-on pay for their employees to freeze their eggs, do IVF, and more. Many Millenials are attracted to those benefits and see them as evidence that their employers are progressive and value them as “whole” people. But others worry that by covering these services, employers may be “implicitly pressuring their employees to delay or even forego raising families.” What do you think?

(BTW, if you’re interested in having kids now or down the line, know this: your menstrual cycle is linked to your fertility and you can improve your fertility by learning to read your period and improve your cycle.)

Photo via Chidera Eggerue (@theslumflower)

#BringBackTheBush

👏👏👏👏 to this post from Chidera Eggerue: “Imagine how different the world would look if women weren’t taught to be afraid of our bodies. Hair happens. It grows out of our skin like our nails do but for some reason, we are taught to hate our hair when it grows from our pubic region. If you’re a woman, I know you can relate to me here on how the internalised messaging genuinely disrupts our sense of who we are when nobody is looking. Over the past few months, I’ve silently undergone a journey of challenging myself to grow out my bush and let my beauty flourish. I can’t wait to show you how I did it, the MENTAL challenges I’ve faced and the women I’ve encountered along the way who are joining me in embracing their bushes.”

Lastly, a reminder:

Period Talk🔻Volume 12

A weekly roundup for people with periods.

Walk-in Vagina installed in Johannesburg Women's Prison, via @mydearvagina

Hey Brazen Friends,

So much has been happening this week. While Rob (my co-founder) and I have been hammering out the final edits on the soon-to-launch Brazen app, we found out that one of our brand crushes has been silently poisoning our crotches, teenaged girls probably don’t need pelvic exams, and Gen X women are really struggling with the pressure of trying to have it all. It made me realize that the need to build a unequivocally trustable women’s health company is real. That is what I spend every day and night working on for you. Check out the details in the articles below and shoot me an email with your thoughts. I’d love to hear from you!

Xo Kirsten

How to choose the right supplements (for your period & in general)

Before you can figure out which supplements will help you, you need to figure out if you even need supplements at all. This article breaks down how to know if supplements are a good fit for you or just a waste of money, and – if you do need supplements – how to choose them. (Spoiler alert: some supplements come in hard-to-digest forms and/or contain crap like endocrine disruptors, which cause you more harm than good!)

Illustration via The Lily

Pelvic exams are unnecessary for most young women!

New research shows that in most cases pelvic exams (you know, the uncomfortable part when your gyno sticks 2 fingers in you?) are unnecessary for young women. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) says they’re generally not recommended for women under 21 and beyond being unnecessary, they might actually cause harm. A recent study found that most Pap smears being performed on young women are unnecessary too. Get details on the research and read the reactions from several OB/GYNs here. (Also, share this with all the under-21 people with pussies in your life! They deserve to know this before their next gyno visits.)

Eugene Gologursky/Getty Images for Thinx, Inc

Thinx period underwear has toxic chemicals in the crotch 🙁

Some of our team members use(d) and love(d) Thinx, so we are especially bummed to read and share this: A scientist at Notre Dam tested unworn Thinx period underwear and “discovered polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) on the inside layers of the crotch. These are chemicals known to be toxic to humans, even at very low levels, and have been linked to cancer and fertility problems. That’s right, they were found in the exact undergarments closest to the wearers’ vagina—a particularly absorbent part of a woman’s body."

Do you have a (not Thinx) period underwear rec? If so, please reply to this email to share. We’re sad to be on the market for some new ones.

Photo by Emma Vendetta

Alcohol deaths have risen sharply among women.

Overall, alcohol-related deaths in the US increased by 51% between 1999 and 2017. But for women specifically, it went up by a whopping 85%. One potential cause is that women are now more likely to “drink like a man.” That may sound liberated, but “women who match a man drink-for-drink are likely to suffer worse health effects.”

The unique pressures on Gen X women

Author Ada Calhoun unpacks the unique midlife pressures on Gen X women (born in the 60s and 70s) in her new book, Why We Can’t Sleep – and on a 7-minute NPR interview. Listen here.

Important PSA:

PSA by @dudettewithsign

Period Talk🔻Volume 11

A weekly roundup for people with periods.

Art by Marianrrea

My PMS is really bad. Is it PMDD?

What’s the difference between PMS and PMDD? And how can you tell which one you’re dealing with? Our founder, Kirsten Karchmer, breaks it down on the One Part Podcast with Jessica Murnane (partial transcript here). They also discuss how to improve your cycle, why digestion is so key, and how your mindset affects your health (menstrual and overall).

Michelle Williams on abortion, voting, and winning:

In case you somehow made it this far into the week without watching Michelle William’s feminist acceptance speech from the Golden Globes, here you go. Watch it and then maybe send her some fan mail? (On behalf of team Brazen: thank you, Michelle! ❤️)

Added sugar is worse than you think:

Okay, so, we all generally know that too much sugar is bad for us and that we should limit it. It’s even on the list of inflammatory foods we recommend limiting to improve your cycle. But this NYT article drops some more specific and impactful sugar bombs that will be hard to overlook. For example, we learned “the more sugar you eat, the faster you age”(!!) and consuming “high amounts of added sugar doubles the risk of heart disease, even for people who aren’t overweight.” Plus, excessive sugar consumption can “damage your liver, similarly to the way that alcohol can” and, since your liver is in charge of metabolizing hormones, if your liver suffers, you’ll likely be hit with more PMS symptoms. ALSO, it’s important to note that all the scary facts the article shares about sugar aren’t just about cane sugar, they’re about added sugar in general – including agave nectar, honey, etc. (Sorry to be the bearers of bad news.)

You Probably DO Have Time To Exercise

A lot of people use “I don’t have time” as an excuse for not exercising. But a survey of 32,000 Americans (ages 15 and older) revealed that most people have 5 hours of “leisure time” each day. So, where does the bulk of that time go? To SCREENS! More on that here. (BTW, we’ll be proud, not offended, if you put down whatever screen you’re viewing this newsletter on and do some moderate exercise now. Amongst other things, it’ll improve your period! And yes, going for a walk counts.)

Illustration by Kieran Blakey

Trying to make new habits stick in the new year? Habit Rehab may help. It’s described as a “5-day bootcamp to help you build healthy, lasting habits” but really it’s just a series of articles sharing science-backed tips to help you break the old habits you want to ditch and make the new, better habits last. (We don’t mean to be dismissive when we say “really it’s just articles…” – we just want to make sure the word “bootcamp” doesn’t intimidate you out of clicking. But, at the end of the day, it’s not even our content, so if you don’t click, that’s totally fine by us.)​

Reminder:

Art via @panic.panties