Words from DivaCup’s CEO for National Women’s Health Week

Carinne Chambers-Saini, Co-Founder and CEO of the DivaCup

This week is National Women’s Health Week, a week set aside as a reminder for women to make their health a priority and build positive health habits for life. The week encourages women to visit their doctors for a well-woman visit and preventive screenings, to get active, eat healthy, take care of their mental health and make positive health choices overall.

The theme this year is What I Wish I’d Known. I believe everything happens for a reason, and even the “challenges” we face have a purpose and help shape you. No regrets, right? Honestly though, there are some things I’d wish I’d known that could have prevented a lot of unnecessary “challenges”. Things like being kind to myself, asking for help and putting my health first. I wish I understood my body and my menstrual cycle more as a teenager.  While we can learn from every experience, we can also learn from others and their insights.

When my mom and I started Diva in 2001, we were on a major mission. Nothing could stop us and we were unstoppable. I would work every day of the week and work late into the night. Who needs sleep? Over time, this leads to adrenal fatigue and other health issues. Especially when my focus was 100% on work and not making time for healthy eating, exercise and sleep!

Caring for your period doesn’t need to be uncomfortable or wasteful. I had a really difficult relationship with my cycle. Thankfully, I discovered a better way early on. For those of you who know the Diva story, you know that by the age of 14, I was already using a menstrual cup. But, even still, while I had found menstrual care that was better for me and actually worked, like most teenage girls, the dynamics of my cycle changed with every cycle. My period took a few years to stabilize. Your cycle is supposed to change as you age. Your first period will not be the same as a period you experience in your 30s or 40s. Our bodies change so much every few years, and with this, so too does our cycles. Add to this, having children, and your cycle experience is taken to a whole new level (we’re talking heavier and possibly more cramps for the first few postnatal periods).

Being healthy takes work. Today, we can go into a grocery store and leave with a fully cooked meal or enough frozen/packaged items to create a super tasty meal in minutes. But, convenience doesn’t always translate into healthy, wholesome foods.

It’s okay to “cheat” sometimes, I love my dark chocolate! I do my best to eat a whole foods diet. I find avoiding sugar, wheat and dairy makes me feel better, and reduces a number of symptoms related to my cycle. But, if I’m being honest, eating healthy takes time and is a lot of work. Meal prep is awesome, if you have the time to prep. Eating local and organic is the ideal, but not always accessible to everyone. With two young kids and a business to run, some nights, we end up ordering take out.

I don’t mind working out, but it’s not a passion of mine. I enjoy being on the move and staying active with my kids, but heading to a cycle class at 5 am is a real struggle for me. The most successful tip for me has been to find activities that I enjoy and can incorporate into my lifestyle. I love practicing yoga and it’s helped me to be kinder to myself and slow things down, even if it’s only for a short time.

Above all, take time to rest and reflect at the end of each day. Be sure to also test your health IQ, get health tips, and find out more about National Women’s Health Week at www.womenshealth.gov/nwhw. You also can follow HHS OWH on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Finding the Right Gynecologist

finding the right gynecologist The DivaCup

 

Your gynecologist and you share a special relationship – and not just because they are checking out your vagina regularly. Your gynecologist is someone you trust with your health so it is important that you find the right gynecologist for your body and your health concerns.  For this reason, it may not be as simple as calling up the first gyno’s number you see in the phone book. There are many factors that play a part in finding the right gynecologist and the tips below are a great place to start.

Make a “Must-Haves” List

Every gynecologist should meet certain requirements, no matter who you decide on. Every gyno should be certified and educated, experienced with a number of years in the industry under their belt (hehe) and, depending on your body specifically, you can also look for gynos that have a certain expertise. For example, if you are living with endometriosis, you may look for a gyno who focuses on patients with endo.

After these initial must-haves are checked off the list, you should consider the following:

  • Is gender important to you? Everybody has different preferences and experiences, so think about whether you would feel more comfortable with a female or a male gynecologist. This can help you narrow down your list significantly from the get-go.
  • Where are they located? Obviously, you will want to know how close or far your gyno’s office is from where you live and the implications that may have. If you’re willing to have a gyno that is further away, keep in mind that you may not be able to get in for emergency appointments. Take into account your drive time, whether there is public transport stops close by or whether parking will cost you an arm and an ovary.
  • What is included in your health plan? Be mindful that there may be gynos or treatments not affiliated with your benefit package or health plan and ones that are, which may limit your options when it comes to coverage.
  • What are their values? Finding a gyno that shares your views and values is too often overlooked and is actually super important. Whether you are into alternative methods of birth control or really like a gyno with a sense of humor, these are important things to determine before you sign over your vagina to them.

Ask Around

Obviously, walking up to a stranger and asking who they recommend for your vagina may not be the most effective, but getting referrals is an easy way to narrow down your search. You could speak with your regular physician about gynecologists they recommend and get a referral appointment that way, or you could ask family, friends and trusted co-workers if they would recommend their gyno. It’s also important to ask if there is anyone they wouldn’t recommend, which could save you a lot of trouble in the long run.

Do Your Homework

Remember, this is your health so don’t just take someone’s word and leave it at that. Do a little homework and look up your gyno candidates’ credentials, ensure they are properly certified and maybe even look at reviews online from trusted websites.

Make a Consultation Appointment

Narrow down your top choices and make a consultation appointment with each of them. This won’t be an exam, but rather a chance to sit and get to know your potential gynecologist. Don’t leave any stone unturned. Prepare a list of questions you have, from the general to the very specific, and ask each candidate their thoughts. It is important to ask about things that are important to you, whether it is alternatives to the pill or STI testing, so you can get a feel for how you and your potential gyno will groove.

Follow Your Gut

You know yourself better than anyone so don’t feel ashamed of turning down a gyno that seemed perfect on paper but that you just aren’t sure about. There is no shame in putting yourself, your comfort, or your health first. So if something isn’t sitting right with you, keep shopping around. Mindy Lahiri may not actually exist but the perfect gyno for you definitely does.

You Aren’t Stuck

Remember, this doesn’t have to be a permanent relationship. If you end up deciding to go with a gyno and later on find that things aren’t working out the way you had hoped, whether that is because you two have different values or wait times are too long, you are allowed to find a new gyno whenever you see fit.

Are you ready to #GetToYourGyno? Don’t be nervous – you are taking a big step in the right direction for your health. What are some tips you have for finding the right gyno? How did you know when you found her/him? Share your experiences with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram!

 

Chronicles of The Diva Team: No Period Can Hold Us Back!

When it comes to memorable moments in our lives, everybody has a story. Whether it is a birthday party that went hilariously awry or an inspiring moment of self-discovery, there is always something we can think back on and say, “I learned something that day.” At Diva, with a team largely composed of women (and a few awesome, open-minded men), you can bet that we have stories to share but with one twist: Periods.

According to recent research, there are 3.52 billion women in the world (and we all know that it isn’t just women who menstruate) which means that there is an endless supply of period stories from all over the world. And while we have yet to hear all of these inspiring stories – though, we are all ears – our team had a few we had to share!

Prepare to be laugh, cringe and be inspired because life goes on. Period.

 

the divacup-bigday-period-blood

I remember I had a big interview scheduled for my dream job, and I prepared for days. I was excited and a little nervous the night before the interview so I drank some chamomile tea and went to bed early. I wanted to be well rested and alert for my big day. I checked my alarm clock to make sure it was set at least three times, and finally, hit the hay.

The morning of my interview, I woke up with a churning feeling in my stomach. Of course, it was my period… of course! I was doubled over in the bathroom minutes after waking up. It was full blown, floodgates wide open, right from the get-go. I could feel my focus and my confidence leaving my body along with my uterine lining.

I knew I had to pull it together. There was no way I was going to let a little blood stop me from landing this role. I ransacked my bathroom drawer for some Midol, popped two, took a shower, and got ready. I put on my perfectly ironed dress pants, a crisp white blouse, a pair of heels that made me feel like a damn rock star and a bright red blazer and walked out the door with my head high. I may be bleeding, but I can still slay.

-  Nina

 

 

My sister got married when I was still in my freshman year of University and she asked me to be her maid of honor. For an 18-year-old, being a maid of honor was a really big deal for me and it was going to be my first go at taking on a job like this. My sister was really into the swing dance scene at the time so the whole wedding party was decked out in lounge lizard style.

thedivacup-bigday-period-bloodMy dress was a skin-tight beaded affair in grays, blues, and silvers. It took three fittings and a lot of work to take it in and make it fit perfectly. Of course, Murphy’s law being what it is, I got my period the night before my sister’s wedding.

When I menstruate I retain a lot of water and this caused my second-skin-like to be too small in all my menstruating glory. No matter what I tried, it would not close. Plus, since it was entirely beaded, there was nothing the seamstress could do to fix it. So there I was, in tears over a silly dress, trying to come up with any other option when I should have been perfecting my speech and enjoying the excitement of the day.

In the end my stressed-out-bride of a sister was the voice of reason, and suggested I buy another dress. I went to a local store the morning of my sister’s wedding and bought a dress that was on sale. The women at the store were kind enough to do minor adjustments and I rushed out of their to store to wedding with time to spare.

And even though I was menstruating, and not in the dress I had planned, life went on and it was amazing! I had an incredible experience and everything went on without a hitch.

                                                                                                                          - Shelley

 

 

Four years ago I started a new journey in my life: college. During my first year, my professors often spoke of our final “capstone” project, that would take up much of our time in the final year of our degree and determine whether we would pass or fail our program. With a year left before I graduated, the word “capstone” began to haunt
me.thedivacup-bigday-period-blood

When it finally came down to my last semester, I was responsible for conducting thorough research, talking to the clients and establishing a plan that would work for their
business. On top of my scholarly responsibilities, I was also working part-time and meeting with my mentor. To say it was a stressful semester would be an understatement.

Finally, the big day had arrived. The final presentation. Four years of hard work and dedication later I was about to complete the project that could determine my future. And then, it happened.

I awoke to a pulsing in my stomach and aches in my back and legs. I thought to myself, “NO, this cannot be happening! Not now!” But of course, I woke up to blood in my underwear. Not only did I have an incredibly important presentation to worry about, but now I had to try and relieve my cramps AND hope that I could keep myself together long enough to pass my program!

After a few minutes of panic, I took some medication for my cramps and focused all my energy and effort on my presentation.

The result? I passed!

- Paige

 

 

 I had turned the beautiful white chair cover into a deep shade of menstrual blood red.At 15 years old, I had barely had my period for a year and I was about to learn the hard way that periods
don’t always play nice.

I had been invited to my then-boyfriend’s sister’s wedding which was a HUGE deal because it was my first “non-family” wedding and I desperately wanted to make a good impression. As a self-proclaimed tomboy, my initial worry was, “I have nothing to wear!” Thank goodness for girlfriends that love clothing as I was able to raid my friend’s closet and find something to fit my style.

When the big day came I was feeling good in my chunky black heels and black mini skirt. Since my boyfriend was in the wedding party, I ended up being my own date and spent most of the evening getting to know my boyfriend’s extended family. As we filed into the reception hall for dinner, I admired the beautifully decorated venue with twinkling lights, pale green tulle and crisp white chair covers. Cue the foreboding music.

After several hours of sitting, I stood to go to the ladies room and was quickly pulled back down by the Aunt I had been getting to know.  Quietly, and with a level of panic in her eyes, she notified me that I had turned the beautiful white chair cover into a deep shade of menstrual blood red.

Luckily, the Aunt/fairy godmother helped me cover up the blood-stained chair as I shuffled out and along the back wall to clean up. Thank goodness for black skirts.

By this point, my face was as bright red as that newly decorated chair cover. When I returned, the table the chair had mysteriously disappeared and was replaced with a plastic seat.

Now, here I am, over twenty years later, still good friends with my teenage boyfriend, and though he still doesn’t know what happened that mortifying day, his wife and I have had a few good laughs over the story.

- Lindsay

 

the divacup-bigday-period-blood

As a competitive horseback rider,  championships are the ultimate end goal. They mean that all of your (and

your horse’s) hard work has been validated. It means that all of those times you said, “Sorry, I can’t. I have to go ride” are now worth something. It can also be really scary.

When I found out that my horse and I had qualified for champs, I was ecstatic. I probably hugged my horse a thousand times. I spent all of my free time prepping and training so that we would be unstoppable on competition day.

But the world is a cruel place.

The night before champs, I couldn’t sleep. I knew that I had to wake up at 3 AM to prepare for the competition and naively thought that it was the nerves keeping me up. Until I felt that familiar ache in my side.

I remember walking to the bathroom and praying that I was being paranoid, but of course, I wasn’t. My period had arrived. Instantly, I started doing the calculations. In three hours I would be putting on skin tight, beige breeches and hurling my horse and myself over 3-foot fences. Would my cramps be bad? Would I feel light-headed? Oh no, what if I leak?

After a few minutes of panic and then a few more feeling sorry for myself, I decided there was no way I was giving in. If my horse could jump around a course for me than I could handle my period for a day for her.

It ended up being a fantastic day. And although I had my Mom and coach on leak patrol, I felt completely confident going into the ring. My horse and I pulled out all the stops and ended up placing 6th out of over 40 horses. Just goes to show that you really can do anything while on your period.

- Emma

 

Does your period have unfortunate timing? Share your stories with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. (And if you have a *really* good story, you should send it to us here for your chance to be featured on our blog!)