Sweet Sixteen with Days for Girls

Like most girls my age, I had been thinking the whole year prior to my sixteenth birthday about what I wanted to do to celebrate. I wanted to do something big for a change and did consider having the traditional extravagant sweet sixteen party. What I didn’t love about this idea was how it would feel like a whole lot of hoopla for just me, and that felt a little uncomfortable. I also felt like a big day like that would come and go and then I would just be left feeling like we’d spent a lot of money on one afternoon. I figured it would be more exciting and satisfying to do something that would make an impact beyond this one special day.

I thought about all the different options that were out there. I considered doing something along the lines of volunteering, collecting food for the local food bank or making hygiene kits for Mennonite Central Committee (MCC). The last one stuck and led me to Days for Girls.

A bit about Days for Girls:
Days for Girls increases access to menstrual care and education by developing global partnerships, cultivating social enterprises, mobilizing volunteers, and innovating sustainable solutions that shatter stigmas and limitations for women and girls. Their kits provide period care for women and girls for years and in many communities, Days for Girls supports micro-enterprise opportunities with their basic kit, DFG Pod (Portable Object of Dignity).

Days for Girls actually runs a club at my school. We meet on a weekly basis to cut and trace fabric to help make the reusable pads for feminine hygiene kits. When I first learned about Days for Girls, I remember thinking how incredibly innovative the kit was that they were putting together. Before joining the club, I never thought of the struggle it would be to live with your period in a developing country. It blew my mind that this was a cause that no one talks about, despite it’s monumental effect on girls’ futures.

What I love most about Days for Girls is that it provides a way for so many people to get involved at the very basic level of making hygiene kits. In Canada alone, there are 80 local chapters.

I decided to investigate the possibility of hosting a Days for Girls pad making party for my Sweet Sixteen. I talked to the teacher at my school who runs the club, who then connected me with the local Days for Girls chapter in my city. The local team supports our school club and were more than happy to help me organize my party idea. They even came to my house on the day of to give a presentation about Days for Girls. The eleven girls who were at my party had a similar reaction to mine in learning about Days for Girls and the challenges facing girls with their menstrual cycles in other parts of the world.

We got started, and it was such a blast! We traced and cut out fabric while chatting, eating, listening to music and watching funny videos; such a good time. I thought my friends might get tired of cutting and that we might need to stop and do something else, but everyone just wanted to keep going! In the end we used up all the fabric and counted out what we had made. I had hoped to meet a goal of 160 shield cutouts, but I thought that this might not be possible with the number of girls that were able to make it to the party. Nevertheless, we ended up cutting out 215 shields! My friends were also super generous, gifting $240 in honour of my birthday as a donation to Days for Girls which will help pay for the underwear and soap included in the kits Chapters and Teams put together around the world. Each Supreme Days for Girls kit includes: shields, absorbent liners, washcloth underwear, soap and a care and cleaning bag.

After my party, I was really fortunate to get to meet the rest of the women from the Days for Girls Kitchener branch to deliver the money gift and cutouts. These women meet twice a month, set up their sewing machines and assemble Days for girls Supreme its for those in need.

My Days for Girls Sweet Sixteen was all-round a very meaningful experience. I loved getting to hang out with the girls that are special in my life, while making a difference for girls like us across the world!

Want to host your own Days for Girls birthday party? Get connected with your local chapter here.

Camions of Care

camions of careMy passion for menstrual hygiene began during my family’s experience with homelessness. During this time, I gained both insight and inspiration through conversations with homeless women that I met. In the spring of my sophomore year of high school, when my family saved up enough money for us to move back into our two-bedroom apartment in Portland, I founded Camions of Care. What started as a personal project to use savings to buy and hand out feminine hygiene products to homeless women and women-in-need on my way to school, with the help of an amazing and driven youth team of peers, is now an exponentially growing organization.

Camions of Care is now a global youth-run nonprofit that strives to manage menstrual hygiene through advocacy, education, and service—through the global distribution of feminine hygiene products and development of youth leadership through campus chapters. In the last year and a half, our network of 1,900 volunteers has distributed over 16,000 care packages of feminine hygiene products to 38 nonprofit partners in 12 different states and 9 different countries, and has expanded our chapter network to 34 established chapters at university and high school campuses around the US. Each care package is worth under two dollars and provides enough for one menstrual cycle. These care packages contain 9 tampons, 4 maxi-pads, and 5 panty liners, providing all of the products a woman may need for her average five-day period.

Camions of Care strives to develop youth engagement through our campus chapters. We continue to expand our network of 34 campus chapters at universities and high schools around the United States. Our chapters (nationwide at various high school and university campuses) work to support Camions of Care through advocacy and education. Some of our larger Tier 3 chapters also distribute feminine hygiene products to their own local partners. Every weekend, a volunteer team travels along our designated routes making deliveries to some of our (38+) nonprofit partner organizations and directly to homeless women-in-need.

In addition to the feminine hygiene products that Camions of Care purchases, we also obtain donations from local businesses, community centers, and nonprofit organizations. These feminine hygiene products are then directly distributed or put together into care packages through our community care packaging events.

Camions of Care helps women feel dignified and clean during their periods by giving them feminine hygiene products. The women that we serve are low income or homeless, and generally would not spend the little money they have on menstrual hygiene. Our services thereby give these women the materials to take care of their natural needs, which they otherwise would lack easy access to. Psychologically, having control over one’s own body is a step towards self-confidence and feeling in control of one’s life. This ability to care for immediate needs is an early step in helping women get off the street or to bounce back from a difficult situation. Additionally, most reproductive diseases are caused by poor menstrual hygiene. By distributing feminine hygiene products, we help women stay healthier.

In the fall of 2015, Diva International established an ongoing partnership with Camions of Care. However, while menstrual cups may seem like a great solution for some women-in-need, limited access to clean water and health care services pose a serious health concern as the cup cannot be properly cleaned. As such, Camions of Care has partnered with Dress for Success Oregon’s HOPE program to distribute The DivaCup to women recently released from prison and who are living in transitional housing. To date, Diva has donated over 100 cups, and I am excited to see how this partnership will develop in the months and years to come!

Camions of Care is always striving to find sustainable solutions and we are continuing our efforts of securing reusable products like menstrual cups and fabric pads that provide more long term solutions. Camions of Care works to empower women and youth, period.

 

 

Nadya

Nadya Okamoto is an 18-year-old from Portland, Oregon. She is also the Founder and Executive Director of Camions of Care–a global nonprofit organization that strives to address the natural needs of women through advocacy, education, and service. Nadya founded Camions of Care after her family experienced a degree of homelessness, during which she discovered the unaddressed need of menstrual hygiene. Nadya wants people to understand that everyone deserves to have their natural needs met so they feel ready to achieve their full potential. She is also the Youth Director of Social Venture Partners Youth, is on the board of the Women’s Foundation of Oregon PLAN International USA, and is involved in many other school activities around law practice, politics, and gender equality.

Menstrual Hygiene is Key to Global Development

When it comes to global development, in working to advance families and breaking the cycle of poverty, women’s empowerment is the key. However, a major obstacle that stands in the way of bringing all women to the forefront is the taboo surrounding the topic of menstruation.

MHDay_banner_blue_FBWomen’s empowerment and feminism are hot topics right now, especially when it comes to creating more educational equity on a global scale. However, no matter how many opportunities we create, women and girls will not be able to take full advantage of those opportunities if menstrual hygiene is not addressed. Periods are the number one reason why girls miss school in developing countries. In Kenya, girls miss an average of 4.9 days of school each month because of a lack of access to adequate menstrual hygiene. That is almost a full week of class, or 25% of one school month. Think about that… because of periods alone, girls are missing almost a whole quarter of their classes.

In many countries, periods can be scary because of what menstruation symbolizes—the transition from being a child to a woman, ready to be a wife and mother. In some other countries, as I have learned, getting your period can be the signifying event that prompts female genital mutilation, child marriage, and dropping out of school.

Inadequate menstrual hygiene management also has negative mental and physical consequences. In India, 70% of reproductive diseases are caused by poor menstrual hygiene, and the effects can go so far as to affect maternal mortality. Unclean methods of maintaining menstrual hygiene caused by a lack of resources, or lack of education on the usage of products, can lead to infections ranging from skin irritation to something more fatal, like toxic shock syndrome. Poor menstrual hygiene management may also cause strange bodily odors and bleeding through one’s clothes, which causes women and girls to feel nervous and self-conscious when on their period.

This taboo around menstruation causes people to associate periods with weakness. A week in their month where girls feel emotionally on edge, in pain with cramps, confused about new food cravings, and worried about bleeding through their clothes. I, myself, before coming to the realization of how human and real it is as a woman to experience periods, identified my time of the month as a weakness.

Women (more so, all humans) deserve to feel confident and ready to reach their full potential, regardless of a biological function. Thus, the stigma surrounding the topic of menstruation is an obstacle standing in the way of the right to reach one’s full potential. Limiting the potential of essentially half of the world’s population due to menstruation is in itself a fundamental barrier to continued global development.

eng_facebook_girls_1This is one of the many reasons why a day like Menstrual Hygiene Day, which is observed every year on May 28th, is so important. Menstrual Hygiene Day raises awareness around menstrual health, the barriers that people who menstruate face, and the effects that inadequate education, sanitation, and understanding about menstruation can have on women and girls all around the world.

We all need to become advocates for menstruation. In the US, only about 20% of our government positions are held by women, and if that 80% who are men are afraid to talk about menstruation, women and girls all around the world will continue to feel silenced and less capable on their periods. It is clear that menstruation impacts more than just one week of each month in a woman’s life. The menstrual movement is a human movement, and it starts now, with all of us—boys, girls, men, women—let’s all give power to the period!

 

 

NadyaNadya Okamoto Nadya Okamoto is an 18-year-old from Portland, Oregon. She is also the Founder and Executive Director of Camions of Care–a global nonprofit organization that strives to address the natural needs of women through advocacy, education, and service. Nadya founded Camions of Care after her family experienced a degree of homelessness, during which she discovered the unaddressed need of menstrual hygiene. Nadya wants people to understand that everyone deserves to have their natural needs met so they feel ready to achieve their full potential. She is also the Youth Director of Social Venture Partners Youth, is on the board of the Women’s Foundation of Oregon, PLAN International USA, and is involved in many other school activities around law practice, politics, and gender equality.

  

Tips for Talking About Periods with Kids

Working as a sexologist at Sexpressions, a lot of people ask me how to talk to young people about periods and menstrual products. One thing I’ve learned from this is that parents and guardians are often more worried about these talks than kids! Hopefully some tips can help!

speech cloudsDon’t wait! Talk about periods as they come up
There’s a big idea that “the talk” needs to be one big sit down conversation. But the truth is that it should be discussed like any other subject, where you talk about it when it comes up! For instance, if your kids find your menstrual care products, that’s a perfect way to start the conversation! Anything can be explained in an age-appropriate way. You then add to their knowledge as they get older. Other great times to bring up the “period talk” is when you overhear people talking about periods, see commercials about menstruation, or see menstrual products in a store. All wonderful times to discuss!

Ask what they’ve heard
When the subject comes up, it’s often hard to gauge what they have heard about menstruation, good and bad. When periods come up, a good way to start a conversation is by asking what they’ve heard about periods and products like The DivaCup. This lets you know where to start, and might bring up some misinformation that you can  correct.calendar

Give them a plan for the first time
The first time a girl starts her period can be especially scary. Many girls worry it will happen at the worst possible time! It just might happen that way, but you can help calm them by giving them information in advance. Chances are they won’t bleed a lot the first time and if they are prepared on what to do, it will help ease the anxiety.

illustration [Converted]Give space when girls need it
Sometimes, the last thing that kids want to do is talk about puberty with their parents or guardians. This can be for a variety of reasons, and it helps to not take this personally! If this does happen, you can explain why it’s important to talk about it and perhaps explain that there is nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about. You can also start by simply giving them some books and cool teen-friendly sites, like www.sexualityandyou.ca, to check out.

Talk about options
Having a first period can be an amazingly exciting experience for some, and a worrisome one for others. But when girls have information about what is normal and what is healthy, it helps!

Remember that pads, tampons and menstrual cups like The DivaCup can sound scary at first. Many girls are uncomfortable with their genitals especially when so much is changing at once. On top of that the thought of putting something inside their body might sound gross or painful to them. Talking them through their options with patience, will help girls grow more comfortable with their changing bodies.

 

Stephanie Mitelman, M.A., CSE Stephanie is Montreal’s only AASECT certified sexuality educator and a national trainer on issues of sexual health and youth sexuality. She teaches at McGill and Concordia Universities and is a founding member of The Sexual Health Network of Quebec. In 2000, she started Sexpressions, which offers sexual health resources and training for teachers and front-line healthcare workers. She also regularly trains and consults in Aboriginal communities across Canada and on sex education, and specializes in working with youth with special needs. Visit Sexpressions.ca today to learn more!

 

Guest Post: Your Pelvic Floor and The DivaCup

Ah, the magnificent vaginal canal. While many may not use the word magnificent to describe the vagina, we at Diva know how important the vagina is to a women’s health, reproduction, and overall daily comfort. Whether just learning about puberty, or a woman well-versed in all things vagina (and period), there is still lots we can learn from the experts.

Keri Martin Vrbanac is an expert pelvic health specialist who is on a mission to help women find support for their pelvic region (and with The DivaCup). We sat down with Keri, bringing her some case studies that our Consumer Care Team often see from women who are finding some challenges with using a menstrual cup. For some new users, and also some long-time Divas, finding continued success with the cup can take some time as the vaginal muscles (the muscles that hold The DivaCup in place) may require additional support.

The below are just snapshots of the many ways pelvic health physiotherapy can help women find better success with The DivaCup and in turn, better vaginal and pelvic health!

Scenario 1:

I’m a runner and a yoga enthusiast. At 19, I wanted to change my period care routine to a better option so I invested in The DivaCup. I purchased the Model 1 as I am under 30 years old and have not had children. Unfortunately, my experience thus far has not been great. I’m having a really hard time with insertion and rotation. It almost feels as if the cup is too big for me. Please help!

Keri: It is possible that your pelvic floor muscles are hypertonic, or in other words, too tight. Some women with hypertonic pelvic floor muscles may experience pain when using any internal menstrual products or may have pain with intercourse. The only way to know the status of your pelvic floor muscles for sure is to visit a pelvic health physiotherapist in order to have an assessment completed. If it turns out that the floor is too tight, your therapist will educate you on how you can remedy the problem and perhaps return to comfortable use of The DivaCup.

Pregnant person

Scenario 2:

I used The DivaCup for six years before I became pregnant. Fast forward a year and a half and my period has returned. I’m using the Model 2, I am 33 years old and my cup just doesn’t seem to stay in place very well. I am also experiencing leaking; something I have never had an issue with before! I used the Model 1 for a number of years and then switched to the 2 when I turned 30. Could it be that I need the smaller size again?

Keri: There is a possibility that your pelvic floor muscles have become weak following your pregnancy/delivery and are no longer strong enough to hold your cup in place. It is possible for you to strengthen those muscles through proper exercise, but before you begin any form of pelvic floor muscle exercises, you should visit a pelvic health therapist to determine if your pelvic floor is tight or weak, or both. Kegels are not for everyone and in some cases can actually cause more harm than good so consulting with a specialist before incorporating these kinds of exercises is important.

Scenario 3: 

I am 38, don’t have kids and am using The DivaCup model 2. The cup is easy to insert and rotate, but after a few hours, it begins to move up. Around this same time, the cup also starts to leak. I’m sure I am inserting the cup correctly, but when it moves up it makes it difficult to remove. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Keri: Your pelvic floor muscles may be hypertonic or too tight. Trying the smaller sized cup may help, but as there is a small difference in the size (Model 1 is 1/8″ (~0.3 cm) smaller), it may be that your muscles need to be elongated or relaxed. Sometimes a smaller pelvis can also affect the tone of the musculature but not always. The only way to know the status of your pelvic floor muscles for sure is to visit a pelvic health physiotherapist to have an assessment completed.

Scenario 4:

I’m 26. I do no have kids and have been using The DivaCup model 1. The cup is amazing. As a nurse I can go an entire shift without worrying about leaks… until I go to bed. While sleeping it seems as though the cup moves lower and begins to leak. Do I need the bigger size? Why is it that it fits fine during the day, even on my painful heavy days, and not at night?

Keri: Just like the rest of the muscles in our body, the pelvic floor muscles will relax when we are resting. Our pelvic floor muscles do not have to work as hard when we are sleeping because we do not require as much support. Position changes throughout the night may cause a shift in the position of the cup as well. Supported sleeping with a pillow between your knees may help maintain a more restful position and prevent frequent position changes.

Scenario 5:

My period has returned after having my fourth child. I’m 39 years old and using The DivaCup model 2. The cup doesn’t seem to want to stay in me. It falls so low that it is essentially falling out. I am really frustrated that I’m not finding success with the cup. All my friends rave about it.

Keri: It is possible that you have a bladder or uterine prolapse which means that one or both of these organs have lowered into the vaginal canal. With less space available, The DivaCup may be pushed downwards. A pelvic health physiotherapist can diagnose a prolapse and work with you to decrease its impact on your life.

Pelvic floor and working out

Scenario 6:

As a gym enthusiast I love lifting weights, I also love The DivaCup, except when it leaks. I find that when I go through my weight routine, the cup begins to move out of place and leak, almost as if the seal has been broken. Could my muscles tense so much that they are breaking the seal?

Keri: Yes, your pelvic floor muscles could be tight OR they could actually be weak. With weight lifting, we increase our intra-abdominal pressure and this in turn causes a downward pressure on our pelvic floor muscles. A pelvic floor physiotherapist can determine the status of your floor and tailor your program to address this issue as well as provide tips for safe exercise and maintaining your pelvic health.

Keri Martin VrbanacKeri Martin Vrbanac

Keri is a Pelvic Health Physiotherapist and the owner of A Body In Motion Rehabilitation in ON, Canada. Keri has been practising physiotherapy since 1997 where she graduated with distinction with her Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy from the University of Toronto. Keri’s career as a physiotherapist has brought her to Australia, the United States of America and back to Canada where she has settled in Conestogo with her husband and her two amazing little girls! Keri’s passion for pelvic health is contagious and she continues with ongoing education to fuel her passion and remain current. Keri is a member of the Canadian Physiotherapy Association, The Ontario Physiotherapy Association, The International Pelvic Pain Association, The National Vulvodynia Association, and The Association for Continence. You can contact Keri at abodyinmotion@theboardwalkmedical.com.

Guest Post: Setting a Scuba Diving World Record for Women: 129 Divas in the Water!

4-Florida-N-Lasselin-8Female Divers: They represent, through good years and bad, nearly half of the certified divers around the world. They are recognized for their low air consumption, natural buoyancy and good judgment when it comes to taking risks.

In short, women make excellent divers, are pleasant, cautious and someone you can trust to guide you under water!

However, very few women are pursuing careers in scuba diving.

Is this due to a lack of physical strength? Or the fact that it poses far greater health risks? Or worse, menstrual blood may attract sharks?

Certainly not! Although women (and men) may have believed in these theories in the past, today it is clear that women are more than capable of exploring the seabed.

This is where Femmes à la mer comes in!

Femmes à la mer was created with the purpose of bringing together the female divers of Quebec. On September 12, 2015, 129 women gathered at Quarry Kahnawake, near Montreal, QC to set a world record: the largest number of submerged women simultaneously in cold water.

This had never been done before!

12011125_816238931826962_8439398318154562169_n

 

For Nathalie and Daphné, organizers of the event, and also avid users of The DivaCup, “Femmes à la mer” went beyond a simple record of numbers. It was about making a statement – a way to show the world that women are present in the diving world and that nothing, even the hassle of periods, will stop them.

It was also a statement that we need to preserve aquatic environments, if we want to continue to discover them. This is why “Femmes à la mer” is committed to ecological sustainability. For example, on the day of the event, participants were called to carpool to get on the site and to bring their reusable water bottles. The sweaters that were handed over to the participants were made of organic cotton and were provided by a company that guaranteed an ethical treatment of employees.

Because of this ecological approach, and focus on physical activity for women, a partnership with The DivaCup was quite natural! What better product than a menstrual cup to assist women with a diving expedition? Compact during dive trips, environmentally friendly, economical and it offers leak free protection during long decompression diving sessions, The DivaCup is the perfect partner in a diving event for women. Furthermore, ten of the 129 participants had the chance to win The DivaCup, and will certainly promote all of its wonderful benefits within the community of underwater women divers!

Thank you to The DivaCup for partnering with “Femmes à la mer”! We hope to have an even bigger attendance of Diving Divas at our next submarine event!

Nathalie Lasselin Natalie is an underwater filmmaker, technical diving instructor and explorer. She works on various documentaries around the world. She is the driving force behind “Femmes à la mer”.

Daphné Laurier Montpetit: Daphné is a fan of The DivaCup and has been a diver for several years, Daphné studied marine biology before taking a turn to communications. Today, she is Chief Editor for the diving magazine “En Profondeur” and is working towards becoming a certified diving instructor.


 

Record mondial de plongée : 129 divas à l’eau !

4-Florida-N-Lasselin-8Elles représentent, bon an mal an, près de la moitié des plongeurs certifiés. Elles sont reconnues pour leur faible consommation d’air, leur flottabilité naturelle ainsi que leur sagesse face aux risques. Bref, les femmes font d’excellentes plongeuses, agréables et sécuritaires. Pourtant, très peu d’entre elles poursuivent des carrières dans la plongée sous-marine.

Est-ce par manque de force physique ? À cause de plus grands risques pour la santé ? Ou pire encore, parce que le sang menstruel risque d’attirer les requins ? Certainement pas ! Bien qu’on ait longtemps cru à ces hypothèses, aujourd’hui perçues comme farfelues,  on sait désormais que les femmes sont plus que capables d’explorer les fonds marins.

C’est dans le but de rassembler les plongeuses du Québec que Femmes à la mer fut créé. Le 12 septembre 2015, 129 femmes se sont retrouvées à la carrière Kahnawake, près de Montréal (Québec) pour établir un record mondial : le plus grand nombre de femmes immergées simultanément en eau froide. Du jamais vu !

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Pour Nathalie et Daphné, les organisatrice de l’événement et divas confirmées, Femmes à la mer  allait au delà d’un simple record de nombre ; c’était aussi une affirmation. Une façon de montrer au monde que les femmes sont bien présentes et qu’aucune frontière, qu’elle soit solide ou liquide, ne les arrêtera.

Une affirmation, aussi, qu’il nous faut préserver les milieux aquatiques si nous voulons continuer de les découvrir. C’est pourquoi Femmes à la mer a prit un engagement écologique dans son organisation. Les participantes étaient appelées à faire du co-voiturage pour se rendre sur le site et à apporter leurs bouteilles d’eau réutilisables. Les chandails qui furent remis aux participantes étaient faits de coton biologique et fournis par une compagnie qui garantissait un traitement éthique des employés.

Dans cette optique écologique et axée sur l’activité physique au féminin, un partenariat avec Diva Cup devenait tout naturel ! Quoi de mieux qu’une coupe menstruelle pour une plongeuse aguerrie ? Peu encombrant lors des voyages de plongée, respectueux de l’environnement, économique et protégeant parfaitement des fuites lors des longues séances de décompression, Diva Cup est le partenaire idéal dans un événement de plongée destiné aux femmes. D’ailleurs, dix des 129 participantes ont eu la chance de gagner une coupe menstruelle Diva Cup, et propageront certainement la vague DIVA au sein de la communauté de plongeuses sous-marine !

Merci à Diva Cup pour ce partenariat avec Femmes à la mer, et au plaisir de compter encore plus de divas lors de notre prochain rendez-vous sous-marin !

Nathalie Lasselin: Cinéaste sous-marine, instructeure de plongée technique et exploratrice. Elle travaille sur divers documentaires, partout dans le monde. Elle est l’instigatrice ce du projet Femmes à la mer.

Daphné Laurier Montpetit

Diva aguerrie et plongeuses depuis plusieurs années, Daphné a étudié en biologie marine avant de prendre un virage vers les communications. Aujourd’hui, elle est rédactrice en chef du magazine de plongée En Profondeur et poursuit sa formation de plongée afin de devenir monitrice.

{Guest Post} Meet Lammily!

Struggling with gift ideas for the young girls in your life?!  Lammily is here to help… literally. The doll known as ‘Normal Barbie’ not only reflects a doll but also an educational resource for parentsLammily Doll and young girls! The Diva Team had the opportunity to talk to the founder of Lammily, Nickolay Lamm, about his vision behind the creation of the doll. Below are a few of his thoughts and hopes for the future of period care and toys!

I built Lammily on a foundation of being true to oneself in a world that pressures the younger generations to conform to standards. I had a vision of promoting healthy lifestyles by creating interactive resources that can be used to guide young girls in becoming strong, confident women who are proud of their bodies.

With the help of her accessories, Lammily explores the realities of life for young girls. Her newest accessory, “Period Party”, promotes positive period conversations. My idea behind the menstrual accessory was to increase the awareness of menstrual health and period talk and decrease the stigma surrounding menstruation.

Lammily DollMenstruation is still a taboo topic in our society. More than that – it’s sometimes still used as an insult.

Something as core to a women’s life and health as menstruation should not be seen as embarrassing in any way, shape, or form. If it weren’t for menstruation, I wouldn’t even be alive right now! So why not celebrate it? Why not make it as accepted as any other bodily function?

I’ve read horror stories of young girls thinking that they were dying during their first period. Parents are wary of approaching this subject. So I feel Lammily’s “Period Party” can introduce kids to menstruation in a very fun and disarming way, and give parents a very useful tool. What can be more disarming than a doll having menstruation?

There have been many mixed conversations when introducing parents to the doll. Some parents think that something like this should only be between parents and their daughters, and that a doll shouldn’t replace that. Others appreciate having the doll as a way to introduce the conversation. Rather than replacing the “first period” conversation, Lammily was designed as a fun tool to assist in the conversation.

In the future, I hope Lammily and her Period Party accessories can help bring menstruation one step closer to not being a taboo subject. I hope that Lammily not only promotes a positive body image, but also assists in the education surrounding menstruation.

Interested in learning more about Lammily and her interactive accessories? Visit lammily.com for information, shopping and the “must see” video, “Da Period Talk”.

Nickolay Nickolay Lamm Nickolay Lamm is a full-time artist and researcher who has been building a successful career through design content on the Internet. His work has appeared in publications such as CNN, BBC, CBS, Time, Buzzfeed and many more!

{Guest Post} Taking A Closer Look Below Your Belt!

The cornerstone of all health education for girls is their reproductive system. Tweens and teens learn about their periods, a multitude of wonderful products, a little hygiene, and the biggies: pregnancy and safety from STIs. Surprisingly, there is very little explanation about the rest of what goes on “down there.”

Or not so surprisingly…

Women’s Health Foundation’s (WHF) new book, Below Your Belt: How to be Queen of your Pelvic Region (BYB) has just published, and girl, it is exciting! While there are terrific books out there on changing bodies and having periods, the ten chapters in BYB hone in on the big picture – pelvic health and wellness, not just the reproductive system (although the story of ovulation and of the hormonal rollercoaster are not to be missed). BYB Book

WHF’s most recent study about pelvic health curriculum in schools was also recently published in the “Journal of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology.” The study which informs the book,  shows that education can connect a girl to her pelvis and create a much better understanding of her body and the power of the pelvic region. Missy Lavender, WHF’s Founder and Executive Director, refers to this area of a woman’s body as the “Center of all Centers.” Muscles, structures, digestion, elimination, and reproduction each require care and understanding that go far beyond feminine hygiene.

Take bladder and bowel health: Nearly half the girls in the research study already experienced light bladder leakage (called little bitty leaks or “giggle pee”), and almost all experienced constipation frequently enough for it to be a normal part of their lives. Without understanding how the two are linked and how to improve bladder and bowel health, these girls will most likely experience issues their mothers and grandmothers may be dealing with, before the effects of life stage events like pregnancy and delivery or menopause.

BYB presents pelvic health information like no book before it – actually no book like it has been published before! Enter the Queendom:

image 2 A history of the crazy things women have experienced over the years starts off the book and asks the question, “What is pelvic health anyway?” and “Why does it matter?” It can be hard to talk about these topics so the definitions of taboo and norm are explored.  WHF intends to change that; after all, you can’t fix what you can’t talk about. Then, as a guided tour or queen-in-the-making training, Chapter Two looks at each bone, muscle, and organ in the pelvic region and shows what it look like, what it does, and what it’s for – with an eye on wonder and the recognition of beauty.

Next come “Pee and Me” and “Constipation Consternation,” a look into bathroom behaviors, nutrition, what to do, and what not to do, to start to instill that “ounce of prevention” tenet into a young reader’s thinking.

Pelvic fitness is a highlight of pelvic health. As such, the Pelvic Pyramid, a series of complex muscles deep within the pelvis and spine, is introduced for the first time. Adult women who have not yet experienced pelvic ill-health aren’t even aware of these. BYB teaches that with conscious knowledge of these muscles girls (and boys!) can “stand taller, kick farther, spin faster, and be strong in any activity in which they participate.  Working these special muscles involves visualization more than movement. Corsets and candy necklaces make that happen. “Keep It Strong, Sister!” shows ten easy exercises for strength, flexibility, and wellbeing. Threaded throughout BYB are yoga poses to help with everything from easing constipation and cramps to mood elevation. image 3

Have you ever heard of the Princess of Ovulation? Anatomically correct and functionally accurate, BYB still finds a way to make the lesson of ovulation memorable, if not charming. The period chapter, “Practical Matters,” talks about the basics: Pads or tampons? It looks at period tracking, cramps, hormones, and garnering help from parents, school nurses, and healthcare providers. How a young girl confronts her reproductive years – those in which she has a period – comes down to attitude and health. BYB makes it as clear as possible as it champions the Truth (the number of years a woman has a period for instance) and the Magic (the connection it creates throughout generations of women in her family).

As queen training wraps up, pelvic hygiene is looked into – it’s pretty simple, actually. Don’t use feminine sprays or douches. Don’t use soap and water in around the vagina – it’s a self-cleaning oven that requires no assistance from outside substances. On the other hand, UTIs and vaginal yeast infections do happen, and in this chapter, girls learn how to recognize the difference, why they may occur, and how to get help.

Coronation, the end of the book, asks the question, “What do you now know that you didn’t before?” And, that is the crux of the study, right there. What did the girls know? Not much. How much did they learn after the program, and how likely were they to head into their older teen years and young adulthood with an appreciation for their remarkable center of all centers, now that they knew what it was? Measurably so, and with confidence and pride!

Below Your Belt: How to be Queen of Your Pelvic Region can be purchased on Amazon or from the Women’s Health Foundation website.

Curious about all things pelvic health? Want to learn more?

Enter our giveaway for your chance to win a Below Your Belt Prize Pack! Prize Pack Includes: The DivaCup, DivaWash and a copy of Below Your Belt.

Enter here for your chance to win!

The DivaCup and Below Your Belt Giveaway

 

Tea Time with Be Prepared Period

Tea has been known for centuries to have healing benefits for the body and mind. But did you know that tea also has effective healing benefits for your period and PMS symptoms? Tara and the Be Prepared Period Team knows just how awesome the effects of tea can be for girls and women during their period and that is why they have created yummy blends for all women to try. Hear what they have to say about tea and its amazing benefits for your period:

What motivated you to add tea to the Be Prepared Period Shop? Why tea?

I am a tea lover, my absolute favorite being chai. The experience of drinking tea – the world’s most popular beverage besides water, is unlike anything else. Sipping on the hot, flavorful liquid for a short while is an escape, or a way to envision positivity. Tea means not only relaxation and indulgence, but also community. We get together with friends for a cup of tea, have high tea with delicious accompaniments or finish a nourishing family meal with our favorite cup. I want women to have this experience, and balance their hormones at the same time. There is no reason why balancing hormones, health or happiness should be negative and/or extremely difficult. Using a tasty, nourishing herbal blend will not only balance health but also help you connect with the pleasant experience of drinking tea. You’ll WANT to make this a part of your life, rather than feeling you HAVE to.

How can women decide which tea is right for them?IMG_9916

While the names are pretty self-explanatory, the teas are helpful beyond basic menstrual cramps and hot flashes. If you have other pain, or bothersome PMS symptoms, then Cramp Tea is your best bet. If you are going through menopause, and have noticed other symptoms like low libido, vaginal dryness and low mood, Hot Flash Tea is for you. Hot Flash Tea can also be used for other uncomfortable temperatures, like night sweats or hot flashes associated with stress, panic and possibly heart problems.

How can tea help with period symptoms?

Our teas are specially blended with organic/wild crafted medicinal herbs, all of which have been used for thousands of years in balancing the female system. These herbs contain many different properties, including volatile oils, vitamins and minerals.

We formulated the specific herbs in each tea with our friend and partner, The Hormone Diva (a holistic nutritionist) to be extremely effective for its namesake symptom. These herbs gently work on many organs of the body, including our uterus, ovaries, liver, bowels and kidneys. The herbs are also balancing to the brain and nervous system; an inflamed brain often leads to hormonal imbalances. Over time you will notice not only a reduction in cramps or hot flashes, but a reduction of your hormonal symptoms in their entirety, including low moods and libido, irregular or heavy periods and the like.

IMG_0218What if you are not a big tea drinker? Are there any tips for making tea taste better?

Absolutely! Find a brewing method that you like. Some women prefer to make iced tea, as they aren’t big on the taste/experience of drinking hot beverages. You can also sweeten the mix with liquid stevia, raw honey, agave or maple syrup. If there are certain herbs or teas that you LIKE the taste of, feel free to mix them in. Sometimes I like to make my Cramp Tea with green tea, for example, to get extra nutrients and a bit of a taste change. You can also use the brewed tea as a base for things like smoothies, where you won’t even notice the taste. Add in some squeezed lemon, lime or orange juice to hot or iced tea. You could also add some sprigs of mint, some cucumber slices or berries to flavor the mix if you’re doing iced tea. These teas were blended with YOU in mind – to already be insanely tasty. But, make it your own and add what you like to motivate you to drink the tea regularly.

 How much tea do you have to drink to benefit from it?

We provide instructions on how to receive maximum benefits with every tea purchase. But, for most drinking between 2-4 cups daily with breaks here and there should do the trick. Depending on the severity of the problem, take the tea as directed for three months or three menstrual cycles to receive maximum benefits.

 What do you suggest for those new or unfamiliar with natural alternatives?

We totally understand that “going natural” can be unnerving or scary for some people, and we have something for them, too! Our free Benefits of Brewing email series highlights the herbs used in our tea blends, as well as a background on natural medicine, teas, and at-home remedies to try. Everyone starts somewhere; we commend those for taking an active role in their health!

Did we pique your curiosity? Want the chance to experience the benefits of tea for your next cycle? Well, you’re in luck! Until October 25th, Be Prepared Period is offering a free tin of Cramp Tea when you purchase The DivaCup from their online store! Be sure to use Promo Code Diva+Tea when you check out!

And, what’s more, in partnership with Be Prepared Period, we are hosting a giveaway for you to win The DivaCup and DivaWash, a tin of Cramp tea, and some adorable tea accessories! Giveaway starts Monday October 19th at 12 noon (EST) on The DivaCup Facebook page.

FF_Be Prepared Period_lo-03Tara Bruley is the founder of BePreparedPeriod.com, a website designed to be a one stop shop for all things menstrual. Her mission is to empower ladies of all ages have a healthier, better period by providing numerous resources – resources that include an online store (with one of the largest selections of traditional, organic, and eco-friendly products featuring The DivaCup!), a library of helpful articles, a PeriodTalk Q&A forum and more. Connect with Tara on her website, Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter.

Challenging all women to have a healthier, better period she’s happy to offer a free copy of the Better Your Period Action Guide. Download it here.