When Periods Are A Pain

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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.

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#TalkRubyToMe

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.

Bed is better together with Bedsider

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.  

Keep girls in school. Period.

Meet Ruby by Glow

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.

Hand holding Ruby app

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 :)

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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.

Get it, girl. Download Ruby.

XOXO,

The Glow Team

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!

Identify PCOS In 4 Questions

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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

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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.

For more information about Endometriosis, visit www.endofound.org

Follow Your Favorites

Starting today, you can follow the friends you’ve made in Glow Community.

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Follow your inspirations

You can follow people whose opinion you value, people who elevate the level of conversation, people who make you laugh.


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Follow to catch updates

Following other Glow Community members will allow you to see more of their activities in your Top and New feeds–the first two feeds displayed when you enter Glow Community.


It’s no longer a tough act to follow on Glow :)

Why is my period late?

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“Why is my period late?” Once you start wondering, you can’t stop, won’t stop. You wonder what is happening with that late period, what you did wrong. And then wondering turns to freaking out…

If this is you, welcome to the club.  The “sometimes-our-bodies-do-as-they-damn-well-please” club. Membership: 2 billion.

Our periods are not always “late” when we think we are. Say your cycle is of the average 28 day variety, but this month it has been 32 days with no period.  This does not necessarily mean that your period is “late.” Because lateness depends entirely on WHEN ovulation occurred.

Let’s break it down.  Cycles come in three phases: the follicular phase, ovulation, and the luteal phase. In the follicular phase, the uterus prepares to receive a fertilized egg, should the opportunity present itself (yes, sex would be that opportunity); meanwhile, eggs mature so that they are ready to get a move on when the time comes.

Next, it’s ovulation. Ovulation is when a mature egg is released to the nearest fallopian tube.  Once it’s there, fertilization needs to happen within 24 hours, or else the egg degenerates. Thus, ovulation only lasts for about a day.  Move swiftly, sperm!

After ovulation, the uterine lining grows to prepare a nice cozy bed for the fertilized egg in the uterus. This is called the luteal phase.  If the egg never gets fertilized, then the the uterus lining will shed through the vaginal opening. #PeriodTime.  If the egg does get fertilized, then it will embed in the cushy uterus lining about 5-6 days after fertilization. And then you’re on the road to pregnancy…

Blah blah blah. What is to blame for my late period?!?!

It depends (not what you wanted to hear, we realize).  But a good general rule is that the majority of the time, your period will arrive on the mark 12 to 14 days past ovulation.  The trick is knowing when ovulation is happening.  And for that, we offer a few tools: The Glow app can help you know when. And there are tests called OPKs which enable you to pee on a stick and figure out if ovulation is going down.

The timing of ovulation can be influenced by a whole lotta things: diet, exercise, stress, sickness, weight, caffeine intake, whether you smoke or do drugs, whether you have recently been on any oral contraceptives, etc. Predicting the timing of ovulation can be one tricky business.

But rest assured: you are NOT the only woman who has worried about this.  We hear these concerns expressed all the time in the Glow Community. You are not alone. Also, know that it IS possible to figure out exactly what’s going on down there.  A little more measuring and some attention to the details, and you’ll have that period mastered :)

When Do I Ovulate? And Related Life Questions

When do I ovulate?

When do you ovulate?

When do women ovulate?

Do all women ovulate the same?

Ovulation patterns differ with each woman’s specific body type and menstrual cycle. You probably learned about ovulation in middle school health class….but that was years ago. Here’s a refresher.

Ovulation: The Basics

Ovulation is the release of an egg from the ovary, and its travel down the fallopian tube. As the little egg is traveling, it has a *chance* of getting fertilized by a sperm. If that happens successfully, pregnancy is the result! As such, having sex during your ovulation window is the best way to maximize your chances of pregnancy. And conversely, avoiding sex when you are in your ovulation window is a good way to make sure you do not accidentally get pregnant.  

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Ovulation Calendar

Women often ovulate about half way through the menstrual cycle. Let’s hit the calendar. Call the first day of your most recent period Day 1 and the last day before your next period Day 28 (this assumes a 28 day cycle, obviously).  If you have a consistent, 28-day cycle, chances are you will ovulate about mid-way through the cycle–around Day 14.

During ovulation, an egg is available to be fertilized for only 12-24 hours; on the flip flop, sperm can live in the body for 3-5 days. Because of this, medical experts tend to talk about ovulation occurring during a multi-day “window” of time around the ovulation day.  Using the example of a 28 day cycle, you can presume that ovulation will occur approximately in the window between Day 12 and Day 16 (notice Day 14 is right in the middle–you see what we did there?). For cycles that are not 28 days long (ahem…most cycles), just count back 14 days from your NEXT expected period. That’s about the time when you will ovulate.

Ovulation Signs

Calendar estimation is one way to figure out when ovulation might be happening. But a more foolproof method involves also paying attention to your body’s signs of ovulation: patterns in body temperature and vaginal discharge (yep, it’s gonna get goopy).

Temperature - We’re not just talking regular temperature–this is basal body temperature, or the lowest body temperature you experience in a 24-hour period. It happens right when you wake up in the morning.  You can detect BBT by taking your temperature with a special BBT thermometer before getting out of bed.  When you ovulate, your basal body temperature rises.  The uptick is tiny–only about 0.5 to 1.6 degree Fahrenheit–but it is enough to indicate that ovulation has just occurred.

Vaginal Discharge - If you pay attention to the fluids in your panties, you’ll notice that cervical mucus (fancy medical name for discharge) changes a fair bit during your cycle.  Most of the month, your vag stays pretty mellow in this department. But as you approach ovulation, you’ll notice a clear, slippery, and stretchy substance making an appearance. That’s egg white cervical mucus. Named so because it looks and feels kind of like raw egg whites. Yes, we went there. You will never look at egg whites the same way again.

Ovulation Symptoms

According to polls in the Glow Community, a significant number of women have experienced the following symptoms (in addition to the temperature and vaginal discharge variations discussed above) during their ovulation window:

  • Change in cervical position and cervical firmness - 81% (383 women surveyed)
  • Increase in sex drive - 56% (2194 women surveyed)
  • Brief twinge of pain or dull ache felt in abdomen - 48% (2231 women surveyed)
  • Breast tenderness - 38% (2108 women surveyed)
  • Abdominal bloating - 35% (2253 women surveyed)
  • Heightened sense of vision, taste, or smell - 21% (2094 women surveyed)
  • Light spotting - 7% (2214 women surveyed)

Ovulation Tracking Tools

Accurately tracking your ovulation requires tools. From where we sit, these are the essentials.

  • Glow - Smartphone app that allows you to record everything from your period dates to your BBT and cervical mucus. The app does the math so that you don’t have to–and sends you updates before menstruation and ovulation to keep you in the know.  As you might expect, we recommend it highly :)
  • BBT Thermometer - Essential for knowing if you’re hot or not…and when you might be ovulating.
  • Ovulation Predictor Kit (OPK) - This is a pee-on-a-stick test will give you a positive result a day or two before your ovulate…and signal when you should hop to it if you’re down to make babies.

Your body don’t wait. Sister’s gonna ovulate. So know the facts and stay up to date!