Female Friday

March 16, 2018
toronto naturopath, naturopathic doctor toronto

It’s been a minute since I last popped in to post a couple of Female Friday links! I found some good ones this week and wanted to share them. Also, the above photo is from Bite Lip Lab, where I helped create two custom shades of lipstick last week. Did you know the average woman eats about 7 pounds of lipstick in her lifetime? #NOTHANKS And while I’m not going to stop wearing a dark berry or bright pink, I will make a conscious effort in making sure my beauty products don’t contain any harmful ingredients that are going to mess with my hormones!

What you should be reading this Friday

Normalization of Period Pain

“The widespread belief — shared by the medical system and the public alike — that menstrual pain is “normal” poses a barrier to the prompt diagnosis of endometriosis even before a patient steps foot in a doctor’s office. A 2006 study of women eventually diagnosed with the disease found that one of the reasons for the diagnostic delay was that the women themselves didn’t see a reason to ask a doctor about their painful periods. They figured they were just one of those “unlucky” people who got bad cramps. And really, how would they know that their periods weren’t normal? There’s so much stigma around menstruation that many young women are left without any point of comparison.”

Are you paying attention to your pelvic floor?

“I’d never thought about my pelvic floor, like, ever. And I’d certainly never heard any friends talk about it. But according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, pelvic floor disorders affect a whopping 1 in 4 women—so many of whom go undiagnosed. And yes, that’s women of all ages, even young ones like me.

Childbirth injuries are a big contributor, but not the only one. Other causes include things like high-impact exercise gone awry and traumatic injuries to the area, which means childfree women can certainly be affected.”

Mixing Birth Control and Antibiotics

“Drugs can induce synthesis of a particular enzyme in the liver that then decreases the plasma levels of estrogen in the women taking the pills. Estrogen is found in most birth control pills, and works in tandem with progestin to prevent pregnancy. If estrogen plasmas go down, there could be an increased risk of pregnancy. A 1999 study in the Canadian Journal of Infectious Diseases also found that Rifampin is the only antibiotic reported to reduce plasma estrogen concentrations.”

If you’re on birth control and are taking antibiotics – check with your doctor to find out if there are any interactions. Moreover, if a pregnancy isn’t in the cards – try an additional form of birth control like a condom to decrease your risk of getting pregnant. 

Your Endometriosis Health Team

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If you are living with endometriosis, you’re likely aware that it’s a complex condition that can benefit from a health team (#endometriosisdreamteam). Because I believe in integrative medicine and the value of different wisdom and experiences, I wanted to share a few of health practitioners (aside from your Ob/Gyn) that can help you alleviate pain and improve your quality of life!


Who should be on your team

Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist

Pelvic floor physiotherapy is more than just kegels! Within the pelvic region, endometriosis can cause inflammation, scar tissue, adhesions, pain and muscle tightness. Muscle tightness may occur when women are curled up in fetal position or because of anticipation of painful sex. Pelvic floor physiotherapists are able to assess the pelvic floor muscles and release any trigger points as well as help release scar tissue. 

Moreover, the alignment of pelvic organs and ligaments may be distorted due to pain or other factors, and pelvic floor physios are able to help bring back a healthy alignment to the pelvic region. 

When the body has a pelvic floor dysfuntion, it may lead to the following symptoms:

  • Pain in the back, hips, and sacroiliac joint
  • difficulty urinating, increases urination, burning or pain with urination
  • constipation or diarrhea
  • painful bowel movements and faecal incontinence
  • painful sex
  • inability to tolerate a speculum during a gynaecological exam
  • pain with wearing tampons and menstrual cups

Massage Therapist

Massage therapy is one of those gentle, yet effective treatments that can have big results. Abdominal massage is designed to stimulate and increase the flow of blood, lymph and qi to everything in the pelvic region (such as organs, ligaments and tissues). Moreover, some treatments can gently shift the uterus and other organs into a healthier alignment – which may lead to the reduction of uterine spasms and adhesions. 

Sex Therapist 

Sexual therapy can aid people who are experiencing sexual difficulties, with the goal of promoting physical intimacy. Many women with endometriosis suffer from sexual dysfunction, specifically when it comes to deep penetrative sex (likely due to the area inhabited by endometrial lesions). Down the line, this may lead to negative effects on relationships, mental and emotional well-being, a decrease in quality of life. 

Because fear and anticipation of pain can inhibit the sexual response (and affect desire and lubrication), a sex therapist may suggest and facilitate communication between partners, help with alternative sexual practices, and provide relaxation techniques.  

Naturopathic Doctor

I might be biased, but Naturopathic Doctors bring a lot to the table! When I work with my endometriosis clients, I like taking a look at the modifiable causes when it comes to guiding treatments. Specifically I take a look at inflammation and estrogen and work on those to help decrease pain within the body. 

Therefore treatments include acupuncture (yes, NDs can perform acupuncture!), nutritional support, lifestyle changes, and smart supplementation. For instance, turmeric can be quite helpful for pain experienced with endometriosis. But before you make yourself a golden milk latte, it’s important to remember dose and duration of treatment is necessary to elicit the desired effects. Lastly additional testing to assess stress and cortisol levels, as well as estrogen detoxification, can be quite useful in helping to guide treatment plans.  

Final Thoughts

It’s obvious that each member of this endometriosis dream team provides something unique in the treatment of this condition. And to be honest, you don’t need to have endometriosis to have a well-rounded group of health practitioners. Most of us have a GP, Optometrist, Dentist – which help us take care of physical components of our body. But don’t underestimate the value of taking care of your emotional and mental states as well!

Reusable Menstrual Products

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February 20, 2018
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I made the switch to reusable menstrual products back in 2015 and have not looked back. I wish I could say that I was frustrated with the amount of waste associated with period products, but my main reasons for switching over was that I kept on forgetting to repurchase tampons and pads and I was worried I was losing too much blood!

Today I’m discussing a few options for reusable menstrual products if having a greener period has been on your mind and you are looking to make a leap!

Menstrual Pads

Replaces: Pads
Sits on: your underwear
$11+ for a single pad, depends on absorbency 
Flow Type: Heavy to Light
Absorb or Collect:
LunaPads, HannahPads, TreeHugger, FoxyCloth, GladRags 
Rinse + toss in washing machine
Lifespan: Around 3 years
Kid-friendly?: Yes

These are exactly how they sound. Some brands are a two part system (pad base and insert) and others are simply one part. Basically, the pad will fasten around the gusset of your underwear. The gusset will be lined with extra padding to absorb menstrual blood. Across brands, there will be different styles – from pantyliners to overnight pads.  

This option can be also paired with menstrual cups, for added protection. Depending on how long your period lasts, you may want to pick up a kit which might be the most cost effective. If you use disposable menstrual pads, keep track of how many you use per day, as you’ll probably use the same amount of reusable ones.  

Period Underwear

Replaces: Pads
$16+, dependent on underwear style and brand
Dependent on brand
Flow Type: Heavy to Light
Absorb or Collect:
Amount of flow: 5-10mL dependent on pair
Knix, Thinx, LunaPads, TreeHugger
Rinse + toss in washing machine
Lifespan: Maybe forever?
Kid-friendly?: Yes

This was my next foray into reusable menstrual products. I found that on my heavy nights I would fill my menstrual cup and leak. Along with purchasing some hydrogen peroxide, I went ahead and purchased two types of period underwear. I found that for nights, I preferred my Thinx pair because it was lined throughout. Whereas I could use the Knix pair on my regular days with my cup (check out my review on two popular brands here!).

Most period underwear is simply lined at the gusset, however Thinx is an exception as it is lined throughout. Depending on your cycle, you can purchase multiple pairs and styles which have different absorbencies. This option can also be paired with a cup (my preferred way to use them) for added protection!

Menstrual Cup

Replaces: Tampons
Sits in: the vaginal canal
Usually medical-grade silicone
Flow Type: Heavy to Light
Absorb or Collect:
Amount of flow: Averages of 30mL, depends on brand
When to empty: 8 – 12 hours, shorter during heavy flow days
DivaCup, Lunette, MoonCup, Lena, Intima
Empty and wash
Lifespan: Around 1+ years
Kid-friendly?: Maybe not

As mentioned in the intro, this was my first foray into reusable menstrual products. I chose this product because at the time it was the only option I knew about and it could tell me how much blood I was losing per cycle (because it turns out I was iron deficient!). 

To be perfectly honest, insertion and removal was NOT easy the first few times I used it. While I didn’t time it, it felt like it took 40min each time! Luckily for me, this was just a learning curve and it’s much better now. I should mention for the cup I use, it says that I should rotate it to get suction and keep it in place, and I don’t think I do that. Nevertheless, I don’t experience any leakage. 

I had mentioned that this might not be a kid-friendly option, only because of the insertion and removal process. But perhaps as kids get older, they may be more comfortable doing so. Also, this is a good option for swimmers! Lastly, the cups usually come in a few sizes. Some brands differentiate them by turning 30 or having a vaginal childbirth. 

For more information on how to choose a cup, check out Put A Cup In It!

Final Thoughts

Are you thinking of switching over to reusable menstrual products or have you done so already? I’d love for you to share your story!

Most importantly, if you found this information helpful, please sign up for my monthly newsletter called The Flow for great and informative content like this!