POSTS WITH TAG: menstruation

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    For most women, the three or four days right before the arrival of their period are much like a trip to the dentist. Not entirely pleasant, but nothing they can't handle. At worst they may suffer some cramping, maybe they'll be slightly bloated, a little irritable. Some jerk at work may make a PMS joke about how she's on the rag and everyone should look out.

    Roll your eyes at those kind of jokes, do you? I shudder. I'm the kind of woman those jokes were made about. But then, I don't just get PMS. I have pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder, or PMDD. I'm one of the approximately 5 percent of women of childbearing age who suffer from pre-menstrual symptoms so severe that they can affect our work and our relationships.

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    Ever since the word "period" first came into your vocab, you most likely knew about the dangers associated with using tampons. You know, the whole schpeel that keeping one in for too long could expose you to Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) and that was NOT a good thing. Well, a new report is shedding new light on the potentially harmful chemicals found in tampons that may surprise you. According to the newsletter Chem Fatale, dangerous undisclosed substances may exist in tampons, pads, sanitary towels, and wipes including pesticides, preservatives, fragrances, and dyes. These substances may have adverse effects such as genital irritation, onset of asthma, allergic rash, and scarily enough -- an increased risk of cancer.

    Apparently since tampons and pads aren't regulated by the FDA, companies don't need to list these potentially harmful ingredients. Scary, eh? So what can we feminine product users do to avoid the risk associated with these products? Let's discuss. 

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    PMS is terrible. As if your actual period wasn't bad enough, it's preceded by something that at times feels worse than the flu. There's the bloating and the tummy woe in general. There are the headaches and the inexplicable tears. There's all the muscles aches and pain and the fatigue. And dear lord let us not forget the cramping. Oh sweet furry Buddha in heaven -- the cramping!

    We all have our tried and true methods when it comes to banishing our various PMS symptoms. Some of these have been passed down from generation to generation for so long that we don't even know their origins anymore. Some are based in hard science; others, well, there's less science involved and more general panic. 

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    I've been anxious all my life, but it was definitely exacerbated by having babies. A lot of babies. And not just because I had more to worry about. But because I was a big gigantic hormonal cocktail.

    Then I noticed I started to get extra moody from ovulation to my period, which was really affecting my interactions with family members. I was short, irritable, and on the day before my period, downright angry.

    And while I tried everything they recommend, from cutting caffeine to getting more sleep (yeah, right), even exercising regularly and cutting out foods from my diet, nothing really helped until I tried medication.

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    And I used to think only junior high-aged girls like Judy Blume's Margaret had a problem talking with anyone about their periods! Turns out, we're a nation all freaked out about how much to talk about it and when to talk about it or if it is even okay at ALL to talk about it. Tampons are the enemy all of a sudden to activists and politicians alike! It's madness! And even more reason we shouldn't have any problem broadcasting info about our cycles ... at least to our significant others. 

    A recent thread on CafeMom's group forums debated whether or not it's normal for a husband to know the details of your period -- down to what day you're going to get it! While I'm not sure it's necessary for men to be that well-versed, I am all about them knowing as much about our periods as they can possibly stand to!

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    For years, we've been subjected to advertisements for feminine hygiene products that make it like buying certain pads and tampons will have us frolicking in fields and doing impressive dives into pools. Much fun has been made of how these commercials are willing to show us anything and everything other than what they're actually for: Menstruation. Our messy, inconvenient, but very extremely, super-duper womanly and human periods. It's something we certainly don't want to look at and often will go to great lengths to not even have to deal with. But does that mean we're not -- gasp!! -- feminist?!

    No, really, this is a question being asked now apparently. A story in The Daily Beast yesterday queried: "Are Tampons Anti-Feminist?" You've got to be kidding.

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    A Russian tampon commercial is making the rounds that easily, hands down the greatest commercial I have ever seen.

    Tampon commercials are usually so light, fluffy and full of pastel colors, rainbow romps, and smiling (leak free) young women who can do aerobics and gymnastics with ease! Hooray! So rarely do they ever mention the mess and general discomfort that comes from our periods. They don't mention the stained underwear and cramps and lack of predictability that comes with menstruation.

    You would think our periods were all fun and games. But then there is this tampon commercial that shows the REAL danger of a leaky tampon. See below:

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    Women who carry the so-called "breast cancer gene" may find themselves going through natural menopause a few years earlier than women who don't, according to a recent study of nearly a thousand women with BRCA gene mutations.

    One in 600 women in the United States carries the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation, both of which greatly increase the chance of getting breast and ovarian cancer at some point in their lives. The National Cancer Institute says breast cancer risk jumps from 12 to 60 percent with a BRCA mutation; ovarian cancer risk rises from 1.4 percent to 15 to 40 percent.

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    Women bitch about menstruating all the time. Never-ending cramps, having to buy overpriced tampons, the annoying feeling of tighter clothes because of uncomfortable bloat. One would think that NOT getting a regular period while NOT being pregnant and NOT having to deal with all those things would be a total jackpot, right?

    Wrong. For the last four months, I bitched about being period-free. I would stress over having a bun in the oven when I had absolutely nothing to worry about. I bought a handful of pregnancy tests, which all came back negative, and gave myself a near heart attack every damn time I peed on a stick.

    The reality? After trying nearly every damn birth control pill out there since age 16 and having breakthrough bleeding on EACH one -- I was finally on a birth control pill where not getting a regular period was a side effect. And you know what? I was frustrated. Beyond.

    Plain and simple: I've been irregular for years, and for the love of god, it's driving me insane.

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    Any woman who's ... well, any woman who's ever been a woman knows that our wonderful menstrual cycle affects a lot more than most people (men) realize. For example, a recent study found that asthma symptoms get worse around the time of ovulation. (Which, if you have asthma, is probably something you've known for a long time.)

    The usual period-related suspects (cramps, bloating, moodiness, breakouts) are bad enough, but those havoc-wreaking hormones are to blame for a slew of other very unpleasant symptoms. The good news? Once you know what those crazy ch-ch-ch-changes are actually doing to your body, you can figure out a way to cope. (Leaders of the asthma study suggest adjusting women's medication during ovulation.) Here are some more ways your menstrual cycle messes with you (and helpful tips to try):

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