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The first scientific review of the use of menstrual cups has confirmed that they're safe and as effective as tampons.

The research was published in The Lancet Public Health journal, and features 43 studies and data from 3,300 women and girls.

Four studies found that the levels of leakage were similar between menstrual cups, pads and tampons, but one found that leakage in menstrual cups was actually less than tampons.

Menstruation can have astronomical results on girls' schooling in particular, as well as women's experience of work. If women use poor quality sanitary products, it can increase their disposition to infections.

Menstrual cups collect rather than absorb period blood, and fit into the vagina as reusable products, unlike tampons. There have been recent calls for schools to provide plastic-free menstruation products for students, as tampons and pads are extremely unsustainable for the environment.

Combating 'period poverty' in both high and low-income countries has become more of a priority, thankfully, so it's imperative that policy makers know which sanitary products to include in menstrual health programmes and puberty education materials.

The review also discovered that awareness of menstrual cups among women was noticeably low, though they have been gaining in popularity. The main concerns over the product included pain and difficulty inserting or removing it, as well as chafing and leakage, but the data noted that complications were actually rare.

Senior author Professor Penelope Phillips-Howard from the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, UK says;

“Despite the fact that 1.9 billion women globally are of menstruating age – spending on average 65 days a year dealing with menstrual blood flow, few good quality studies exist that compare sanitary products.

"We aimed to address this by summarising current knowledge about leakage, safety, and acceptability of menstrual cups, comparing them to other products where possible," Professor Phillips-Howard added.

Research from 13 of the studies discovered that around 70 percent of women would continue using menstrual cups once they were comfortable with how it worked.

Menstrual cups are made of soft, flexible material, such as rubber or silicone. They create a suction seal to stop any seepage of blood once inserted into the vagina. The cups collect more menstrual blood than tampons or sanitary pads, but must be emptied and washed regularly.

The two types include a vaginal cup, bell-shape and sits lower in the vagina, and a cervical cup which is placed higher up, like a diaphragm. The cup doesn't relate to your menstrual flow, so it's all about finding the right size to suit your own body. 

To insert, you simply fold the cup and place it into the vagina where it can unfold and form a leak-free seal. To remove, squeeze the bottom of the cup to release the seal and sterilise the cup between periods.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by  (@organicup) on

There are numerous brands to try, such as Mooncup, Saalt and Intimina Lily, but it can take a few attempts before you feel confident about using one. The cups are also extremely cost effective, as it can last for up to 10 years and can be reused every month. 

We highly recommend OrganiCup if you want to try a greener way of menstruating. Being reusable, rather than disposable, menstrual cups are seen as a far greener option for the environment than tampons and sanitary towels.

Researchers believe that making menstrual cups available globally could aid the fight against period poverty and health problems such as infections, even where water and toilet facilities are poor.

Feature image: Pinterest

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Periods are already an absolute pain in the arse – in fact just thinking about that time of the month can make us feel stressed out.

However, new research indicates that the stress we feel on the day-to-day can contribute to an increase in the level of pain we feel during cramping week.

According to Women’s Health Concern, around 80% of women experience period pain at some stage in their lifetime.

In 5% to 10% of women the pain is severe enough to disrupt their lives – from missing school, work or college due to pain, or being unable to attend social events or partake in sports or hobbies.

Now, research published in the Journal of Women’s Health have found that there could be a link between the stress we feel in the weeks before our period, and the intensity of pain we feel.

PMS is a major pain, and the research found that women who said they were stressed in the two weeks before the start of their period were much more likely to describe their period as extremely painful.

In fact, up to four times as many women who were in the ‘stressed’ category said they had moderate to severe symptoms.  In the past there was much talk about ‘just getting on with it’ and soaking up the pain but there is no reason to do that now with many top London gynaecologists offering multiple options to deal with pain, discomfort and distress.

In 40% of women, period pain is accompanied by premenstrual symptoms, such as bloating, tender breasts, a swollen stomach, lack of concentration, mood swings, clumsiness and tiredness.

‘Each woman is an individual, and some women may experience severe symptoms that require medications,’ said the study’s author.

‘However, future studies may show that stress reduction techniques can prevent or reduce the severity of premenstrual syndrome, which might provide a cost effective alternative to medications for some women.’

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Did you know that you will have approximately 450 menstrual cycles in your lifetime? What if we said we have the perfect supplement that can help you combat those nasty period symptoms that we all suffer through every month.

Triumph® Monthly Cycle Supplement is the only product in the world with changing formulations designed to support a woman throughout the three main phases of her monthly menstrual cycle.

“For years, through busy work and family lives we endured the ups and downs of our monthly menstrual cycles. Curious to find out what was putting us off balance and if we could find a natural solution, we set out on a path of discovery. There are three distinct phases to our menstrual cycles, each directly influencing our overall wellbeing.

"The more we talked to other women, the more we understood the need for a supplement that changed throughout the month. Triumph Monthly Cycle Supplement is a unique three-part programme containing PhaseBlend technology. Each blend has three different formulations of botanicals, vitamins, minerals and amino acids to support optimal health, balance and harmony,” explained co-founders Donna Ledwidge and Renée O’Shaughnessy.

This unique three-part monthly programme contains 30 sachets and 30 tablets with three different Phaseblend® formulations. The formulation in the sachets and tablets change three times as the monthly cycle progresses. Each different PhaseBlend® contains a proprietary Vfusion® complex combining over 35 essential botanicals, vitamins, minerals and amino acids to complement the menstrual, pre-ovulation and post-ovulation phases.

Triumph Monthly Cycle Supplement (€49.99) is a full menstrual cycle programme, one tablet and one sachet to be taken daily. Simply start the programme on day one of your period.

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A RuPaul's Drag Race contestant has claimed that she was BANNED from donning a dress which resembled a giant sanitary pad on the hit diva show.

Drag queen Manila Luzon is currently competing on the fourth season of RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars, which is synonymous with breaking glass ceilings and overcoming certain stereotypes.

In the latest episode of the show, which aired last Fridaym Luzon and the cast served some killer lewks and the drag artist herself wore a Chanel-inspired gown for the 'Curves and Swerves' challenge.

Controversy arose when Manila went public with Ru's decision to ban her original menstruation-inspired dress, saying it was in "bad taste", despite previous looks on the show being far more controversial.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Manila Luzon (@manilaluzon) on

Manila took to her Instagram to post an image of the dress, captioning the image;

"Ru said my ORIGINAL Curves & Swerves Runway look was in “bad taste” and production told me to wear my back up. I was really looking forward to wearing this gown that I think celebrates a perfectly normal human experience!"

"Many of my fans are young women who may feel pressured by society to be embarrassed by periods. It’s empowering to teach young women about their bodies, encourage them to celebrate them AND to question people who tell them not to!" she added. LOUDER FOR THE PEOPLE IN THE BACK.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Manila Luzon (@manilaluzon) on

"My goal with this look was to normalise menstruation by looking great even if I was on my period!" she continued.

The look was curated by designer Dallas Coulter, and consisted of a sanitary pad corset and fake blood alongside a glamorous red skirt.

"Instead, I decided to wear the beautiful quilted dress you saw in the episode because it is not my show, it’s Ru’s. But because of Ru, I have my very own platform to speak for myself and show you all my interpretation!!

Fans of the show were NOT happy, to say the least.

Another Twitter user wrote; “Period drama! As an endometriosis sufferer thank you for trying to normalise periods."

Manila's post has caused major criticism of Ru Paul's methods, following public outcry last year when Ru expressed his disapproval of transitioning queens taking part in Drag Race.

He was accused of transphobia after saying actively transitioning women probably couldn't participate in the famous show;

RuPaul said, “Probably not. You can identify as a woman and say you're transitioning, but it changes once you start changing your body.”

“It takes on a different thing; it changes the whole concept of what we're doing,” the 57-year-old LGBTQ idol said, later apologising for his comments.

Neither Ru nor the production team have responded to the period dress debacle.

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Period week is probably the hardest time of the month when you are trying to be healthy.

Thanks to those hormones, all you want is to crawl onto the couch under a blanket with a bottomless carton of cookie dough ice-cream.

While cramps, bad skin, back and breast pain are on the menu, there are good food options you should try and include in your diet to make you feel better. 

Iron is your friend…

Losing blood probably means you are running low on iron, which makes you feel weak, tired, probably moody, and could lead to anaemia.

To prevent it, choose food that provides a good amount of iron, such as clams, mussels, red meat, leafy greens, beans and legumes.

Dark chocolate is also a good source of the mineral, should you need another reason to always keep a supply at your desk. 

… and so is vitamin C

To enhance iron absorption, you need to make sure to get enough vitamin C, which also helps you feel more energised.

Good sources of vitamin C are kiwis, oranges, mangoes, strawberries, as well as broccoli and peppers.

Don’t forget magnesium 

While magnesium is essential to prevent premenstrual syndrome (whose effects include mood swings, irritability, anxiety, bloating, fluid retention, breast pain or headaches), it is also an important nutrient you need during your period, as it helps relieve muscle pain, stress and tensions in the body.

Go for bananas, nuts, spinach, porridge, quinoa and dark chocolate and you should meet your daily needs.

Calcium calms the cramps

Calcium has been shown to help reduce menstrual pain so if you suffer from cramps, watch your calcium intake.

Dairy products are obvious sources of calcium but almonds, kale, broccoli, oats, spinach, beans and tofu also provide a healthy amount of the mineral.

Good fats are anti-inflammatory

Salmon, sardines and mackerel are among the good sources of Omega 3, a fatty acid that helps combat inflammation. If you don’t like fish, avocado and rapeseed oil also contain a lot of Omega 3.

Do as well as you can, but no pressure…

We know it might be hard to find motivation to go to the gym and reach for healthy food at that time of the month, but maybe you could, say, eat your ice-cream, but have a healthy stir-fry beforehand to make sure you get all the nutrients you need?

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Once a month us women have to endure the utter joy that is the period. Cramps, bleeding, headaches, tender boobs, backache and acne are just some of the things we have to cope with during our ‘time of the month’.

Many women will spot little signs that warns them their period is on the way, whether that’s feeling extremely emotional or suffering a massive breakout on your chin.

We gorge on as much chocolate as we want, dose ourselves up with Feminax and rush to the local Boots to make sure our sanitary product supply is well stocked up.

I’m sure we’ve all had that moment of dread when you’re out in public and your period decides to surprise you by making an unexpected appearance.

You have no tampons or pads in your bag, but luckily there’s a pharmacy on practically every street in Ireland so all you have to do is pop in and pick up some supplies.

To many, it isn’t a major purchase, but to 50 percent of Irish women sanitary products are a mass expense.

In a study conducted by Plan International, nearly 10 percent of participants admitted they have had no choice but to use a “less than suitable sanitary product” because of the cost.

There are girls as young as 12-years-old struggling to buy pads once a month, something that shouldn’t be happening in 2018.

In recent years, the women of Ireland have proved that together we can make a difference. We no longer underestimate our power, our strength and determination to make this country a better place for women.

There are so many things you can do to help tackle period poverty in Ireland.

1: Normalise periods:

For years, women have been too ashamed to talk about their period, even though it’s a completely natural thing that nearly every woman will experience at some point in her life. We mutter phrases like, “I have my thing,” or “It’s just a girly problem,” as we avoid eye-contact and blush with embarrassment. It’s time for us to realise that simply saying: “I have my period,” is perfectly acceptable.

2: Make a donation to Homeless Period Ireland

The wonderful people at Homeless Period Ireland are trying their best to supply homeless women with sanitary products, however, they can’t do it without the public’s generosity. A packet of pads cost less than the iced white chocolate mocha you buy, so why not cut back on your daily jaunts to Starbucks and purchase some sanitary products with that money instead. There are numerous donation drop off points all around Ireland, including Cork, Limerick and Dublin. See below for the full list of drop off points and donate sanitary supplies to your fellow sisters today.

3: Sign this petition to end period poverty in Ireland:

Too many women have to suffer through their time of the month without any sanitary products or a place to shower. Susan Colgan has launched a petition to introduce free sanitary products in Ireland.

She explained why we need free sanitary products: “Toilet paper is given out for free in almost every establishment nationwide. You wouldn't be expected to keep your own roll of toilet paper in your handbag when you go out to a nightclub, a restaurant or the cinema. It's always provided for you.”

She continued: “This is because it is considered a necessity, it would be morally wrong and unhygienic not to provide it, free of charge. This is the exact same thing when it comes to menstruation. It is not a choice.”

To sign the Free Sanitary Products in Ireland petition click here.

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Half of Irish girls report money obstacles when needing sanitary products, a survey has indicated. 

A further 61 percent of the young women involved in the poll said they experienced embarrassment surrounding their periods. 

The survey was undertaken by Plan International Ireland a child rights, especially girl’s rights organisation.

They rolled out a survey on period stigma and affordability to 1,100 Irish girls from the ages of 12 to 19. 

Out of those who were polled, 50 percent said they had experienced issues with affording the sanitary products. 

Furthermore, 109 girls of those girls said they had to switch to a less suitable product because of the price.

The results revealed that almost two-thirds of the young women said the school lessons they received about their period were not helpful.

Caoimhe Dowling who took part in the survey, according to the Irish Examiner said:

"When I was younger, I felt the need to hide my period from both my family and my friends. I was made to feel shame for this biological fact of life. No person should feel shame for having a period." 

“Now, being a student means a lot of saving and scrimping to get by with the little money I get from my job. I am reminded monthly of the large chunk of money that I am forced to spend on the necessities for my period.

I’m still not used to looking at the receipt after buying pads and seeing this huge sum that I need to fork over. Pads and tampons are necessities but are still seen as luxury,” she added.

It also came to light, that another 110 participates replied that they have never had classes in their school to do with their periods.

A large proportion of the girls polled carry shame and embarrassment about their periods. 

Over 61 percent said they often feel embarrassment surrounding it and would not feel comfortable disclosing they are on their period to male counterparts in their families. 

 

Education is being impacted by periods as 61 percent missed school due to it and a huge 88 percent feel their concentration is affected. 

Meanwhile, misconceptions about periods are still prevalent from the survey,  84 participates said it wasn’t possible to get pregnant during their time of the month.

Another 79 girls thought they could lose their virginity to a tampon.

Plan International Ireland CEO, Paul O Brien said:

“From our research we know girls feel uncomfortable talking about their periods with family members and teachers. Through this survey we hope to start a conversation and end the taboos on menstruation.

"We want girls to know it is ok to talk about their period- especially if half of the girls Plan International Ireland spoke to nationwide cannot afford products for their periods."

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A number of schools in the Chicago area have come under fire after it was revealed that female students are bleeding through their clothes because of the strict bathroom rules the charter schools put in place.

The NPR revealed the school’s controversial rules, where students must be brought to the bathroom by an escort.

However, one student explained to NPR that the escorts are rarely ever available.

The students are not allowed to go to the bathroom alone and face punishment if they are caught walking outside of the classroom.

An anonymous student shared, “Who wants to walk around knowing there’s blood on them? It can still stain the seats. They just need to be more understanding."

Female students who are menstruating explained that they have leaked through their clothes because they can’t go to the bathroom to change their pads or tampons.

It has been reported that some schools have introduced a dress code where female students can cover up blood stains by tying jumpers around their waists, but this step is not good enough.

“If a menstruating student has bled through her clothing, she can inform a teacher who will send an email to staff announcing the name of the girl who has permission to wear her sweater tied around her waist, so she doesn’t receive demerits for violating the dress code,” NPR reported.

People have expressed their horror at the treatment of the female students, who are being stripped of their dignity.

Pads and tampons need to be changed every few hours to avoid leaking and discomfort, as well as odours, and in severe cases toxic shock syndrome.

Female students are at risk of toxic shock syndrome if they don't change their tampons regularly. 

As well as health complications, the girls are being stripped of respect and comfort.

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Let's face it, periods are pretty awful at any time of the year – but why, oh why do they seem to get so much worse in the winter time?

It's not enough that we're one missed bus away from developing frost bite – oh no, we've now got to deal with a whole new level of cramping and bloating as well.

Fab.

Speaking to Metro.co.uk, Dr Preethi Daniel, Clinical Director from London Doctors Clinic explained the science behind the annual phenomenon.

“As the days are shorter and darker, your mood can be adversely affected and add to that the monthly roller-coaster of hormones that arrive with your period and it can all seem even bleaker,” she said.

Our tendency to stay indoors and eat everything in sight isn't exactly helping thing either.

“Sunshine helps us make vitamin D and dopamine, both of which boost mood, pleasure, motivation and concentration,” she continued.

“Furthermore, winter means we spend more time indoors and we move less and eat more. This can have a bad effect on premenstrual symptoms as it has been found that women who are more active had much more regular and manageable cycles than those that hardly worked out.”

And that's not even the half of it.

Research has shown that women tend to have shorter menstrual cycle's in the winter, meaning you'll get, you guessed it – more periods.

Wahey!

While slight seasonal changes are normal, Dr Preethi did point out that persistent changes should be examined by a doctor.

“If symptoms of low mood are so bad you cannot motivate yourself to go to work or enjoy the things you usually do, you should consider whether this is seasonal affective disorder or depression,” she explains.

“It is worth speaking to your GP about this. Certainly, if you are not getting any periods at all during the winter months, again this can be abnormal and needs looking into. Heavier periods can cause low iron and anaemia and this should also be investigated by your GP.”

Roll on summer!

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Whether you suffer from cramps, bloating and/or irritability, the days leading up to your period are no walk in the park, and for many women, chocolate is the go-to remedy when it comes to alleviating those dreaded PMS symptoms.

But, as it turns out, those cravings could all be in your head – or rather put there by clever advertising and cultural exposure.

According to a study conducted by researchers at the University at Albany, which looked at the PMS symptoms of 275 women in different parts of the world, those born outside the US were 50 per cent less likely to experience menstrual chocolate craving, compared to women born to US-born parents.

The results found that almost half of all American women surveyed experienced chocolate cravings around the time their period was due, however, this figure fell to just 17 per cent for first -generation immigrants living in the US.

It seems that women who display the strongest cravings for chocolate were more likely to be 'westernised' than those who did not.

Researchers suggest that popular culture could contribute to this pattern as it encourages women to use PMS and pregnancy as a socially and personally acceptable excuse to consume 'taboo' foods.

"PMS chocolate cravings are just one example of this process," said nutritionist Georgios Tzenichristos, according to Metro.co.uk,  "which also serve to highlight our own cultural norms and myths in relation to food, cravings and body image."

But, while we may not be able to use the 'hormone' excuse anymore, we're not sure we're ready to say goodbye to those monthly chocolate binges just yet. 

We won't tell if you don't. 

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There are very few women out there who wouldn't claim that their menstrual cycle affects them physically, mentally and emotionally.

From cramps and exhaustion to mood swings and tearful episodes, the arrival of our period often signals a change in how we feel.

For many of us, our period appears to impact our cognitive function, with many women asserting that they experience a dip in concentrations levels during this time of the month.

"As a specialist in reproductive medicine and a psychotherapist, I deal with many women who have the impression that the menstrual cycle influences their well-being and cognitive performance,"  confirmed Professor Brigitte Leeners of the Medical School in Hannover and University Hospital in Zürich.

In order to investigate the claims, Professor Leeners and a team of researchers recruited 68 women to undergo monitoring of three selected cognitive processes at different stages in the menstrual cycle.

The study, which was published in the Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, established that the varying levels of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone which are produced during the menstrual cycle have no impact on memory or concentration.

Studying women over the course of two menstrual cycles, the researchers noted that while some changed occurred in the first cycle, they were not repeated in the second cycle, and the performance of each individual woman did not change.

Confirming the findings, Professor Leeners asserted: "The hormonal changes related to the menstrual cycle do not show any association with cognitive performance."

Offering an explanation to women who do experience cognitive disfunction during their period, Professor Leeners said: "Although there might be individual exceptions, women's cognitive performance is in general not disturbed by hormonal changes occurring with the menstrual cycle."

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Italy could soon become the first European country to offer paid menstrual leave to all female workers.

The government are currently debating a new bill which, if implemented, would offer women who suffer from painful periods three day of paid leave every month.

Marie Claire have hailed the move as “a standard-bearer of progress and social sustainability”, but some critics of the bill have suggested that it may actually work against, rather than for women.

With one of the lowest rates of female employment in the European Union (61 per cent), there are fears that this number could drop even further as the move may discourage companies from hiring female workers in the first place.

As it stands, Italian women already struggle to compete in the Italian job market, partially due to the country's generous maternity laws.

Five months of paid maternity leave are compulsory for both employers and employees. During this time, a female employee receives 80 per cent of her salary, paid by INPS (National Institute of Social Security).

While this seems like a progressive move on paper, it is thought to have effected the rates of female employment due to employers' reluctance to comply with the laws.

A draft of the proposed menstrual leave law was put forward earlier this year by four female MPs and could come into effect some time in the next few months.

Speaking to the Washington Post, economist Daniela Piazzalunga said, "Women are already taking days off because of menstrual pains, but the new law would allow them to do so without using sick leaves or other permits."

"The demand for female employees among companies might decrease, or women could be further penalised both in terms of salary and career advancement."

Similar laws already exist in parts of China, Japan and South Korea and come private companies, such as Nike, have also offered menstrual leave to their female employees.

No news yet on whether a similar law could be put in place in Ireland, but you won't see us complaining if it ever does. 

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