Category Archives: Health Topics

Posts about different health topics impacting tween girls.

How Do I Track My Period?

How Do I Track My Period

How Do I Track My PeriodAs most women know, the first question asked at each gynecology visit is ‘What was the first day of your last period?’ Doctors ask this question to determine how regular a woman’s menstrual cycle is and if the woman is pregnant, the date helps determine the approximate day of conception. Learning how to track your period is therefore a handy skill to have.

For girls just starting their period, knowing when their next period will start will help them plan for when supplies should be handy while away from home.  Tracking can also help determine if periods are becoming too irregular.

Fortunately there are many calendars and even phone apps to help women and girls track their period. Some of the iPhone apps are reviewed here. If you don’t have a smart phone sites like Kotex and MyMonthlyCycles.com offer free online calendars. And then there is the old-fashioned printed calendar to carry around in a purse or backpack.

Using one of these calendars will allow you to track not only when you first start to bleed each menstrual cycle but also when other discharge or PMS symptoms occur.  This will allow you to plan for any supplies you might need or action you might want to take to head off bothersome symptoms.

There are several types of vaginal discharge that may occur during a menstrual cycle.  Learning how to identify these discharges and understanding what is normal will help you if abnormal discharge happens.  As always, see your doctor if you have any concerns about your menstrual cycle.

Other symptoms that can be tracked include abdominal bloating or water retention, breast tenderness or headaches.  Noting the severity of these symptoms on a tracking calendar can help determine from cycle to cycle if PMS symptoms are becoming better or worse.

We all get caught up in our daily lives and remembering what happens from month to month can be difficult.  Using a period tracking calendar will help you better manage your health and provide useful information when you see your doctor about any concerns.

Feminine Hygiene Pads – The Differences

Feminine Hygiene Pads – The Differences

Feminine Hygiene Pads - The DifferencesIn this day and age in the United States we seem to have a product to fit every choice.  Whether it be food, shoes, homes, or even yes, feminine hygiene pads, there is something unique that fits your life style.  It can be confusing to sort through all the options but once you find the perfect fit you will probably be a customer for life.

Since I started this business 6 years ago, I’ve become much more aware of the choices in feminine hygiene pads.  There is the usual variety in stores that tend toward the disposable.  And then there are the natural products found in specialty stores or on the internet.  There are also new options like the DivaCup where you can do away with the pads altogether.

With all the options available I thought I would make a list for you and your daughter to explore to discuss which type of pads will be best for her and maybe even for you.

Washable Cloth Menstrual Pads

Companies like Lunapads and GladRags lead this market.  Offering reusable all-cotton pads with covers that attach to your underwear (think wings like on disposable pads) these companies attract the eco-conscious consumer.  As a mother who used cloth diapers on her babies, I can see the appeal in these products.  Not only are you cutting down on waste, but there is a real savings in not buying disposable products every month.  The companies also offer bright, cute covers for the pads to appeal to any age.

Menstrual Cup

The DivaCup was first on the scene in this segment of the market.  Offering two sizes, based on age and previous childbirth experience, the cup works just like it sounds.  Inserted vaginally, the silicone cup holds the menstrual blood inside your body until you empty it.  From my own experience, this option is excellent for traveling.  No need to carry supplies and it fits neatly into a cloth bag that can go into any travel purse.  Menstrual cups are also an excellent option for girls involved in sports as an alternative to tampons.  Girls just starting their periods may fill a little unsure about using the cups, but as they get used to their menstrual flow it can be introduced as an option.  Different brands of menstrual cups can now be found in most major drugstores.

The Disposable Stuff

This is where the choices become beyond overwhelming as anyone who has ever walked down the feminine care aisle at a drugstore can attest.  Finding the right fit can be a challenge.  I’m frequently asked by mothers for recommendations on pads that will fit for small tween girls.  So far I have not found a good option.  Instead I tend to recommend investigating the U by Kotex line of products. Specifically targeted to the younger set, the packaging is cute and cheerful and the website offers advice in finding the perfect match for size and flow.

If you know of any other options in feminine care products who would love to here from you in the comments!

 

 

 

 

An Anatomical Lesson

An Anatomical Lesson

An Anatomical LessonThroughout our journey in bringing menstruation education to young girls we have found that girls (and their parents) can sometimes be very shy about using the correct words for their female reproductive parts.  Even saying the words ‘menstrual period’ can be embarrassing to the girls who would much rather say ‘Aunt Flo’ or ‘being on the rag’.

We thought we would help with this situation by providing a short dictionary of the female parts along with a simple definition.  As a matter of health, girls should be comfortable using these words as it helps if they ever have reproductive issues.  Knowing the proper words can help describe discomfort and leads to better understanding of how the female body works.  The more information that girls have the better control they have over their bodies and their health decisions.

Fallopian Tubes

The tubes that allows passage of eggs from the ovaries to the uterus.

Ovaries

Where eggs and female sex hormones are produced.  Generally only one egg is released each month with the ovaries alternating each month on which is producing the egg.

Uterus

The female body organ where an egg can grow into a baby when a woman is pregnant.

Endometrium

The mucous membrane that lines the uterus.  This lining becomes thick and rich with blood during the menstrual cycle in order to support a fertilized egg.  If a fertilized egg is not implanted than the endometrium is sloughed off during monthly menstruation.

Vagina

The canal that connects the uterus to the outside world.  The vulva and labia form the outside entrance to the vagina.  The vulva is where tampons are inserted.

Cervix

The interior end of the vaginal canal where it joins with the uterus.

Menstruation

The monthly discharge of blood and tissue from the uterus of non-pregnant women.  Generally first menstruation starts between the ages of 9 – 12 and lasts until a woman is in her fifties.

 

 

Menstrual Period is a Vital Sign

Menstrual Period is a Vital Sign

Menstrual Period is a Vital SignIsn’t it nice that so much of modern machinery is equipped with warning systems to alert us to their problems? Even my washing machine has a light system to let me know what’s wrong with it. We monitor the vital signs of our bodies in much the same way. Basic vital signs include body temperature, pulse rate, respiration rate and blood pressure. Our menstrual cycles can also be considered an indicator of our overall emotional and physical health. Regular menstrual cycles are a sign of a well running body.

It’s typical for a young girl to have irregular periods as her body adjusts to the monthly cycle of ovulation and menstruation but there can be times when the irregularity has an underlying cause. This is why it’s important to pay attention to your daughter’s period while teaching her to track it herself. You need to know what is normal before you can determine what isn’t normal.

Some common causes of irregular periods include stress, traveling, a high level of physical activity especially combined with low body weight and excess weight loss or gain. These conditions may self correct as situations change but if your daughter goes 3 or more months without a period, it’s a good idea to see a doctor to check for underlying problems. Having a record of her cycle will be extremely valuable information for her health care provider in these cases.

Medical conditions that disrupt the menstrual cycle include Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) which affects 5 to 10% of teenagers and young women. Common symptoms are obesity, excess facial and body hair and acne. Primary Amenorrhea is when a girl has not started menstruating by age 16 and Secondary Amenorrhea is when menstruation has started and then stopped. Amenorrhea is linked to low bone density at a time when girls should be building up their bone mass.

Primary Ovarian Insufficiency (POI), affecting 1% of the population, occurs when the ovaries don’t produce enough hormones causing periods to become lighter or cease altogether. These conditions require careful diagnosis and treatment by a medical doctor. If you have any questions or concerns about these conditions or any other symptoms you should see your doctor.

Knowing when to expect her period is also a great way to manage premenstrual symptoms. Teaching your daughter to track her periods encourages her to be proactive for a lifetime of good health.

5 Tips for using Lavender during Menstruation

5 Tips for using Lavender during Menstruation

Lavender Uses during Menstruation

Lavender blooming in my garden.

Summer time is my favorite season in the Pacific Northwest.  The sun is shining (mostly), there are dozens of art festivals to attend, and lavender is blooming in my garden.  As I enjoy the fresh scent and scour Pinterest for lavender craft projects, I started thinking about the healing properties of lavender and how those properties might help with menstruation complaints.

I did a little research and came up with a few lavender ideas that you and daughter might want to try during your menstrual periods:

1. Lavender flowers, whether fresh or dried, produce a wonderful soothing scent when crushed between your fingers.  Since relaxation is a good technique for relieving menstrual cramps, try crushing a few flowers and inhaling slowly. Think relaxing thoughts and conquer those cramps.

2. Lavender oil can be added to a nice warm bath for a relaxing pick me up and overall clean feeling during menstruation.  I keep lavender triple milled soap from Trader Joe’s stocked in my bathroom – another lavender treat for any time of the month.

3. Use fresh or dried lavender flowers to make a tea.  Add one heaping tablespoon of the flowers to a tea pot and then pour boiling water into the pot.  Infuse for about ten minutes.  What a fragrant way to relieve anxiety and stress and possibly reduce menstrual headaches.  Make lavender tea a part of your daily routine.  A nice ritual for you and your daughter to have some quiet time together.

4. Having trouble sleeping during your period?  Sprinkle lavender oil on your pillow before going to bed.  Or make a sachet filled with dried lavender flowers and tuck it into your pillowcase.

5.  And here is my favorite idea since I always would crave sweets during my period – bake some lavender cookies! Another great project for you and your daughter to do together.  Combine the cookies and the tea and you will probably find that tea break becomes the best part of your day.

If you need lavender for these projects, be sure and stop by my house during the summertime.  I will be happy to supply you!

 

 

 

Menstruation Supplies Needed!

Menstruation Supplies Needed!

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women WorldwideMy book club just finished reading Half The Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicolas D. Kristof (a New York Time columnist) and Sheryl WuDunn. The title Half The Sky refers to a quote by Chairman Mao that women hold up half the sky, meaning a country cannot succeed without including all of its citizens in their economy.

The book concentrates on how to raise the level of female economic participation in countries throughout the world while also ridding the world of such things as sexual slavery and female genital cutting that are still all too common place.

One of the areas that Kristof and WuDunn explored was how to increase the level of education for girls in third world countries and managing menstruation was one of the items discussed.  While drugstores in industrialized nations are stocked with an overwhelming choice of feminine hygiene products, women in third world countries are often still using and re-using rags and may only have one pair of underwear to their name.

Girls miss school during their periods as they do not have disposable supplies that will keep them going throughout the day.  Missing five to seven days a month of school only puts these girls further and further behind, which leaves a serious impact on overall education levels of girls.

To learn more about the Half The Sky movement and how you can support their mission visit the organization website. Other organizations that support providing menstruation supplies to disadvantaged girls throughout the world include the Sanitary Towel Project and Proctor and Gamble’s Protecting Futures campaign.   Consider how easy it is to walk into a local Walgreens or Target to purchase feminine hygiene supplies and then consider donating to one of these worthwhile organizations.

 

 

Menstruation Relief for Your Daughter

Menstruation Relief for Your Daughter

Cup of Herbal Tea for Period Relief.Gone are the ancient days when semi nomadic women menstruated together according to the cycles of the moon. During menstruation these women would actually take a break from their domestic work in order to rest and pamper themselves.

While most of us have been taught to keep up with our busy lives during menstruation, a little bit of pampering now and then can be a healthy habit as well as a wonderful opportunity to connect with your daughter. Teaching your daughter to take care of herself during her menstrual period will help to build a lifetime of good habits and self esteem.

Most advice for general well being such as eating sensibly, exercising and getting the right amount of sleep also applies during menstruation. Now is the time to encourage your daughter to establish a special routine during her period that can relieve discomfort and improve her overall attitude about menstruation.

  • Stretching is a great way to keep muscles limber and relaxed. Sit on the floor with a straight back then bend your knees so that the souls of your feet touch, now gently pull your feet inward. Or, while standing with legs shoulder width apart, gently lunge from side to side. Both of these stretches will help to limber up the pelvic region. Add some deep breathing to increase the amount of oxygen reaching the muscles.
  • Start a monthly ritual of sitting down for a shared pot of tea. Earl Grey with bergamot and Chamomile are known for their relaxing and mood lifting properties. Offer an empathetic ear if your daughter needs to gripe about her period.
  • Give your daughter a specially scented body wash or lotion to use during her period. While regular bathing is sufficient to prevent the worry of any menstrual odors, having something special to use might give her something to look forward to.
  • Reheatable rice bags, hot water bottles and heating pads can work wonders to ease muscle spasms. Apply a few drops of essential oil of lavender to the rice bag for added pain relieving benefits.

Encourage your daughter to share with you and her friends. One thing that hasn’t changed since ancient times is that girls and women still look to each other for support. And sometimes, when it comes to periods, talk is the best relief!

National Eating Disorders Awareness Week

National Eating Disorders Awareness Week

Natinal Eating Disorders.org Yesterday kicked off National Eating Disorders Awareness Week.   The National Eating Disorders Organization is committed to helping those who suffer from eating disorders and helps their family members cope also.  In this day and age when the definition of beauty is so often determined by rail thin models, it is really important for us to teach our daughters what a normal, healthy body weight is and how to enjoy food without guilt. Take a few minutes and browse through the website to learn more about this important organization and how you can spread the word during this spotlight week.

Teach Your Daughter About Dating Violence

Teach Your Daughter About Dating Violence

Holding HandsAlthough Valentine’s Day is all about hearts and flowers, there are times when relationships are not so rosy and may even turn abusive.  This is not something we want our daughters to face, but according to a 2008 study commissioned by Liz Claiborne and LoveisRespect.org:

  – 69 percent of all teens who had sex by age 14 said they have gone through one or more types of abuse in a relationship.

  – 40 percent of the youngest tweens, those between the ages of 11 and 12, report that their friends are victims of verbal abuse in relationships, and nearly one-in-ten (9 percent) say their friends have had sex.

Clearly our daughters need to learn how to manage themselves in relationships, from establishing boundaries, to learning how to say ‘no’, to knowing who to talk to if she feels in danger.  The best teaching tool we can use is modeling appropriate relationships in our own lives whether that be with our partner, family or co- workers, and especially with the interactions we have with our children.  Also, the media is filled with examples of couples acting appropriately and inappropriately.  Discuss these examples with your daughter and whether or not they fit in with your relationship values.

And then educate your daughter about dating violence.  LoveisRespect.org has excellent information on dating basics, what is and is not healthy in a relationship, and what to do if she needs help.

Wear Red Today for The Heart Truth®

Wear Red Today for The Heart Truth®

Wear red today in support of heart health for women and help your daughter learn the importance of life long health.

The Heart Truth created and introduced the Red Dress as the national symbol for women and heart disease awareness in 2002 to deliver an urgent wake-up call to American women. The Red Dress® reminds women of the need to protect their heart health, and inspires them to take action.

While heart disease risk begins to rise in middle age, heart disease develops over time and can start at a young age, even in the teen years. It’s never too early, or too late, to take action to prevent and control the risk factors for heart disease. The Heart Truth is building awareness of women’s heart disease and empowering women to reduce and prevent their risk. It is reaching women with important heart health messages in community settings through a diverse network of national and grassroots partner organizations.

The Heart Truth campaign is sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in partnership with The Office on Women’s Health (OWH) and other groups committed to the health and well-being of women.