Posted on Leave a comment

The Total Guide To Hormones and Body Confidence

A photo of Cherrelle Slaney, period and menstrual cycle educator, wearing a bralette.

Let’s talk about how your menstrual cycle can affect your body confidence. Through the different phases of the menstrual cycle, we have changes in our hormone levels which can affect both our mood and our physical appearance. Do you feel rubbish about yourself just before you’re due on? Yet just two weeks earlier you were feeling super confident? Or perhaps you notice that your body feels different one week to the next? Your menstrual cycle plays a huge part in these changes.

If you’ve followed me for any length of time you’ll know I’m obsessed with my cycle. For anyone who hasn’t heard me talk about this I will quickly explain the basics of the menstrual cycle. You have 4 phases in your cycle, each with their own set of hormone changes which can really affect your mood and your energy levels.

the menstrual cycle seasons

We can liken thes phases to the seasons of the year, so you have:


menstruation (which is when you’re on your period) – this is the winter phase.
pre-ovulation, which is exactly what it sounds like – its the time between your period ending and when you ovulate – this is the Spring phase.
ovulation, which is your summer phase (you can tell when you’re ovulating by changes in your cervical fluid). And lastly,
• the premenstrual phase, which is the time between ovulation and the start of your next period – this is the Autumn phase.

 

When you get your next period the cycle starts again and you’re back to the Winter phase.

 

If you’re using hormonal contraceptives, your body might not follow this pattern because of the way hormonal contraceptives work. One of the ways they work is to stop you from ovulating, and because you’re not ovulating, you’re not having a true menstrual cycle – so what I’m about to share might not resonate with you if that’s the case.

So, the seasons look something like this:

Winter is low energy, but you’ll probably find you’re quite a good thinker during this phase. You’re probably better able to make decisions and come up with new ideas, but you might not have the energy to follow them up.

Spring is when you start to get some more energy back, and those ideas you came up with can start to come to life.

Summer is high energy, high mood. So you’re really spirited here, a real “get shit done” kinda girl.

• And Autumn, is typical PMS territory. You’re likely moody, impatient and self-critical.

That’s a quick rundown of the 4 seasons, but what does this have to do with body confidence? I’m gonna run you through some of the changes that happen within your body during each season so you can better understand why you might feel a bit all over the place one week to the next.

find your
cycle season
Find out which menstrual cycle season you’re in right now, and get the answers to why you feel the way you do.

the premenstrual phase

Let’s start with your inner Autumn, because if any of the phases has you feeling shitty, likely it will be this one. With the autumn phase comes this inner critic. We are way more self-critical during this phase than any other, so that negative self talk is likely more prominent here.

 

Couple that with the fact that you’re holding water, bloated and potentially even constipated. A rise in progesterone leading up to your period can slow your gut down, causing some of these symptoms. You’re looking physically different and your mind is not feeling kind about it. It can be really hard to love yourself during this phase.

menstruation

Your period, or your inner winter – this is when you’re on your period. When you get to this part of the menstrual cycle, you get a huge hormone dip which signals your body to start bleeding. The major dip in hormones which causes you to bleed, also gets your gut moving again. This can lead to more bloating.

 

That same hormone dip also creates a release of tension. That frustration you might have been feeling about your body in the autumn phase get released.

 

With the winter phase, comes hibernation. Okay, not literally, but your energy levels are at an all time low here. Makeup is a no go, doing your hair is absolutely not happening, and you’re wearing nothing but baggy sweats for 3 days in a row. You might look in the mirror and just feel a bit “bleurgh” – but that’s okay.

 

Although you’re probably not looking and feeling your best here, positive self talk is much easier. You’ll probably find you’re more able to be kind to yourself.

pre-ovulation

Your inner spring phase is when things start to get a little more interesting. I mentioned already that this phase sees you feeling a little more carefree. So you’re more likely to let go of your insecurities here.

You’ve come out of the period cave, and you’re excited to be wearing your favourite clothes again. Maybe you’re up experimenting with new makeup or getting some beauty treatments in. (Side note: if you’re a waxer, this is a good time to get it done because it actually hurts less in the Spring phase.)

That bloating you’ve had through Autumn and Winter is fading away at this point, and your boobs are likely softer during this phase too. Although there are physical changes happening here, the biggest shift is in the mindset. Suddenly you’re feeling playful and flirty. You’re likely just feeling way more confident.

ovulation

In your inner summer, your energy is super high. Your mood is lifted and everything in the world suddenly just seems way more attractive to you – including yourself.

 

Physically, your boobs will be perkier at this point. Your skin is likely at it’s best, and that water retention and bloating you had earlier in the cycle is gone. But again, it’s that mental shift that’s most important.

 

You’ll be feeling your best, super confident and more inclined to love what you see in the mirror. At the end of the day, ovulation is baby making time, so it makes sense that this is the phase where you’re feeling your most attractive. If any of the phases has you feeling yourself, this will be the one.

 

You can see how your mood and your physical changes impact the way you feel about your body. And it’s important to realise what effect your hormones have here. I find it really useful to understand how I’m likely to feel during each phase, because it helps me be more rational.

 

Instead of looking in the mirror and being harsh on myself during my Autumn phase, I understand that my body is just doing it’s thing. That my mind is overly critical here. It just helps to know that, and to put those feelings of inadequacy to one side until I’m in the Winter headspace.

It’s about working with your cycle to become more empowered within yourself.

take the free masterclass to find out more about how you are affected by the cycle seasons
free mini
masterclass
Learn the basics of the menstrual cycle seasons in the time it takes to make a cuppa.
Posted on Leave a comment

3 Self Care Secrets For A Better Period

A photo of Cherrelle Slaney, period and menstrual cycle educator sitting on a bed.
Are you feeling burnt out during your period? Does menstruation make you tired? Tiredness during your period is totally normal. But what can you do when you feel worn out while bleeding?

If you’ve read my blog before, or you follow me on Instagram, you’ll notice there’s been a bit of a theme developing. Yep, ya girl is obsessed with periods. I used to HATE having my period. The cramping, the blood, the spots, the tiredness, the misery – oh the misery! Over time, I’ve learned how to work with my cycle instead of against it, and now period week is probably my favourite time of the month.

self care for your period

Let me make this clear, my period has not changed. I still get the cramping, the blood (obvs), the spots and the tiredness, but I learned to let go of the misery. By learning about what is happening in my body, and the understanding way it makes me feel, has really helped me to lean into the joy of menstruation. And yes, menstruation, your period, shark week, whatever you want to call it, absolutely can be a bloody joy if you let it.

Getting to know your body and listening out for what your body needs during this time is the key. Self care is a prerequisite for uncovering the magic of menstruation. Here are my 3 essential acts of self care for when you’re on your period.

Feeling tired on your period?

When you’re on your period, your energy levels are low. You have a huge drop in hormones here and your oestrogen levels are at their lowest point. Low levels of oestrogen can affect your energy levels. Instead of desperately trying to fight through that and clinging to you to-do list like your life depends on it, schedule some time to sink into that rest your body is so deeply craving.

I know, we all have responsibilities, and just because you’re bleeding doesn’t mean your responsibilities all melt away, but some forward planning earlier on in your cycle when you are feeling more energetic can really give you the time and space you need to take it a little easier through your period. For some this might look like batch cooking during your ovulation phase, or getting laundry done in advance so you can let it slide for a couple of days.

Obviously, there will be some commitments which mean you can’t just go taking naps willy-nilly, but do what you can to rest. Sit rather than stand, take a bath rather than shower, or order pizza instead of cooking. Whatever you can do to conserve energy during this phase, do it.

 

Even 20 minutes rest is better than no rest at all. Whatever little time you can spare is worth spent resting during your period. Grab yourself a cuppa, go lay down for a while and switch your phone off. Your body will thank you.

Your body is shedding your uterine lining. Yes, that sounds like a big task (I mean, it kinda bloody is – pun intended) so it’s perfectly acceptable for you to feel tired. Taking it easier, especially during the first two days of your period, and restoring some much needed energy will save you from burnout later on in your cycle. If it’s available to you, taking a couple of days to slow down means you will be able to make the most of the high energy you experience during ovulation.

It makes sense to rest when you need it. YOU DO NOT NEED TO FEEL GUILTY FOR THIS. Lemme say it again for those at the back…

 

YOU DO NOT NEED TO FEEL GUILTY FOR SLOWING DOWN WHEN YOU ARE BLEEDING!!

 

Yes, your children will still need looking after. And yes, you might still need to provide food for your family. But there is no shame in taking the easy route, or asking for help where you need it.

If a friend called you and said “Babe, I got my period and I’m so tired. I feel like crap. Could you watch the kids for an hour? I really need a nap.” – what would you think? “Lazy.. using their period as an excuse to slack off from being a parent! The cheek!” Or, would you be more like “Honey, I feel you. This was me last week, I’ll be right over”. Just as you wouldn’t judge someone you love, those who love you are not going to judge you for looking after yourself.

Setting healthy Boundaries

Self care does not always look like bubble baths and face masks. In fact, one of the most important self care strategies you can implement is to set healthy boundaries. Boundaries are essential, and when you’re not used to setting them you can feel like you’re being selfish – but trust me, you’re not. Saying no to things you’re just not up for when you’re bleeding can help you to get the rest your body needs.

I know, so often we’re out to please everyone and we hate saying no unless we have a “legit excuse”. But guess what, even if you aren’t prioritising self care throughout the rest of your cycle, during your period it’s paramount. Oh, and FYI, you really don’t need your period or any other “legit excuse” to prioritise looking after yourself. But, as Claire Baker puts it in her book, 50 Things You Need To Know About Periods, “Think of your period as the pit stop of your month… if there’s one week of your cycle I encourage you to prioritize yourself, this is it.”

When you’re bleeding, you might not feel like being very sociable, and that’s okay. If you track your cycle, you can start to learn when your period is likely to come. There are plenty of apps out there you can use to do this such as Clue or Flo, but if you prefer to do this with pen and paper I created a cycle tracking sheet just for you. Getting to know when you’re likely to bleed means you can mark out these days in your diary and schedule your plans around your period.

get your free
cycle tracker
Take yourself from cycle-clueless to period tracking pro with this free cycle tracking system.
If you’re caught out by your period and can’t face plans that you’ve already made, that’s okay. Plans can be rescheduled for a couple of days time when you’re feeling a bit more up to it. Likely, at least some of your friends have periods too, so saying something like “Oh man! I just got my period and feel like shit. I really need to rest. Can we reschedule?” is probably a notion they can relate to. It’s totally okay to set these boundaries – guilt not required.

Asking For Help On Your Period

Just like setting boundaries, asking for help when we need it is also a tender act of self care during your period. You’re tired, emotional and more than likely to have dropped the ball. That’s okay – don’t beat yourself up for it. Just ask for some help.

 

You don’t have to completely shut off while you’re bleeding and let everyone else to run around after you (although, if this is an option I’d definitely be inclined to indulge), but asking someone else to help you out is no bad thing.

 

Even the smallest asks can make a huge difference to your wellbeing and stress levels while you’re bleeding. I know one thing I definitely don’t have the headspace for when I’m on my period is organising meals for my family. I tend to have a stock of homemade ready-meals in the freezer in preparation for this, but if I’ve not been organised enough to plan ahead, I ask for help.

Asking my husband to take care of the dinner, or sometimes even just asking him to decide what we’re having and I’ll do the cooking, takes a lot of pressure off.

 

The thing is, while we are all capable of asking for help, sometimes guilt gets the better of us. There was a great post on Instagram recently from Natalie Lee @stylemesunday about how often, as parents, we live in this world where we expect ourselves to be everything for everyone all the time. Nat said:

 

“There is absolutely nothing wrong with making time for yourself and ensuring you’re top of your own priority list. It’s not selfish to look after yourself. There’s something about being a mother that has become synonymous with sacrifice and martyrdom, well that doesn’t always work for me. My kids need someone who isn’t always burnt out and tired. My daughter threw a coin into a fountain recently and made a wish – she wished for me to be happy and it really struck me to my core. So, I’m making it my priority to be happy.”

 

Parent or not, taking time out for yourself is not selfish. Asking for some help when you’re not feeling your best is not selfish. Taking care of yourself should be a priority, and while it might feel impossible for it to be at the top of our priority list all of the time, I encourage you to make sure you are looking after yourself while you’re bleeding.

Posted on Leave a comment

The Truth About Thinx Period Underwear: Do They Really Work?

3 pairs of Thinx period pants taken by Cherrelle Slaney
[Ad – PR Sample]

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a menstrual cup girl first and foremost, but I absolutely had to take the opportunity to try something new when the lovely folks at Thinx sent me their period undies to try. I wanted to be able to give a comparison of the menstrual cup vs period underwear, so I decided to ditch the cup for my next period and give the Thinx a go. After using the Thinx for the duration of my period I’ve been able to give a full review of my experience.

What is period proof underwear?

What exactly are period pants? They’re a type of underwear with a built-in absorbent layer for catching your menstrual blood. Think of it like panties with a built-in, reusable sanitary towel. They can be worn on their own or with a tampon or cup for extra protection. You simply wear, wash, dry and reuse.

My first impressions of these were amazing. They’re so well made! To use the word “sturdy” for a pair of knickers might seem a little odd, but these are just that! They’re a really good quality which I was impressed with. The fabrics are soft and the absorbent layer was nowhere near as bulky as I was expecting. I was sent the All-Star Set which includes 3 pairs of Thinx underwear in 3 different styles. I have the Hiphugger, the Cotton Brief and the Sport.

As I already mentioned, these are really well made and so, so comfy! I honestly expected the gusset to feel quite bulky, since this is where the absorbent layer is, but wearing the Thinx just feels like a regular pair of pants. You know how sometimes when you’ve got a pad in and you’re quite aware it’s there? Well – Thinx don’t feel like that at all. One of the reasons I gave up with disposable sanitary towels was that they would make me sweat, which in turn would lead to general uncomfortableness and itching, but I have found the Thinx pants are much more breathable so you don’t get any of that.
3 pairs of Thinx period pants taken by Cherrelle Slaney
enjoying this article?
Share on pinterest
pin for later

Do Thinx work?

Admittedly, I hadn’t realised that Thinx are available in different absorbencies (total oversight on my part). I opted for the regular absorbency when in hindsight I should have opted for the Super absorbency. I got about 3-4 hours wear out of a pair of the Regular on my heaviest days. The Super claims to hold double the amount of blood.

I didn’t get any leakage from the Thinx pants, but after a while I started to feel wet. This told me that I needed to change. Even with this little oversight on my part, NO LEAKS! Amazing!

How to wash period underwear

Washing is something you definitely need to consider before buying a product like this. I tend to be a disorganised mess when I’m on my period, so I did have to revert back to my cup for a day while I got into a washing and drying rhythm.

They are easy to wash, it’s just a little time consuming. I just threw them in on a 30°c wash with a couple of scoops of bicarb instead of washing powder. This isn’t a necessity but my skin can be quite sensitive and bicarb is gentler than regular washing powder.

Since I only had 3 pairs of Thinx I was needing to change them every few hours. It did feel like I was constantly washing them and they take quite a long time to dry. If I’d had the more absorbent ones this wouldn’t have been such an issue since I could wear them for longer.

I like to rest as much as possible during my period. The washing and drying cycle created an extra job for me to have to do, compared to using m Mooncup. I’d say they’re definitely a more high maintenance option that a menstrual cup.

Changing them was fairly hassle free, although I didn’t quite consider the fact that I would have to take my trousers off to get the pants off. It’s not really an issue, it just kinda threw me the first time I did it. It’s the equivalent of having to get undressed to go for a pee when you’re wearing a playsuit – y’know?

I don’t see that changing your pants in a public toilet as being as issue. You would need a wet bag to store the used pants in until you get home, but I don’t consider that to be a biggie when it comes to period problems. In fact, one of the questions I get asked most often about the menstrual cup is how to clean it when you’re using a toilet with communal sink area. Using something like Thinx pants totally eliminates this common menstrual cup problem.

How much do Thinx cost?

I really liked wearing the Thinx, but I do feel like it’s going to be more of a considered purchase than a menstrual cup or disposable towels. One pair of pants isn’t going to be enough. In my opinion, ideally I’d have liked to have maybe 5 or 6 pairs on the go which is going to cost you around £140 for that number.

 

That said – it would absolutely be worth the investment for someone who can’t, or doesn’t want to, use a menstrual cup. Since a pair of Thinx can last for around 2 years, it’s an average of £5.38 per period. It’s a bit more expensive than the £3-£4 you might usually spend on sanitary towels each month, but it’s definitely worth it for the extra security and comfort they provide, and that’s without considering the environmental benefits.

 

I plan on using my Thinx pants as a supplement to my Mooncup. There are some days when I don’t feel like having anything inside me, so the Thinx will be ideal for days like this. I also plan to use them for the last day or so of my period where my flow is a lot lighter. I honestly can’t fault the quality or the comfort of these pants – and if I ever had to give up my menstrual cup, these would be what I would opt for.

3 pairs of Thinx period pants taken by Cherrelle Slaney
ready to try

thinx period underwear?

Posted on Leave a comment

12 Essential Things You Should Know About Moocup

Cherrelle Slaney's hand painted with black nail polish holding a Mooncup menstrual cup.
I feel like I’ve just kinda become known as The Menstrual Cup Lady amongst my Instagram followers since I’m always banging on about my favourite period product, the Mooncup. The amount of DM’s I get to say “what is a moon cup?” or “how do I use one?” is unreal. I love that you guys all come to me with your period cup queries, so to make things easier I decided to write a post on the most common Mooncup questions I get asked.

What is a Mooncup menstrual cup?

Let’s start with the basics. A Mooncup is a soft, silicone, funnel-shaped menstrual cup which is inserted into the vagina to collect your period blood, similar to the way you insert a tampon. Note: while the Mooncup is similar in that it is worn internally, really it’s nothing like a tampon. In my opinion it’s much, much better.

Menstrual Cup Benefits

The Mooncup is reusable, which means it’s saving an awful lot of menstrual waste from entering our landfills and oceans. In fact, one Mooncup can save up to 11,000 tonnes of waste. So, there’s a pretty good environmental argument for switching to a menstrual cup from disposable period products.

Aside from this, there’s also the economical argument. How much do you spend on tampons and pads each month? It adds up, right? The Mooncup has a price tag of around £21 – and I know that is a lot more than you would spend on tampons and pads in a month, but the Mooncup can be reused over and over again. In fact, the Mooncup can last for up to 10 years if looked after correctly, which gives you an average cost of 16p per period.
Cherrelle Slaney's hand painted with black nail polish holding a Mooncup menstrual cup.
enjoying this article?
Share on pinterest
pin for later

How long does a menstrual cup last?

The Mooncup is reusable, and if looked after properly it can last for up to 10 years. That’s a whole lot of money saved and a lot less menstrual waste going to landfill. It’s a win-win for your purse and the planet.

What size should I choose?

Mooncup comes in two sizes. Size A and size B. You should opt for size A if you are 30 and over OR have given birth vaginally whatever your age, and you should opt for size B if you are under 30 and have not given birth vaginally.

How to insert a menstrual cup

The process is fairly similar to how you would insert a tampon, with a few extra steps. Haul your leg up onto the toilet seat or the side of the bath. Then, you fold the cup in half so the top ring of the cup looks kinda like a “C” shape. Then simply insert it into the vagina and it will pop open inside of you. This creates a vacuum seal to catch all of your blood.

How to fold a menstrual cup

If the “C” fold isnt working out for you, here are several other ways to fold a menstrual cup.
Click here to see Mooncup’s folding guide.

How long can you wear a menstrual cup?

Mooncup recommend 8hrs of wear based on their research into menstrual hygiene. Most other cup brands say you can wear for 12hrs. So what’s the difference?

I got in touch with Sophia Jordan, a Mooncup Advisor, to ask why. Sophia told me “our recommendation to empty and rinse the Mooncup menstrual cup every 4-8 hours is based upon safe practise for users, as opposed to the capacity or potential performance of the Mooncup® vs. other menstrual cup brands. This recommendation is for safety and hygiene reasons – to prevent the potential build-up of bacteria or odour.”

How to remove a menstrual cup

To get the cup out, you should pinch the bottom of it to break the seal, then wiggle it from side to side while pulling down gently. It should not hurt or create a tugging sensation. Breaking the seal before you start to move the cup is really important.

How clean a menstrual cup

To empty the Mooncup you simply remove it and pour the contents down the toilet. You then need to rinse with water. You can use an unscented soap if you wish, but be sure to rinse very, very thoroughly if you choose this option as it can cause irritation in your vagina if not rinsed well.

When your period is over you can sterilise the Mooncup ready for your next period by boiling it in water for 5-7 minutes. You can also sterilise by using a sterilising tablet or solution (the kind you would use for sterilising baby bottles). Milton is the most common brand of this type of sterilising method, but other brands will work fine too.

Can I cut the stem on my mooncup?

The Mooncup has a stem which is about 1 inch long. You can use this to easily locate your Mooncup. However, some people find this stem to be uncomfortable (I’m one of those). The stem has little increments marked out on it, so you can trim the stem to a length that is suitable and comfortable for you. I personally chopped the whole thing off which made it waaaayy more comfortable.

My menstrual cup is stuck

First of all, remain calm. The Mooncup can’t go anywhere once it’s inside you. It’s in there somewhere and you WILL get it back out. Insert you forefinger and thumb into your vagina until you feel the bottom of the Mooncup, pinch and remove. If it’s easier, you can use one finger and run it up the side of the Mooncup to break the seal. Hooking your finger over the top of the cup can help to pull it down.

If this doesn’t work and you’re really in a pickle, you can call the Mooncup team on+44 (0)1273 673845 and they will be able to help you.

How do I clean my cup in a public toilet?

There may not always be a sink at our disposal when you empty your Mooncup. This is especially common for those who use a toilet with a communal sink area at work. Fear not, you still have some options here.

The first option is to wipe your cup with some toilet paper before you re-insert. I’m not a huge fan of doing this, but I have done it on occasion when I’ve been caught short.

Alternatively you could take some bottled water into the toilet with you. Use this to rinse the cup over the toilet and re-insert. This is my preferred method of cleaning when a private sink ins’t available.
find out more

mooncup menstrual cup

Cherrelle Slaney's hand painted with black nail polish holding a Mooncup menstrual cup.
Posted on 1 Comment

The Secret To Harnessing The Power Of Your Menstrual Cycle

A photo of Cherrelle Slaney, menstrual cycle and period educator, sitting on the bed wearing glasses while tucking her hair behind her ear.
Ah, the menstrual cycle. What’s the first thing that springs to mind when you hear this phrase? Your period? Right? Well, your cycle is more than just your period. I wanna discuss what the menstrual cycle actually is, what happens to your body through the cycle and how you can learn to work with it’s natural rhythm.

What is the menstrual cycle?

The menstrual cycle is the hormonal cycle your body goes through in order to prepare for a possible pregnancy. Whether you’re interested in getting pregnant or not, you cycle is worth getting to grips with. Working in sync with your cycle can be the key to enjoying the cycle as a whole, rather than just dreading your period every month.

The cycle can be broken down into 4 phases. Each of these phases comes with a set of hormonal changes that can affect your mood and your energy levels, as well as bringing physical changes to your body. You might not feel huge shifts between these phases, it might just feel like you slip gracefully from one phase to the next – much like the changing seasons of the year.

Menstrual Cycle Phases

The 4 phases of the menstrual cycle go as follows:

 

 • Menstruation (your period)

 

• Pre-ovulation

 

• Ovulation (when your ovary releases an egg)

 

• Premenstrual

What is menstruation?

Menstruation is another word for your period. Although you might think of you period as the end of your monthly cycle, Menstruation actually signals the very beginning of your cycle.

The first day you get bright red blood flow from your nether region, is day one. It’s important to note that if you get some spotting before your period, this is perfectly normal, but it doesn’t count as your first day. Wait for that full flow of blood. This is day one of your cycle.

While you’re menstruating, you might feel tired. Your body is doing a bloody big job behind the scenes. If you’re not pregnant this cycle, your oestrogen and progesterone levels drop which signals your body to shed the uterine lining. This is your period. These low oestrogen levels can cause you to feel tired and sluggish.

When you’re on your period, that tiredness you feel might seem like a bit of an inconvenience. You need to work, look after your children and maintain your home – but taking a rest while your bleeding is always a good idea. I know it might seem impossible when you have responsibilities to see to, and you may well feel guilty for taking some time off for something as “trivial” as your period, but as far as I am concerned – it’s essential. If you can learn to better prepare for your period, and let go of the guilt that surrounds taking a break, menstruation can become much more enjoyable.

Your perfect period plans might look like snuggling up on the couch with a hot water bottle, a snack and some Netflix – but if you can’t always take this much of a break while bleeding, do what you can to rest. If it helps, think of your period as your inner Winter – a time for hibernation.

What is the pre-ovulation phase?

The follicular phase is the time between menstruation, and ovulation. Just like thinking of your period as your inner Winter, you can think of your Follicular phase as your inner Spring. That tiredness you felt during your period has started to wane, and you’re ready for new life.

After you finish bleeding, you get a steady increase in oestrogen. Remember how we said that low oestrogen levels cause tiredness? Well, as your oestrogen levels start to increase, you start to have more energy. You’ve awoken from the period slumber and are ready to start exploring the world. Because each person will have a slightly different cycle length, it’s hard to say which day of your cycle this will happen for you, but when you finish bleeding is a big indicator.

During your follicular phase you might notice that you’re coming at life with a new found curiosity. It’s a great time to do some learning or try something new. You might also notice that any worries or insecurities you had when you were pre-menstrual start to melt away. This is a time for feeling energised and carefree.

Charting your cycle is a great way to start to notice patterns in how you’re feeling month to month. All you need to do is jot down how you’re feeling on a day-to-day basis. You can do this in the corner of your diary or in a journal. It doesn’t have to be complex. Just a few words about your general mood and your energy levels will be enough, although if you want to go in deeper with this, by all means, do!

What is ovulation?

Ovulation is when the egg is released from the ovary. Those rising oestrogen levels you experienced during your follicular phase come to a peak at ovulation. This means that when you’re ovulating (and for a few days either side) you are feeling super energetic. Think of this phase like your inner Summer – you’ve got lot of energy, you’re feeling super sociable and you’re generally just loving life.

Remember how I said before that if we can learn to better prepare for our period we can make it more enjoyable? This is the time to prepare. Granted, you probably won’t bleed for a couple of weeks yet, but making the most of this peak in energy can really pay off when you’re feeling like you want to take it easy.

Suddenly you’re feeling like superwoman, you’re working harder, being way more productive and are generally a “get shit done” kinda girl during this phase. Use than energy to get things done now that you might not have the headspace for later. Batch cooking, getting big projects completed or being sociable are all good ideas here.

Think back to when you were last on your period. What was one thing you really struggled to do while you were bleeding? How can you make the most of the energy you have now to better support you during your next period. What can you get done now that will allow you to take a break later?

What is the premenstrual phase?

The premenstrual, or luteal phase, is the time between ovulation and menstruation. Once you’ve ovulated, your oestrogen levels start to decline and progesterone starts to dominate this part of your cycle. The role of progesterone is to prepare the womb for a possible pregnancy by thickening the uterine lining – much in the same way that animals spend the Autumn preparing their nests for hibernation. Yes, you can bet that this phase of the cycle is like your inner Autumn.

I’m gonna go out on a limb here and assume you’ve probably heard of, and maybe even experienced, PMS. In fact, it was my self-confessed, semi-psychotic PMS symptoms that really prompted me to get to grips with learning about the menstrual cycle.

Anxiety, moodiness and anger can all come out during the premenstrual phase, and while it’s easy to write these things off as PMS, they can actually serve a greater purpose in the grand scheme of your life.

Some of the annoyances and worries you experience during the premenstrual phase might be unwarranted, it’s true. But some of them might have been bothering you for some time, you just didn’t notice as much when you were feeling on top of the world during ovulation. It’s worth taking note of these things and coming back to them once you start your period. When you’re bleeding, it’s much easier to be reflective of whether or not these things are really bothering you, and to find solutions for how you can change them.

Tracking your cycle

As I already mentioned, tracking your cycle is the gateway into fully understanding how you are feeling through each phase of the cycle. It doesn’t have to be difficult – in fact it’s really simple, yet it’s a great tool for getting to know yourself and your body better.
Enter your details below and grab your free cycle tracking sheet.
Posted on Leave a comment

7 Simple Ways To Cope With Premenstrual Anxiety

A photo of Cherrelle Slaney, period and menstrual cycle educator.
One of the number one problems I hear about from my followers is how they get stress and anxiety before their period. I’ll bet you feel the same way. It’s a common problem for those of us who are suffering with PMS.

What is PMS?

PMS stands for Pre-Menstrual Syndrome. PMS is the abbreviation used to categorise common symptoms experienced by menstruators in the luteal (AKA premenstrual) phase. These symptoms usually show up a week or two before your period starts, and they tend to disappear after your period.

Your natural hormones have a lot to answer for when it comes to the ups and downs you experience week to week. How you feel during your period is quite different to how you feel one week later. How you feel when you’re premenstrual is very different again.

Progesterone is a hormone that rises in your premenstrual phase. It helps prepare the womb for a possible pregnancy. It can also make you feel anxious, irritable and depressed or give you mood swings. These are typical PMS symptoms.

One other thing that can be attributed to a rise in progesterone is a lack of focus. You might find you feel a bit foggy-headed before your period. A lack of focus might mean you’re finding tasks more difficult. This in itself can make you feel stressed.

Extra anxiety and stress caused by a lack of focus only adds to the general anxiety and stress you might notice when you’re premenstrual. Knowing how you’re likely to feel during PMS week can help you optimise your time and efforts to work in sync with your cycle.

PMS Relief

You can balance your stress and anxiety by taking time to relax. If you understand how you usually feel when you’re premenstrual you can plan ahead and carve out some “me-time”. A little self-care can go a long way.

Here are some of my favourite ways to de-stress before your period.

Essential oils for PMS Relief

A PMS roll-on essential oil blend with linen bag and decorative dried orange slices.
Opinions on essential oils are a bit of a mixed bag. There are people that swear by them for their healing properties, and there are people who say it’s a load of old nonsense. Research on the effectiveness of essential oils is limited, but studies indicate that they may be beneficial for stress and anxiety relief.

You can buy special aromatherapy blends design to help with PMS symptoms. They can help with premenstrual pain, as well as helping to balance your mood. This roll-on blend from Floatin Feather is a lovely mix of Bergamot, Clary Sage, Marjoram, Geranium and Palmarosa.

Healthy Boundaries

When you’re PMS-ing you might get stressed out more easily than usual. Set some healthy boundaries around what you are and aren’t willing to accept in your life right now. Speaking to the people in your life to let them know how you’re feeling can be really beneficial.

If you feel like you’ve got too much on your plate already, say no to new commitments. You don’t have to come up with excuses, a simple “no, I can’t do that right now” is sufficient. If you’re struggling with stress, reschedule plans that you don’t feel like facing at the moment.

PMS Pampering

It’s okay to want some alone time when you’re premenstrual. A soak in the tub to relax is a great idea. Put on some relaxing music and shut the world out for a little while.

Submerging yourself in water helps to calm the nervous system which can reduce stress and improve your mood. A warm bath can also help with increasing your serotonin levels which are linked with happiness and wellbeing.


This pampering gift set comes from Cheshire’s Finest Soap and is an absolute steal at only £12.50. It contains a bath bomb, bath salts, a bar of soap, a soap bag, a tea light in a holder and a cup of tea! The perfect treat to yourself when you’re feeling stressed.

Meditation For Stress & Anxiety

Meditation has become more and more popular recently. Although you might think meditation is only for buddhist monks, meditation is simply about clearing your mind and calming your body. You don’t have to sit for hours, just a few minutes of silent practise every day can be really beneficial.

There are a bunch of meditation apps out there and you can also listen to guided meditations for anxiety on Youtube. I am currently using Balance app www.balanceapp.com which has a range of meditation practises with different goals. You can use them to de-stress, gain focus or wind down.

Take Shortcuts

Taking the easy route when your focus is lacking can help to take off some of the stress. You might not have the concentration for cooking a 12 course meal at the end of a long day at work. Taking some shortcuts is fine.

Taking the easy route when you’re stressed does not make you lazy. You don’t have to push yourself to give 110% all of the time. Work smarter not harder.

Remove Distractions

If you’re trying to be productive and struggling with a lack of focus, it makes sense to remove distractions. Having loud music on or trying to have conversations while you’re busy can lead to you making mistakes. This will only increase your stress levels further.

Setting some boundaries and not allowing yourself to be interrupted will help. This os beneficial whether you’re trying to work or whether you’re trying to relax. Switch your phone to “Do Not Disturb” or aeroplane mode. Nobody wants to be answering texts while they’re trying to enjoy a hot bath.

Plan Ahead

If you know you’re more likely to be stressed out during your premenstrual phase, you can plan ahead. Get high intensity work done earlier in your cycle when you’re less likely to get stressed about it. Your ovulation phase is ideal for this.

This is called cycle syncing. Essentially, it means working with your hormonal ups and downs to best optimise your time, energy and efforts. If you’re not sure when your ovulation phase is, take my free menstrual masterclass to find out.
Enter your details to take the free class.
Posted on Leave a comment

Everything You Need To Know About The Ziggy Cup Menstrual Disc

Cherrelle Slaney holds an Intimina Ziggy Cup in her hand.

[Ad | PR Sample]

 

If you’re an avid menstrual cup user, you might be confused when you first see the Ziggy cup. In fact, it doesn’t look like a cup at all. So what is this oddly shaped period device?

 

The Ziggy cup is a flat-fit menstrual cup. It works similarly to a regular menstrual cup in that it sits inside the vagina to collect your period fluid. However the shape is vastly different from what you might expect when you think of a menstrual cup.

 

In fact, it’s not really a cup at all. Although it’s called a “flat-fit menstrual cup”, another (and in my opinion better) term for this type of product is “menstrual disc”. These terms are used interchangeably. So, flat-fit menstrual cup = menstrual disc.

 

The Ziggy cup is made by a company called Intimina. It retails for around £35 making it slightly more expensive than a menstrual cup, but it is competitively priced in relation to other menstrual discs on the market. I personally think it is well worth the price tag. Keep reading to find out why…

 

One thing I love about their products is the carrying cases they come with. The Ziggy comes with a silicone pouch for storage. Similarly their Lily Cup folds down into a simple, discreet carrying case. Ideal for throwing into your handbag.

 

One thing that struck me about the Ziggy cup is how thin the base is. I mean, it’s like paper. It’s seriously thin. I was worried I might just tear my finger straight through it. I can confirm though, after several uses, It’s definitely stronger than it feels.

Where does a menstrual disc go?

Now, I was in no way involved with the designing of this cup, but I am willing to take a pretty good guess at why that bottom is so paper thin. Comfort – and not just your own comfort. You might not be the only person feeling the Ziggy cup while it’s in use. The Ziggy cup is different from a regular cup in that you can wear it during sex. Yes, Intimina boldly claim that the Ziggy is ideal for “mess-free period sex”.

 

It sits in a different place from a regular cup which is what allows for penetrative sex whilst wearing. Rather than sitting low down in the vagina, a menstrual disc sits much higher up. It really doesn’t take up much room at all in your vaginal canal.

 

The Ziggy should sit right near the base of your cervix. There’s no suction to keep it in place like you would get with a regular cup. It stays in place by tucking just behind your pubic bone. Yes – I realise that sounds daunting and that you have absolutely no bloody idea what or where your pubic bone is. I had the same reservations, but actually, it’s incredibly easy to insert.

Inserting the Menstrual Disc

If you’re used to inserting a menstrual cup, you’ll know there are several ways to do it. With a menstrual disc there is no fiddly folding to do. You simply pinch the disc in the centre and insert. This is the only way to fold your disc, in comparison to the many ways of folding a menstrual cup. It might take you a couple of tries to get the angle right, but you just keep sliding it upwards until you reach your pubic bone.

 

I find it hard to explain where your pubic bone is, but you’ll be able to feel when the disc tucks in behind it. This is what keeps it securely in place.

 

As with all things, practice makes perfect. You might not get it right the first time. The more you practice the easier it will become. You might find a little water based lube helps get it into place. I always keep lube in the bathroom for inserting my cups. It just helps to make life that little bit easier.

 

I definitely did not insert the Ziggy disc correctly the first time I used it. It leaked and I got really bad cramping. Ultimately, it was a bit of a disaster. In the name of menstruators everywhere, I soldiered on. I’m onto my second period using a disc now and I definitely feel like I’ve got the hang of it.

 

While getting the disc in was easier than I had expected, getting it out is like a whole other ball game. The Ziggy cup does not have a stem or string, so removal of the disc must be done manually. This means getting your hands dirty (literally) and fishing around in your foofoo until you find it.

 

This can feel a bit daunting. especially since it sits high up near the cervix. It’s obviously not an impossible task, but definitely something worth considering if you’re used to removing a cup with a stem.

 

Another thing to consider with a menstrual disc is that the sides are low. Unlike a regular funnel shaped cup, a menstrual disc is more prone to spilling upon removal. I have read several articles recommending that you remove the disc in the shower so you can wash up right away.

 

I’m not sure how convenient this would be in reality. While the disc boasts a high fluid capacity (well over double that of some menstrual cups) I actually found it needed emptying more often than a cup. I don’t know about you, but it would take up a huge portion of my day to jump in the shower every few hours to empty my disc. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Sex On Your Period?

While the menstrual disc might not seem as wonderful as it’s cup shaped counterparts, the one selling point that makes it stand out is that promise of mess-free period sex. That’s right, you can have sex during your period – without the mess! Because we all want a little of that in our lives, right?! I honestly thought it sounded too good to be true – so I tried it out.


The mess-free period sex I had expected wasn‘t entirely mess-free, but I think this was down to user error. I switched out my Mooncup for the Ziggy just a few minutes before we got down to it. Because of the different placement of these two cups, I think there was some residual blood in the vaginal canal which was too low down for the Ziggy cup to catch (remember the Ziggy sits high up in the vagina).


Obviously gravity does it’s thing and the only way for that blood to go is down. Had I been going about my day, that residue would have ended up in my panties. Since I was jumping straight into bed with my other half, it ended up on the sheets.


That said, during intercourse the Ziggy did not move. At all! Neither one of us could feel it which I thought was a little worrying. I was convinced it had fallen out and that it was probably rolling around somewhere in our bedsheets. I was wrong.


Once all was said and done, I checked on the placement of the Ziggy. Still 100% in place. The amount of mess we did have was very minimal. And when it came to emptying, the underside of the disc was completely clean, telling me there had been no leaks.


I am certain that, had I given myself a little more time after changing from Mooncup to Ziggy, there would have been no mess at all. I will update this blog post once I’ve had the chance to try it out again, but so far I’m quite impressed.

Menstrual Disc VS Cup

Overall, I wont be ditching my other cups and reaching for the disc for every bleed – but I will be reaching for it when sex is on the cards. This was a massive selling point for me. I think it makes it well worth the investment just to be able to have “mess-free period sex” as an option.
Posted on Leave a comment

The Truth About Period Blood: What Is It Trying To Tell You?

Cherrelle Slaney wears a pair of Thinx period underwear while lying on a bed.

Have you ever noticed that your period blood can sometimes change colour? Especially towards the end of your period, you might notice that the blood turns from red to pink or even brown. But why is that? And is it normal?


The colour of your period blood can give a good indication into your menstrual health. Menstrual blood isn’t technically just blood. It’s menstrual fluid, which is a mixture of blood, uterine cells and cervical mucous. Although it doesn’t necessarily sound like a pleasant mixture, it’s a normal part of menstruation and can give you some insights into your overall health.

Bright Red Period Blood

Bright red blood is a sign of a healthy period. Blood that is bright red or crimson red in colour is a good sign. You period blood should have a consistency similar to maple syrup.

As long as your bleeding falls in line with your regular cycle, red blood is a good sign. Any bleeding outside of your normal cycle could be a sign of infection and should be checked by a doctor. This includes bleeding between periods or if your cycle length suddenly changes.

Brown Period Blood

Brown or dark red blood is old blood. This can occur at the start and end of your period. When blood oxidises it gets darker in colour.

If there is residual blood left in the uterus from your last period, the blood will turn brown, or sometimes even black. This is what happens to blood as it oxidises. Similarly, as your flow slows down, blood takes longer to leave the uterus. This blood will start to oxidise too – hence the darker colour.

Brown period blood can also be an early sign of pregnancy known as implantation. If you experience any kind of vaginal blood loss during pregnancy you should see your doctor.

Pink Period Blood

Pink blood is usually blood mixed with cervical fluid. The cervical fluid dilutes the blood, lessening it’s bright red hue. You might experience this at the start or end of your period.

This is also common in people who use oral contraceptives. Oral contraceptives reduce the amount of oestrogen in the body which can lead to a lighter flow. Once that light flow gets mixed with cervical fluid it becomes pink in colour.

You might also get some pink spotting in the middle of your cycle around ovulation. It is often combined with some mild cramping. This is called Mittelschmerz (German for “middle pain”) and can be diagnosed by a doctor.

Blood Clots In Your Period

Some amount of clotting in your period is normal. It is more common among those who have a heavy flow. However, if your clots are bigger than a 50p piece then you should see your doctor.

So, there you have it. Some awesome things you can learn from your period blood. Red is a good sign, brown is old blood and pink is diluted blood. Blood clots are normal, but be sure to get them checked if they are larger than a 50p piece. Don’t forget, any significant changes in your period blood or your menstrual cycle should be checked out by a doctor.

Interested in learning more about your menstrual cycle?

Enter your details below to join the mini menstrual masterclass – a quick, free lesson on the basics of the menstrual cycle.
Posted on Leave a comment

5 Amazing Things You Can Do With A Menstrual Cup

Cherrelle Slaney's hand painted with black nail polish holding a Mooncup menstrual cup.

If you’re someone who bleeds, you might have heard of a menstrual cup. They’re a reusable, sustainable alternative to tampons. They’re becoming increasingly popular and gaining traction for good reason


A menstrual cup is a reusable silicone cup, which sits inside the vagina to catch your menstrual fluid. They are safer, more economical and more sustainable than a tampon making them a really versatile option for people who bleed. Because of their long life span, the average cost of some menstrual cups can be as little as 16p per period. This is a huge saving in the long run compared to a box of tampons at around £2-£3.


Switching to a menstrual cup is also better for the environment. It is estimated that one menstrual cup can save up to 11,000 tonnes of period waste from entering our landfills and oceans. While these benefits sound flipping awesome! Can you still live your normal life while wearing a cup? Keep reading to find the answers to some of the most common menstrual cup questions.

Can you pee with a menstrual cup in?

Yes! You absolutely can pee with a menstrual cup in. The cup goes into the vagina. Your pee comes out of a separate hole called the urethra. If you find it difficult to pee with a menstrual cup in, it could be that the cup is putting pressure on your urethra which is making it difficult. Adjusting the position of your cup should eliminate this problem.

Can you poop with a menstrual cup in?

In short, maybe. Some companies discuss this openly with a resounding “yes” while others seem to be a bit more hush-hush about it. It’s difficult to determine what the general consensus is from cup manufacturers on pooping with a cup in.

In my experience, it is possible but not always comfortable. Since your back passage and vaginal wall run quite close to one another, it is possible that your poop could cause your cup to shift it’s position. I much prefer to take the cup out while I poop. Give everything a good clean (including your hands) before reinserting your cup.

Can you have sex with a menstrual cup in?

It depends on the type of cup. Penetrative sex with a regular menstrual cup is simply not going to work. Don’t even try it. Both parties could end up getting hurt.

 

That said, you can buy “flat fit menstrual cups” or “menstrual discs”. These products sit in a different place to your regular type of menstrual cup. Their shape allows for penetrative PIV (penis in vagina) sex while wearing. What’s more, menstrual discs are often marketed with the promise of “mess free period sex”. I can confirm, they’re really bloody good!

 

The Ziggy cup from Intimina is one of my favourites for when you feel like getting down to it without all the period mess.

Can you exercise with a menstrual cup in?

Anything you can do, I can do bleeding. One of the great advantages of a menstrual cup is that they still allow you go about your daily business unhindered. You can still do your regular exercise whilst wearing. Run, walk, swim or even lift weights with a menstrual cup – no problemo!

It’s worth a quick mention that you might not feel like doing your regular exercise when you’re bleeding. That’s okay too. Listen to your body and take it easy when you need to.

Can you sleep with a menstrual cup in?

Most menstrual cups can be worn for up to 12 hours. This makes them the perfect fit for sleeping in. Even if you like to sleep for a long time (like me!).

 

When you’re on your period, you might find you need more sleep than usual. In which case, you might find that an 8hr wear tampon just doesn’t cut it! Menstrual cups can usually be worn for longer than a tampon meaning no interruptions to your beauty sleep.

Do menstrual cups cause TSS?

TSS, or Toxic Shock Syndrome, is a rare but potentially fatal condition often associated with tampon use. While it’s true that any device inserted into your body can cause bacteria growth, TSS risk is significantly lower with menstrual cup use.

Tampons can leave small fibres behind when they are removed which can encourage bacteria growth. Menstrual cups are made from silicone which will not break apart, meaning no nasties left behind. The only known cases of TSS linked to a menstrual cup occurred because the menstrual cup was not inserted and cleaned correctly. With proper use, menstrual cups are a very safe option.

What is the best kind of menstrual cup?

There are several options when it comes to menstrual cups. You might have to try a couple before you find the right option for you. Some are softer or harder than others which can impact comfort and performance.

 

My personal favourite is the Mooncup. It’s a fairly firm cup, which means it holds it’s shape well in the vagina. This is important as it allows to cup to retain it’s shape and create a proper seal to avoid leaks. Softer cups can be compressed more easily by your body. If they don’t open up into their proper shape they can’t form that all important, leak proof seal.