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PERIODS 101

So first things first, Moxette - there's nothing to worry about. Cramps, mood swings, bloating, skin breakouts… most of us who get a period will experience some (or all?!) of these symptoms during our menstruating years. Whatever you're facing, know that you're not alone, and you're going to get through it. Better yet, you're going to nail this thing!

Periods can seem daunting and a li'l scary at first, but most people born with female sex organs will experience them - it's totally normal.

So sweat less, Moxette - we're in this together and are here to help you through, one period at a time. You'll find a heap of info about all things periods and intimate health all over this website (we highly recommend our Blog and The Moxie Periodic Table) To get you started, here are a few important period basics about our monthly visitor.

Completely new to periods? Check out our 'My first period: Period basics for period newbies' post HERE 

The Menstrual Cycle is a masterpiece of organisation. Your brain, your hormones, your ovaries, adrenal glands, thyroid gland and sexual organs all get together to do their part in initiating and executing your period each month.

Our menstrual cycles begin with our first period (called ‘menarche’ - average age is 10 – 12 years old, but it can occur anytime between 8 and 16 years old) and continues until menopause, which is when your period stops (average 45-55 years old).

In a sexually mature woman or person with female sex organs, the ovaries release one egg each month (or occasionally two), at the time of ovulation (this happens around the middle of your cycle, about 2 weeks before your period - the bleeding phase). The lining of the uterus (the endometrium) thickens up in response. After ovulation, this lining changes to prepare for potential implantation of a fertilised egg, which, if successful, results in pregnancy (pregnancy and how this happens is a chat for another day!).

If fertilisation and pregnancy do not occur, the uterus sheds the lining and a new menstrual cycle begins. This process of the shedding of the lining is called ‘menstruation’. While menstrual cycle length may vary from person to person, 28 days is generally considered the average ovulatory cycle. Our periods (again, the bleeding phase) generally last for a few days (usually 3 to 5 days, but anywhere from 2 to 7 days is also considered normal) and involves the loss of about 30 – 40 millilitres of blood. It's really not as much as you think!

Period experiences can vary greatly and can also mean different things to different people – to some, they are of no significance and are a minor inconvenience but to others, they can be a major pain the butt (vagina?! Uterus?!) and can cause things like PMS symptoms (see below).

Period pain aside, it's fair to say that our bodies are pretty incredible. This intricate chemical and biological event that we call a period is actually very cool and is monthly proof of your massive amounts of 'Moxie'!. Whilst we love nothing more than curling up on the couch with a tub of ice-cream and the remote - and you very well might feel like doing this during your period (it's all got to do with your fluctuating hormone levels, which can make you feel super lethargic), your period really shouldn’t prevent you from doing anything and everything you normally enjoy doing. It's important to listen to your body and be kind to yourself - do whatever works best for you, Moxette.

Remember, getting your period is a completely NORMAL part of growing up and regular periods are a reminder that your body is working as it should. If you suspect that your periods are irregular, or if something doesn’t feel right, please do see a trusted doctor or health professional, or talk to a trusted adult who can help guide you to get the right support and treatment.

Pre-Menstrual Syndrome (PMS) is a combination of emotional and physical symptoms that many women and people who have periods deal may experience during their menstrual cycles. PMS is actually super common, with over 90% of Aussie women claiming that they experience some kind of PMS syptoms during their period. These symptoms usually start around seven to 14 days before your period begins and usually stop very soon after your period starts.

Possible symptoms include:

  • Headache
  • Cramps (particularly in the abdomen area)
  • Acne or skin breakouts
  • Mood swing
  • Breast swelling or tenderness
  • Bloated stomach
  • Tiredness and fatigue
  • Depression, irritability and tension

Every person experiences different symptoms; some months your PMS may be worse than others or you may have no PMS symptoms at all.

No one seems to know for sure exactly what causes PMS, but symptoms seem to be linked to the changes in hormone levels that happen throughout your menstrual cycle. The best thing you can do is to look after yourself - eat a balanced diet, exercise, make sure you get adequate sleep, look after your mental and emotional health, and have a nice, relaxing hot bath - anything that makes you feel good (as long as it's safe and legal!) will likely help. Minimising stress is a good one, too, as stress can also play havoc with your hormones. 

If your pain feels severe or if something feels off to you, we strongly recommend seeing a trusted health professional. You can get some over the counter medications that can help with PMS symptoms, but there are also a heap of natural ways to help curb PMS dramas (check out the Moxie Blog on 'natural ways to curb period pain' for more info).

Just the sound of this potent term unnerves many of us, but this disease – although extremely serious – is fortunately, extremely rare.

Toxic shock syndrome (TSS) is a life-threatening infection that is often associated with the use of tampons and, in some rare cases, menstrual cups, diaphragms and contractive sponges (though these products themselves do not cause TSS). However, TSS can also be triggered by other events like childbirth, surgery, injuries, or certain illnesses.

WHO IS AT RISK of Toxic Shock Syndrome?

  • People using tampons, menstrual cups and/or barrier contraceptive devices (e.g. diaphragms). The risk has been known to increase if used during the first 12 weeks after childbirth, hence why it's recommended that those who have recently given birth using period care that absorbs outside of the body, like pads.
  • Those with an undeveloped or weakened immune system (e.g. children, cancer patients) or those who have undergone surgery, including those who have developed infections from deep wounds or other ruptures of the skin (not just women - TSS can affect men and children, too).

THE BEST WAY TO REDUCE YOUR RISK OF TSS is to:

  1. Follow any in-pack directions for insertion when using any insertable period products, like tampons. Every pack of Moxie tampons (and our Menstrual Cupos) has an instruction leaflet inside, which we recommend you read prior to use (and keep handy for future reference). We’ve done our best to make the info simple and clear for you but please don't hesitate to e-mail us if you have any questions, at info@moxie.com.au
  2. If you're using tampons, always choose the lowest possible absorbency tampon for your flow – for example,  MINI for light flow, REGULAR for medium flow and SUPER for heavy flow. You might find you need to change variants/sizes through the course of your period (as flow reduces towards the end of your period, you can adjust to a more appropriate tampon size).
  3. Change your tampon at least every 4 to 8 hours (you may need to change more frequently depending on your flow/comfort, but do not exceed the maximum time, which is 8 hours,. Same goes for Menstrual Cups - remove, empty, rinse and re-insert as needed AT LEAST every 8 hours).
  4. Consider alternating pads with tampons
  5. Avoid tampon usage overnight when sleeping – we recommend using an Overnight pad, instead.
  6. Don’t use tampons or cups in between periods or for discharge. This is never necessary and can cause vaginal dryness and ulcerations, and disturb the normal balance of moisture and secretions in the vagina.
  7. Know and understand the warning signs of toxic shock syndrome – we’ve outlined these below...

THE SYMPTOMS of Toxic Shock Syndrome develop suddenly. They may include:

  • High fever
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhoea
  • A rash resembling sunburn, and one or two weeks later, a flaking rash on palms or soles of feet
  • Muscle aches and joint pain
  • Redness of the eyes, mouth and/or throat
  • Seizures or fainting
  • Headaches or dizziness
  • Low blood pressure

If left untreated, TSS can put people at risk of organ failure, shock, or death. If you suspect you have Toxic Shock, remove your tampon/cup/inserted product and call for medical help immediately.

Learn more about Toxic Shock Syndrome HERE 

This is by no means an exhaustive list, Moxettes - there is SO MUCH more to know and learn about periods and our intimate health (we never stop learning), but baby steps! Check out the Blog and Periodic Table for more info, but if you’ve got any other questions or concerns about your cycle or your intimate health, we recommend visiting a trusted doctor or health professional.