Archives for February 2020

5 Foods that Relieve Cramps Naturally

We’re big believers that cramps can be prevented with the right habits and nutrients. But sometimes cramps happen (often, and to most people with periods!), so a relief plan is necessary.

Here are 5 foods and drinks that relieve cramps naturally:

  1. MASALA CHAI
    • If you’re looking for cramp relief and a drink that feels like a big hug, masala chai is for you. It’s essentially black tea with a bunch of good-for-you spices, including ginger, cinnamon, fennel, clove, cardamom and peppercorns. These spices warm up and relax your intestines and reproductive organs, so they’re great to have on hand during your period.
    • If you want to make your own masala chai at home, power to you. But you really don’t need to get fancy – the tea bags they sell in supermarkets will do the trick. Brew it in water and drink it black, or prepare it with a mix of water, your favorite milk (or mylk) and a teaspoon of honey.
  2. GINGER
    • Ginger is a popular natural remedy for dealing with various forms of inflammation, which is one of the culprits behind period problems. It has been used to reduce bloating, cramps, and PMS in Chinese medicine for centuries.
    • To take advantage of its healing benefits, drink some ginger tea or throw a chunk of ginger into a fruit smoothie.
  3. SAMBAR
    • Sambar is a soup that comes from Southern India. It’s basically a lentil soup but the veggies and lentils are ground, so it’s liquidy enough to drink. Sambar is full of wonderful spices that are warming to the reproductive organs as well as drying spices like cardamom and cumin. Sometimes when you’re on your period, you get bloated and/or phlegmy – cardamom and cumin can help to dry that out.
    • You should be able to find Sambar at your local Indian or Southern Indian restaurant. Ask for a big container to go and sip it throughout the first few days of your period.
  4. BANANAS
    • Thanks to their high potassium content, which reduces water retention and helps control muscle contractions, bananas can help your body reduce or prevent both bloating and cramping. The anti-cramping effects of potassium are reinforced by the bananas’ magnesium, calcium and B6, which help to fight cramps and muscle soreness.
    • You already know how to eat bananas – peel, bite, chew – but if you’re looking to use them as a vehicle to satiate cravings, you can freeze a couple and blend them to make nicecream.
  5. CACAO (& DARK CHOCOLATE)
    • Dark chocolate is what we’d call a productive craving – it’s something you crave that will actually help your body with the other symptoms. That’s because one of its main ingredients is cacao, which is rich in magnesium. Magnesium relaxes your muscles, eases aches, and reduces pain. Cacao (and by extension dark chocolate) are also great for the emotional symptoms of PMS because they trigger the release of endorphins, which help you feel happier and more at peace.
    • You can eat a dark chocolate bar or straight up cacao to get the benefits. If you’re avoiding sugar or just want to go straight to the source, cacao is the better option. You can throw it into (or on top of) smoothies, add it to your cereal, snack on it on its own, or blend it in with your frozen bananas to make a super healthy chocolate nicecream.

Period Talk🔻Volume 17

A weekly roundup for people with periods.

Photo by Rob Woodcox

3 Ways to Improve PCOS

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) affects over ¼ of people with periods and most people who have it haven’t actually been diagnosed. Whether you know you’ve got it or suspect you might based on your symptoms, these tips are for you.

Illustration by María Conejo, via Pussypedia

Masturbation as Self Care

“Can self-service be self care?” How common is it for people with pussies to masturbate? Where did all the shame come from – and why doesn’t it apply to our “weenied brethren”? This brilliantly penned article explores the loooong history of pussy masturbation and the stigmas tied to it, while making a case for you to “feel yourself to heal yourself.”

Image via drdrai.com

6 Things You Need to Know About Pap Smears

What exactly goes on when you get a PAP smear? Do you need to get one? If so, how often? And what happens if your smear comes back abnormal? OB-GYN Dr. Drai answers these questions and more in this short and informative blog post.

Art by Brian Rea, via NYT

The Unhealthy Math of Skinny + Pretty = Good

Not all bodies are meant to be the same and thin isn’t always a win. This Modern Love essay traces the author’s journey from self-loathing to self loving – from struggling with an eating disorder to embracing the body she is “genetically meant to have.”

Reminder:

3 Ways to Improve PCOS

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) affects more than ¼ of people with periods and most people who have it haven’t been diagnosed(!). It’s tied to hormonal imbalances and its symptoms include irregular periods, ovarian cysts, higher levels of androgens (male hormones), baldness, excessive facial hair growth, fertility challenges, and more. Not ideal.

Here at Brazen, we’re all about helping people achieve healthy symptom-free cycles. So, naturally, we wanted to know if PCOS could be stopped, reversed, or at very least improved.

As with most of our HOW-CAN-WE-MAKE-THIS-BETTER questions, we turned to our founder, Kirsten. Here’s her advice:

Kirsten’s Advice for PCOS (in written form):

Can you reverse polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)? I wish I had a great magic answer for this, but the truth is that PCOS is really fucking complicated. We need more than a short video and blog post to cover all the things you need to do to reverse your PCOS, but to start, we’ll share 3 key things you can do to improve it.

3 Ways to Improve PCOS:

  1. Do Moderate Exercise Everyday
    • You need to move your body every single day. Does this mean that you should do something intense like CrossFit or intense training every day? No. Actually, I think that’d be a terrible idea. Typically women with PCOS have inefficient digestion, meaning their bodies have issues with the process of breaking food down and turning it into energy. If you’re training really, really hard but aren’t digesting foods efficiently, your body will end trying to consume more energy than you can keep up with giving it.
    • When that happens, you go into weight-gaining mode because your body is like “Oh shit, we are going to run out of gas pretty soon so we better start conserving.”
    • Clinically, what I’ve seen over the last 20 years, is that women with PCOS do the best with very moderate exercise. We’re talking like 30 or 40 minutes of walking 5-7 days a week and some very moderate yoga.
    • I’m kind of an introvert and don’t like to go to yoga classes. Here’s my hack: I do yoga at home while I watch TV. I put on my junkiest crap TV and do yoga while I watch it. On the one hand, it makes my guilty pleasure shows feel less guilty because I’m doing something good for my body while I watch them, and on the other hand I end up doing longer sessions. I tend to do yoga more slowly if I do it in front of the TV, but if you’re dealing with polycystic ovarian syndrome, slow yoga sessions are ideal.
  2. Manage your carbs.
    • Here’s the big picture: your insulin levels impact how your body manages your hormone levels, which impacts your cycle regularity, liver function. Since PCOS is caused by hormonal imbalances, improving PCOS requires you to effectively manage your blood sugar, and cutting down on carbs is a big piece of that.
    • You do not need to go keto, but you do need to become intimately aware with how many carbs are in pretty much everything that you eat.
    • Typically if you can stay under 50 or 60 grams of carbs each day, that will make an enormous difference in how well you’re able to manage your insulin levels and how you feel.
  3. Get more sleep.
    • I cannot stress how critical sleep is. A lot of people (especially in the entrepreneurial world) say, “I don’t care. I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” That’s just not a healthy mindset. The research is so clear that you have to sleep – elite athletes need 10 hours of sleep to perform optimally!
    • If you’re dealing with a chronic condition like PCOS or endometriosis or even just really bad periods or exhaustion, you need to be sleeping as much as humanly possible. Get to bed at the same time each night and make sure you’re giving yourself enough time to sleep at least 8 hours – if you can up that to 10, that’s even better.
    • Throughout the day, if you’re tired, nap. As somebody who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis when I was much younger, I was really tired in my twenties, and so I got really good at hacking napping. I napped on the couches at Nordstrom, in my car, and at parks. Nap anywhere you can comfortably and safely lie down and close your eyes – even if you can only make time for a 15 minute nap after lunch, any extra rest you can get will make a big difference.
    • So, that’s it; moving your body, sleeping more, and reducing carbs. Those 3 things may sound super simple but they’re incredibly effective at improving PCOS. If you’ve been diagnosed with PCOS or think you might have it, give it a try, see how you feel after a month, and let us know how it works for you.
    • If you have any questions, if there’s any way that we can possibly help you, please contact us through the chat bot. You will get me or my co-founder, Rob. We’re both here to help.If you have any questions, if there’s any way that we can possibly help you, please contact us through the chat bot. You will get me or my co-founder, Rob. We’re both here to help.

Period Talk🔻Volume 16

A weekly roundup for people with periods.
Why does your period stop then start again?

Have you ever started bleeding again a day or two after you thought your period had ended? We’ve been there before and it’s on our list of surprises we hate. (Also on the list: vacation flights getting canceled, realizing that guy you’re meeting to close a business deal thinks you’re on a romantic date, discovering there is no toilet paper in a public bathroom after you’ve done your business.) So, WHY (whyyyyy!?!?) does it happen? Why does your period start again after you thought it was over? We asked our founder Kirsten for an explanation. Here it is.

Illustration by Maria Chimishkyan

Women Can Do Pull-ups Too

Have you ever been told women can’t do pull-ups? Women like Eva Clarke, Megan Rapinoe and Misty Posey are calling bullshit. It seems like with practice, most non-disabled people can do it, regardless of their gender or body type. But since women are regularly told they can’t, few put in the effort needed to actually achieve it. Here are some tips on how to do pull-ups (and prove some people wrong!).

Photo via SeventyFour Images/Alamy Stock Photo/Guardian

Is it impossible to breastfeed while working full-time?

Both the World Health Organization (WHO) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend mothers exclusively breastfeed for the first six months after giving birth. But doing so can take about 900 hours of a mother’s time, which translates to 35 hours a week or more. How does that work out in a country where paid maternity leave isn’t required? And what are the hidden costs of breast-feeding, aside from the unpaid time mothers spend breastfeeding? This article breaks down the economics of breastfeeding in America. )

Image via Netflix

Sex, Explained

Wondering what’s up with sexual fantasies, attraction, fertility, birth control, and/or childbirth? The Netflix/Vox docuseries Sex, Explained, will give you a pretty good overview of all of those things. Obviously these are big topics and not everything can jammed into a 20-minute episode but the series provides easy-to-digest answers for sex FAQs while also sharing fun facts about things you’ve likely never pondered. (For example, we learned that horses essentially wink their vulvas when they’re DTF.) Plus, it’s narrated by our favorite vulva-pants-wearing singer and actor; Janelle Monáe.

Reminder:

Happy Galentine’s Day!

Why does my period stop then start again?

Have you ever started bleeding a day or two after you thought your period had ended? As in you had your period for a few days, you thought it was done because you stopped bleeding, you took out your cup or tampon, stopped using period underwear and pantie liners etc., you rejoiced, switched to normal underwear, and then a day later you found blood in your not-meant-for-periods underwear and screamed WHY so loud the floor shook? We’ve been there before and we know it can be maddening.

So, WHY does it happen? We asked our founder, Kirsten, to weigh in:

Kirsten’s response, written out for your convenience:

Sometimes you have your period and then you're four or five days along, you think you're done, your underwear is clean, and then suddenly on day six or seven you have more bleeding, more spotting, more clotting, goo in your underwear. It can seem disgusting and so disappointing because you've already used all your black underwear and now your clean ones are ruined.

This happens quite often and interestingly, there's no good data on why. But I do have a point of view just from clinical experience – I’ve noticed the correlation that often this will happen a lot with women who are exhausted.

Again, there's no data to support this, but I do have a theory (I almost always do). Here’s my thinking: You have a job when you're releasing your menstrual blood and it takes some energy to do that. While you're losing blood, your body is also working to discharge your uterine lining and it doesn't just happen magically. It doesn't fall out of your uterus – it takes work.

The week before your cycle you get kind of depleted as you’re trying to prepare for menstruation. Then you have your cycle, you bleed a lot, and after that, especially if you’re not getting enough sleep, working too much or working out too hard, your body may literally run out of gas around day four or five.

At that point, your body takes one day to rest. You eat some food, you probably don't feel that great, so you're not likely to exercise, you might sleep a little bit more, and your body sort of gears up to get a little bit more energy to discharge the last of your lining, which you experience as more blood.

That's my hypothesis. I hope you like it. If you find that this happens to you frequently, try to rest more, sleep more, avoid overworking, and cut back on intense workouts during your period. See if you notice a difference, keep tabs to see if the done-jk-it’s-not-over-yet period pattern stops. And let us know how it goes – we’d love to get your feedback on this.

We’d also love to hear your questions. They’re what inspire these blog posts! So, click on the chatbot on the website and ask away. I'll sit here and respond to as many as possible.

Period Talk🔻Volume 15

A weekly roundup for people with periods.

Still life by Faith Aylward

Everything You Need to Know About Plan B

Wondering what the difference between the abortion pill and Plan B is? Not sure if it’s too late to take Plan B? Want to know what to expect after taking it? Concerned that taking Plan B will affect your long-term fertility? You’re not alone. We’ve been fielding a lot of questions about plan B lately, so we sat our founder Kirsten down to give us answers. Here you go.

Photo by Serge Kutuzov

Goop Lab x Betty Dodson’s Orgasm Method

Goop Lab has been hit with a lot of scepticism and criticism but the third episode changed the way one of our teammates orgasms, and we think that’s a pretty big deal. In the ‘The Pleasure Is Ours’ episode, 90-year-old feminist sex educator Betty Dodson teaches Goop Staffers her orgasm method, which involves a mix of heavy breathing, body rocking, clit stimulation and penetration. If you have a hard time orgasming (or if you always have that

I’M-FROZEN/CAN’T-BREATHE tension orgasm and want to see what else is out there), we recommend you watch it. In a clinical test involving 500 women with anorgasmia, 93% were able to orgasm after learning Dodson’s method. 😮

Image courtesy of Mattel, via MBG

Well, maybe not you specifically but the new Wellness Barbie has kid-friendly guided meditations built into her necklace. She’s also more flexible and has yoga clothes, in case you want to do yoga with her. Mattel hopes that this new Barbie can teach kids to embrace self-care and wellness. Fingers crossed they’re right. (Also, does anyone make meditation necklaces like Barbie’s for real humans? Because a necklace that plays guided meditations and lights up sounds kind of clutch.)

Photo by Jeffery Wong

Vaginismus on Sex Education

Two Netflix recs in one newsletter feels like too many but between Sex Education, Sex Explained, Big Mouth and Goop Lab’s The Pleasure Is Ours episode, there really is a lot of solid content on there when it comes to sex. We especially loved the last episode of Sex Education Season 2, where one of the main characters shares that she has vaginismus (“my vagina is like a venus fly trap”) and then goes on masturbate with her partner. It’s amazing because it (A) sheds light on a very real and painful condition that most people know nothing about and (B) shows that having vaginismus doesn’t mean sexual pleasure is off the table. Here’s an article about what the episode got right, plus more details on the condition. (A heads up that the article contains spoilers!)

Notifications & Distractibility

How are the many notifications you receive throughout the day affecting your focus, your productivity, and your mental health? And how much of that can you really blame on the tech? Might the deeper issue actually be our always-available culture, the expectations of others, and your own attention distractibility? This article encourages you to do a probably-much-needed notification detox while also calling out its limitations.

Reminder: