Girls In Robotics: Something for Everyone

Team 4678, the CyberCavs, is a high school robotics club from Woodland Christian High School in Breslau, Ontario. It’s part of a worldwide organization called FIRST Robotics Competition, or FRC. FRC is known as ‘varsity sports for the mind’; each year the organization devises a new competition, and teams are given six weeks to design and build robots that perform the competition’s tasks. These tasks include things like throwing frisbees, stacking totes, lobbing balls into goals, and maneuvering robots around obstacles. Teams attend regional competitions, and the winners of these competitions attend the World Championships in St. Louis, USA.

Now in its fifth year, the CyberCavs club boasts approximately 50 members, where one third are girls. There are many aspects to a robotics club…from designing, building, and programming robots to public relations and finance. The beauty of a club with varied departments is that members are given the opportunity to sample a variety of work. “I learned how to use power tools and take better pictures,” says Lauryn, a third year member who divides her time between the Build and Public Relations departments. “I’ve gotten good practice at designing documents and writing information about an organization,” says first year member Freda. Shae is in her fourth year, and looks forward to the coming season. “I hope to learn more about building robots. I look forward to supervising the team’s CNC milling machine and using a program called Autodesk Inventor.” Joy-Hannah, a team alumnus in her first year of university, says, “During my first year in robotics I helped out with building by doing lots of riveting, but mostly I have been a part of Public Relations. I worked on a variety of tasks such as gaining sponsors, sewing mascot costumes and the team standard/banner, as well as various other promotional aspects. I enjoyed this because it was a chance to show how interesting robotics is. It was an opportunity to demonstrate that there is a place for everyone in robotics, no matter their interests or abilities. I also acted as the photographer for the team at competitions, which got me the best seat in the house.”

In preparation for the 2017 season, the club invested in several VEX robot kits. VEX robots can be assembled, disassembled and reconfigured in a multitude of ways, and is a great learning tool for students who are new to robotics. Jean, a first-year member, loves programming the VEX robots. “If it doesn’t move as we expect, we can fix it to make it match our requirements. And if it works, we can try to make it better.” She hopes to have a career in programming, so the CyberCavs robotics club is a great way to help her hone her programming skills.

What would the CyberCavs girls tell other girls about robotics? “You don’t need to know how to build a robot to join,” says Shae. “It’s a lot of fun, with all kinds of opportunities,” says Freda. “It’s interesting and I’m learning a lot of skills,” adds Jean. “I don’t see it as a big deal for girls to be involved in our robotics club,” notes Catalina, while Helen sums it up: “It’s a great chance to be a part of a team, and there is something for everyone.”

Diva International Inc. (Diva) is proud to sponsor the CyberCavs robotics club. Diva is passionate about providing opportunities to youth, and supporting girls in science, math and technology. For more information on Diva’s initiatives, please visit divacup.com.

 

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.

  

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.

Endo What? A Documentary on Endometriosis

EndoWhatPosterEndometriosis is a painful and debilitating disease in which endometrial tissue grows outside of the uterus and it affects more women than you think. In fact, an estimated 176 million women around the world have endometriosis. How can this disease be so wide spread and yet barely talked about? The documentary Endo What? is looking to change this by presenting accurate information straight from the experts about this disease. The only film of its kind, Diva International Inc. was proud to partner with the Endo What? team as a sponsor. With its world screening tour continuing throughout March (aka Endometriosis Awareness Month) we thought we would share a bit about the experience! We recently got the chance to speak with Shannon Cohn (Director/Producer) and asked her a few questions:

What was the turning point that led to this documentary’s creation?

We’ve been working on the film for 4 years, but it’s been over 20 years in the making. That’s how long I’ve had symptoms of endometriosis. When my 2nd daughter was born 4 years ago I started thinking about how little things have changed since I first had symptoms at 16. Women still go to an average of 8 doctors for 10 years before they are diagnosed. They are still told it’s in their heads, that pregnancy and hysterectomy are cures, and that pain is normal. All is this is completely false. I thought: What if there were a film to help stop this vicious cycle? A film to put power in the hands of women. This is that film.

Why Endometriosis?

Endometriosis is the most devastating and common disease that most people have never heard of. It affects 1 in 10 women or 176 million women around the world. The only way we’re going to stop the devastating narrative of the disease is to talk about our pain, our symptoms and get the right information out there. Only then can we act on it and make empowered decisions about our health, about our lives. This film and the one that follows are our contribution to changing that narrative once and for all.

What steps went into setting up and creating this documentary?

When I first decided to make this film, I started reading and researching everything I could get my hands on. Books, articles, journals… everything. It became clear to me that 95% of the information out there is incorrect. For example, endometriosis lesions are not simply misplaced uterine tissue. The lesions are similar to uterine tissue, but not exactly the same. Also, thorough excision surgery from a qualified surgeon is the cornerstone of good treatment and the true symptomatic profile is not well known, not well-taught. Endometriosis is not just “killer cramps.” It can just as often present with GI or urinary symptoms. I had a ton of GI symptoms and had multiple colonoscopies & endoscopies, CATscans, MRIs, ultrasounds and nothing ever showed up. I tried every diet under the sun and continued to have symptoms. It turns out it was endometriosis the entire time. Yet it’s incredibly hard to find that information amid the plethora of misinformation, politics and egos vying for attention and notoriety.

We started interviewing the world’s top experts, not just surgeons, but researchers, scientists, nutritionists, therapists and more. It was important to me to take a nuanced, multi-disciplinary exploration of the disease to give women the most complete tool they can use to take control of their health.

What do you hope to achieve with this documentary both long term and short term?

In the short term, I hope the film is widely-seen by women with endometriosis, their loved ones and the medical community including OBGYNs, pediatricians, primary care providers and gastoenterologists.  I hope women are empowered by the film and can starting being proactive in their own healthcare. I hope health care providers start to realize that endometriosis is more complex than they’ve been taught. Beyond that, I hope that we can get a copy of the film to every school nurse so that teenage girls may be treated when they first have symptoms rather than go 10 or 20 years like I did and so many others. Further, we plan to partner with local organizations in countries around the world to get copies of the film to lawmakers & put endo on national agendas.

What challenges have you had to overcome when creating this documentary?

Truthfully, navigating the political minefield surrounding endometriosis has been the biggest challenge. When I first started making the film I was unaware of this reality, but quickly learned there are a lot of politics, egos and power plays involved in endometriosis advocacy and care. Unfortunately, I think this is one reason that the field hasn’t advanced as quickly as it could. We navigate it by continually asking “Would this ultimately benefit a woman with endo?” If the answer is no, then it doesn’t happen. Beyond that, of course there are financial challenges as we funded this film on our own, filming whenever we could and editing as we went along. The endo community rallied in a tremendous way last fall in helping us raise funds to execute a large scale outreach campaign of the film and that’s what is about to happen now. It’s really happening & we couldn’t be more excited. Change is coming. Believe it.

The Diva Team would like to congratulate everyone on the Endo What? team for creating a truly amazing documentary that attests to the struggles women with endometriosis face.

For more information on this important film or to buy tickets to one of the stops on the Endo What? world tour, please visit: www.endowhat.com

shannon-imgShannon Cohn
Director / Producer
For over a decade, Shannon has produced award-winning feature films and TV series for Discovery Channel and NatGeo. Before that, she practiced international law and was part of the legal team that prosecuted Enron. She went to film school at NYU and has a law degree from Vanderbilt. She’s also a woman who lives with severe endometriosis. In her case, that means over 20 years of debilitating pain, miscarriages, multiple surgeries and misdiagnoses. She started thinking about how little things have changed since she first had symptoms at 16. Women still go to an average of 6-8 doctors for 8-10 years before they are diagnosed. They are still told it’s in their heads, that pregnancy and hysterectomy are cures, and that pain is normal. She started thinking. What if there were a film to help stop this vicious cycle? A film to put power in the hands of women. This is that film.

 

Every Diva Needs her own Period Repair Manual

Lara Briden, ND, author of the popular book, Period Repair Manual talked with The Diva Team about her knowledge and expertise when it comes to all things period! This engaging book provides women with details, advice and tips about everything you need to know, do and follow when it comes to your period.

And… The DivaCup is offering a Period Repair Giveaway, entry details are below!PRM Book

Based on the information regarding the pill and its side effects, what is the best/most informative way to educate women on alternative contraceptive methods?

Non-hormonal birth control is a viable option for women of any age. As I explain in my book, the advantage of a non-hormonal method is that it permits healthy ovulatory cycles and therefore production of the estrogen and progesterone we need for bones, metabolism, and mood.

The best method of non-hormonal birth control is a combination of condoms and Fertility Awareness Method (FAM). Through FAM, women will learn to recognize their peak fertile days (charted according to fertility awareness-based methods), and then abstain on those few days per month. Strategic short-term abstinence greatly reduces the risk of pregnancy in the unlikely event of a broken condom.

A second non-hormonal method is the copper intrauterine device (IUD). It prevents pregnancy by impairing sperm motility and implantation, and is highly effective with a failure rate of just 0.6 percent (lower than the Pill).

Can you expand on the importance of hormonal receptors and the “river system?”

Our bodies get used to a certain level of hormones. In the book, I used an analogy of hormonal rivers carving out gullies, and the gullies are the memory of the hormone receptors. For example, when estrogen receptors become accustomed to the torrent of strong synthetic estrogen in the birth control pill, it can be difficult to adapt to the trickling stream of normal estrogen. This adaptation or—dare we day, addiction—to synthetic estrogen is the cause of post-pill symptoms such as acne and hair loss.

What effect does a woman’s diet have on her menstrual cycle? Do you feel women need to be more conscience about their diet during menstruation?

Diet has a profound effect on menstrual health. First of all, a period-friendly diet provides all the nutrients required by the ovaries and hormonal system. Those include zinc, iodine, magnesium, and iron—to name just a few. Many women don’t obtain enough of those key nutrients, which is why they suffer symptoms such as period pain and PMS.

A period-friendly diet is also an anti-inflammatory diet, which means that it contains little or no inflammatory foods such as sugar and alcohol. Inflammatory foods cause period problems because they interfere with hormonal signalling.

To be effective, a period-friendly diet must be followed all the days of the cycle—not just during menstruation.

What are the best ways for women to be more educated about their period?

I’m a big fan of period apps, which are smartphone applications that allow women to track data about their monthly cycles. Apps can track cycle length, as well as symptoms such as spotting, breast tenderness, and mood.

Many apps also track cervical fluid and basal body temperature so that women can detect the mid-cycle temperature rise that signals ovulation. Ovulation is the most important event in the menstrual cycle because it’s how we make progesterone. A menstrual cycle without ovulation is not a healthy cycle.

What are some symptoms of menstrual disorders that girls and women can look out for?

A menstrual cycle should be regular (21-35 days). It should arrive without premenstrual symptoms, and without pain. It should not be heavier than 80 mL (The DivaCup holds 30 ml) over all the days of the bleed.

Common period symptoms include irregular periods, spotting between periods, painful periods, and heavy periods. Those are all clues that I discuss in Chapter 5 of my book: “What Can Go Wrong With Your Period?”. I call them clues because period symptoms are almost always an expression of underlying general health. For example, irregular periods can mean a problem with the hormone insulin. Painful periods can mean zinc deficiency. The best way to fix periods is to fix the underlying issue.

You provide many tips in the book, but which three tips do you think are most important? 

  1. Learn to detect ovulation. Ovulation is the key to a healthy menstrual cycle because it’s how we make progesterone. Progesterone deficiency causes many period problems including PMS, PCOS, and heavy periods.
  2. Reduce inflammatory foods such sugar, alcohol, vegetable oils, and for some women: wheat and dairy products.
  3. Take magnesium. I call magnesium the Miracle Mineral for Periods because it’s my front-line treatment for almost every period problem including PMS, PCOS, and period pain. Magnesium helps periods because it helps the body to cope with stress. It also improves the function of insulin and thyroid hormones, and is essential for the manufacture of both estrogen and progesterone.

Learn more by picking up a copy of Period Repair Manual! The DivaCup is also giving our Divas the chance to win a Period Repair Manual Prize Pack! Enter for your chance to win a copy of Period Repair Manual, The DivaCup and DivaWash!

ENTER HERE!

Lara BridenLara Briden 
Lara Briden is a board certified naturopathic doctor who qualified from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine in 1997. She currently runs a busy hormone clinic in Sydney, Australia. Lara has also been a devoted user of Divacup for more than 10 years.

 

 

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!

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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.