You’re finally in bed with him. The moment is perfect. He’s is so obviously ready and you are, too. You want it, you crave him. But your body has other ideas: Your vagina is a steel door, shut tight. Any pressure leads to pain. No matter what you try, everything hurts…
It’s common to hear men say they couldn’t get it “up.” But how often do you hear a woman bemoan that she couldn’t get it “in”? Women who have had sex so painful that they needed to stop could be experiencing a condition called vaginismus.
Pain during sex is more common than an erotic novel lets on. We asked our community via a Glow poll, and over 5500 women responded. 43% of respondents reported that penetration during sex hurts at least some of the time; 3.5% of respondents said that sex hurts every single time.
Because pain during sex is so common, it’s pretty much impossible to tell who suffers from vaginismus specifically. Many women are shy to bring up painful sex with their partner or with medical professionals. Sex is supposed to be fun, exciting, a way to express love and connection—and admitting that it is not delivering in these ways can be difficult in today’s world. As such, many cases of vaginismus likely go unreported. Research suggests that anywhere between 2 to 70 out of every 1000 women could be affected by vaginismus, which is quite a wide range.
Wanna know the good news? Vaginismus is actually quite treatable! No magic pill, unfortunately—it takes time and effort—but a regimen of floor exercises, insertion or dilation training, and pain elimination techniques can help alleviate sexual pain overtime. Much of this work can even be done at home.
Sex doesn’t need to be painful forever. If pain during sex is frequent enough that you think you may have vaginismus, start speaking up about it. Chances are, it’s possible to transform your sex life into a happily ever after—an erotic novel with the ending you deserve :)
Our wild child, Ruby, is already rebelling. <sigh> From this day forward, she wants to be known only as Eve by Glow.
That’s right—we’ve changed the name of our app. Ruby is now Eve by Glow.
Eve has everything you <3ed about Ruby: sex tracking, cycle trends, the scoop on all things birth control. In fact, Eve is even more of a catch! Think 29 INPUTS, including the ability to log sex with non-male partners, the ability to rate the sex you have… and yes, you can now log sex the morning after. No need to do it the night of, because that’s awkward.
Let’s be honest—there is nothing terribly subtle about the male orgasm. But for us girls, it’s more sophisticated (no surprise there).
Women report all sorts of orgasms: orgasms from clitoral stimulation, orgasms during vaginal stimulation, “birthgasms,” orgasms from kissing, from nipple-touching, fake orgasms, you name it. What’s going on here?!?
The answer hinges on a solid understanding of female reproductive anatomy. The clitoris is not just a “pea-shaped bobble ” under the surface of the skin. No, no—that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The full clitoris is actually quite large (9 cm in length!) and loops all around the inside of the vagina, alongside the urinary tube, the urethra. The clitoris is made of tissue similar to the erectile tissue in the penis, but different in that female clitoral tissue can respond directly to hormones like estrogen. Yet another instance of the female body displaying its superior qualities :)
Why do some women orgasm during vaginal penetration while others do not? Because #anatomy. Clitoral tissue extends internally for all women. Some women have more of these internal portions of the clitoris exposed to the vagina—these women are much more likely to orgasm during vaginal penetration. Alternatively, other women have thicker tissue in the space between the vagina and urethra, which makes the clitoral tissue less prone to stimulation via vaginal penetration alone. So it goes.
If you have yet to hit the big “O” from vaginal stimulation, do not despair. There is nothing “wrong” with not being able to orgasm this way—in fact, a Glow poll revealed that only ~6% of women climax from vaginal penetration alone, compared to ~51% who orgasm from clitoral stimulation alone.
Consider these numbers an invitation to take matters into your own hands (so to speak) to learn what you like best. Consider checking out the “How To Make Me Come” blog which describes women’s individual experiences with orgasms, or Sophia Wallace’s “Cliteracy” movement which aims to challenges the lies, question the myths, and rewrite the rules around sex and the female body.
Also, know that the Glow community willNEVERstoptalking about sexual preferences and orgasms. Take a gander in Community, and you’ll get a better sense of where your Glow sisters are #coming from ;)
Pain is a pain—and some women experience pain on a fairly regular basis. There is overwhelming evidence that, on average, women experience more pain than men do. Women report greater prevalence, frequency, and duration of clinical pain and pain-related distress than their male counterparts, on average. Always overachieving, aren’t we ladies?!
Unsurprisingly, women also deal with extra special doses of regular pain thanks to the menstrual cycle. But that pain drain does not affect all women equally. Why is it that some ladies breeze through their cycles without any pain, while the rest of us curl up and binge watch Netflix, doubled over in agony during our periods? Well, there are a lot of factors at play.
First, cramps. An estimated 90% of women experience painful periods at some time in their lives, and 20% of women suffer from severe period pain every dang month. The risk factors for cramps aren’t really within one’s control—cycle irregularity, early onset of puberty, family history, and being younger than 20 are all potential causes. Home treatments (our friends, the pain relievers) and medical treatments can sometimes remedy these symptoms. But not always. And Netflix often proves to be the only consolation.
But cramps aren’t the only type of period pain—how ‘bout them tender breasts? If you’ve ever had tender breasts during your period, hormone changes that occur throughout the cycle are the likely culprits. As estrogen levels rise in the first half of the cycle, the breasts ducts enlarge. This is great when wearing a push-up bra, but in general, pretty uncomfortable. Additional risk factors for tender breasts include family history, a high-fat diet, and too much caffeine. Since ⅔ of these are in your control, do yourself a favor and take some measures to protect the ta-tas :)
Life’s not fair, and some women are just more prone to pain in general. There are a few reasons for this. To begin with, pain perception depends on the brain, and brains vary from human to human because of differences in physiology, genetics, life experiences, and emotions. One person’s “ouch” could be another person’s “[insert four letter word here]!” simply due to biological variability.
Also, pain tolerance can be affected by a whole host of non-biological variables. For example, in a recent study, a woman’s romantic relationship status seemed to affect whether or not she had differences in pain sensitivity throughout her cycle. In a population of 135 women, a correlation was seen between stages of the menstrual cycle and pain sensitivity for women in romantic relationships, but no such correlation was observed among women who were single. The world is a strange place.
So what’s a girl to do to keep her pain in check? The best action you can take is to pay attention to your body and the timing and severity of the pain you experience, whether it be period pain, headaches, or the pain of seeing acne on yo’ face :) The new Ruby by Glow app helps you visualize pain and symptoms that you experience alongside your cycle, which could help you find patterns to your own pain tolerance. Hop to it and start logging—before too long, you’ll have that pain pinned down.
We’ve all been there with those WTF questions about our bodies, sex, birth control, you name it. Wouldn’t it be great to have a one-stop-shop to answer all your Qs? The wait is over – today, we’re bringing you Ruby by Glow. It’s Glow’s newest app, and your new best friend.
Put simply, Ruby is the essential health and sex app that’s 100% focused on you. And it doesn’t just revolve around your period (because, duh, that’s only a few days out of the month). Ruby offers personalized suggestions for you to live your best life in every facet. We’re talking sex advice, health tracking, birth control tips and a fun, like-minded community. All in one app.
To further this we’ve also partnered with Bedsider – an online birth control support network operated by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy – to deliver the latest information about birth control and safe sex. Bedsider’s resources will be integrated throughout the app with a specific section of birth control types in the Me tab.
We think all women should be empowered with information about their own health, and that information should be smart, personalized and right at your fingertips. We can’t wait for you to check out the Ruby app, which you can download here.
But our mission to empower women doesn’t stop there. As part of Ruby’s launch, we’ve partnered with Huru International, a nonprofit that provides menstrual hygiene supplies and sex-ed to young women in Kenya.
Did you know that in some parts of the world getting your period isn’t just a burden, but can actually prevent you from going to school or having a job… or even put you at risk for serious health issues and infections? With a lack of funds and stigma around periods, many young women lack access to feminine hygiene products.
Some women who have to go without sanitary supplies end up using dangerous substitutes – like dirty rags or leaves – while others feel that they must stay home for the duration of their period. This means missing precious days of school and work. These missed days add up very quickly and result in missed education, missed income, and missed opportunity.
Could you imagine not being able to leave your house for five or more days every month? Missing out on school, your job, your friends, your community…all because of a normal and totally natural biological event? It gives a whole new meaning to the concept of period problems.
Our friends at Huru International have found that distributing reusable menstrual pads and educating girls about their reproductive / sexual health and birth control allows over 90% of female students to stay in school during their periods. That is huge! Best of all, Huru Kits are environmentally friendly and locally produced, creating new jobs in the communities.
We’re so excited to support this mission and bring opportunity and education to even more women worldwide – and we want you to join us! Okay?
Here’s the plan: For every mention of Ruby’s hashtag #TalkRubyToMe on Twitter and Instagram, we will donate to Huru to give a young woman a day back, either at school or at work. We need you to help spread the word! Tweet it out, Insta, tell you friends, tell your mom – shout it from the rooftops. We want to give back 10,000 days to women in Kenya, and we need your help to make that happen.
Listen. Your sex life and health are important. We know you know that :)
There are huge benefits to tracking basic sex & health long before trying to conceive: staying on top of your birth control, avoiding STIs and UTIs, keeping those period symptoms in check, the list goes on…
Countless women have been using Glow for this; indeed, about half of our current Glow users track their fertility to actively avoid pregnancy. But starting today, Glow has a shiny new app to support ladies who aren’t ready for a baby bump.
Ruby is a savvy sex and health app for taking control of your cycles and sexy time. Logging on Ruby is fast, fun—an easy way to track sex and the world down under. Download Ruby here :)
To top it all off, Ruby’s epic community is an extended friend group that talks about everything: orgasms, sex toys, masturbation, relationships. Dare to get the info you deserve.
P.S. #TalkRubyToMe. For every share of the hashtag on social media, Ruby will donate to Huru International to help girls in Kenya stay in school during their periods. Give a girl a day back in school and share #TalkRubyToMe with @RubyByGlow on Instagram & Twitter!
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, commonly known as PCOS, wreaks havoc on the lives of millions of woman. As many as 1 in 10 women have PCOS—and most are not aware that they have it. These women do not understand why they are gaining weight that they cannot seem to lose, why they start balding, why they have to pluck chin hair day-in, day-out. Most heartbreakingly, these women do not understand that miscarriage is triggered by this vile condition.
Many people view PCOS as a cosmetic problem, not realizing its potentially devastating consequences. We need more awareness around PCOS. To help you know how to identify PCOS, Glow put together this list of questions you can ask yourself.
1. Are your periods irregular?
Irregular periods, especially cycles that last 35+ days, often correspond with PCOS. This is called amenorrhea. And even though it may sound convenient not to have to deal with your period, it’s not. Not having your period means that you rarely ovulate. If you do not ovulate, you cannot become pregnant—and worse, you are at a greater risk for miscarriage. Cases where amenorrhea is caused by low estrogen levels can also put women at risk for osteoporosis.
2. Is the hair on your face migrating from your scalp to your chin?
Yes, this happens, It’s called androgen excess—a very common symptom for women with PCOS. Androgen excess can cause a whole bevy of issues including excessive facial and body hair, and male-pattern baldness. Not fun :(
3. Do you have acne all over?
PCOS-related acne tends to flare up in areas that are usually considered “hormonally sensitive,” especially the lower third of the face. Cheeks, jawline, chin, and upper neck—be warned.
4. Are you overweight?
More than 60% of women who have PCOS are also overweight. PCOS makes it more difficult for the body to use the hormone insulin, which normally helps convert sugars and starches from foods into energy. The insulin builds up in the bloodstream, and high insulin levels make gaining weight all too easy. Once the additional weight has arrived, losing it is impossibly difficult. The most maddening part? The weight gain is cyclical in nature: The more weight you gain, the greater your insulin resistance, the more weight you gain. Ugg.
So, do I have PCOS?
If you have answered “yes” to more than 3 of the above 4 questions above, then bite the bullet and talk to your doctor about PCOS. Though there is no cure, PCOS can be managed—early identification and treatment are essential to minimizing some of the condition’s effects. Plus, the earlier you know, the more options you have for getting help and taking your health into your own hands.
Endometriosis—the struggle is real. Killer cramps are NOT normal. Periods that last longer than 7 days are NOT normal. Heavy bleeding that soaks through a tampon every 2 hours is NOT normal; pain during sex is NOT normal. Bouts of diarrhea and vomiting that accompany every menstrual cycle are NOT normal. No, no, and no! For many women, this reality is just endometriosis at work.
Sad truth: Many of us are taught to downplay these symptoms. Our pain is diminished by mothers, sisters, friends and even health care professionals who convince us that everyone goes through this.
Maybe that is why, according to the Endometriosis Foundation of America, it takes 10 years on average to receive an accurate endometriosis diagnosis. That’s a decade, people! That’s 130 periods of agony, 912 days of someone asking you to take Advil and suck it up. That…is not okay.
Endometriosis is pervasive. It affects 1 in 10 American females of reproductive age and an estimated 176 million women worldwide. It occurs when tissue similar to the endometrium (the lining of the uterus) is found outside the uterus on other parts of the body.
There are lots of symptoms that can vary among patients. Pelvic pain is most common, as well as pain that coincides with menstruation. Other symptoms include heavy cramps, long-lasting bleeding, nausea or vomiting, pain during sex and, unfortunately, infertility. Some women may even experience symptoms throughout their entire cycle—a real drag.
In addition to these physical symptoms, endometriosis takes a toll on women’s personal and professional lives. Chronic pain can severely affect quality of life day-to-day; medical care can be extremely costly. Furthermore, absenteeism can alter relationships in the workplace and at home.
Despite the intense discomfort, many women do not realize they have endometriosis until they try to get pregnant. And because the disease tends to get progressively worse over time, approximately 30-40% of women who have endometriosis experience fertility challenges.
There is no simple diagnostic test for endometriosis—no blood, urine, or saliva testing can confirm the condition. The only way to verify endometriosis is to undergo a diagnostic laparoscopy with pathology confirmation of biopsy specimens.
On the bright side, many endometriosis symptoms— including infertility—can be addressed after diagnosis. The gold standard for endometriosis treatment is laparoscopic excision surgery. This involves a careful removal of the entire endometrial lesion from wherever it grows.
The first step to getting there is recognizing that your pain is not normal and seeking timely intervention. The earlier endometriosis is detected and treated, the better the results. Tracking your symptoms will make you better informed for your next doctor’s visit, and set you on a path to better (and less painful!) menstrual health.