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My Experience with the Implant

Since getting the implant I have had a lot of questions. ‘Does it hurt? Do you still get periods? Are you having mood swings?’ – just to name a few.

Contraception can be a bit of a minefield, and it’s hard to know what option is going to be the best for you. I, therefore, thought it might be helpful to share my experience. Of course, everybody is unique and so we all react differently to different forms of contraception. However, this has been my personal experience!

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WHY DID I OPT FOR THE IMPLANT?

There are a few choices for people with vaginas when it comes to contraception, all of which come with the potential of some pretty nasty side effects. The implant, therefore, seemed to me like the best of a bad bunch (I should go into sales, shouldn’t I?). I had taken the pill for years and found that it gave me terrible mood swings, left my period irregular and, despite setting an alarm, you can guarantee I would forget about it at least once a week. I decided it was time to look for another option.

I went to the sexual health clinic for some advice. What I will say is that, although it can be awkward and embarrassing, it is well worth making a visit to one of these places. They’re confidential and I have always found them a lot more helpful than going to see my Doctor.

While there I was given an in-depth talk about my options. We narrowed it down to either the coil or the implant. Neither sounded great, but when saw the coil and she explained what the procedure would entail, the implant sounded a hell of a lot more appealing.

So, that was that.

WHAT WAS THE PROCEDURE LIKE?

The procedure itself is super simple. However, if you don’t like needles, it’s not going to be exactly pleasant! I’ve never really minded injections and so I didn’t find it too bad. They numb the area with an injection, cut a slit in your arm and then insert the impact (which was a bit bigger than I expected but nothing too alarming). Relatively painless and over really quickly. They then wrap it up and you leave it in its little bandage for about 24 hours. It is 99% effective and lasts for 3 years. If you do decide you want a baby in this time, you can just pop back in and have it removed, meaning that it follows the method of long-acting reversible contraception.

I was left with bruising afterwards for about a week, but I bruise like a peach so that was to be expected. It took a little while to get used to the thought of having an implant in my arm. I still now stroke it every so often, just to make sure it hasn’t moved and it’s still there – it always is.

WHAT ARE THE SIDE EFFECTS?

The side effects of the implant vary from person to person and so you experience could be entirely different to mine. For me, they included pains in my arm and my period stopping (for now anyway). The first month after the implant I spotted slightly, but since I have not menstruated, which is an absolute blessing!

I haven’t noticed any changes in my mood at all, which was something I was worried about, and now I hardly know it’s there. It’s only when I run my fingers over it that I remember I even have an implant. For me, it is a lot more practical than taking the pill and just fit in well with my lifestyle. I also often get asked if it interfered with my training. Again, the answer is no! However, when I first had it put in, I was very aware of it and worried it would move during upper body sessions. It didn’t, but it is important to keep checking it to make sure it is still in the right spot anyway (I just run my hand over it whenever I remember and it is always still there). 

I’ll be honest, at first, I was worried that everything was related to the implant. I fell ill with glandular fever and thought it was down to the implant. I basically was just panicking (I am a self-confessed overthinker). When I spoke to the Doctor, however, they reassured me and said that everything with it was looking absolutely fine!

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HOW IS IT GOING?

Well, I’m not pregnant so that’s a good start…

In all seriousness, I am finding the implant so easy.

I have actually found the implant super simple. Yes, it does take a tiny little procedure, but it has been worth it for me and my lifestyle.

I am relatively new to having the implant and so at the moment I am still monitoring my menstrual cycle as whether I will come on or not at some point is kind of up in the air – one thing I am finding a little difficult, but I just make sure I am always prepared for that eventuality.

If you have any questions regarding the implant and my personal experience, let me know in the comments down below. Trust me, nothing is TMI here. You can also email me on jamieleejenkins27@googlemail.com 

Jamie x 

Is Your Vagina Vegan?

Vegan. Once a word most people knew very little about, now fast on the rise, it seems that *everybody* is going vegan. Since trying my best to follow a plant based lifestyle, I can say with confidence that this is only going to continue to grow, which has great implications for the animals, the environment and for our health. You might be vegan, your wellness #inspo might be vegan, you may have even convinced your Mum to try whipping up a vegan take on her classics but… Is your vagina vegan?

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Time to abandon the always?

There are plenty of vegan sanitary products on the market right now. Towels, tampons. Menstrual cups and reusable pads. The truth is, I haven’t actually tried any of the products. This blog post comes from a curiosity more than anything and I wanted to share what I have found with you guys. Since doing this research I have decided that I will be giving some of these products a go so stay tuned as there will be a review coming up over the next few months.

My interest came when I came across TOTM on Instagram, a company making 100% organic, vegan sanitary products. I was intrigued. I have never really thought about what went into making my sanitary towels or my tampons, I just used them. Turns out I was not alone. In a survey done by TOTM, 9 out of 10 women did not no what tampons are made of. I am sure, like me, many of these women chose their sanitary products based upon names they know and trust. When you’re spending a week out of every month bleeding you want to be confident that you are not going to be having any accidents. It seems, however, that a large majority these brands do not provide a full list of ingredients. Surely they would have to? Nope. Sanitary products are regulated and approved a medical devices under the FDA, which means companies are under no obligation to share what goes into them. I had never thought about this before, but all of a sudden I felt very protective over my vagina. I decided this needed a bit more digging. I wanted to know about cotton.

Turns out cotton is the most heavily sprayed crop on the planet when it comes to pesticides and insecticides and a 2015 an independent study by the University of La Plata found 85% of tampons tested contained Glyphosate. What is that I hear you ask? Well, Glyphosate is the active ingredient within weed killers and according to WHO is classified as ‘probably carcinogenic’. Probably carcinogenic? I am going to need a little bit more information before I go putting a possible carcinogen up the most sensitive and absorbent part of my body thank you very much.  And then there’s rayon, a man-made material that’s been used since the 1930’s. If that wasn’t enough to make your legs clench, rayon is a material that has been used since the 1930’s and is produced from cellulose. This is a compound extracted from wood pulp and what happens during the extraction process? Well, it creates hydrocarbon dioxin as a by-product. These dioxins can be pretty harmful, not the mention the potentially harmful chemical additives and finishing agents.

But Jamie, people have used these things for years. Surely they can’t be that bad. Well, in terms of health, it probably isn’t as the amount of ‘bad stuff’ is pretty negligible. As Dr. Nita Landry said, there is no data proving that organic tampons are any safer than regular tampons and the FDA do check them for consumer safety so it might not be a shady as we first thought. However, it is not just our health that should be considered. For most people who go vegan, the decision is based upon a variety of different reasons including animal cruelty and the environment. The company, GladRags, known for their reusable pads have a lot to say on the environmental impact of disposable sanitary products. The average person who menstruates will use between 12,000 and 16,000 pads in their life time, which produces a lot of waste and has a huge environmental footprint. When not disposed of properly, sanitary towels contribute to the main source of UK coastal clutter, Sewage Related Debris.

 

A huge bonus with vegan sanitary products, for me, is the fact that animals are not harmed in the process of making them. These products do not test on animals or have any animal products in them, which is a huge selling point! Mooncup, for example, are approved by the vegan society and were the winners of the 2007 Best Buy Award for Ethical Consumers.  After having a browse, it is safe to say that these products are not cheap. However, many of these companies sell themselves on the fact they are an investment that will save people money in the long run. You only need one Mooncup and apparently that will pay for itself after 6-8 months, after that you’re then saving money. No need to go splashing the cash on always, instead you could throw it into a piggy bank and save up for something nice… like vegan chocolate to get your through the agony that is a period. Similarly, apparently these GladRags can last up to 20 years!

Where do I sign up? It is safe to say that I am sold and will definitely but giving some of these a try. I have yet to decide which of the products I think would be best for me but the sites have little quizzes and loads of information so you ca see which sanitary product will fit in best with your lifestyle. If you are interested in more vegan sanitary companies, I would recommend checking out CrueltyFreeKitty.com as this site has a fantastic comprehensive guide and loads of posts on different cruelty free products. As always, my sources are down below.

Jamie x

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Sources:

https://gladrags.com/

The Ultimate Guide To Having A Cruelty-Free Period

https://www.cosmopolitan.com/sex-love/a13144732/best-organic-tampons/

Home

Mooncup Menstrual Cup

http://www.thisisinsider.com/are-organic-tampons-safer-better-2017-9

 

Let’s Talk about Periods.

Let’s talk about periods. A topic that is very rarely touched on in the fitness world (or at all to be honest!) and a topic that a hell of a lot of people can relate to. Let’s get the silly awkwardness out of the way. People bleed. It usually happens once a month, for some it might be more, for others less. For some it hurts, for some it doesn’t. Some people bloat, others don’t. Periods are natural. The only time the human body bleeds naturally without violence that I can think of. It’s an important topic and learning about our bodies is super important for everyone, not only those who train.

Yet, the it seems to be the blood people talk about the least. I say it again, periods are natural and they can have a huge impact on peoples lives – not to mention their training. 

For anyone out there who has periods, you will probably be able remember that time you used your period as an excuse to miss going swimming. Or that time you were in so much pain you asked to miss PE, only to hear ‘oh, it’s good for the pain’. You’ve probably had to ask a friend to check you from behind and you’ve probably had an unexpected visit from mother nature. From a young age, periods really do impact exercise and training and I wanted to explore this. I want to look at the science and whether training helps or just makes things worse. I’ve been putting out polls and questionnaires I want to share with you guys and, finally, beyond the science I want to address the issues they don’t address. Tight leggings, squats and sanitary towels really aren’t best friends – I’m sure a lot of you don’t need science to tell you that! But mostly I want you to know there is no shame in the natural and it is important to work with your body and learn about yourself and what works for you.

Right, first up The Science. 

First things first, let’s talk about the menstrual cycle as a whole and what it can mean for training. (I will put links to studies and articles I have used below if you want to take a look. Some needed my Uni login so you might not all be able to access them so you might have to take my word for it… or pay £9000 a year and read it for yourself. Whatever floats your boat). 

Right, so, generally periods can be broken down into two phases which are the follicular phases, during which your oestrogen stimulates follicle growth. The second phase is called the luteal phase. This happens just after you ovulate and happens until it realises you’re not going to be housing a little human this month, then it all starts again. If you wanted to break this down even further, which is important in terms of training, the first five days after the follicular phase are known as the menstrual phases (you know, the naff bit) and then in between the follicular phase and the luteal phase is ovulation. On average it takes about 28 days but this can vary from person to person.

So what does this all mean when it comes to training?

Well you know that awful bit when you’ve got the cravings and the cramps and the last thing you want to do it go to the gym? Well, these hormonal changes that are going on give you boosts in pain tolerance and muscle recovery that can pay off when you’re wanting to make the gains. It can also enhance blood circulation, which can help with period pains. Handy, right? It might not feel like it but actually, in a fancy scientific study done way back in the 90s, people found that there was no significant difference in muscle strength and fatigue during your period.

Basically, without getting too scientific (because I can’t, because it was too confusing…) when you’re at the start of your cycle you’re more insulin-sensitive as the  oestrogen is higher, and becomes less insulin-sensitive during the second half of your cycle when progesterone is higher.

When the body is more insulin-sensitive, it means you need less insulin to get fuel into cells. This basically means the body shifts to burning fatty acids for fuel more readily (which, according to science means LISS is the way to go at the start of your cycle) . When your period starts, your oestrogen and progesterone levels drop, which means you can access glycogen a lot easier. Put simply, this hormone shift means you can get access to energy far quicker. This means you should be able to push harder and get more out of HIIT workouts than you would during other times of the month

https://www.womenshealthmag.com/fitness/period-workout

How to Train With Your Menstrual Cycle

https://www.t-nation.com/training/hormone-cycle-and-female-lifters

Menstrual Matters: How Your Cycle May Affect Your Training

 

All this is well and good and basically means you can tailor your training to work in harmony with your body and your hormones. You can work out when you’re going to be hotter or colder. Stronger or better suited for endurance.

You should be careful training in extreme heat and humidity during the later part of the luteal phase because core temperature is higher than normal.

It’s recommended that you eat more fruits during the luteal phase to help with your blood sugar and keep hunger at bay.

You should try and get Vitamin D (pretty tough when you live in the UK but I’ll go with it…)

You should plan your diet around the extra calories being…. Blah, blah, blah you get my gist…

Have I ever done any of this? Quite simply, no. I never really notice to be honest. I know when I am bleeding and I know if it hurts and that’s about it. I don’t want to ignore the science as I find it really interesting and a huge point of this blog post is to encourage others to learn about their bodies, however, I doubt I would find it as interesting when I’m in crippling agony, fearful that if I sneeze too hard we’re going to be in a sticky situation. The reality is, there are two factors that might impact my session when I’m on my period.

  1. The Pain. 
  2. The Pads. 

So, let’s discuss this a little.

When you’re in agony, bloated and feeling rubbish you have got two choices. Sit on the sofa with a hot water bottle or go and smash your gym session. Usually I will drag myself there and get a decent session in but sometimes there is very little point. If I’m in agony and feel rubbish, I’m not going to have a good session. I find that training tends to help a little with the pain but, for me, cardio is a no go. The science says you have to work with your body, not against it, which I entirely agree with but maybe sometimes working with your body might be having a day off.

The pads are another dilemma. I don’t really wear tampons unless I really have to. It’s just personal preference, but it does mean that hitting the gym when I am on my period means Bridget Jones knickers and a pad that means if my leggings rise to much I look like I have a penis. Not exactly something you want when you’re training and want to feel good about your body. I spend a lot of my time when I’m wear a sanitary towel worrying if people can see the towel. What if someone notices? What if I have an accident? The problem here is not the pain, it’s the embarrassment of a natural bodily function I can do nothing about.

In the poll I conducted on Twitter, the results showed 27% of people who took part do not train when they are on their period.

I asked a couple of the ‘No’ voters why they decided not to and, for the most part it was feeling uncomfortable in that environment and fearing having an accident whilst training.

‘I just feel really awkward about the whole thing. I try and keep myself as covered up as possible when I’m on my period and you can’t really do that in the gym so I just don’t go. It’s annoying because it means not training for a week, but I’d rather that than people know I was on my period.’ – anonymous.

A few said it was the pain, however, did think that training sometimes helped with it. I think these results reveal a lot about, not gym culture as such, but simply the way in which periods are perceived. Listening to your body is so important when it comes to training and feeling comfortable and happy is absolutely necessary, however, it is tough when a week out of every month people feel they cannot train because of a natural bodily function.

On the plus side, 53% in the poll still go training and another 27%  said it would depend.

‘Depends on how heavy. Super heavy, no chance. Moderate to light then yeah. I used to go to the gym and was always paranoid of a heavy flow overflowing and getting on the gym equipment’ – @thegameermum

People with periods can work with their body and smash workouts all throughout the month but hey, if you want to smash a chocolate bar and have a day off, that works too. There’s no shame in having periods. There is not shame in big pants and the outline of a sanitary towel (it can’t be helped in some legging) and there is no shame in taking a day off because your body needs it. Periods are shit and they hurt but they are natural and allow for one of life’s little pieces of magic so let’s work with our periods. Let’s learn about our bodies and let’s talk about menstruation.  

Jamie x 

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