Chocolate for PMS, a benefit or a cliché?

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You have seen the gif files of emotional women stuffing their faces with chocolate for PMS symptoms.  Does chocolate really provide PMS relief or is it yet another goofy claim to manage fluctuating hormones?

Chocolate begins with cacao, which is loaded with flavonoids and antioxidants.  Both are more prevalent in dark chocolate and chocolate with 70% cacao is the best choice for health purposes.  Here are a few of the good things our research showed about controlled chocolate consumption.

  • Chocolate is good for cardiovascular health.
  • Chocolate keeps the brain healthy and prevents memory decline.

But does it help with PMS?  According to our research, it might have a temporary “feel good” benefit.  Carbohydrates help brain cells make more serotonin, which is the “happy” or “feeling good” brain chemical.  This can damper the anger, irritability, anxiety and cravings women might be facing 3-5 days before menstruation.  As mentioned before on this blog, serotonin levels are thought to drop during the PMS phase of the cycle due to hormonal fluctuations.

Chocolate has sugar and caffeine, sugar is a carbohydrate and the caffeine will help with fatigue.  The key to all of this is “controlled consumption.”  A couple of pieces of delicious dark chocolate melting in your mouth might just make you feel a little better on a temporary basis, too much chocolate will send you crashing later on with a big time sugar low!

Think in terms of consuming one or two individually wrapped Ghirardelli
Squares, or Hershey Kisses or Dove Chocolate Mini Squares…not a gigantic Toblerone!

Conscious Period’s Dual Giving Program for Menstruation

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The GirlU Blog has covered global menstruation issues and the team decided to do a little research to see what was happening in the United States to help women who are struggling economically or who are homeless.  What we learned was pretty shocking…not much is going on to help these women at all!

We also learned that menstrual supplies are not covered by food stamps and are taxed in 40 of 50 states.  Homeless shelters and “midnight run” charities don’t typically include menstrual supplies as part of their collection drives.   We’ve read about young girls and women using mud, grass and leaves to collect menstrual blood in countries like Africa and India, but right here in the US, homeless and economically fragile women are also in a real jam when dealing with menstruation.

Through our research we found two women who are attempting to do something about this. Annie Lasco and Margo Lang are the founders of Conscious Period, purveyors of organic tampons with a dual giving model.   They are so close to their Indiegogo goal, please check it out here.

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Conscious Period will sell organic tampons and with each box sold, they will donate a box of organic pads to women in need in Los Angeles, where they are based.  As we have written about here, there are some concerning chemicals and ingredients in tampons.  Scarily enough, there is no regulation requiring tampon manufacturers to disclose the ingredients in tampons.  And to quote from the Conscious Period Indiegogo campaign, “women spend over 100,000 hours of their lives with a tampon in contact with some of the most sensitive and absorbent skin in the body.”  Makes you think!

Part two of the Conscious Period giving model mirrors what is going on in India and Africa.  Part of the campaign will fund the set up of a cottage industry in Los Angeles to produce pads domestically for women in need.  This will provide jobs and hygienic supplies!  The model is working beautifully in India and with these two dynamic women leading the cause, chances for success close to their home seems pretty high!

Please check out the Conscious Period campaign today.

The PMS Lack of Research Rant

rantAfter years of reading articles about premenstrual syndrome, or PMS, there is one sentence about the lack of research that appears in almost all of these articles.  Even though half of the population is female and even though there are millions of women who are menstruating monthly, the one line in these articles says something like, “there is very little research around premenstrual syndrome” or “there is very little research about the woman’s cycle” or “there is some general consensus that serotonin levels drop during the luteal phase but very little research,”  do you get the picture?

It is galling, really and truly galling that there is very little research on the effect of surging and dipping hormones.  PMS isn’t a disease to be cured, but why isn’t study and research warranted on the topic if women suffer from PMS?  There isn’t even consensus around how many women PMS effects.  Some articles say 60-70% of menstruating women, while other articles say 85% of menstruating women have at least one symptom of PMS.

Would there be ample research around PMS if it happened to men?  Take male pattern baldness which seems to be more of a genetic condition than a disease, so again a condition to be eased or reversed but not cured.  Look at the pipeline of products from topical foams, to pills, to hair plugs, lots of people have worked to ease this condition which is vanity based and not pain based.  It is just an interesting comparison.   Erectile dysfunction is another example of a male health issue. Plenty of research on that topic, lots of medicines to help there and yet there are probably fewer men experiencing ED on any given day than the number of women suffering from PMS symptoms on any given day.

Right now there is a wave of innovation by women who are tackling period products and premenstrual discomfort because we know it’s an issue and we know there are better ways to handle it.

Stay tuned to GirlU for more information on our upcoming products for PMS relief…we are focusing on one issue and that is living each day uninterrupted.  We want to give you the products you need to ameliorate the many symptoms of PMS so you can live those days without interruption.

Period Management Products

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We are in the midst of an evolution, or maybe a revolution of period management products.  Menstrual cups, like Diva Cup, and leak proof underwear, like Thinx and Dear Kates, present women with a choice of reusable products to deal with a period.

Reusable products prompted two questions for our team. First of all, are women in the US embracing the “ick” factor of washing out a cup and dealing with blood in leak proof underwear in lieu of a panty liner?  Secondly, is it time we seriously understood the environmental impact of our disposable habits?

Founder of Girl Uninterrupted, Mayling Kajiya says she loves her menstrual cup.  “I love the freedom it gives me, 10-12 hours of protection and no carrying around tampons.”  Once you make the initial investment of the cup, the cost savings from not making monthly purchases of pads and tampons is significant.

As for washing out underwear, aren’t we doing it anyway? Nobody gets through a period without at least one episode of leaking…right?  Most of us have a set of grungy period underwear, probably consisting of underwear that has already sustained leaking damage! But maybe we need a set of cycle underwear that has great materials and technology to replace a panty liner? Just think of all the pajamas and pant inseams that would also be spared!

From the day of our first period until the day we are fully in menopause, period management is a monthly issue.  What do you think about embracing reusables?  Are you ready for it as a consumer?  Let us know at info@GirlU.com.  We’ll look at question #2 in our next post!

PMS #tbt

pms tbt_finalToday is a #tbt of some of our favorite PMS Relief blog posts!  There are many ways to naturally alleviate some of the worst symptoms of PMS, but it is really, really difficult to stay the course using healthy alternatives when your body is in revolt and your willpower is flagging.   Fatigue and pain sometimes get the better of us, so give yourself a break if you just need a nap or a candy bar.

PMS Bloating: One of the best things to do is disguise it with good wardrobe choices since this is temporary water weight gain.

Period Cramps: Bring on the external heat and double up with a cup of tea to warm up from the inside as well.

Food Cravings: The number one tip is to employ a distraction long enough so that the temptation passes.  But, there is nothing like a healthy diet and we offered up these smoothie recipes to help with PMS symptoms.

Sore Breasts: Breasts do get tender and swollen from hormonal changes, but check your bra size because squished boobs hurt even worse on PMS days.

Low Self Esteem:  Does it seem like everyone else is posting happy pics on social media? Take a screen break and take your workout outside.

PMS Acne: Don’t pick, just keep your hands off your face.  Have you seen those articles about all of the “yuck” on your smart phone? You do not want to transfer that to your pores.

PMS Nausea: Eat regular meals and good snacks so your blood sugar doesn’t plummet.

Mood Swings: To calm the drama, get a sweat going.

Period Headaches:  Good food choices and plenty of sleep can help keep these at bay.

Fight through the temptation and make smart food choices, get plenty of rest at night and get moving during the day!

#LiveTweetYourPeriod

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Tweeting about period symptoms using #LiveTweetYourPeriod has caused quite a commotion and has a scatological approach that has some people a little confused, maybe even grossed out, but should it?  Half the population bleeds from a vagina each and every month!

One thing that these tweets have done is make any and all symptoms of a period seem so reassuringly normal.  You are not the only person whose menstrual flow can explode off the super-deluxo-maxi-pad-with-mega-wings!  Pancakes and broccoli for breakfast, sounds perfectly delicious.  There is the “day 2” rage monster and the “day 3” gal who eats anything salty, sweet, crunchy and fattening within sight.  And look at all the people who feel as if their uterus is being trampled upon, who are constipated, who want to lie in bed all day and whose face is covered with zits.  It’s a community of period sufferers!

All of these swirling emotions, cravings, hassles, eruptions, heavy or light flows are just so…in a word…normal.  Twitter appears to be the new place to freely bitch, whine and moan about the misery of a period.

In the right frame of mind, reading these posts can make you smile too.  There are some incredibly creative .gif files of T-Rex’s roaring to explain a current mood and a cat with a mouth full of cupcakes and “no regrets.”  One person went so far as commenting that #LiveTweetYourPeriod was the best to have happened to her period.

Giggle, commiserate, complain or even just read them to know that you are not alone in the world with your symptoms in a monthly cycle.