October is a month known for sweaters, pumpkins and fall leaves. It is also Breast Cancer Awareness month, a time when we rally around survivors, family, friends and remember those who lost their battle to the most common form of female cancer. So what do we need to be aware of?
After being given an unnecessary hysterectomy at the age of 42, Michelle King Robson saw a dramatic shift in her health. She went into menopause overnight, gained weight, experienced hot flashes, joint pain and memory loss. “I got so sick that I didn’t want to live anymore,” she recalls of the experience. Her struggles with the procedure and the long road to recovery that followed, lead her to create her website EmpowHER.com.
Michelle recently sat down with Deepak Chopra to have a discussion on her experience as part of the One World series on NEWSWIRE.FM.
As Michelle struggled through recovery, she searched for someone who had been through something similar. After visiting hundreds of websites and reaching out to doctors across the country, she couldn’t find a single person who could tell her what to expect, recommend a course of action or even give her any words of encouragement. “I got sick, I got well, and then I got mad and that’s when I decided to start a company.” Michelle explains. EmpowHER was created to ensure that no woman has to go through the struggles that Michelle went through around her health.
“What happened with me was I didn’t advocate for myself, and most women don’t. We advocate for everybody else…but we don’t do it for ourselves.” She told Deepak for the One World episode. EmpowHER allows women to not only find support when they are dealing with a variety of health challenges; but also helps women (and men alike) take control of their health with condition-specific medical information and access to a dynamic community.
EmpowHER offers resources to women around what questions they should be asking of their healthcare providers and what things they can be doing to advocate for their health. “I wanted to make sure women have valuable information and support because that’s what I was lacking.” This is how EmpowHER’s 24-hour promise was born. Anyone can log into the site, ask a question and they are guaranteed a FREE answer within 24 hours. In this way, Michelle can ensure that no one gets left behind. “We all deserve answers, validation and support around our health.”
As caregivers in most societies, women are taught to put their own wellbeing last. With EmpowHER, Michelle seeks to turn this trend on its head. “It’s ok for you to be first in your life. Because if you’re not first guess what happens? The whole family suffers.” Rather than becoming bitter as a result of her own experiences, Michelle has created the support system and tools she wishes she had. EmpowHER brings credible health information and women together in a safe trusted community. “When you have information, you have the power to change outcomes in your life and every life you touch.”
Since establishing EmpowHER, Michelle has become a nationally-recognized women’s health and wellness advocate spending her time speaking before women’s groups, health care organizations, political leaders, regulatory bodies and the media about women’s health and the importance of women advocating for themselves and their loved ones.
You can see Deepak’s whole conversation with Michelle at NEWSWIRE.FM
Learn more about Michelle and EmpowHER.com: http://www.empowher.com/michelle
Download Michelle’s Free HER Health Toolkit: http://www.empowher.com/toolkit
I read with great interest the other day a story on the rising use of ADHD medication among women. While the new mantra for women is that to succeed they need to “lean in,” to be more assertive and seek greater authority at work and at home, the added pressures to do it all may be driving them to use these prescriptions to help them attain that superwoman status. Consider, if you will, the competition out there. We all know that classic A-Type tornado — the woman who gets up at 5 a.m., sprints to the gym, then showers, answers all e-mails, fixes her family a breakfast of flaxseed banana waffles with hot maple syrup and is ready to go the office as soon as she drives her four equally perfect children to school.
I must confess that when my kids were little, I too, thought I could be the perfect woman. But that notion didn’t last very long. Indeed, I recall rushing my older sons off to the bus, taking my little girl to nursery school, and even giving The Lawyer a ride to his office. An hour later, all missions accomplished, I, Wonder Woman, űber wife, returned to my office and started to write my column still with plenty of time left to meet my deadline. I sat back in the chair and let out a large self-satisfied sigh, thinking to myself: Who said you can’t have it—and, most important, do it—all? Just then the phone rang.
“Mrs. Michael,” stated the voice on the other end, “this is Mrs. Butters at the nursery school.” Pause. “You seem to have sent your daughter to school in her pajamas.” Bam!
Until recently, the regular evening (and/or lunchtime) calmative of choice for professional women was almost always a glass (or two, or three) of white wine. But nowadays, more and more women are turning to prescription medication to help them focus and become more productive. While virtually all of us in the health advice arena recommend other modalities such as healthier diets, sound fitness programs and meditation, for example, a pill, alas, seems so much easier! In fact, according to a report just released by Express Scripts based on an analysis of prescription claims that was the latest and most comprehensive look at ADHD medication trends in the U.S., adult women’s use of ADHD medications has risen so far and fast that it far outnumbers those taken by adult men.
The report also finds achievement demands may be impacting increasingly younger women. Surprisingly, the number of females ages 19-25 on these medications is 27 percent higher than girls ages 4-18, countering trends seen in males, whose ADHD medication use drops sharply after age 18. Furthermore, the greatest surge in ADHD use has been in the adult population – climbing 53 percent overall and an alarming 84 percent for those ages 26-34.
“The rapid increase in adult use of these medications is striking, especially since there is very little research on how these treatments affect an older population,” says David Muzina, M.D., Express Scripts’ Vice President of Specialist Practice. “It signals a need to look more closely at how and why physicians prescribe these medications for adults, particularly women, who may turn to them, or experience symptoms of attention disorders, as a result of keeping up with the multiple demands on their time.”
Other findings from the research include:
• The percentage of boys ages 12-18 using ADHD drugs reached 9 percent in 2012, a nearly 18 percent increase from 2008.
• The southern region of the U.S. has the highest concentration of ADHD medication use, with South Carolina showing the greatest prevalence overall: 14 percent of 12-18 year olds there are on an ADHD drug treatment program.
• The prescribing of anti-psychotic treatments is exceptionally high among those treated for ADHD (12 percent vs. 4 percent of non-ADHD medication users); however, the number has been declining in recent years.
Continues Dr. Muzina: “While ADHD medications can be extremely beneficial, they can still be dangerous for patients with heart problems, and may cause serious interactions with other prescriptions, as well as conditions such as bipolar disorder.“
That is why, according to the doctor, these types of drugs require judicious prescribing. To that end, patients with ADHD can benefit from the expertise and experience provided through Express Scripts’ Neuroscience Therapeutic Resource Center®, where specialist pharmacists with advanced training in behavioral treatments oversee their care. These experienced clinical specialists are very familiar with the complex medication-related issues associated with ADHD and its treatments, are well equipped to recognize medication issues and can effectively counsel patients on the proper use of these drugs.
With ADHD medication abuse a growing problem, specialist pharmacists are also on the lookout for any indications of potential abuse. If this is suspected, Express Scripts’ Fraud, Waste and Abuse program can investigate and, when necessary, will refer the matter to the proper legal authorities.
The net-net is that ADHD medications should be carefully prescribed and monitored. While so far it is mostly through anecdotal reporting, it seems as if there is a growing concern throughout the U.S. that these drugs are frequently being liberally administered without the proper testing. There certainly are plenty of credible defenders of this surge in growth of their use, but the Express Scripts Report is certainly sobering support for those who are alarmed by the recent upward trend. To access the full report, please visit http://lab.express-scripts.com/prescription-drug-trends/turning-attention-adhd/.
Having worked on The Chopra Well for over a year before joining the Intent Team I know first hand some of the ridiculous comments vloggers can get. They range anywhere from spam and complete nonsense to hate language and death threats. The anonymity of the internet allows people to spread their inner demons with reckless abandon, and while no vlogger is safe from these types of comments – women by far get the worst of it.
The reason STEM channels and fields remain so heavily male dominated is because women are more easily deterred by the ludicrous comments they receive from viewers. There’s more pressure on women to not only deliver great content, but to look hot while doing so. And what does that say about us? That if a woman isn’t found physically attractive then the words coming out of her mouth aren’t important. God forbid she should make any small mistake in figures or say something that could be misconstrued as inaccurate because you can bet there will be a handful of trolls ready at their keyboards to demand she go back to the kitchen where she belongs. It’s 2013, everyone. Why are we still in this place?
The best point that Emily makes is that the commenters themselves aren’t the only problem. It is those that idly stand by and allow it to happen. It is both men and women that throw their hands up and say “That’s just the way it is,” that perpetuate this cycle of sexist, misogynistic nonsense. We have to do better. It’s not enough that you yourself don’t belittle women, STEM vloggers or otherwise, but we have to take a stand against those that do. We may not be able to cure the ignorance that catalyzes this behavior but if we all unite in the movement to say that it’s unacceptable we may be able to shame them back into the dark, secluded internet caves they came out of.
Thank you Emily for fighting the good fight and we wish you the best of luck in continuing your mission to provide stimulating and interesting science content for the masses via the interwebs. We stand with you. If you stand with Emily too let us know in the comments below. If your first instinct is to make a comment about how she needs cuter glasses then I request that you please step to the left – ain’t nobody got time for that.
Many of us assume that buying the best shampoos and conditioners will be enough to keep our hair looking healthy. These products do help to repair existing hair damage but don’t do much to promote new hair growth and cannot replace essential vitamins that we may be missing from our diet. There are certain essential vitamins and minerals that our hair relies upon, and a lack of these is often the source of many hair growth problems. Some simple changes to our diet can really make a big difference to the look of our hair.
Modern lifestyles can also have an impact – a busy lifestyle, lack of sleep, or even pregnancy can seriously make a difference in our hair health. Vitamin supplements have been proven to help, but if you are looking for the most natural sources of these vitamins then here is a list of 5 food types foods that can help to provide those essential vitamins your hair needs.
Many sources site that salmon is the number 1 super food for healthy hair. This is because it contains a great combination of essential substances that our hair simply loves. Omega 3 oils help maintain a well hydrated scalp, and many believe this is essential to maintaining healthy hair growth. Oily fish such as herring, mackerel and sardines are rich in omega-3, and salmon is also rich in Vitamin D which is great for your hair follicles.
If you are someone who doesn’t like eating fish then certain vegetable sources can be a great way to get the omega-3 you need. Rapeseed, flaxseed, soya beans, walnuts, almond and even tofu are all good sources of Omega-3.
Vegetables with Beta-carotene
Beta carotene is present in many vegetables and provides us with a great source of Vitamin A. For many people who suffer from dandruff a simple addition of vitamin A to their diet can help solve the problem. Vitamin A helps to promote sebum oil which is our body’s natural conditioner for our scalp. It can also help with hair growth problems as it is said to assist with oxygenating our scalp. Sweet potatoes are known to be one of the best sources, and other vegetables such as carrots, spinach, and broccoli are also recommended.
Oysters are also recommended to help fight scalp problems such as dandruff. A lack of zinc in your diet may even be the cause of hair loss, and oysters have a particularly high zinc content. Zinc helps promote the level of androgens in our body, and for some people a low level of androgens has been directly linked to hair loss. Crab, liver and beef are also good sources of zinc.
Eggs and other biotin rich foods
Our hair is essentially built using protein, a nutrient that has been associated with speeding up hair growth. Protein can be found in many types of foods, but eggs are one of the best sources. Another important mineral in eggs is biotin, and those who have a biotin deficiency may suffer from brittle hair. To prevent this, biotin has been proven to be effective from both foods and supplements if needed. Kidney beans and nuts such as almonds and even peanuts are also good sources of biotin.
Fruit and vegetables with Vitamin C
Vitamin C is great for both our hair and skin. Vitamin C helps keep our blood vessels oxygenated, which in turn keeps our hair follicles healthy. Super fruits such as blueberries have a very high level of Vitamin C, and strawberries and citrus fruits are also good sources. Many vegetables such as green beans, spinach and broccoli are good sources, and the old-fashioned rule of eating colorful vegetables can give you a good indication of a high vitamin C content, as well.
You may have identified that one of these essential sources of vitamins is missing from your diet, and that may well be the cause of a particular problem. If you are concerned and believe you may have a nutrient deficiency then simple tests at your doctors can identify what vitamins and minerals you may be lacking. This Women’s Hair PDF can also help you to diagnose any hair health problems you may have!
Right now I’m sitting on a yoga mat on the rooftop of 2309 Main Street in Santa Monica, California. Just below me is a giant red wall painted with the words “YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL,” and there are two ten-foot tall inflatable dancing man balloons blowing in the wind beside me. There are men and women walking by on the sidewalk below, a beautiful community garden across the street. The ocean is just visible in the distance. This is #OccupyYouAreBeautiful.
Between today and Wednesday, September 18, this yoga mat will be my home. I will stay here all day and all night — I will eat here, sleep here, and I will be joined by yoga teachers, musicians, speakers, and other members of the community.
#OccupyYouAreBeautiful is a public demonstration of solidarity with people who struggle with food and body image issues on all ends of the spectrum. Together, we are taking a stand – for life, for happiness, and for the right for all people to feel beautiful in the bodies they inhabit.
The statistics around eating disorders in this country are discouraging. Nearly 24 million Americans suffer from eating disorders, and millions of others struggle with food and body image issues at a sub-clinical level. This disease kills nearly half a million people every year – daughters, sisters, brothers, friends, and spouses. That’s not okay. 32-year-olds shouldn’t be dying of starvation. 8-year-olds shouldn’t be vomiting to lose weight. This is not the kind of society I want to raise my kids in.
Over the past several years, I’ve built my life and career around helping others recover from this illness. I believe yoga can be a game-changer in the fight against eating disorders, and more importantly, I believe it can help shift the sociocultural dynamics that contribute to eating disorders to begin with. Yoga teaches critical skills for developing a healthy relationship with food and one’s body (which many of us never learn as children), and it can equip those who struggle with these issues with skills that pharmaceuticals, talk therapy, and other traditional forms of treatment simply do not provide.
That’s why I developed Yoga for Eating Disorders — to teach people who struggle with eating disorders practical tools for using yoga in their recovery. Specifically, the program teaches yoga-derived exercises for tuning into hunger and fullness signals, coping with difficult emotions, and learning to relate to the body as an ally rather than an enemy. The average cost of eating disorder treatment is $1,250 per day, and even at that rate over half of patients relapse after discharge. Eating disorders — from anorexia to binge eating — take a huge toll on our healthcare system. Yoga is a cost-effective way to teach those who struggle with these issues skills for long term recovery, potentially shortening treatment, reducing relapse, and ultimately saving lives.
On July 30th (my 24th birthday), I launched a crowd-funding campaign with the ambitious goal of raising $50K to take Yoga for Eating Disorders to treatment centers around the country at no charge, collect data for an evidence based study on its effectiveness in treatment, and offer pro-bono talks about eating disorder prevention at local schools in each city where the program is offered. We’ve raised almost $30K so far, but with only 4 days left in the campaign it’s time for something a little more drastic. It’s time to Occupy.
Inspired by my friend Will Baxter of the Don’t Let Will Die campaign, I am demonstrating my solidarity with eating disorder sufferers around the world by taking a stand. I invite you to take a stand with me – for life, for freedom, and for the belief that all people have the right to feel beautiful in the bodies they inhabit.
With less than 100 hours left in our campaign, I need your help. I will not let this campaign fail. This yoga mat saved my life once, and I’m not getting off it until other have the same opportunity.
Stand with me by donating today!
You can stand in solidarity with Chelsea and #OccupyYouAreBeautiful by making a donation, sharing this campaign with your friends and family, commenting on this page and visiting her at 2309 Main Street in Santa Monica, California. There is no reason this has to be the only #OccupyYouAreBeautiful. Host one in your own community!
My last blog was about finding purpose, “5 Essential Questions to Lead You to Your Calling.” In this blog I want to address another calling — nature’s calling. And there is only one answer to that calling: When nature calls, we must honor it.
I was recently at a meeting with a young girlfriend. She’s a passionate entrepreneur, and I was introducing her to some investors for her new venture. The meeting lasted about an hour and a half, and it went very well. As we were leaving and going down the elevator to exit, my friend grabbed my arm, crossed her legs and in a panic said, “We have to find a bathroom right away because I am dying to pee.” I looked at her in amazement and asked her, “Why didn’t you go to the bathroom while we were in the meeting?” She responded, “Oh no, I wouldn’t do that. I didn’t want to interrupt the meeting.” We ran to find her a restroom at a restaurant next door and when she came out I said to her, “Here’s a piece of advice. Honor your bladder first, and if you do, you are going to be much more present in everything you do. It doesn’t matter where you are, what you are doing, how important the meeting is, who you are with. First and foremost you must honor nature’s calling.”
After speaking at an event recently, I had a similar experience. I was signing books and kept wanting to go to the bathroom, but there was a long line. So I kept going, and an hour later I turned to a girl who was helping me and said, “I MUST go to the bathroom,” and she said, “just go,” as if I needed permission for somebody to tell me it was okay to go. I ran to the bathroom, came back and everyone was of course still in line waiting for me. Since then I have spoken to many friends and they have all shared with me that they often too delay going to the bathroom not to interrupt whatever they are involved in. So it got me thinking: What is the issue?
If we do not listen to our basic needs, eat when we are hungry, sleep when we are tired, stretch when our body is tense, or drink water when we are thirsty, what other signals are we ignoring? What else in ourselves are we neglecting? Why do you think we do that? Could it be that we don’t want to appear normal, vulnerable, or human or that it may cause the wrong impression? Or do we think our meetings are more important than our physical well-being?
Our basic needs to go to the bathroom, to eat and to sleep are completely natural urges, and if we suppress them for the sake of what we consider social correctness, we are paying a price.
It is interesting that Michael Bloomberg, during his radio show this week, stated as one of the keys to success, “Take the fewest vacations and the least time away from the desk to go to the bathroom or have lunch.” I say the opposite. Take as many bathroom breaks as you need, recharge in every way you can and return to work renewed and full of energy instead of dragging yourself, and I promise you you are going to be way more productive and, yes, even more successful. Dear Mr. Mayor: When it comes to the question to pee or not to pee, there is no question. Make the time. Interrupt the meeting. Excuse yourself. Visit the closest bathroom.
Do women do this more often than men and why? You must all have a story or two. Would you share it with us?
For more by Agapi Stassinopoulos, click here.
Do vitamins kill people? How many people have died from taking vitamins? Should you stop your vitamins?
It depends. To be exact, it depends on the quality of the science and the very nature of scientific research. It is very hard to know things exactly through science. The waste bin of science is full of fallen heroes like Premarin, Vioxx and Avandia (which alone was responsible for 47,000 excess cardiac deaths since it was introduced in 1999).
That brings us to the latest apparent casualty, vitamins. The recent media hype around vitamins is a classic case of drawing the wrong conclusions from good science.
Remember how doctors thought that hormone replacement therapy was the best thing since sliced bread and recommended it to every single post-menopausal woman? These recommendations were predicated on studies that found a correlation between using hormones and reduced risk of heart attacks. But correlation does not prove cause and effect. It wasn’t until we had controlled experiments like the Women’s Health Initiative that we learned Premarin (hormone replacement therapy) was killing women, not saving them.
New studies “proving” that vitamins kill people hit front pages and news broadcasts across the country seemingly every day.
Paul A. Offit’s recent piece in The New York Times, “Don’t Take Your Vitamins,” mentioned a number of studies that suggested a correlation between supplementation and increased risk of death. Offit asserts, “It turns out … that scientists have known for years that large quantities of supplemental vitamins can be quite harmful indeed.” The flaws in the studies he quoted have been well documented. Giving large doses of a single antioxidant is known to set up a chain reaction that creates more free radicals.
But many studies do not prove anything. Science is squirrelly. You only get the answers to the questions you ask. Many of the studies that are performed are called observational studies or epidemiological studies. They are designed to look for or “observe” correlations. Studies like this look for clues that should then lead to further research. They are not designed to be used to guide clinical medicine or public health recommendations.
All doctors and scientists know that this type of study does not prove cause and effect.
Why Scientists Are Confused
At a recent medical conference, one of most respected scientists of this generation, Bruce Ames, made a joke. He said that epidemiologists (people who do population-based observational studies) have a difficult time with their job and are easily confused. Dr. Ames joked that in Miami, epidemiologists found everybody seems to be born Hispanic but die Jewish. Why? Because if you looked at population data in the absence of the total history and culture of Florida during a given time, this would be the conclusion you would draw. This joke brings home the point that correlation does not equal causation.
Aside from the fact that they fly in the face of an overwhelming body of research that proves Americans are nutrient deficient as a whole and that nutritional supplements can have significant impact in disease prevention and health promotion, many recent studies on vitamins are flawed in similar ways.
How Vitamins Save Money and Save Lives
Overwhelming basic science and experimental data support the use of nutritional supplements for the prevention of disease and the support of optimal health. The Lewin Group estimated a $24 billion savings over five years if a few basic nutritional supplements were used in the elderly. Extensive literature reviews in the Journal of the American Medical Association and the New England Journal of Medicine also support this view. Interventional trials have proven benefit over and over again.
The concept that nutritional supplements “could be harmful” flies in the face of all reasonable facts from both intervention trials and outcome studies published over the past 40 years. For example, recent trials published within the last few years indicate that modest nutritional supplementation in middle age women found their telomeres didn’t shorten. Keeping your telomeres (the little end caps on your DNA) long is the hallmark of longevity and reduced risk of disease. A recent study found that B12, B6 and folate given to people with memory loss prevented brain atrophy that is associated with aging and dementia. In fact, those who didn’t take the vitamins had almost ten times loss of brain volume as those who took the vitamins.
A plethora of experimental controlled studies–which are the gold standard for proving cause and effect–over the last few years found positive outcomes in many diseases. These include the use of calcium and vitamin D in women with bone loss; folic acid in people with cervical dysplasia (pre-cancerous lesions); iron for anemics; B-complex vitamins to improve cognitive function; zinc, vitamins C and E and carotenoids to lower the risk of macular degeneration; and folate and vitamin B12 to treat depression. This is but a handful of examples. Fish oil is approved by the FDA for lowering triglycerides and reduces risk of heart attacks and more. There are many other studies ignored by Offit in his New York Times piece.
Stay tuned for Part 2!
Originally published on my website, DrHyman.com.
Have you ever jumped to criticism after seeing someone with plastic surgery or hearing of a friend or relative’s decision to alter their appearance? Or if you have had cosmetic surgery, have you ever faced judgment from others for your decision?
Truth be told, plastic surgery is a controversial subject, and such responses are typical. In a compelling article from the September/October issue of Spirituality & Health magazine, one poignant story stands out:
“I was at a pub one night where I liked to sing karaoke with my friends, about six weeks after having breast implants,” says Michelle, 55, of Nevada. “There was a group of very competitive ‘mean girls’ who would come in. When I got up to sing, one of them said, ‘Whoa! How do you spell plastic surgery?’”
Women, is this really how we want to be treating one another? Does one person’s decisions need to perfectly align with our own beliefs in order for us to treat them with respect? Before we condemn the perceived vanity that goes into a decision to receive plastic surgery, let’s try on the hat of compassion and take a look at some of the real reasons people – women in particular – opt for that course of action.
Nearly 40% of the U.S. population is 45 years old and above, and 14.2% of American women are 65 years and over. Many of the cosmetic concerns women face in later years – wrinkles, sun spots, greying or thinning hair, loss of pigmentation – can be attributed to age, which, after all, is one of the most natural processes human beings go through. There is nothing inherently shameful about aging, and if anything it should be a source of pride. As Oprah Winfrey wrote recently in an article for Huffington Post:
I’m well aware that trying to stay fresh and current can be a challenge, especially if you live a lot of your life in public view. Of course I want to look my best. I want to feel strong and vibrant. But I know for sure that the pathway to your best life isn’t the route of denial. It’s owning every moment. Staking a claim in right now. And, with gratitude, embracing the age you are.
According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, by far the largest age group for both surgical and nonsurgical cosmetic procedures is 35-50 years of age, with the 51-64 age group following as second largest for nonsurgical procedures. Nonsurgical includes Botox injections, chemical peels, microdermabrasion and the like.
That means a sizable amount of women past their 40’s are looking in the mirror, feeling uncomfortable with how they look, and undergoing cosmetic alterations to their appearance. But even nonsurgical procedures are not devoid of risk. Such procedures can cause burns, scarring, darkening or lightening of the skin, and other unwanted side effects.
That’s not to say these procedures shouldn’t exist, but it’s important to fully understand what you’re getting into and ask yourself a few questions before choosing that path. For one, does your interest in cosmetic surgery arise out of deep introspection and soul-searching, or is it born of fear, shame, or insecurity? If the latter, explore some other options for increasing happiness and self-esteem, first.
As Jane Ganahl writes in Spirituality & Health:
Cultivate inner happiness by giving of yourself. Volunteer at a senior center, organize a book club, audition for community theater. Doing for others keeps you from obsessing about those crow’s-feet.
Buck the cultural impediments to visibility. Walk tall, refuse to take a table by the kitchen, make your opinions known. Change the way you look at yourself, and the world will change too.
What are your thoughts and experiences with cosmetic surgery? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below!
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Spirituality & Health is a magazine for people who want to explore the spiritual journey and wake up to our capacity for self-healing, vitality, and resiliency. Read the entire article on plastic surgery in the September/October edition of Spirituality & Health, on newsstands now! Get your first issue FREE here.
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“For these campers, I’m their Joan of Arc. It’s like I’m Joan, and their vag is the arc.”
These words come from the mouth of a young girl in a recent ad for HelloFlo, a new company that specializes in making menstruation as painless as possible. You can help but do a double take (did that girl seriously just say “vag”?), and that is perhaps exactly what the ad creators intended.
But neither the company nor the controversial ad were rooted in any “feminist agenda,” says HelloFlo founder Naama Bloom. The company functions by sending boxes of tampons, pads, and candy to women in alignment with their personal cycles, all for $14-18 a month.
As Bloom said in an interview with CNN, “I just wanted to talk the way women talked and the way I talk and talk the way I am teaching my daughter to talk.” But even that is remarkable. After all, how many girls really feel this way about their periods? For that matter, how many moms, teaching their daughters about menstruation, feel this way?
The onset of puberty is happening earlier and earlier for girls in the United States, a trend that does not bode well for future generations’ rates of ovarian and breast cancer. Poor diet, lack of exercise, and exposure to toxic chemicals can all affect the timing of puberty, and the increase in all three in this country has obviously contributed to an earlier onset of menstruation.
On top of that, menstruation has been a consistent point of embarrassment for girls and women, and this has unfortunately perpetuated a culture of body shame. Whenever menstruation begins, it is not something to be ashamed of nor fight against. Girls need all the information they can get to be prepared, both physically and emotionally, for this powerful rite of passage. In a way, periods are what makes the world go ’round. Right?
What’s your relationship with menstruation like? Tell us your stories in the comments section below!