The Real, Research-Backed Reasons Why (And How) Marijuana Can Hurt You

I don’t usually discuss my personal views on things such as recreational drugs on my blog, but I’ve always been anti-marijuana (and anti-drug in general) so this shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who knows me.

I have never used recreational drugs, never smoked or vaped ever, and I don’t drink (for the record, I have drank in the past but have never been drunk, and I’ve been officially sober since November 2019).

Unfortunately, it seems as though more people believe that marijuana isn’t harmful to human health (or environmental health), which is leading to an increased number of users.

That being said, I do recognize that using drugs and drinking are personal choices. I would argue that they should be informed choices, so let’s talk about how marijuana can influence the body, as well as my thoughts on cannabidiol (CBD) oil use.

Marijuana Use Can Permanently Alter Brain Function

Research published in the Journal of Neuroscience concludes that smoking as little as one to two joints can change gray matter in the brains of teenagers.

Yes, it was a small study—just 46 teens—but their brains showed more gray matter volume. The biggest changes were in the amygdala, which is involved in fear and other emotions, and in the hippocampus, which involves memory and spatial awareness.

But what does this mean?

The researchers aren’t sure, but the lead author of the study says that teenage brains undergo a process where it gets thinner as it refines synaptic connections, and they suspect that marijuana use disrupts this process.

Let’s look at a larger study.

1,037 individuals were followed from birth to 38 years old, establishing research criteria from before marijuana use started to well after a pattern of use had been established.

The research concluded that “persistent cannabis use was associated with neuropsychological decline broadly across domains of functioning, even after controlling for years of education”.

What does this mean, exactly?

It means that cannabis has a neurotoxic (meaning damage to the brain or nervous system) effect on the brain, and even after ceasing cannabis use, neuropsychological functioning (which is related to cognition and behavior) was not fully restored.

Negatively Impacts Fertility and Fetal Development

If you’re planning on having a baby, it’s best to stay away from marijuana for three reasons.

  1. Changes sperm DNA. The psychoactive component in marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in marijuana alters the DNA of sperm. Again, this was a small study—24 people—but it showed that THC alters a DNA process that’s “essential to normal development”, although researchers aren’t yet clear on how this affects the children this sperm is responsible for.
  2. Problems for baby post-birth. Babies exposed to marijuana in the womb are not only more likely to have a low birth weight, but are more likely to need neonatal intensive care compared to babies whose mothers didn’t use marijuana during pregnancy.
  3. Children may be at an increased risk for behavioral issues. Women who smoked marijuana during pregnancy have been found to have children with behavioral problems, even after controlling for outside variables. Children exposed to marijuana in utero tend to be more impulsive, hyperactive, have lower IQs, and have an increased risk for memory and mental health problems.

Marijuana Use Can Also Affect Your Mental Health

Cannabis use “is likely” to increase the risk of developing disorders such as schizophrenia and social anxiety disorder, and may exacerbate symptoms of bipolar disorder. Heavy cannabis users are also more likely to report having suicidal thoughts.

In one study of 50,000 people, marijuana use during adolescence was associated with a 30 percent increased risk of developing schizophrenia. The higher the marijuana use, the higher the risk for schizophrenia.

Some research also notes an increased risk of depression with regular marijuana use, although other studies have not reached this conclusion. However, a recent study noted that people under the age of 18 who used marijuana were 37 percent more likely to experience depression in early adulthood than those that didn’t.

A small study of 43 people also noted changes in impulse control and hostility, including perceptions of hostility, for people when using marijuana.

Contains Many of the Same Carcinogens as Cigarettes (and Puts 4x More Tar in Your Lungs)

I’ve long argued that smoking marijuana is not better than smoking cigarettes by any means. People like to argue that marijuana is “natural” without having any research to back up their claims. Radon is natural too, but it’s the second-leading cause of lung cancer.

So what does research say when it comes to marijuana versus cigarettes?

More Tar in Your Lungs

Research concluded that smoking marijuana “results in a substantially greater respiratory burden of carbon monoxide and tar” than smoking a similar quantity of tobacco.

Marijuana also leads to four times the deposition of tar than cigarette smoking.

What does this mean? It means four times the amount of tar is being deposited into your lungs when you smoke marijuana than it would be if you were smoking cigarettes. Tar can take years to leave your lungs after you stop smoking, and the longer you smoke, the longer it’ll take for your body to remove the tar.

Higher Concentrations of Some Chemicals

Other research notes that marijuana and tobacco have many of the same chemicals. In fact, ammonia was up to 20 times greater in marijuana smoke than tobacco smoke (ammonia has a corrosive effect on the lungs and can lead to permanent lung damage).

Additional chemicals such as hydrogen cyanide were found at concentrations 3-5 times higher than those in tobacco smoke. Hydrogen cyanide is extremely poisonous at high levels and is used as a pesticide, and can affect the entire body.

Marijuana smoke also contains 50 percent more benzoprene (a potent cancer-causing chemical) and 75 percent more benzanthracene (also suspected to be a carcinogen) than cigarette smoke.

No, Marijuana Does Not Cure Cancer

And, surprise, marijuana (as well as CBD) does not cure cancer—in fact, with all the chemicals involved in smoking this plant, I’d say there’s a much higher chance that it actually causes cancer, although research has not yet proven this link. However, some studies have concluded that long-term cannabis use increases risk of lung cancer.

Not to Mention…

Some people argue that marijuana use helps alleviate chronic pain and reduce anxiety, among other claims.

I’m not arguing that marijuana doesn’t have these effects on people—but I would argue that there are alternatives to solving your problems than permanently damaging your brain, lungs, and body with a substance, and many of them are more “natural” than smoking marijuana.

With marijuana use, I find it hard to feel that people are actually addressing the root cause of their issue, and instead are covering it up or trying to treat it with marijuana, which, as we’ve seen, can cause even more problems in the body.

A Note on CBD

Of course, the use of isolated cannabidiol—a non-psychoactive component of marijuana—has been growing in popularity. While CBD has some promising results, I would argue that people shouldn’t be using it to the extent that they are, as research isn’t caught up enough for us to know its long-term effects.

Again, I’d argue that for many medical problems, there are healthier alternatives that we can take advantage of until further studies are done on CBD’s effect on the human body. Two of these alternatives are diet changes and herbs, which can dramatically influence chronic pain, anxiety, and even cancer.

Wrapping Up

With all this said, I would not advocate for marijuana use for anyone under any circumstances. I hate seeing how much misinformation there is out there about marijuana, and that’s not even to mention its negative effects on the environment, or how it can increase your risk for drug addiction.

Can we stop saying marijuana is harmless?

Why Young People Just Aren’t That Excited About Cars

I grew up in a small town where getting your driver’s license meant you were one step closer to finally getting your own car, not relying on your parents, and, well… getting the heck out of there.

Needless to say, I was perplexed when kids my age neglected to show interest in driving. What was going through my head looked something like, ?????????????

I was super excited to be on this BMW in Munich in 2010. I don’t get as excited about Beemers these days, but I do love a good German car.

Turns out, the few kids in my high school that—for whatever reason—chose not to drive certainly aren’t alone. We’re all part of the larger Millennial generation that just really isn’t that excited about cars, or even driving for that matter. And Generation Z (people currently anywhere from 18 to 23 years old) is even worse.

It’s understandable that automotive makers would freak out a little at the fact that younger people just don’t really care about driving—I mean, think about it. When was the last time you saw a car commercial that looked like anyone other than 50-something avid hikers or classy, dark-haired businessmen would be interested in?

The truth is that the people who fit outside of these categories are becoming less and less excited about driving. Here’s why.

Younger People Prefer Urban Living—and That Means Less Need for a Car

It’s true—20-34 year-olds are much more likely than baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) to prefer an urban setting. In fact, statistics show that younger people, especially Generation Z, prefer central urban neighborhoods as opposed to suburban or rural living.

These younger people have less need for a car than ever. The expenses of owning a car alone wouldn’t make sense when they could walk or take public transportation to work, not to mention they’d have to find a place to park the car while both at home and at work.

I drove this rental car while out in California and hated it. I could see virtually nothing out the back window. I know it’s a compact, but Ford, you can do better, right???

City-dwellers also have more options than ever when it comes to getting around. Having a car just doesn’t make sense when there are rideshare apps, Uber, Via, Lyft, and let’s not forget, your regular taxi.

Millennials and Gen Z—Like Other Americans—Aren’t Prepared to Make the Jump to EVs

A recent survey by AAA shows that 40 million Americans would consider an electric vehicle (EV) for their next car.

But this number doesn’t seem so high when you consider that there are 225 million drivers in the United States, meaning these potential EV buyers make up about a sixth of all drivers, and even less when you consider there are over 260 million registered vehicles in the US.

Today’s car buyer has a lot of choices—new or used, hybrid or electric, gas or diesel, SUV or hatchback. Younger generations aren’t seeing car charging ports anywhere besides at their local Whole Foods, but they see celebrities on YouTube driving Teslas. Should they buy a Tesla, or does the Ford Ranger their uncle’s getting rid of seem like the best option?

Maybe there is no right choice, and the best part is, they don’t have to choose. It’s easier than ever to exist without a car, and they can bide their time while manufacturers build up their EV fleets and self-driving cars make it on to the scene.

They’re More Eco-Conscious—and Cars Simply Don’t Make the Cut

EVs are certainly marketed for their eco-friendliness, but the truth is that they still use electricity, and the majority of our electricity in the United States still comes from fossil fuels.

Vehicles, even electric ones, still kill animals including endangered butterflies. Diesel fuel is still considered to be carcinogenic. And they still off-gas volatile organic compounds (VOCs), making that new car smell invoke more of a feeling of terror that you’re breathing in neurotoxins and carcinogens rather than the smell of luxury.

Luxury or not, I was about to accept the ride these two dudes offered me on the top of this mountain in Switzerland. I guess the more rational part of my brain kicked in and I said no.

Millennials and Generation Z aren’t about to spend their life savings on something that they feel will slowly kill them as well as the planet. Eco-conscious members of our generation would rather put their money towards something they believe has less of an impact on the planet—ridesharing, public transportation, or, you know, walking.

Other Factors—Money, Status, and Can Someone Help Me Change My Tire?

Despite their lack of saving savviness, young people know a car is not an investment. Even if it was, it’d be an investment they weren’t eager to make.

I’ve never bought a new car and probably never will. It’s not only that I don’t want a car payment, I just don’t see the point of buying something that will immediately lose over 10 percent of its value as soon as I drive that puppy home.

Millennials also aren’t thrilled about the idea of getting a loan—especially with mounting credit card debt, student debt, and lower wages. Plus, not to mention, climate change?

The truth is that cars are quickly losing the symbol of status they held for baby boomers. And younger generations have far less of an understanding of how cars work, generally speaking, than baby boomers. They aren’t sure how to take care of them and TBH, don’t want to be bothered by it. Now, will someone please help me change my tire?

The Future of Cars for Young People

As self-driving technology evolves, younger people may take advantage of these cars. But still, car sales among younger generations are likely to continue to decline, and automakers will be forced to come up with creative ways to appeal to these auto un-enthusiasts.

Driving home from NYC after getting a fresh tattoo (pictured) at Black Iris by the incredible johno_tattooer

As for me, I can’t help but wonder what the future roads will look like as I sit behind the wheel of my 2000 VW Jetta TDI and watch girls who look barely out of their teens run to get into an Uber on Saturday nights. Will self-driving Ubers take over? Am I destined to part with my beloved TDI? Will I get cancer from the diesel fumes? One can only wonder.

But I know this—things are changing, for better or for worse.

These 7 Habits Have Dramatically Improved My Sleep Life

As someone who has had lifelong problems sleeping, I know firsthand the frustration that comes with not getting your beauty sleep.

But there’s a silver lining.

All those years of not being able to sleep well and trying different things have helped me slowly improve my sleep life over time.

Now that I’m nearing my 30s and live with my husband, my sleep life has dramatically improved thanks to these five habits I’ve cultivated over the years.

1. No Tech in the Bedroom

My husband and I just keep our bedroom for sleeping (and sex, of course). This means we don’t hang out in there during the day, don’t work in there, and don’t watch TV in there. It’s important to us to not have a TV in our bedroom.

We also don’t bring our laptops into the bedroom either. We do, however, bring our phones, but they are solely for alarm purposes, we never look on our phones in the bed or use them while in the bedroom. My phone is off in the bedroom since I don’t need to wake up at a specific time most days and my husband’s is on airplane mode (scary cell phone radiation, anyone?)

This just our personal philosophy but we don’t want to accumulate a bunch of energy in the bedroom, especially before bed. We find that minimizing our activity in the bedroom and keeping tech out of the bedroom helps the space feel calm and ready for sleep.

2. No Sugar or Caffeine Before Bed

I’ve noticed that I sleep a lot better when doing intermittent fasting, which is how I lost the few pounds I wanted to before my wedding.

I chose to do intermittent fasting by not eating for a period of about 16 hours every day. So essentially, I would eat my regular meals throughout the day, but cut out late night snacks. So I would not eat from about 8 p.m. at night to noon the next day.

This also helped me eliminate sugar and caffeine a few hours before bed. This is a practice I started doing years ago when I found that eating these things at night—think desserts, chocolate, coffee, or even caffeinated tea such as green tea—would make it impossible for me to fall asleep.

3. Using Organic Bedding

I did not realize how much a toxic mattress was killing my sleep life.

A few years ago I realized conventional mattresses are made with dangerous chemicals and can give off volatile organic compounds (VOCs) for years after purchase, which can harm your health and the air quality of your home.

Fortunately, the mattress I had at that time was about a decade old and needed to be replaced, so about a year before our wedding, my husband and I invested in an all-organic mattress. We also chose to invest in organic cotton sheet sets, pillows, and a comforter.

(You can read more about my transition to all organic clothing here and here).

Not only is my organic mattress and bedding so much more comfortable and luxurious than my old bedding (and hella more expensive!), I swear it helps me sleep better knowing I’m not being exposed to toxic chemicals.

4. The Military Sleep Trick

So I know this one is weird but I swear it works! It was developed to help soldiers fall asleep anywhere in less than two minutes.

It’s easy and can be done in three simple steps as you are trying to fall asleep:

  1. Relax your entire body including your facial muscles as you sink into the mattress. Let tension go from places you didn’t realize were tense.
  2. Take ten deep, conscious breaths while keeping your mind clear. For me, if my mind begins to run with a thought, I start over.
  3. Do one of the following three things that most resonates with you:
  • Picture yourself lying in a canoe on a calm lake with only blue sky above you
  • Imagine snuggling in a velvet black hammock in a pitch-black room
  • Repeating “don’t think, don’t think” until you fall asleep

I do the canoe one; if I have trouble sleeping, most nights this helps me fall asleep.

5. No Clock in the Bedroom

We actually don’t have a clock in our bedroom. I haven’t had a clock in my bedroom for the last 12 years.

Looking at the time when I’m trying to fall asleep gives me anxiety so I just don’t see the need to have a clock in our bedroom. Fortunately, I’m a freelancer who works from home so I get to sleep in every single day and don’t need to worry about what time I get up.

Even when you do need to wake up in the morning I recommend setting your alarm and turning your phone on airplane mode and not looking at your phone until the alarm goes off. My husband and I have found this practice super helpful (especially since he needs to wake up in the morning and I don’t).

6. Exercise

I’ve found that exercise plays a huge role in whether or not I sleep well. Usually, regular exercise helps me sleep so much better!

I run but I also lift weights and do yoga on occasion. I also walk a four-mile loop with my neighbor several times a week. Staying active not only relieves stress but helps me fall asleep easier and stay asleep.

7. Addressing My Health Issues

So, of course, many of you know my crazy misdiagnosis story which led me to a wild and wonderful journey of hard lessons in learning how to take care of myself.

I’ve been tested for food intolerances and have eliminated gluten, dairy, genetically modified food, and commercial meat from my diet. I’ve found that, in general, my body doesn’t respond well to grains and so I lead a mostly grain-free diet.

I’m also super sensitive to caffeine and sugar and so keep these very minimal in my diet as well. I’ve worked with numerous herbalists who have helped me to address my minor health issues and supplement my diet so I feel better and live a much more harmonious life these days.

Sleep Is Not Separate

I can usually get to sleep quickly now provided I follow all these guidelines that I’ve naturally incorporated into my routine over the last few years.

Sleep is not separate from the rest of our lives. I’ve found that by considering the effect of my diet and lifestyle on my sleep, I can better care for myself to get that essential good night’s rest!

Do you have any sleep tips that you’ve found have been super helpful?

These 8 (Mostly Vegan) Natural Tattoo Aftercare Products Will Make You Forget About Aquaphor

Getting a tattoo is a super exciting time.

I remember when I first started getting tattoos. The artists simply gave me little packs of A&D ointment and told me to follow up with Aquaphor. No mention was made of natural tattoo aftercare.

By the time I started getting tattoos, I already knew that products such as these contained toxic ingredients. However, for the record, Aquaphor and its maker Eucerin do not test on animals, which is surprising but apparently true.

What I did find when searching for alternative products is that there’s definitely a market for natural tattoo aftercare products that cater to both vegan and non-vegan audiences. You have options besides using nasty, petroleum-based, animal-tested products to heal your beautiful new ink!

First—What’s Wrong with Aquaphor?

Let’s talk for a second about why you might want to avoid ingredients in brands that some tattoo artists recommend and instead go for natural tattoo aftercare products.

The main active ingredient in Aquaphor is Petrolatum. In case you didn’t know, Petrolatum is just another word for petroleum jelly, so don’t be fooled. Why should you be concerned?

Petrolatum contains possible carcinogens which can lead to cancer development, according to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.

Needless to say, this likely isn’t the best product to put on your open wound, especially when there are other natural tattoo aftercare products available.

In addition, some tattoo artists argue that using petroleum-based products can inhibit healing of the tattoo and even testify that they believe tattoos heal faster when using natural tattoo aftercare products.

8 Natural Tattoo Aftercare Products

Let’s forget about those other crappy products and talk about some authentic, natural balms that you can use so your new tattoo heals beautifully!

All the natural tattoo aftercare products listed here do not test on animals and do not contain synthetic ingredients or fragrance, which can be very toxic to our wellbeing.

1. Ohana Organics Tattoo Butter (Vegan)

So I’ve personally used this natural tattoo aftercare product for my last two tattoos and have really enjoyed (you can see my last two pieces on Instagram here and here).

This tattoo butter is vegan and uses very simple ingredients including shea butter and olive oil.

If you’ve never used shea butter before, it does have a greasy feel to it and so that’s my only problem with this product. I definitely have to be careful with what I touch when I have this on.

Ohana Organics offers half an ounce of their tattoo butter in an adorable tin for $4.99 with larger sizes available. Shop here.

2. Wild Rose Herbs Ink Spray (Vegan)

I’m actually really excited to try Wild Rose Herbs’ natural tattoo aftercare products. I just bought some of their stuff for my sister-in-law for Christmas and they seem to be high-quality products. (Update to this post: I have tried the non-vegan ink balm and so far love it!)

What I love about this ink spray is that it uses peppermint to help with the sometimes severe itching that happens while a tattoo is healing. It also has some other really cool ingredients including witch hazel and German chamomile.

This spray is also vegan!

Wild Rose Herbs sells 1 ounce of their ink spray for $9.95. Shop here.

3. Wild Rose Herbs Tattoo Balm (Both Vegan and Non-Vegan Formulas)

So Wild Rose Herbs carries both vegan and non-vegan formulas for their natural tattoo aftercare balm with the difference being the inclusion of beeswax in the non-vegan formula.

These tattoo balms also use peppermint to help with itch and lavender which tends to be gentle and soothing for healing skin.

Wild Rose Herbs sells both their vegan and non-vegan tattoo balm formulas starting at $10.49 for .85 ounces with larger sizes available. Shop here for vegan and here for the beeswax formula.

4. Brooklyn Grooming Tattoo Balm (Not Vegan)

Ok so I have again not tried Brooklyn Grooming’s natural tattoo aftercare balm; however, it contains pure organic ingredients and is not tested on animals.

With ingredients such as hemp seed oil, shea butter, and vitamin E, it’s hard to go wrong with this tattoo balm. Remember that this formula isn’t vegan friendly due to the fact that it contains beeswax.

Brooklyn Grooming sells their tattoo balm in 2-ounce sizes for $22. Shop here.

5. EiR NYC Tattoo Balm (Vegan)

If you’re looking for a vegan version of Brooklyn Grooming’s tattoo balm, check out EiR NYC’s tattoo balm. I haven’t tried this one but I love the simple, organic ingredients in this natural tattoo aftercare product, including dried rose petals and rosemary!

This balm also includes coconut oil and shea butter and is sold in half-an-ounce containers for $10. Shop here.

6. After Inked Tattoo Moisturizer (Vegan)

So I actually have tried this tattoo moisturizer from After Inked. It’s vegan, which is great, but I’m not too crazy about the formula.

The ingredients aren’t super pure (it contains preservatives), but one big pro to this natural tattoo aftercare product is that it’s not greasy, so it acts as more of a lotion than a balm.

It’s weird though because this is precisely what I didn’t like about it; it didn’t really feel like it was “protecting” my tattoo. However, if you’re looking for a non-greasy tattoo aftercare lotion, this could be your pick!

After Inked sells their tattoo moisturizer in 3-ounce sizes for $20. Shop here.

7. Ora’s Amazing Herbal Tattoo Salve (Not Vegan)

I have not tried this natural tattoo aftercare product but it’s another great pick. It contains a lot of fun herbs including calendula (I LOVE calendula for healing skin and also dry skin among its other benefits), comfrey, thyme, and St. John’s Wort.

Ora’s Amazing Herbal Tattoo Salve contains beeswax so it’s not vegan. You can find sizes starting at 1 ounce for $11.88 here.

8. Susie Q Skin Ink Salve (Not Vegan)

This one made the list even though one of their ingredients is “natural fig fragrance”. I would absolutely question the company about this ingredient before buying to find out if it is actually natural and not synthetic. (The site does say their products don’t contain any synthetic fragrances but I would double check just to be sure.)

I’m putting this natural tattoo aftercare product on here because their other ingredients are pure and they contain other products that could be good as well including tattoo wash. They also have this cool page on their website speaking out against animal testing.

Ingredients in Susie Q Skin’s Ink Salve include hemp seed oil, lemongrass, rose, arnica, and turmeric. You can find 1-ounce sizes and up starting at $19.95 here.

What Are You Waiting for?

When it comes to natural tattoo aftercare products, you absolutely have the power to choose products that aren’t toxic to your body and don’t suffocate your skin.

Your tattoo was something you dreamed of, it’s now a part of you forever, and you want it to heal perfectly. Isn’t your new ink worth investing in some aftercare balms that are good for you as well as the planet?

What do you use to heal your tattoos? I’d love to hear if you know of any more natural products (or home ingredients) that you feel make the cut for superior tattoo aftercare!

Also–if you’ve got fresh ink–check out my post about the five stages of grief and your new tattoo!

5 Things I Learned After Using the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) for a Year

When I was first looking for an herbal method of birth control, I found several different herbs that were reputed to work. It was in looking for this information that I stumbled across an herbalist who taught the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM).

We quickly connected and there began my journey to learn the method. It seemed safer and more reliable than using the herbs I’d found, and its benefits were numerous—tracking my cycle would give me more insight into my health and empower me to consciously not conceive instead of relying on an outside power.

After using the FAM for over a year, here are five different things I’ve learned.

1. every cycle is different

Before I began tracking my cycle for real, I’d estimate on what day my period would come based on what day it came last month. Turns out, predicting one cycle based on another is not how the FAM works.

Every cycle is different. On some months, I ovulate 12 days into my cycle, while other months, it’s not until 19 days in. I’ve learned that just because I ovulated late last month does not mean that I’ll ovulate late this month, so it’s not ok to rely on that information.

I’ve learned to honor the subtle differences that each cycle brings. Some months, it was obvious what day I had ovulated, while other months, I needed help from my herbalist to determine the exact day. Through honoring the differences, I’ve learned to listen to my cycle rather than trying to tell it what to do or predict its mysteries (which, of course, never works).

2. squatting helps

So yes, the FAM does require daily cervix checking. The method has received some negative attention for this, with some healthcare professionals saying that it’s not sanitary to touch your cervix that often.

I’m here to say that as long as you wash your hands before checking your fluid or your cervix, you’ll be just fine.

When I first began using the FAM, I couldn’t even find my cervix half the time. I’d locate it during my period for my menstrual cup, but now, I was having problems. My herbalist suggested I squat in order for my cervix to appear. As someone who’s cervix tends to be high (yes, it moves!), this was hugely helpful.

Checking the texture and opening of your cervix can be an indicator of ovulation, but the primary indicator is the texture of your fluid. If it’s stretchy, ovulation is not far away!

3. it brings peace of mind

At first, my partner and I were hesitant about the method. To be safe, I had the herb wild carrot as a backup plan for contraception.

Then, after having a pregnancy scare because we had intercourse on a day that I did not check my fluid, we decided to commit to the FAM one hundred percent. Since we’ve made that commitment (never having intercourse on fertile days—typically from day 10 to 20 of my cycle—and only having intercourse on days we know are safe), we feel much more secure using the method.

Practice has helped a lot too, as has working with a professional. My herbalist has answered all my questions, gently guided me, and also been firm and clear when my assumptions were wrong (it’s not ok to assume intercourse is safe if you have not checked your fluid just because you are only a few days into your new cycle).

4. it’s not that hard

The FAM seemed extremely complicated and daunting at first. There were charts. There was a thermometer. There was the finding of my cervix. How the heck was I supposed to keep up with all this?

I initially thought that taking my temperature and checking my fluid every single day would feel overwhelming; now, they’re just part of my routine. Of course, it was an adjustment at first, like anything else. However, my partner and I feel grateful to have found a method that we feel works for us with no side effects.

5. my body’s rhythm

This is perhaps the best thing I’ve learned from the FAM—my body’s natural rhythm.

After over a year of using the method, I know what’s normal and what’s not. I’m more familiar with my menstrual cycles, what my fluid looks like before ovulation, and how long my cycles typically last.

Being familiar with my body and all the amazing little things it does has afforded me insight and clarity into my health and femininity. My partner and I feel more enlightened using this method and we have concrete knowledge on when we can have intercourse and when my vagina is on lockdown due to ovulation.

IS IT WORTH IT?

Absolutely, although the FAM isn’t for everyone. I’m grateful that it works for me and that I’m able to engage in a form of birth control that I feel is not harmful to my body. Yes, I’m still learning, just as we all are. The FAM has taught me many things, just like life, and I’m grateful to have had this opportunity to be its student!

Organic Clothing Review—Gaia Conceptions, PACT Organic, and Rawganique

Welcome to my organic clothing review of three companies I’ve found worthy of this post.

A little more than a year ago, I realized many of my clothes were made out of toxic fibers that were actually polluting the earth and potentially exposing me to carcinogens.

What’s a girl to do?

I began looking for alternatives, which wasn’t at all easy. Everything I found seemed to be blended with synthetic fibers. I was annoyed and disheartened—where were the pure clothing companies?

I found a few that I love and that I think meet the standards for ultra-pure stuff. If you’re cleaning out your closet and want to find alternatives to synthetic fibers, check out these brands. You won’t be disappointed!

So which ones have the best stuff and which one did I like the most? Here’s my organic clothing review of three organic clothing companies.

FYI: I did not work with any of these companies to construct this post, and all items were purchased independently by me. The information contained in this post is my honest opinion and these companies are largely unaware that I am even writing this. I do not engage in paid advertising or promotion on my site.

Rawganique

Rawganique was one of the first clothing companies I found for this organic clothing review. I wasn’t really feeling their stuff; it looked really raw and outdated for my taste. I did end up ordering some things from them, however. Here’s what I think.

Clothing: The only clothing I got from Rawganique was a pair of fleece sweatpants and some socks.

Now, the fleece sweatpants were attractively priced (you’ll soon find that organic clothing is expensive) and I love them. Warm and comfortable. The socks, I hate. The fabric is soft but extremely raw, contains no elastic, and shed everywhere. They were also expensive and I will not be ordering them again.

A picture of those strange socks from Rawganique. I mostly wear them to bed now or around the house.

Bedding: I ordered a couple pillows and an organic comforter from Rawganique, both of which I really like.

Conclusion: If you’re looking for the purest of the pure, Rawganique is your store. They are virtually the only company I could find online that makes socks and underwear without elastic in the fabric. Their prices are on the high side although their shipping costs are reasonable. Their customer service was extremely prompt, which was great.

PACT Organic

I was also able to find PACT Organic online for this organic clothing review. Their selection is pretty minimalistic, but they have all the basics. Here’s the deal.

Clothing: I bought a couple long-sleeved shirts from PACT that I adore. They are simple, basic, and go with everything. I also bought a pair of sweatpants from them, which aren’t as thick and warm as the ones from Rawganique, but they are still 100% organic cotton and they’re really comfortable and less than half the price.

I usually wear PACT as a base layer, you can see a black t-shirt here under my Gaia shirt.

I’ve gotten some free socks from PACT as well, and although they’re blended with synthetic fibers, they fit way better and are much cuter than the ones from Rawganique. They’re cheaper, too! Bonus for PACT: some things you buy come with a slip so you can go online and get free socks. It’s really easy and their socks rock! Update: PACT is unfortunately no longer offering this.

Customer service from PACT is on-point. They’re responsive, identify themselves, and their returns are simple and free. I also recently contacted their customer support for an issue with an order and received a $25 store credit, which I was very happy with!

Conclusion: PACT Organic uses synthetic fibers in a lot of their clothing. Their socks, underwear, sports bras, and even some of their shirts and pants use polyester or elastane. I don’t like this about PACT. What I do like is that their stuff is very cheap compared to some organic clothing, and their basics are absolutely worth the price. Their shipping is fast and free and their customer service is great!

Update: I recently ordered some more stuff from PACT and felt like their quality had diminished somewhat. I guess the old saying goes–you get what you pay for!

Gaia Conceptions

I stumbled upon Gaia Conceptions through Etsy, and I’m thrilled that I did. They are my favorite part of this organic clothing review, although not without their flaws.

Their clothing was much more of my style than Rawganique was and their selection was way better than PACT Organic. It’s much more expensive, however.

Gaia Conceptions features handmade, eco-friendly clothing. Their pieces are truly works of art and their fabrics are to die for! The majority of their clothing is synthetic-fiber free, but you can choose to get stretchy fabrics from them if you like that have Lycra blended in with them.

Clothing: Gaia Conceptions’ clothing is second to none. The eco-friendly dyes, the colors, the cuts, the design, it’s all stunning. From summer essentials to winter warmers, Gaia Conceptions has just about anything you can think of. I’ve gotten so many pieces from here and have a few favorites.

The Gypsy Petal Back Long Dress from Gaia Conceptions in 100 percent organic cotton knit. Color: squash.

The downside to Gaia Conceptions is that since they offer natural plant dyes in addition to their selection of low-impact dyes, the plant dyes come out all different colors. They show the colors on the models on their site, but that may not be at all the color you end up with. This is true for all of their plant dyes including brazilwood, sage, sunshine, poppy, and indigo. I think Gaia could do a better job of letting its customers know that these plant dyes vary hugely, however, they do disclose on their site that all dyes are subject to variation, even the low-impact ones that aren’t considered pure plant dyes.

The Priestess Sleeve Ballerina Wanderer Short Dress in 100 percent organic cotton knit. Color: raisin.

The other bad thing about this is that their return policy is a little wonky. They don’t offer refunds, but you can return an item for store credit. However, you only get back 75 percent of the original item cost. And if you don’t like an item for whatever reason, Gaia won’t take it back for full price or for a refund. If they’ve made a mistake, their policy says they will work with you to replace the garment, but you have to fill out their returns form within seven days.

Gaia also makes you pay for return shipping for them to correct or replace the product. However, they do offer free overdyes and alterations IF you fill out their returns request form within seven days. Otherwise, you have to pay. This is conscious consumerism right here.

Gaia’s customer service is prompt although questionable at times. I’ve mostly had good experiences with them, but some bad ones. They don’t offer phone support and do not identify themselves when emailing you. There’s no way to talk to management: you have to email a stranger. In my opinion, their customer communication absolutely needs some help and is one of the worst parts about purchasing from this company, especially if you have an issue. There’s no accountability here, and they often don’t do what they say.

Their return policy should be noted before purchasing anything. These clothes take up to a month to make and ship and they’re expensive, so you want to be absolutely sure that you’re getting what you want and are willing to accept imperfection if you choose to go with a natural plant dye.

In addition, I don’t like that Gaia offers clothing that’s made from animals: they offer silk and wool fabrics (yet don’t disclose where these materials come from and if they are ethically harvested), and two of their natural plant dyes, poppy and amethyst, contain dye from cochineal, which is a type of bug. I contacted them about how these insects were harvested for dye and was redirected to the company where they purchase their cochineal from.

The company basically told me that the bugs are left out to shrivel up and die in the sun, which is not exactly what I would consider ethical harvesting. If you’re a vegan or conscious of these things, you need to be a discerning consumer here.

Conclusion: Although expensive, Gaia Conceptions’ handmade clothing is well-made, locally based in North Carolina, and truly unique. You will not find free shipping here and while they include free gifts with each order, you will rarely find discounts. Around the holidays and equinoxes, they will typically have 10 percent off your order, and lately, they’ve been offering $5 discounts to those who write reviews for them. I’m surprised to say that this clothing is somehow worth every penny, despite the sketchy customer service.

What to Know When Buying Organic Clothing

I had no idea what I was getting into when I was searching for organic clothing for this organic clothing review. Here’s what you should know if you’re considering making the switch.

It’s more expensive. You’ll pay much more for organic, natural fibers than you will for non-organic, synthetic ones.

Fabrics that are blended with synthetics are cheaper. Anything you find on an organic clothing website that’s been blended with elastane, spandex, or polyester is cheaper than the pure stuff. Many people like their leggings, underwear, and socks to have a bit of fit to them.

Some pieces are unique. If you get pieces that are handmade—which some organic pieces are—you should expect variations in the color and cut. You can contact the company if you have any questions before purchasing!

It’s a different buying experience. Don’t expect to buy organic clothing and get the same experience as you do at Forever 21. This is not that. These clothes are harder to find while you’re out. They don’t look or feel the same as synthetic fibers. The customer service is different. You will feel different wearing them. They are much more expensive. You will need to take better care of them.

Get some freaking plant-based detergent. I use Dr. Bronner’s for everything, but if you don’t, you should really invest in some plant-based detergent for your new organic clothing. Plus don’t you know all the big-name brands test on animals?

You can utilize thrift stores. If you can’t afford to pay for new organic clothing, why not check out some used stuff? Even if it’s not organic, 100 percent natural fibers such as hemp and cotton are the next best thing. Your local thrift store may have some options!

 

Have you ever tried to shop for organic clothing? Making the switch is an investment. It can feel painful to pay $90 for a t-shirt when you could buy one on clearance at a department store for $5.

When you think about your impact on the world, it doesn’t feel like that much money, though. Plus, you’re much thriftier with your cash when you buy natural fibers because they’re so much more expensive.

I now have a semi-minimalistic closet with just a few essentials and all my favorite organic fabrics in there. It was difficult finding the right companies for this organic clothing review, but it felt so worth it to get rid of all my toxic clothing and invest in a few pieces that truly inspire me!

Do you know of any organic pure clothing companies that rock? I’d love to hear from you if so! Happy shopping 🙂 

5 Reasons Victoria’s Secret Is Actually Hurting Women

I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve been a long-time fan of Victoria’s Secret. At one point, I knew all the models’ names and even their weight.

Pretty embarrassing.

Then, after realizing bras really aren’t great for our health, I went totally bra-free nearly two years ago and have never looked back. Since then, I’ve sold my Victoria’s Secret bras to try and gain back what I lost giving my meager earnings to this billion-dollar company.

But all this doesn’t quite define the issue I have with Victoria’s Secret. I’ve realized that this company is hurting women more than they’re helping them.

Here’s why more and more women are considering what’s wrong with Victoria’s Secret and why I myself have questioned my purchases there and eventually stopped shopping there altogether.

1. Teaches Women That Perfection Is the Norm

My problem with Victoria’s Secret is that they allow girls to feel like being this thin is not only desirable but is also somehow the norm.

It’s not. The majority of women do not look like this. Yes, some women do have naturally thin body types that can be enhanced through diet, exercise, and PhotoShop.

But making girls feel like this is what’s expected of them is unrealistic. The average American woman weighs 166.2 pounds, while the average Victoria’s Secret model weighs about 120 pounds.

That’s over 45 pounds of weight difference.

I’m not saying the 166-pound average American woman is healthy. I’m not saying Victoria’s Secret 120-pound models are unhealthy. What I am saying is that there’s a huge gap here and that Victoria’s Secret does not represent the majority of women.

 

2. Helps Women Feel Confident Only When Covered

Why was I so obsessed with Victoria’s Secret for all those years?

Victoria’s Secret, to me, represented a world where women could feel sexy and not ashamed of their bodies.

Although I loved buying lingerie, I only did so because I couldn’t stand the sight of my actual body.

I was taught to hide and be embarrassed about my large breasts from an early age. Victoria’s Secret provided me with a way to deal with these feelings and feel better about myself.

However, I was only confident when I was covered. You almost never see Victoria’s Secret models naked. It teaches women that they need sexy lingerie to be desirable or attractive.

Their message is: when you have this product you’re hot. When you don’t have it, you’re not. Victoria’s Secret made me feel great for years until I realized that without the lingerie, I just felt like crap about myself and that wasn’t ok.

3. Bras Just Aren’t Really That Healthy

So why did I turn away from bras when I felt like I essentially needed them to feel good?

I read a fantastic article on Elephant Journal about why bras aren’t healthy for us and it changed my life.

Since reading about research that points to an increased risk for breast cancer due to heat and lymph node drainage, increased back and shoulder pain, and even toxic synthetic fabrics, I couldn’t wear a bra anymore.

So I stopped.

Bras just aren’t healthy for us. Underwire bras put pressure on our lymph nodes, which prevents our lymphatic system from draining properly. For us girls who have large breasts and require more material and padding, the accumulated heat from wearing a bra can increase our risk for breast cancer.

Combine all this with the fact that bras can actually cause sagging, reduce your nipple height, and increase back pain, and bras aren’t looking that sexy anymore.

4. There’s No Such Thing as a Real Woman

skw

 

Victoria’s Secret’s notorious PhotoShop fails and digital enhancement of their models creates a world of advertising where there are no real women. Of course, Victoria’s Secret isn’t the only company guilty of this.

While I don’t doubt their models look fantastic in real life, I also don’t doubt that those photos have been altered to make the women look completely unrealistic.

This is exactly what happens with magazines. Everyone knows this—those women may be real people, but their photos have been altered in such a way that they don’t portray real women anymore.

Real beauty is strength. Strength is sexy. Being in shape is sexy. I don’t wish to skinny shame anyone; I only want to point out that real women don’t exist in advertising. That’s slowly changing, though!

5. They Use Synthetic Fabrics and Unethical Labor

Any fabric that’s synthetic or even partially synthetic is typically treated with formaldehyde.

Formaldehyde is a possible human carcinogen.

In fact, some women have even experienced allergic reactions to the bras as a result of this. Most of Victoria’s Secret’s bras are made out of synthetic materials.

Even their cotton bras are blended with some type of synthetic fabric such as spandex.

These fabrics are essentially made from plastics, which are made from oils, which are flammable.

This means they require flame retardants in order for them to be safe for you to wear.

All this and not to mention their unethical labor standards, which show that Victoria’s Secret is getting labor and materials for extremely cheap and then selling the bras for ridiculously high prices.

So not only are their bras not healthy or eco-friendly, they are also supporting child labor in various countries.

Your Alternatives to Victoria’s Secret

Don’t worry, avoiding this company and breaking your habit is easier than you think.

I dare you to not wear a bra for a day. You’ll be amazed at how different you feel. You can also get an organic cotton bralette or scarves to cover yourself when you’re feeling modest.

As for me, I still wear sports bras when I go running, but I’m completely bra-free outside of that. I’ve been loving every second of embracing my body without the toxic Victoria’s Secret brand.

Consider how your purchases make an impact. Be conscious of your choices. Support organic cotton, handmade clothing, and natural fabrics. Stop buying stuff that’s not only impacting your health but the health of the planet.

You are so sexy all on your own.

What to Consider When Getting a Tattoo

What to consider when getting a tattoo is a personal question and not one to be taken lightly.

As someone with six tattoos, I speak from experience. While I may not be a full-body girl, I know a thing or two about advising someone whether or not they should get a tattoo and what to consider when getting a tattoo.

So what to consider when getting a tattoo? There are several things to take into account here:

Black and White or Color?

What to consider when getting a tattoo starts with considering whether or not you’d like it to be in black and white or color.

Consider that color will fade over time (as will the black, but not as much) and you’ll need to try and coordinate it with everything you wear for the rest of your life. Unless you get it somewhere people won’t see.

I don’t have any color tattoos (yet); they’re all in black. It’s easy to coordinate and simple when thinking about what to consider when getting a tattoo.

Design Trends

This is a big one to be wary about when it comes to what to consider when getting a tattoo. What’s trendy today will not be trendy forever—and your tattoo is forever!

So just because you’re obsessed with roman numerals or that Florence + the Machine song doesn’t mean you can get tattoos of them.

What you love now will change in the future. Remember when stars were super popular? A tattoo should be timeless—not trendy!

Location on Your Body

This is one of the bigger questions about what to consider when getting a tattoo. Remember that you can’t move it once it’s there.

You can add to it or have it removed—but it’s pretty much stuck there.

Consider your job. Will your boss love your new forearm tattoo? Maybe you have a really casual place of work, and that’s awesome. But if you don’t, consider getting one on your back, torso, upper leg, or inner arm. Something you can easily hide should the occasion call for it.

Also, remember that certain locations hurt more than others—your back will be a killer! Places like arm and leg aren’t bad. Ankle kills. Ribcage kills. Keep that in mind when it comes to what to consider when getting a tattoo!

Your Design or the Artist’s?

If you want something crazy for a tattoo, you’ll need to decide whether or not you’d like to design it yourself or work with the tattoo artist to design it.

I’ve designed all my tattoos myself so that I can control exactly what goes on my body. However, tattoo artists are called artists for a reason. If your design is getting complicated, talk with them about it when thinking about what to consider when getting a tattoo.

They’re usually pretty cool people and will tell you what they think looks good and what doesn’t. Finding a tattoo artist that you really mesh with is awesome!

Which Shop?

So yeah, you need to go to a good place. This is probably the most important thing with getting your tattoo so you don’t get HIV. DO YOUR RESEARCH.

Call shops. Visit them. Talk to the artists. A shop should be clean, friendly, and get good reviews. Even better if you know someone who’s been there and gotten some great ink done. Can’t beat an in-person review!

Which Ink?

All inks are not created equal, so think about this when thinking about what to consider when getting a tattoo.

SOME TATTOO INKS ARE NOT VEGAN AS WELL AS TEST ON ANIMALS. Yes, it’s true.

Call the shop and ask which inks their artists use. Again, do your research. Personally, I don’t really want crushed up animal bones being inked into my skin. Nor do I want tattoo inks that have been tested on puppies.

Timeline

Spontaneous tattoos can be a lot of fun. However, I do encourage you to THINK about what you want, where you want it, etc. for several months at least before actually getting the tattoo.

Choose your design, the location, etc., then just think about it. Remember, this thing won’t go away. You’ll have to see it every single day and so will your significant other. Make sure it’s something that again, is timeless, not trendy, and that you love.

IT Hurts

Getting a tattoo hurts. A LOT. If you don’t handle pain well, this probably isn’t for you.

I’ve gotten tattoos unwillingly crying because they’ve hurt so much. So think about this when thinking about what to consider when getting a tattoo.

It’s not like a piercing where they shove the needle through your ear (or lip or face or whatever else) and it’s over. This needle KEEPS jabbing you. Sometimes for hours, depending on how big your tattoo is.

Size

This is also really important! If you’re unsure about what size you can get, your tattoo artist can help you choose the size that’s best for the location on your body, your size, your design, etc.

While there are some crook tattoo artists out there, remember that most artists are cool people and they’re not trying to get your money—they just want you to be happy with what they deliver. Nothing sucks like an unhappy customer.

The main thing to think about here is to not get it too big—I feel like you’d rather have a too-small tattoo than a too-big one. This is an important thing to think about when it comes to what to consider when getting a tattoo!

That’s about it for what to consider when getting a tattoo. Just remember that this thing is for life, so you should spend time thinking about it, and don’t get something trendy. Choose the best location and size for you, and it’s super important to get a clean and reputable shop/artist to do the work.

Get inked!

HELP! My Menstrual Cup Is Leaking! Your Total Guide to Stop It

Your menstrual cup is leaking?! I know these things are adorable, but they can be frustrating too! Here’s my guide to getting that thing to stop leaking once and for all.

MC Green

It seems that many of you liked my post about the menstrual cup which is great because menstrual cups are amazing.

They can feel intimidating at first—but they’re totally worth it for three badass reasons:

Honestly, it took quite a while for me to get the hang of mine (I’m talking years). For a while, I thought I just wasn’t ever going to get it.

During this time I compiled a list that I keep in my bathroom with the cup for when I have trouble with it (which isn’t often at all now).

I’d like to share this list of twelve items with my fellow females in case some of you are having trouble like I was. Here’s what to do if your menstrual cup is leaking!

1. Check the Seal

When your menstrual cup is leaking, that means the seal has not been created properly.

There needs to be a seal created between the lip of the cup and your vaginal wall. When this seal is created, your menstrual cup should not move easily (you can usually test the seal by grabbing the stem and giving it a good tug to see if it readily moves) and it should not leak. No matter what.

The only way the seal can get messed up once created is by pooing (sorry, people who poo with their menstrual cup in) and pinching the base of the cup. The latter is the action you will do when you are ready to remove the menstrual cup/empty it to break the seal.

But how do we create the seal?

2. Find the Right Fold

There are SO many different folds out there! The “C” fold is supposed to be the most popular, but I’ve found that many women don’t like this fold. I myself don’t like it anymore. I use the “7” fold and the “punch-down” fold. I like the 7 fold better. It’s easy to find out how to do these folds; Google them!

Fold preference really just depends on what works for you. Some women prefer different folds based on their size, or comfort, or what creates the seal best. For me, it’s all about creating the seal. What’s the point of using the bleeding thing if your menstrual cup is leaking?!

Other folds include the origami fold, squiggle fold, diamond fold, and the labia fold. Experiment and find which one is for you!

3. WHERE’S MY CERVIX?!

I promise it’s not that hard, but you really do need to find your cervix if your menstrual cup is leaking.

Supposedly it feels firm and squishy, like the tip of your nose (and yeah, it actually does feel like that). Some women have higher cervixes, some have lower. The cervix is the entrance to your womb, so it’s in your vagina. Stick your finger up there and find it.

It took me a little while to realize that my cervix was actually angled a little to the left, and this has made a huge difference in helping my menstrual cup not to leak. Some women need longer stems on their cups and some need shorter, just depending on where your cervix is. Some women cut off the stem of their menstrual cup because they don’t need it. It’s all about your body and what works for you. But you do need to know where it is.

The menstrual cup should sit just below your cervix. If it’s in too high, this messes up the flow and your menstrual cup won’t work like it’s supposed to. If it’s too low, the seal won’t work.

And, here’s the killer—your cervix can actually move during menstruation. So you won’t just have to find it once but several times during your period. Get to know its position during your cycle!

4. Rotate the Cup

After you do your cute little fold and your menstrual cup pops open inside you, some women suggest giving the cup one full rotation to create the seal (and then pull down slightly) if your menstrual cup is leaking.

5. Pull the Cup Down

Some people suggest pulling the cup down (especially after rotating) to allow it to settle into its best position after it pops open inside you. I’ve found this to be very helpful when creating my seal!

Just pull it down maybe an inch or so, don’t pull the thing out. The pull is more like a gentle but firm tug to make sure the cup is in place.

6. Consider the Material of the Cup

Most cups are made out of silicone. Mine is made out of silicone as well.

So the deal with silicone is that it can be rather soft. This is cool because it makes the cup moldable to your unique vaginal wall in order to create the seal. It’s not cool because its softness can prevent your menstrual cup from properly popping open when it’s inside of you due to its softness.

So what to do? If your menstrual cup is leaking, take it out. Then, before insertion, run the menstrual cup under cold water to help firm up the silicone molecules. It’s actually not too bad inserting a cold cup, and you do need to insert it right after you run it under cold water.

This is a good thing to try if you have tight muscles down there and are having problems with getting your cup to open all the way.

How do you know if your menstrual cup is open all the way?

7. Feel That It’s Open

Running your finger along the edge of the menstrual cup can help you know if your cup is properly open. If your menstrual cup is leaking, chances are it didn’t pop open right. If you feel that it’s not properly open, this is a good time to do the rotation. Or…

8. Do Kegels

You smart ladies all know what these are right? If you don’t, I suggest you get your butt over to Google right now and find out. You need to be doing these, especially if you like to run and/or have children so that your vagina doesn’t fall out (this can happen!).

Kegels are basically just exercises that you do to strengthen your muscles down there. They are very simple. All you do is act like you are holding your pee. So for example, when you pee, just stop peeing. In the middle of it. Do this two times or so and you’re good to go. Eventually, you can learn to do them without peeing.

How can they help you when your menstrual cup is leaking?

They can help you by creating the seal (and, as we’ve discussed, the seal is critical). If you fold your cup and insert it and it doesn’t pop open all the way, or even if it does, you can do kegels to help create the seal. It does feel a little weird doing these exercises while the cup is inside of you (it basically feels like you are trying to push the menstrual cup out of you), but I’ve found that they really help when creating the seal or if you’re having problems with your cup opening all the way.

Kegels also help when you are trying to get the menstrual cup out. If you have it in there good, it might be hard to get out depending on its position. This is where the “pushing it out” feeling comes in handy.

9. Open Your Mouth

This is a weird one, but it works—keeping your mouth open while inserting/getting your cup in properly can help relax your muscles down there, therefore allowing the cup to open naturally and situate itself in the proper position. This one has helped me a lot!

10. Squat

Just as the size and fold of your cup matters as well as the position of your cervix, so does the position YOU are in when inserting your menstrual cup.

I’ve found that different cups come with different instructions for insertion. Some women insert the cup while sitting on the toilet, others while standing, some while squatting.

I’m here to tell you that if your menstrual cup is leaking, you might want to consider changing your position when you insert the cup. In my personal experience, squatting works the best. I never insert my cup any other way.

I started squatting to check my cervix when I started using the fertility awareness method, and I’ve found that this is just a way better position to find my cervix and insert the cup.

Every woman is different so find what works for you, but definitely give squatting a try if your menstrual cup is leaking!

11. Get the Right Size

There are different sizes and shapes of the cups. You need to pick the one that is best for you.

The guidelines that the menstrual cup websites have for sizes seem to be accurate. Mostly I feel that it is personal preference about which cup works best for you, and unfortunately, sometimes this just has to happen with trial and error. Reading reviews is helpful also! If you’re not sure about the size, contact the company and talk to them about it.

12. Contact the Company

If you’ve literally tried everything and your cup is still leaking—don’t give up! Contact the company that made your cup. Tell them what’s going on. They will help you!

I finally had to do this when I was on my fourth menstrual cup, the Lunette, and broke down and contacted the company. I should have done this sooner, because four menstrual cups later… seriously?!

The customer care people at Lunette were incredibly nice, understanding, and kept working with me and asking questions until we had the problem figured out (it was a combination of my cervix being to the left and the cup being too small… those sizes aren’t for everyone! Just because you’re 25 and haven’t given birth vaginally doesn’t mean you need the bigger size and vice versa. These are just guidelines. You’ll only know by trial and error which cup works for you!)

So What Works for Me?

After trying The Keeper and The Lady Cup (both sizes), I use the larger size of the Lunette and have been very successful with this cup.

Here’s my routine for inserting my cup without leaking:

  1. Wash my hands and my cup with Dr. Bronner’s castile soap, rinsing thoroughly
  2. Squat
  3. Check where my cervix is
  4. Fold the cup (I use the “7” fold)
  5. Open my mouth
  6. Insert the cup angled back towards my rectum but also towards my cervix (my cervix is angled to the left)
  7. Let the cup go (I can usually hear it “pop” open; this sound can help you know if the seal is there)
  8. Rotate the cup
  9. Pull the cup down
  10. Do 2-3 kegels
  11. Give it another tug to make sure it’s good

All done!

I know it sounds confusing and complicated… trust me, one day, you’ll find what works for you!

Other Resources

Bottom line: if your menstrual cup is leaking, it’s not working. I hope this list helps. If you’re still confused, there’s this great video by this British girl (woman? She looks so young!) that will give you some more visual help. She is really awesome!

Good luck! 🙂

Why to Use Cast Iron: It’s Your New BFF

If you’re into cooking food, you might be considering why to use cast iron.

With other non-stick options like Teflon, why would you ever use cast iron?

cast iron

What Is the Problem With Teflon, Exactly?

Teflon is just another name for a synthetic chemical, which is processed with other chemicals to make your non-stick surfaces.

These other chemicals are supposedly not present in significant amounts when the finished product is done.

(And we should all thoroughly trust the government to regulate what’s a “significant” amount of toxic chemicals and bleach in our stuff, right? Right.)

So.

These chemicals break down in high temps and get into your food, and therefore, in your body. They are carcinogenic.

You ESPECIALLY need to stay away when the pan is scratched, because then the literal particles of Teflon and its fun gang of chemical friends are going into your food/mouth.

You need to throw these things out immediately if they are scratched (and even if they are not scratched, but baby steps, right?)

So Why to USe Cast Iron?

I was introduced to cast iron the same summer I was introduced to coconut oil so you can bet my summer was filled with fun adventures of getting used to all the perks of the cast iron and using the hell out of that coconut oil.

And, it was also filled with a ton of nachos and refried beans, thanks to a recipe out of a gluten-free book called Gluten is my Bitch by April Peveteaux, which was, coincidentally, also given to me that summer for my birthday.

ANYWAY. So, why to use cast iron?

  • You can use it on the stove or in the oven.
  • You do not have to wash it. At all. (Ok so you can wash it sometimes and maybe you even should when you cook meat in it but who am I to say?)
  • It holds temperature really well, although it takes a bit more time to get heated up.
  • You can do weight workouts with it when you’ve misplaced your dumbbells.
  • You can club people with it and there’s a possibility they may not return from unconsciousness. Which comes in handy when you live alone in a cabin in the woods.
  • It does not have nasty harmful chemicals in it that will give you cancer.

I first learned that I didn’t have to wash cast iron when I actually washed it and it rusted. I had to refinish it several times after that. LEARNING CURVE.

It’s easy to refinish a cast iron once you’ve royally screwed over your pan, so don’t worry. Another awesome reason about why to use cast iron. It’s virtually indestructible.

You just need some steel wool and some oil or fat. Cast iron does not need to be washed. I wipe mine out with a cloth when I’m done. Then again, I am also not cooking raw meats in there or commercial eggs which may have campylobacter or salmonella.

So, if you’re cooking these things in a cast iron, you might want to use just a little Dr. Bronner’s to rinse it out. You’re allowed to use a little dish soap, but only if it’s not tested on animals.

Cast iron holds heat really well, so after it’s heated up you need to turn that temp down to low most of the time. And don’t try and pick it up without a cloth or a potholder when it’s hot! Ooo baby.

Doesn’t Food Cooked In Cast Iron Stick?

Actually, if it’s been properly seasoned (oiled) and maintained, it doesn’t stick at all. A great reason why to use cast iron.

You DO need to use more oil than a Teflon pan, though. If you are not using enough oil, your food will stick.

To get the stuck food out, use kosher salt or your metal spatula.

Don’t soak it! Water and cast iron do not mix well (it’s ok to add water to the pan when cooking but it may alter the seasoning a little, making it more likely to stick).

There are a ton of tips and helpful sites out there to assist you with your first cast iron. Don’t be afraid! You should be afraid of getting cancer, not some silly heavy pan.

Where to Buy and Prices

You can get a medium-size cast iron for as cheap as $9.99 at T.J Maxx. I also found a big cast iron that I use when I’m cooking for more than one person at a flea market in Virginia for $10.

They do sell new ones for quite a bit of money, though. For your first one, I wouldn’t spend that much. Try to find something cheaper so you can experiment and you won’t feel entirely heartbroken if you’ve ruined it. Look and you will find when considering why to use cast iron.

NOTE: I’ve heard recently that commercial cast iron pans are sprayed with some type of chemicals to make them “seasoned”. I haven’t looked into this claim yet because both my cast irons have been so damn seasoned over my years of use that I’m pretty sure any chemicals have burned off. But check it out before buying…

I’m Not Into Cast Iron—What Else Can I Use?

There are other alternatives out there. You can use ceramic. Supposedly ceramic is cool. I’m not sure how I feel about it yet because the non-stick nature of it reminds me of Teflon, even though I know it’s NOT Teflon.

You can also use copper and stainless steel, but be aware these metals may be made with other metals and get into the food too. Look for high-quality stainless steel.

Glass and Corningware seem ok. I’ve also heard that the type of iron used in the cast iron pans is not great for the body either as the body doesn’t absorb it the same way as it would an organic iron.

Confusing, right? As long as I’m not using Teflon, I feel ok.

So there you have it. Give cast iron a try. These pans are cheap, virtually indestructible, and make amazing dishes that crisp like no other. Why would you ever go back to Teflon when you could have one of these gems?