Feel Confident Using Period Products

Feel Confident Using Period Products

“Can Tampons Get Stuck Inside me?” Our Top Tips to Feeling Confident using different Period Products

   

Period pads, Tampons or Menstrual Cups- There are so many so many products out there

 

 It is common to feel confused around exactly how each period product works. The instructions on how to use the products are less than crystal clear. Once more, very little time is spent on how to actually use or insert period products when we are taught about periods in school. We are never told about the tips and techniques which actually might help us find the ‘right angle’ or ensure our pads actually stay on our underwear for the entire day! So today, we will explore some tips to use period pads, tampons and menstrual cups.   

 

 The Sanitary Pad

 

From my experience pads pose the least number of problems when it comes to use, but that does not mean they come without any challenges! First, you have to decide what type of pad to use. Disposable or reusable? Winged or non-winged? When that decision has been made you can get going. Pads are used by placing the sticky side onto your underwear or sticking the wings around the underwear.

 

Key tips:

  1. Make sure it is on the right way round: the larger side should sit at the back and the smaller at the front. This will make sure it is less likely to slip off are get bundled up.
  2. Learn from your flow: Knowing your flow will help make sure you change it before it leaks!
  3. Dispose of disposable sanitary pads by putting them in the bin (never in the toilet!). But if you are using a reusable sanitary pad you simply place it in your ziplock bag and then wash it with your laundry.

 Exercising can be a great way to reduce your painful menstrual symptoms.. Not only will it make you feel better, by realising powerful feel-good endorphins, it can really relive cramping. While we know exercising might not appeal you to right now, and a bar of galaxy in front of the television probably sounds way better, trust us. Try a walk around the block, a light jog or some yoga, for a lighter form of exercise. If all else fails then pop on your favourite songs and have a solo dance party, you are a dancing queen after all

 

Next up we have Tampons! 

So tampons differ from pads mainly due to the fact they are inserted rather than worn in underwear. The guidelines on how to insert a tampon usually focus on a very confusing diagram which is pretty difficult to relate to., Tampons are inserted either using an applicator or just your finger. They should sit so the string is still visible, and when inserted correctly you should not feel it at all.

 

Key tips:

  1. Get to know your vagina: Practice finding your vagina without using a tampon. Get a mirror and have a look down there or using your finger to practise inserting (remember to wash your hands before and after!). By doing this, you will feel more confident when you try to insert the tampon.
  1. Practice makes perfect: Secondly, practice! Whether that is using a tampon or just your finger. Try different positions, like squatting, one leg up on the toilet, sitting on the toilet, standing bending over…the list could go on. Try what works for you and what feels most easy!
  1. Remember to breathe: Inserted a tampon is much easier when you are relaxed and your body is not tensed up. Put some music on or take 4 breaths in and 4 breaths out to try and ensure you are not tensing!

 

Applying a hot water bottle, heat wrap or warm towel to your stomach could make a huge difference when experiencing awful cramping. Continuous heat encourages your muscles to relax and return to a normal state, although be careful not to burn yourself

 

Finally, we have the menstrual cup!

  

The cup is one of the more modern options available to us today but also one of the trickier to use. A cup is made from medical silicon and is worn, then taken out and emptied before inserting again.

 

The cup is inserted by folding it and squeezing it together so it is easier to insert. To fold you can fold in half or press on the middle of the cup before folding inwards. Insert the cup using your hand and rotate the cup as you insert to ensure it can open back up. When inserted it should sit below the cervix. It should feel comfortable. When feeling around the cup with your finger there should be no gaps and you should feel no folds or indents on the base of the cup. When taking the cup out, you need to break the suction seal before removing. Slight pull the stem of the cup and use your stomach muscles to push the cup down gently. Insert your finger and press on the base of the cup to break the seal. You should then be able to remove the cup without resistance. In between wears simply rinse the cup with water and reinsert. 

Although the cup may seem daunting, a few key tips may help you feel more comfortable using the product.

Key tips:

  1. Practice, Practice, Practice: It is important to get used the using the cup. Practice inserting it and give yourself the time to do so (not before you have to leave for work!). Try different positions and locations and repeat the inserting and taking out process so you feel confident using it! Some positions which may work include sitting on the toilet, squatting, placing one leg on the toilet, simply standing or trying these positions in the shower!
  1. Breathe: It is really important to stay calm and relax when inserting and removing the cup. Put some music on, mediate beforehand or take some deep breaths in. Do not panic if you think the cup is not easily coming out simply take deep breathes and try again- you will get there!
  1. Lube it up! Try using a little bit of water based lube, inserting in the shower or rinsing it slightly with warm water to help with insertion.
  1. Every vagina is different: The length of everyone vagina varies. You should make sure you are not placing the cup too high up the vagina as it will leak. If you have to place the cup lower in your vagina you can trim the stem of the cup so that it is more comfortable.

5. Do not stress if the cup is not for you: The cup may just be too much of a hassle or not the right product for you and that is fine! Don’t stress! There are many more product options out there including other reusable and sustainable products 

Remember using products will always get easier and do not stress if one product is not for you! There are lots of different products out there for you to try!

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If you want to read our other blogs or find our more about our work (including our work against period poverty internationally and a comfortable period pad in the UK) 

Tampon? Cup? Pads? Pants? How to decide what sanitary product works best for you and your flow.

Tampon? Cup? Pads? Pants? How to decide what sanitary product works best for you and your flow.

It is a brave new world out there. In times gone by, menstruators were offered up only one option to handle their period. The solid sanitary pad or napkin. Thankfully, we have made great steps since then and have been awarded a huge amount of choice when it comes to products. But how can you tell what product works best for you and your flow? Well today, we are going to dive into the world of period products, discussing each of their abilities and each of their drawbacks to help you make the decision best for you!

Tampons

Although there is evidence that menstruators were using ‘tampons’ as early as the 15thCentury, the modern conception of the tampon was introduced in 1933. Since then it has evolved drastically. Today, menstruators are faced with huge variety of brands, styles, materials and absorbencies.

 But are tampons right for you?

So tampons provide a discreet and comfortable way to manage your period. The internal product ensures that they are practically invisible allowing you to go about your day to day life normally, even swimming in bikinis or wearing thong underwear without any sign of a product. However, tampons are not for everyone. Tampons are internal products, and for many menstruators inserting a product is simply not accessible. Many find internal products irritating or just an added hassle. The waste created by tampons, in particular applicator tampons has also gained a huge amount of attention over the last few years- with the average menstruator using more than 11000 products in their lifetime, using disposable products adds up to a lot of waste!

Menstrual Cup

One of the newer products available, the menstrual cup stormed on the UK scene after being first manufactured in 2001. Its popularity and awareness have increased drastically with focus being placed primarily on its environmental benefits.

The menstrual cup is an internal product used to collect menstrual blood. It is then taken out, emptied and reinserted- preventing any waste.

The cup is can provide menstruators who prefer internal products to cut down their period waste. However, again for those who find internal products inaccessible or challenging, the cup may not be the perfect fit.

Disposable Sanitary Pads

 The product which is most used and known around the world, the disposable sanitary pad provides an easy method to manage a period. Pads are found all across the world and are stuck onto underwear, worn and then disposed. The benefits of disposable sanitary products include the fact they are super easy to use and they are less likely to irritate your vagina as they are not inserted. Similarly, to tampons, disposable pads can cause a huge amount of waste and many are made of plastic based materials which are unable to degrade. Pads are also commonly ‘perfumed’ with chemicals which are not always listed on the packaging- these are not great for the environment or for you!

Period Underwear

 Period underwear is another great sign that developments are being made to increase the choices for menstruators! Period underwear looks the same as normal underwear and is worn without any other product. Part of the underwear is layered with an absorbent material, preventing the blood from leaking. Period underwear can be a great way to cut down the waste of disposable products, and provide a comfortable way to manage your period. The drawbacks of period underwear is that changing the underwear in public can be slightly more of a hassle and carrying more than one pair of pants around may be a bit of a pain!

 

 Reusable sanitary pads

Finally, reusable sanitary pads. Reusable sanitary pads have been around for a while. Different brands have launched various different styles with many developing more innovative styles recently. Reusable pads provide a direct switch for disposable pad users, as well as an environmentally friendly addition to cup or tampon users who may worry about leaks. Reusable pads are worn the same way as disposable pads and usually come with a waterproof zip lock bag to carry your used product in when you change. The products are then put in the wash and used again. For some, reusable pads may not be a suitable option due to the fact you have to change them during the day. But the huge environmental benefit, the ease of their use and the fact there are no plastics or chemicals in them are huge benefits!

These key questions can guide you the right product for you!

  1. Internal product or external product?
  2. Reusable or disposable products?

Want to try our own modern, reusable sanitary pads?

If you are interested in purchasing our own reusable sanitary pads or liners follow the link below to explore our Kickstarter page and to get your hands on a sleek and modern product or find us on social media to here more (@lilypads.uk)

PMS : the lowdown

PMS : the lowdown

What is PMS?

Premenstrual Syndrome (more commonly known as PMS) reportedly affects over 90% of people who menstruate. It can be understood as a mix of emotional and physical symptoms, which occur after ovulation and before the start of menstruation. It is believed that PMS is caused by a significant drop in progesterone and estrogen when your body realises it’s not pregnant. Symptoms should pass after hormone levels rise again and balance out, once the period starts.

The most common physical symptoms of PMS are constipation or diarrhoea, cramping, headaches, tender breasts and bloating. While the most common emotional symptoms are struggling with sleep, mood swings, anxiety, food cravings and a drop in libido. None of which are great, we think that people who menstruate should get a medal (or a massive bar of galaxy chocolate) every month.

So, what can we do to help with PMS?

There are a few methods which can help relieve the symptoms of PMS,

  • Eating a healthy balanced diet and avoiding caffeine.
  • Taking regular exercise throughout the month.
  • Managing stress (yoga and mediation are a great way to start on this).
  • Top up on calcium and vitium B6.
  • Ibuprofen and Paracetamol for pain relief.
  • Getting a regular 8 hours sleep.

Everyone’s body is different it may be a case of experimenting and finding what works for you.

What does this mean for you?

It’s not all doom and gloom, for most people PMS tends to fluctuate, so while one month may be awful, others may be hardly impacted. When PMS hits bad – don’t be afraid to book out some ‘me time’ in your schedule and remember that what your feeling is completely valid and isn’t trival. Look after yourself and try some of the above methods. Binging ‘Ru Paul’s Drag Race’ in bed is also fully endorsed by us as a PMS prescription. However, if you find that PMS is having serious effects on your daily life then please check in with your doctor for advice. No one should be disadvantaged because of their period.

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We’ve got lots of other blogs or if your interested in our other work – including a reusable sanitary pad designed to banish leaks click here

Stamp out your cramp

Stamp out your cramp

Our Top 5 Natural Tips to Stamp out your Cramp

 

Bubbles for your Bloating.

A warm bath may be the perfect way to soothe painful bloating and relax your cramping stomach muscles. Start by adding your favourite bubble bath or oils. Grab your favourite book (and/or glass of wine) and soak the tension away. We recommend wearing a tampon for this if you are having a heavy cycle. If you don’t fancy a bath then a nice hot shower can still help to reduce pelvic cramping and bloating.

Move and Groove.

Exercising can be a great way to reduce your painful menstrual symptoms.. Not only will it make you feel better, by realising powerful feel-good endorphins, it can really relive cramping. While we know exercising might not appeal you to right now, and a bar of galaxy in front of the television probably sounds way better, trust us. Try a walk around the block, a light jog or some yoga, for a lighter form of exercise. If all else fails then pop on your favourite songs and have a solo dance party, you are a dancing queen after all

Heat to Treat.

Applying a hot water bottle, heat wrap or warm towel to your stomach could make a huge difference when experiencing awful cramping. Continuous heat encourages your muscles to relax and return to a normal state, although be careful not to burn yourself

The T is Tea can Help.

Sipping on Ginger or Chamomile tea can also help to reduce cramp, bloating and nauseousness. Both are packed full of anti-inflammatory and pain relieving qualities. Moreover, these teas are known to enhance menstrual flow which could potentially ease your period symptoms and reduce your period overall

H20 is your Hero.

Drinking at least 6 glasses of water is a good habit to get into anyway but is especially helpful during your period. Water can help ease your bloating and nausea, both of which can worsen symptoms. To spice things up and encourage you to stay hydrated why not try fruit-infused water or add some leaves of mint. The best thing of all is that once you’re in the habit of drinking plenty water then you will do it without thinking!

We love a chat

If you want to read our other blogs or find our more about our work (including our work against period poverty internationally and a comfortable period pad in the UK) 

International Women’s Day 2019

International Women’s Day 2019

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A film about menstruation winning an Oscar, the arrival of the period emoji and even a period board game going viral. 2019 has already proven to be an extraordinary year in the fight to crush the stigma which surrounds periods and oppresses those who menstruate across the world.

Despite recent campaigns to end the stigma and taboos surrounding menstruation, internationally harmful misconceptions and taboos continue to lead to the discrimination and isolation of women and girls across the world and therefore more fight is still needed.

Menstruating women continue to be viewed as impure, often forced to isolate themselves from society. Patriarchal control continues to constrain and endanger women and girls from fully participating in their lives, undermining their potential, their agency and their fundamental human rights.

We must recognise that although we see progress those most in danger, those most disadvantaged and those most isolated, remain unheard. We need to recognise that even today, 65% of women in rural Kenya are unable to afford sanitary products and consequently girls as young as 10 are forced to engage in transactional sex in exchange for pads, or drop out of school.Even today, 1 in 10 menstruating people within the UK will at some point experience period poverty. Even today, young students feel unsatisfied with their understanding of menstruation.

At Lilypads we recognise that accessibility goes beyond affordability and we fight every day to eradicate period poverty by providing sustainable and community led solutions.Lilypads operates to ensure that no one is disadvantaged, endangered or isolated due to their period.

We have empowered local women within the Homa Bay county of Kenya to run their own sanitary pad enterprise, selling our reusable sanitary pads and teaching menstrual health education within their communities.

We are working to launch ourselves this year within the UK and expand our reach in Kenya. At Lilypads we strive to ensure that everyone can feel comfortable in their choices.

This International Women’s Day support our Lily Ladies and the work they carry out in their communities to end period poverty and sigma.

This International Women’s Day join our fight to end exploitation. Period.

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Menstrual Health Education in Kenya

Menstrual Health Education in Kenya

Five minutes before we were meant to get in the battered pick-up truck to travel to the nearby school, a representative of the local charity we were working with started searching desperately for a loudspeaker.

I enquired as to why a speaker was necessary. We had run these small workshops on menstrual health several times before, doing small group work in various schools in the rural Homa-bay area of Kenya. It was only then that it was casually mentioned that the workshop today was going to be delivered not to a class of around twenty but the entire school of girls aged thirteen to eighteen, roughly a thousand in total.

In the six months since Lilypads, our organisation which manufactures and sells sanitary towels and provides menstrual health education, was set-up there have been many unexpected twists and turns, but this was a new one.

Lilypads was set up to provide girls in rural Kenya with reusable sanitary towels which are more affordable and safer than alternatives allowing them to stay in education for longer. It stop girls having to use leaves to cope with their period or engaging in transactional sex in order to access period products. We believe that good quality menstrual health education is also vital for girls and women’s health and wellbeing.

We spent the drive to the school desperately dismantling and rewriting our lesson plan to change it from one intended for a small group to one that was now going out to a crowd. A crowd who seemed as hyper and excited to see us as the average group of teenage girls would be if it had been One Direction rather than us who had just walked in.

The lesson went off better than we could have hoped – we maintained a conversational style, which is also how our newly trained local Lily Ladies are now going out and teaching these classes.

However, at the end came another issue. We had only brought enough packs of Lilypads, our reusable sanitary pads, for the size of workshop we had originally expected to teach. Normally we ask the girls if they wish to try them, but in this lesson we were obviously massively oversubscribed. It was then the head teacher came forward and started asking the girls how they thought the pads should be allocated, and from the crowd came shouted out a variety of suggestions for a fair allocation of the pads. Eventually a system was decided on where at least one girl from each class would get a pad, and one-by-one they came up to collect them, looking as though they were winning the lottery jackpot.

In Lilypads we find ourselves having to respond to a lot of challenging and unexpected situations but we’re a small, highly flexible organisation and, with the help of local communities and local women we’re finding a way through.

A couple of months later the feedback came through from the girls who had got the pads. One line in particular stuck out at me: “I feel so much happier at school now.” That, of course, is what this is all about.