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HEALTH

Home Workouts for When You Have Bad Period Cramps

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When I’m sofa-bound thanks to the unceasing, painful jabs of my period cramps, the last thing I really want to do is get up and exercise — curling up in a ball and rocking back and forth sounds much more appealing.

But, the truth of the matter is working out, or simply moving around my apartment, is one of the only things that eases my cramps faster. The Mayo Clinic actually notes that physical activity is one home remedy that can help some women manage their menstrual cramps, and I’m one of them!

My tried-and-true cramp exercise of choice is swimming, but since the pools near me have been closed since March, I’ve had to explore other living room-friendly options. Ahead, the four workouts that push me through the awful aches — and even a few other PMS symptoms.

Peloton Yoga

My cramps kick in a day or two before my period arrives, along with a side of mood swings and increased anxiety. This particular combo of emotional and physical discomfort calls for time spent on my yoga mat — stretching through active Sun Salutations and letting all the stress go during Savasana.

I’ve tried a handful of yoga apps, and Peloton Yoga is by far one of my favourites. The Peloton app, which costs about $13 a month, offers a ton of different types of yoga — like restorative yoga, power yoga, yoga flow, yoga basics, yoga anywhere, and pre- and postnatal yoga — for every skill set and need.

When I feel the faint twinge of a period cramp, I usually turn to a 20 or 30-minute yoga flow session — which combines the perfect amount of active sequences and seated poses.

XB Pilates

I’m definitely not at my perkiest during my period — in fact, I’m kind of a drag. Positivity and an upbeat personality from my workout instructor is what I need in those moments. That’s exactly what you can expect from Andrea Rogers in XB Pilates, available on the Openfit app.

The low-impact pulses and thoughtful, small movements in Rogers’s workouts fire up my muscles, and her encourageing messages always push me through those last few challenging reps. It was in Rogers’s workouts that I learned that lightweight dumbbells are dramatically underrated — an arms series with 2 lb. weights left me sore for days.

P.Volve

Sometimes plyometric moves get a hard pass from me — especially during the first few days of my period. So, when I want to focus on toning my legs, I turn to P.volve, a low-impact, high-intensity workout method that utilises small, mobility-focussed movements and tools like ankle resistance bands and sliders to target hard-to-reach muscles.

POPSUGAR Fitness Videos

When I do have more energy to jump around or get my heart rate up, the POPSUGAR Fitness Youtube channel is where it’s at. Living room cardio can get old pretty fast, but POPSUGAR’s cardio and dance fitness workout spice up the average jumping jack. I’m a huge fan of the no-equipment videos, which also pop up in strength training playlists, too. Trainer Taylor Walker’s 30-Minute No-Equipment Cardio Workout is a solid place to start. If you’re in the mood to target your core, check out 20-Minute Obliques Workout With Jake DuPree.

Click here for more health and wellness stories, tips, and news.

Image Source: Getty Images / Peathegee Inc



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HEALTH

New Zealand Makes Period Products Free in Schools

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WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - MAY 28: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks to media during a press conference at the Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa, on May 28, 2020 in Wellington, New Zealand. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced a $95 million recovery package for New Zealand's museums and cultural trusts due to the impact of the coronavirus related recession. $25m will go to the national arts development agency, Creative New Zealand and $18m will go to Te Papa to continue operating. Heritage New Zealand will receive $11.3m, and the Antarctic Heritage Trust will receive $1.4m. Te Papa Museum was closed on 20 March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent government restrictions imposed to stop the spread of coronavirus in New Zealand. The 68-day closure was the longest in the museum's history.  (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced a plan to tackle period poverty in the country’s schools by providing access to free tampons and sanitary pads for all girls. From term three of the 2020 school year, 15 schools in Waikato (an area on New Zealand’s North Island that was identified to have the schools most in need) will be the first to receive access to free period products, and the goal is for the programme to roll out nationwide on an opt-in basis by 2021.

The fight to eliminate period poverty has picked up steam this year, particularly in the UK. Ardern’s announcement follows Scotland’s passing of a historic bill on 25 Feb. to make period products free for all women, plus England and Wales’s government-led scheme, which makes free products available in state-funded schools and colleges. “We know that nearly 95,000 9-to-18-year-olds may stay at home during their periods due to not being able to afford period products,” Ardern said in a speech on Wednesday. “By making them freely available, we support these young people to continue learning at school.”

Of course, period poverty doesn’t only affect school-age girls and is a much larger systemic issue, largely because period products are still considered a luxury item, rather than the essentials they so obviously are. In March 2020, chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that the controversial tampon tax (which is a five percent tax on sanitary products) would be scrapped in the UK, following a 20-year campaign from women’s rights activists.

The UK certainly isn’t the only country to do this. In late 2019, Australia finally ditched its 10 percent period tax, too, but in New Zealand, the tax is still in effect, just as it is in 35 states in the US. Initiatives like the one set out by Ardern on Wednesday are not only positive but also vital steps towards eliminating period poverty.



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NEWS

Recent life change? You may qualify for a Special Enrollment Period

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Now that Open Enrollment is over, you can enroll in or change Marketplace coverage only if you have a life event, like getting married, having a baby, or losing health coverage, that qualifies you for a Special Enrollment Period.

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HEALTH

Period Pants: Editors Test 5 Brands and Give Honest Reviews

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I think we can all agree that periods are annoying — from the pain, spots, and mood swings, to the surprise blood stains on your bedsheets after a night of tossing and turning. If you’re like us, you’d try just about anything to make that time of the month a bit easier — like period pants.

Pads and tampons aren’t good for the environment, and menstrual cups aren’t for everyone. That’s why our editors tried various brands of period knickers to give you all the facts you need to make an informed purchase — and period pants aren’t just for menstruation, they’re also great for postpartum discharge, bladder leaks, and endometriosis flow.

We had five women test five different brands of period pants — LoveLuna, Modibodi, Wuka, Flux, and Cheeky Wipes — and it was, surprisingly, a mixed bag. While three of us loved the convenience of leakproof underwear and only saw solutions, two of us risked urinary tract and vaginal infections. Before we get into our favourite period pants and what they’re made of — we had to check in with some gynaecologists as to why period knickers might not be the best option for women with sensitive vaginal areas.

“Period knickers may prevent your vagina from being able to ‘breathe’, or getting enough air to stay dry, which may increase the levels of bacteria and the risk of infection.” — Dr Shirin Lakhani

“Any type of underwear which creates a damp environment or irritates the skin can increase the risk of infection, because this encourages bacteria to grow,” says Dr Shree Datta MD MRCOG LLM MBBS. Additionally, “period knickers may prevent your vagina from being able to ‘breathe’, or getting enough air to stay dry, which may increase the levels of bacteria and the risk of infection,” says Dr Shirin Lakhani MBBS MRCGP DRCOG.

Some women are just more prone to vaginal infections than others, shared Dr Deborah Lee MB ChB MFFP MRCGP DRCOG, and this could be for a number of reasons: from anatomy, genetics, and certain blood groups, to pregnancy, diabetes, and not emptying the bladder completely. If you’ve had recurrent UTIs or vaginal infections and still want to try period pants, then it’s recommended (for everyone) that you change them very regularly, and make sure you aren’t allergic to any of the fabrics used in the knickers.

As soon as you get your leakproof undies, make sure to give them a good machine wash on a cold, delicate cycle — no fabric softener, no soaking, no bleach, no tumble drying, ironing, or dry cleaning. Once washed, simply hang to dry and once ready, don’t wear them for more than eight hours.

When you’re done with the pants, rinse them in cold water until the water runs clear, machine wash on a 40 degree delicate cycle, and hang to dry — that’s it. Now, read ahead for our honest reviews on some of the best-selling period pants on the market.



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FITNESS

Scottish Parliament Approves Free Period Products Bill

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Menstrual protection.

Scotland is set to become the first country in the world to make tampons and sanitary pads free for all women. A historic, life-changing bill known as the Period Products (Free Provision) Bill passed through the first stage of the Scottish parliament on 25 Feb. and with all parties in support, there was 112 votes in favour, none against, and one abstention.

The goal is to make period products readily available to anyone who needs them — being stocked in community centres, youth clubs, and pharmacies. The bill was introduced to Scottish Parliament by Monica Lennon MSP on 23 April, 2019 but that’s not where her campaign to end period poverty began. In 2017, Lennon launched a period poverty consultation with the goal of modelling a universally accessible system, much like the NHS’s C-card system, which makes condoms, lube, and other sexual health items available for people between 13 and 24 years old. “For too long, menstruation has been a taboo subject,” she said at the time. “My proposals would make Scotland a world leader in tackling period poverty.”

Scotland has led the charge on ending period poverty for years, consistently working to bring Scotland closer to achieving period dignity. In 2018, the country made period products free for all students in schools, colleges, and universities — and England and Wales have since followed suit with similar schemes. Additionally, there are already products available in some community spaces, thanks to additional funding that has been given to local councils by the Scottish government, although this isn’t currently widespread across the entire country.

Now that the bill has passed the first stage, it will move to the second phase, where members of the devolved Scottish government will put forward amendments. Of course, the topic of affordability will come into play, which, according to Reuters would have an estimated annual price tag of £24.1 million. During the debate on Tuesday, Lennon said the passing of the bill would be a “milestone moment for normalising menstruation in Scotland and sending out that real signal to people in this country about how seriously Parliament takes gender equality.”



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FITNESS

Free Period Product Made Available to All Schools in England

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Close-Up Of Woman Hand Holding Tampons

A government-led scheme to eliminate period poverty in state-funded schools and colleges is rolling out across England this week. From Jan. 20, schools can order free period products and distribute them in schools to ensure no one ever has to skip school due to their period.

The full details of the scheme have been outlined on the Department for Education website. “Period products, such as pads and tampons, should be available for all who need them, when they need them, in order to access education. Having periods should not be a barrier to education for any learner,” the outline says.

It continues to say that “girls, non-binary, and transgender learners who have periods may all need to access this scheme.” Products will be available to everyone who requires them, whether they unexpectedly come on their period, forget to bring their own period products to school, or cannot afford to purchase products.

The introduction of the new scheme across England is a huge step in the right direction to eliminating period poverty among school-age people — and it’s a step that’s been hard won. One woman who’s been leading the charge in the UK is Amika George. George founded Free Period in 2017 after it was revealed that 10 percent of girls in the UK cannot afford sanitary wear, 12 percent had to improvise sanitary wear due to affordability issues, and some girls even miss up to a week of school every month because of their periods.

Since then, George has campaigned hard. Following the announcement of the scheme, she told The Independent, “as a grassroots, student-led movement, Free Periods has been fighting for every single child in this country to be able to go to school without worrying about their next pad or tampon. For the first time in history, this scheme will ensure that becomes a reality.”

Free Periods’s campaign has already switched gears, encouraging all schools to have open conversations with students about exactly what products they need (as preference is and should be a consideration, according to the official government guidelines), and by signing up for their first delivery immediately.

The scheme in England follows similar programs already in effect in Scotland and Wales. Since 2018, free period products have been available in schools, colleges, and universities in Scotland, and in 2019, Wales made products available in schools and colleges.



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HEALTH

Best Period Products to Help You Feel Fresh in Summer

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It can be hard to feel fresh while on your period in Summer, but there are a few basic products that can make that a little bit easier.

We love Summer. We love the balmy — if not downright hot — days spent outdoors with our friends soaking up the sunshine, and we especially love taking weekend jaunts to Europe. But, we’ve also all had those days when we’re on our periods and just feel a bit, well, not cute. Add to that, a midweek heatwave and a packed tube carriage, and by the time you’ve reached the office, you’ve given the term “sweaty mess” a whole new meaning, which is made all the worse by it being that time of the month.

That’s where this list comes in. We’ve compiled five of the best products that will help keep you feeling fresh while on your period this Summer. This list won’t suggest that you spend your hard-earned cash on unnecessary procedures that promise to cleanse, buff, or moisturise your vagina (sadly, those things do exist), but rather, it recommends products that don’t stray too far from your usual menstrual routine.



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FITNESS

Why Is My Period So Light?

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female feel hurt and apain on period  in the house

As an ob-gyn, I often care for women who are concerned about heavy periods. Bleeding too little isn’t as common, but a very light or absent period is just as concerning.

To understand why, you first need to know why periods occur. Every month the uterus builds and creates a matrix inside of it, called the uterine lining. That lining serves as a potential residence for a fertilised egg to implant, resulting in pregnancy. If the egg is released from the ovary but it isn’t fertilised, the egg and the uterine lining are shed during your period. This cycle happens over and over, month after month, until menopause.

So, how much bleeding is too little? If you don’t bleed at all, and you’re not pregnant or on certain types of hormonal birth control, this could be a sign that you’re not ovulating (or releasing an egg). The uterine lining continues to build, though — and over time, the lining and blood that accumulate in the uterus can increase your risk for developing uterine cancer. It’s important then to see your healthcare provider if you do not have a period at least every other month.

But what if you have a light period that lasts for just two or three days, and you barely need a tampon, pad, or menstrual cup? That can be normal, but it depends. Most women lose about 5 to 35 millilitres of blood during their period. A tampon holds about five millilitres. If you can estimate that you fill at least one tampon over the course of those two or three days, you’re bleeding enough. But if you bleed significantly less than that, you may only be spotting, instead of adequately shedding blood and tissue to reset the uterus. Again, it’s time to see your doctor.

Of course, there are some exceptions. Certain types of birth control can prevent the uterine lining from ever forming, so it doesn’t need to be shed. In those cases, a short, light, and possibly even absent period can be normal and harmless. Always ask your healthcare provider if that’s a possibility with your particular method of birth control.



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HEALTH

Why Do I Get a Headache on My Period?

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tmp_g2ITB5_00f2d2eae42f8ddc_asdrubal-luna-485688-unsplash.jpg

It’s bad enough that once a month women have to deal with unpleasant period symptoms like cramps, mood swings, and bloating, but if you find that your head begins to pound just before you start — or shortly after — your hormones are probably to blame for that, too.

“Most women who suffer from headaches during their period are suffering from menstrual migraines,” G. Thomas Ruiz, MD, an ob-gyn at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Centre in Fountain Valley, CA, told POPSUGAR. These headaches are triggered by a drop in hormone levels (primarily estrogen), which also jump-starts your flow. Here, experts explain how to tell if you have a menstrual migraine and what you can do to find relief.

What’s the Difference Between a Headache and a Migraine?

“A migraine is a type of headache,” Medhat Mikhael, MD, pain management specialist and medical director of the non-operative program at the Spine Health Centre at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Centre, told POPSUGAR. But there are certain characteristics that help distinguish a migraine from a run-of-the-mill headache. “Migraines are unilateral, pulsating in nature, and associated with one or more of the following: photophobia (sensitivity to light), phonophobia (sensitivity to sound), and nausea with or without vomiting,” Dr. Mikhael said.

Migraines are also more common in women, a study in The Journal of Headache and Pain found. Women have a 43 percent lifetime incidence of migraines, compared with only 18 percent in men. Before puberty, migraines affect both sexes equally. It’s not until after a woman gets her period and starts experiencing these estrogen fluctuations that they become much more susceptible to migraines than men.

How to Get Relief From Menstrual Migraines

If you suffer from menstrual migraines, talk to your doctor to see if changing or adjusting your birth control could help relieve some of the symptoms. “The best way to prevent menstrual migraines is to be on a low-dose birth control pill and to not take the placebo pills,” Dr. Ruiz said. This will essentially lengthen your luteal phase, the time after ovulation and before your period when your estrogen levels are highest, helping to prevent menstrual migraines and other PMS symptoms, according to research published in Therapeutic Advances in Neurological Disorders.

If you prefer a different form of birth control or aren’t on birth control at all, Dr. Ruiz suggests increasing your caffeine intake, which may help reduce the pain. In fact, the National Headache Foundation states that when caffeine is taken in addition to an OTC pain reliever like aspirin or acetaminophen, the pain-relieving effect is increased by 40 percent. Just make sure to keep your caffeine consumption to 200 mg a day or less (about a 12-ounce cup of coffee), as too much caffeine can lead to withdrawal.



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Why Do I Crave Salt on My Period?

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Two young women friends are watching TV together.

If there’s anything that’s synonymous with your period, it’s cravings. When that time of the month comes, you just want foooood, whether that’s sweets or snacks of the crispy, salty variety. But have you ever wondered why?

Food cravings tend to occur due to biochemical changes related to the menstrual cycle,” Oluwakemi M. Edokpayi, MD, an ob-gyn at Northwestern Medicine, told POPSUGAR. “Hormones, such as serotonin, decrease when menses start. These decreases can change your mood, making you crave certain foods. And when you eat certain foods, serotonin and dopamine can be released, thus improving your mood.”

And while it can seem like you’re drawn to salt-laden foods specifically (mmm, fries), these cravings — even the sweet ones, like chocolate and ice cream — tend to have one thing in common: carbs.

“I find that women crave carbs more than salt specifically,” Dr. Edokpayi said. “One theory for the craving is that carbs can restore the serotonin level that has decreased, improving overall mood. And this may apply to salty foods as well.”

Dr. Edokpayi assured us that cravings are a very normal and temporary side effect of your period, but if you find that you’re eating a lot of junk, it may make you feel worse. In that case, she said, “Try choosing healthier options to snack on — like fruits and nuts — and try other options like exercise and meditation.” “Make sure you increase your water intake and get adequate sleep as well.”



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