Blog Archives

You ARE Loved: Toxic Shock Syndrome Awareness

I have been struggling to come up with topics to write about, or rather, maybe just unmotivated, hah… however, I decided to go today and write on a topic that I’ve been meaning to write and post for a while. Toxic Shock Syndrome is known for many tampon users, yet, how knowledgeable are we about TSS to help us make an informed decision for the good of our health? I’m not here to necessarily debate whether I think tampons are a “good” form of feminine hygiene product, but today, we will concentrate on TSS alone and while there may be references to tampons, I’m neither “against” them or “for” them.

Staphylococcus aureus

Staphylococcus aureus

So what is toxic shock syndrome and like many infections, the name “doesn’t sound good already.” TSS is potentially fatal and caused by a bacterial infection which is usually associated with tampon use. There are multiple viruses which may trigger TSS, however, the most common one for tampon-related TSS infections is called Staphylococcus aureus. Despite what has been said and the belief that TSS only occurs in women who use tampons, this is not true. In fact, men and women are both capable of being infected with this bacterium and tampons are not the only cause of TSS. TSS has surfaced since 1980 and even after 31 years, women are still dying from tampon-related TSS. We may not think much of TSS, because there is very little publicity on it and with enough taboo around menstruation, people are not open to aptly speak about menstrual/feminine hygiene related deaths. It takes a very brave woman (Lisa Elifritz), the owner of You ARE Loved to raise public awareness about TSS and tell a very personal story about the challenges she faced with TSS in the death of her daughter, Amy Rae Elifritz.

TSS infections caused by Staphylococcus aureus can occur in a healthy individual and usually show through flu-like symptoms, particularly with high-fever exceeding 38.9 °C (102.02 °F), along with low blood-pressure, confusion, vomitting, diarrhea, weakness, coma and in more severe/terminal stages, multiple organ failure. Tampon related TSS symptoms also include a typical skin rash which is characterized as being severely painful at the site of the infection. TSS can be managed if discovered soon and with proper treatment, recovery occurs usually in 2 to 3 weeks. However, because of the destructive nature of the bacteria and TSS, death can occur within hours of the onset of the symptoms. Treatment within the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) is necessary for full supportive care, along with antibiotic treatment and toxin-reduction drugs.

Reported TSS cases dropped off rapidly after 1981 when 40 women died of tampon-related TSS and stayed “under the radar” for many years, until the fear of tampons begin to taper off. Tampon-related TSS struck fear in many women at the time, however, as girls begin to get their periods at younger ages in this generation, more of them are opting to use tampons and thus, exposing them to the causative bacteria at a younger age and also increasing the likelihood that they may be candidates for bacterial growth leading to tampon-related TSS. The triggering point for attention towards TSS was in a controversial testing of a tampon usable for an entire menstrual period called Rely by Procter and Gamble (P&G) in 1978. The tampon would, by design, be able to last an entire period without leakage or replacement and is said to be capable of absorbing almost 20 times its own weight. After several reported cases of TSS in menstruating women, the spotlight turned to tampons as the cause and eventually the product was pulled off the shelf.

People under the ages of 30 are less likely to have the antibodies to fight off Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, making individuals more susceptible to contracting TSS. Even the most diligent individuals such as Amy Rae Elifritz can be infected by this bacterium, despite regular changing of the tampon, alternating of menstrual products and using the lowest absorbency necessary for the menstrual flow at the time. While detection of TSS symptoms might be more obvious while menstruating, TSS can also occur any time within the menstrual cycle and menstruation does not need to be present, as bacteria may take time to build up or if chemicals/materials are left behind in the body, such as leftover rayon fibers from a removed tampon. Because symptoms of TSS are too much like the common-flu and become deadly in a very short period of time, it’s so hard to determine whether or not it’s necessary to seek medical attention and of course, most people would not want to be too aggressive in thinking they have TSS every time they get some flu-like symptoms. Nevertheless, some would argue that because of the severity of the infection, it’d be better to be on the “safe side.”

So how can one mitigate or avoid the risk of TSS? With over half the reported TSS cases being attributed to tampons, it is a reality, not just a myth. For those who have never bothered to heed the warning of tampon pamphlets, here’s a rundown with some of my input and additional tips offered by the You ARE Loved team:

  • Use the lowest possibly absorbency to handle your menstrual flow
  • The higher the absorbency of the tampon, the greater the risk of TSS
  • Change tampons frequently and look for signs of any tampon remnants which might be left behind (such as shredding as you withdraw)
  • Avoid using tampons overnight
  • Tampon-related TSS bacteria require 8 hours to dissipate, therefore, use other products whenever possible throughout the day
  • Tampons are NOT meant to absorb discharge, vaginal fluid or ‘just-in-case’ situations; Tampons should only be used when menstruation has begun
  • Tampon choice should allow for comfortable insertion and removal, such as being saturated enough to remove easily and comfortable enough to put in. Forcing a tampon in or out may cause minute scratches in the vaginal wall, giving the bacteria an entry for further infection
  • Be hygienic and wash your hands before touching your vaginal area, including clean-handling method for your tampon
  •  Remember to remove the last tampon of your period
  • Do remember that as “very rare” that tampon manufacturers may want you to feel about the use of tampons associated with TSS, it is a very serious and real risk
  • Consider alternate menstrual products, such as sanitary napkins (pads), sea sponges, menstrual cups or natural tampons (usually made from cotton, non-bleached and not composed with rayon)
  • Don’t let TSS-risk slip you over time; Just because TSS hasn’t affected you yet, it doesn’t mean it never will

So what do you do if you believe you or someone else you know has been compromised or showing symptoms of TSS?

  • If using a tampon, remove it immediately as this eliminates the source of the bacteria infection
  • Seek medical attention and alert the emergency operator and/or emergency crew that the illness may be toxic shock syndrome related
  • Avoid using tampons in the future as reinfection is a high possibility

Certainly in the future if I have a little girl, I would certainly give her the choice of using any menstrual product she prefers. Nevertheless, should tampons be her choice of products, I would make sure to educate her on proper tampon handling and hygiene, along with ensuring that cotton tampons are purchased over conventional rayon-based ones. If each and every one of these women fallen can make the world aware of TSS, then at least their deaths will not be for naught.

I would recommend anyone who is interested in learning more about TSS and the story of the Elifritz, please visit: http://www.you-are-loved.org/ and also considering making a DONATION to their cause (due to the site design, I cannot directly link to the donate section).

Female Masturbation Education

I guess doing so many posts about periods; I’ve occasionally felt compelled to read up on many things related to women’s health. I suppose there’s not all too many things that are exciting about male health, so that’s why I have little drive to write about it – or maybe it’s because I don’t feel naturally attracted to it, lol. Today, I’d like to take some time to talk about female masturbation, hopefully in an educational stance. As with many of my posts, my information is from “what I read” and also “what I hear” from my girls or from women who have in the past felt comfortable sharing this information with me. No names will be used and I will try to generalize much of this information so it is not too revealing. Furthermore, I’m going to try to avoid making this a scientific post, but rather, write this in “laymen’s terms.” Before starting, I’d like to remind EVERYONE that masturbation has nothing to do with your virginity. I must’ve stated that a lot of time when talking about tampons, but whether you insert anything or not into the vagina for masturbation purposes, it does not take away your virginity. Virginity is ‘lost’ when you have sexual intercourse, whether with opposite or same-sex partners.

So what is masturbation? Masturbation is all about pleasuring oneself sexually with or without the intent of orgasm. Masturbation is “suitable” for all ages and in fact, masturbation often occurs even in young children (whether they recognize it or not), with more prominent masturbation occurring in the tween or teen years. Masturbation is not wrong, while in some religions or cultures, it might not be acceptable. Frankly speaking, many Asian girls I know have an utter distaste for masturbation, possibly from the upbringing that to touch yourself sexually is considered wrong, perverse, dirty, disgusting, and gross or I have even been challenged with, “Why would I do such a thing? EWWW..” It is actually quite unfortunate that Asian culture – more so for Asian women – do not like to accept masturbation as a “normal” and “acceptable” thing. Things as simple as having a discussion person-to-person or from viewing forums, non-Asian cultures tend to be much more open and accepting of masturbation, amongst many other taboo subjects, including menstruation.

Masturbation is a wonderful thing for many reasons and being able to attune to one’s body is a great experience for the individual themselves. Masturbation is sometimes associated with guilt, which should not be the case. Having spoken to a few female friends before on this topic that are “against” masturbation, many see it as if they were defiling themselves or that such actions would make them feel unclean as if it would ruin their chances of obtaining a partner. Speaking for myself, I would much prefer a girl who masturbates (or has) versus one who doesn’t. This doesn’t have to do with whether she shares it with me or not, but rather, the fact that she has intimate knowledge about her own body and is willing to surrender herself to the pleasure and orgasms. Most notably, you will find that women who do masturbate and know how to reach orgasm often report more sexual satisfaction even WITH a partner, because they understand themselves. To allow someone else to pleasure you, one must know how to pleasure themselves or recognize what it feels like TO be pleasured.

Furthermore, masturbation provides for a (relatively) safe method for sexual exploration, without the risk of sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy. Masturbation is highly associated with those who choose to follow an abstinence lifestyle while maintaining sexual sanity. The only general dangers of masturbation would be those who do it so often where it affects a normal lifestyle or where they may use objects which pose physical risks/harm when used for masturbation purposes. Masturbation often has stereotypes associated with it and perhaps that is where some of the non-acceptances of it may stem from. I’ve heard about many “jokes” about how masturbation is for guys or girls who “don’t have a person to have sex with” or for “the losers”. You will find that many people who have partners, whether dating or married, continue to masturbate. Many people who have great sex-lives masturbate and as mentioned before, it helps enhance ourselves. I know many of my girls share with me that they masturbate regularly and enjoy trying new techniques and products. Masturbation I think really encourages fostering self-love and positive body image. By opening our body to pleasure, we give ourselves opportunity to better ourselves and that is why I truly hope women take the time to explore themselves, whether they feel a sexual-drive or not, it will open the doors to a truly wonderful experience. I always want to encourage bebe to explore herself, not necessarily because I want to push her to have sex with me, but also because I feel this self-exploration will help her heart unlock and open-up when it comes to KNOWING what the feeling of touching and intimacy is supposed to feel like and what it’s all about. She likes sleeping because it feels great so I definitely hope she’ll give herself an opportunity to pleasure herself!

Female masturbation can be achieved in one of many ways, either by the most natural method of using ones hands and fingers, or objects. Younger girls because of the inaccessibility of sex toys, often use manual stimulation or stimulation by using household objects. My ex used to use a highlighter/pen, electric toothbrush and even a pocket-vibrator. Some of my girls enjoy using hand/finger stimulation because it allows us to be in-touch with our bodies in the most natural form. Since our hands and fingers are part of us, it doesn’t require us to “carry” anything extra for the purpose of masturbation and of course it is free, discrete, soundless and does not require consumables (battery). The act of touching oneself skin-to-skin is a very liberating feeling while immersing in the ecstasy of pleasure. Household objects such as cucumbers, hairbrush handles, pillows, arm-rest and such are known to be widely available to girls who do not have or do not wish to buy sex-toys. The alternative is the variety of sex toys for girls of age or those who have an older adult who are willing to buy it for them. Sex toys are generally not sold to those under 18, but an understanding sibling, friend or even parent can certainly obtain it for them and it is not illegal to USE it. As rare as the situation may come up, I would be more than happy to buy my son or daughter a sex-toy should they require. It’s a much better alternative for them to understand their bodies sexually, respect it and have a safe output for sexual needs rather than actually finding a guy/girl to satisfy their curiosity. Whatever objects are used, it is necessary to make sure it is clean/sterile and that it is respectful to the delicate vaginal/anal environment. An object which could “break” and “get lost” within your vagina/rectum is never a good idea. Preferably the object should also be “safe” for human contact, especially for internal human contact.

Females are lucky in the sense that they have so many erogenous zones, most notably nipples, vagina, clitoris and anus. Obviously it is also possible that women have erogenous zones in non-sexual parts of their bodies and ones which over the course of time I have discovered to be quite interesting. Since I don’t want to be overly revealing about the partners I’ve had, I won’t mention their “trigger points” and also because every woman is different as to what areas you can touch to get them turned on. One thing that is or should be well known is that most women require stimulation to their clitoris to reach the state of orgasm. Many women do not orgasm through direct stimulation inside their vaginal, but rather, an interconnected pleasure via their clit which causes them to “think” they receive pleasured through vaginal stimulation. While this idea may seem far-fetched since intercourse is highlighted usually by penile-vaginal insertion, I can certainly back this statement up by referencing Masters and Johnson, which states that, “Most women can only achieve orgasm through clitoral stimulation.” Most girls growing up do not discover masturbation because they put their fingers inside themselves, but most likely as a result of a euphoric feeling when they rub themselves against an object or when washing/touching their own body. One of my girls admitted to me the reason why she even found out that she can “feel good” when rubbing that area is because she was talking to her parents one time and sat on the arms of a chair and associated that rush of good-feel with that area of her body. As far as she was concerned at the time, her vaginal area has always been described to her as her ‘private part’ and for ‘peeing’ that she was completely unaware of the sexual pleasure which it brought. With all this said, certainly vaginal stimulation can bring pleasure and orgasm, but it is known that the clitoris’ sole purpose as part of the female sexual anatomy is to bring pleasure.

Now that we understand stimulation a bit, we can proceed to talk about the most common methods of stimulating. The most common method is rubbing the clit with fingers or the hand. Alternately a popular method called “fingering” is self-explanatory, where the girl moves her fingers in and out of her vagina. When using the fingering method, it is possible to stimulate the clit with a spare finger as well, thus heightening the feeling of sexual excitement. When sexual arousal occurs, the vagina begins to self-lubricate by releasing a substance used to make insertion easier. However, those who are experiencing “dry spells” or prefer addition lubrication, some women use their own saliva or 3rd party lube to help enhance the moment. Because the anus itself is also an erogenous zone, similar rubbing or insertion action can result in arousal. One can also stimulate their nipples by rubbing it or even licking/light bites. Household products are often used to replicate the purpose of sex-toys when they’re not available/practical. Sex toys are designed to target erogenous areas in a better method than what can be achieved with manual stimulation. For instance, sex-toys may be able to reach places that our hands and fingers may not be able to reach – or – may not be able to stimulate all at the same time. Vibrators, dildos, beads and clitoral stimulators are all meant to produce pleasure either from stimulation or insertion, most often a combination of both. Some products must be held or inserted into place while others can be “worn” so that it allows for hands-free operations. Vibrators, dildos and beads are usually inserted into the vaginal and meant to hit the g-spot or “shake in place” to help push against the vaginal walls to create pleasure. Stimulators are usually held on top of erogenous zones, such as over the clit or over the nipples. Alternate toys are also created for anal use as they need to vary in size and texture as to not damage the anal cavity. If you want something that is super-discrete, the shower head is a wonderful little invention.

So why is it great for girls to masturbate? With the most obvious feeling of a great orgasm for the girl and self-exploration, it is of great benefits for your future/current partner. There are many more women who complain about not being able to orgasm than men. Even women who are married and could possibly have had years of sex, may never have actually experienced orgasm. It is very sad, not only for a partner, but even for the individual herself. Sexual response and orgasms are not things that are generally “learned” from a partner, but rather, through the person themselves. This kind of relates to the whole, “in order to love someone, you must first learn to love yourself” – a statement that I’ve tried to communicate to my bebe, without seeming rash or that I’m constantly pressuring her to do more. For me, it is all about her and wanting to encourage her to accept her body which she has been beautifully given. This type of openness if she ever achieves it will be the stepping stones for our relationship as well because it opens our eyes to the many wonders of intimacy around us, giving us but a brief moment where we can be completely unguarded and absorb the pleasures of life and the world. The moment that a girl feels orgasm reaching, the pulses of excitement and the pleasure of vaginal contractions, I cannot think of anything else but breathlessness and clarity-of-mind for the girl. Some women feel their body is something to be shy of and lots admit they have never fully undressed and looked at themselves in the mirror. If they have, even a fewer portion has allowed themselves to inspect their body and let their hands move around. For many, the only time a girl will have done something like this is perhaps to do a breast exam or health inspection, but never to truly understand oneself. This is all meant to create self-love and foster self-confidence. If a woman is barely comfortable with looking at her OWN body, how can she accept a partner looking at her? Even like last night when I touched bebe’s face or as I held her, she was much too shy to look at me or take the time to savour my touches, but rather, probably felt uncomfortable with bodily contact which she is not used to or felt self-conscious.

I remember a conversation I had with one of my god-sis and she kept on insisting about this really “hot boy” she wanted to have sex with. I asked her how much she knew about her body and she said “not a lot” and I had asked her if she ever has touched herself or looked at her body. She said the only time she does that is when she takes a shower or gets dressed and that the touching is “not sexual”. I questioned her further, asking her why she feels comfortable having sex with a guy, yet, is afraid to have even rubbed herself or felt shy about exploring her own body. She kind of blinked her eyes at me, not knowing how to answer because I posed a challenge which made her question WHY she could accept another person groping away at her body but have never done it herself. If in fact she saw masturbating or exploring herself as being disgusting or dirty, why is it any cleaner when done by someone else? In the end I’m not sure if she did end up having sex with the guy (knowing her, probably), but it was probably a question she still cannot answer!

Unlike male masturbation, female masturbation is a particular taboo subject. It almost seems like males and female masturbation frequency/discovery is on the opposite ends of the spectrum. Most males discover masturbation at an early age and continues to masturbate frequently (and notoriously during puberty) until they reach middle-age where it begins to plateau. Females tend to discover masturbation later in life and the number of older female masturbators tends to be higher. This shows that in the past generation, masturbation was not discovered until much later on for women and it isn’t until later in age where masturbation becomes an “acceptable” and “normal” thing – and seen as a “slutty” action at younger ages. It is almost “freely acknowledged” that males masturbate and with little stigma attached to it, but when a girl masturbates, it’s almost like the end-of-the-world. Masturbation for women sometimes come about “through” their first sexual experience, then knowing how wonderful it feels, they begin to explore and adopt masturbation as part of their lifestyle. I think this is contrary to what it should be, because girls should first learn to masturbate then have sex. Certainly women are supressed when it comes to masturbation and it’s such a taboo/frowned upon thing that they ignore their own sexual impulses to curtail to what society expects. Perhaps women are quite sexual too and have ‘needs’ just as guys do, but because masturbation for women isn’t as highly looked upon, they resist the urge to satisfy themselves and therefore only forcing themselves to be unresponsive and frigid. This worries me as well for bebe – because she is so conservative and ‘proper’ that I think she may even be supressing her feelings of need, whether she knows it or not. Sometimes I can see glimpses of emotions from her trying to escape and I feel touched, but then when she realizes she “lets herself out too much” she pulls back in. While this is not necessarily sexual frustration that caused this, but speaking from the viewpoint of masturbation, had she allowed herself to submit to her emotions and perhaps carnal pleasure at some point, she would be more easily receptive to listening to her emotional responses and smoothly initiate relationship advancements. Clearly said, masturbation provides more than just sexual fulfillment, but fosters personal growth in many many ways!

If you have any thoughts or questions about masturbation, female or otherwise, please feel free to comment or send me an email! I’d be happy to answer them if I can, find alternate sources or perhaps point you to the right direction.

Menstrual Fetish or Simply Education?

So as I often wander and drift through the internet, I find myself reading forums and Q&A from sites. Having grown up as a forum-hopper as a teenager, I ran into many puberty-related resources, allowing open discussion between males and females, both questioners and moderators/professionals who provide information or intervene to make an expert opinion/diagnosis. With that said, many of these “specific” forums tend to be more positive towards questions and they’re answered with decency – or at least posts that are negative/insulting are removed/moderated. The internet is essentially “society” – just like when we’re offline and many of the same stigmas exist. Let me elaborate.

I was reading on a Q&A site and bumped into several different threads/sites which had males asking legitimate questions about menstruation. Furthermore, they did so tastefully so it was not a matter of, “Oh my god, please let me have your old pads!” – but rather, “I want to know what girls experience during their period” or “Do girls exercise during their period?” These questions appeared genuine and plus, some people might have called them “stupid questions” – but for males who never experience menstruation – how should they know any better? If they dare to post a question up of that sensitivity, surely they deserve an appropriate response. If the person reading/answering feels that they don’t want to answer, why must they feel the need to post a nasty response. Why is a male a PERVERT, a SICKO, a WEIRDO for wanting to learn about menstruation?

This situation is unfortunate, because women complain about men being ignorant or immature when it comes to menstruation. Yes, we have textbooks and we have school, but that is hardly “sufficient information about menstruation” – that is unless you happen to be in a medical field. For the general guy, simply skimming through our 1-page in the textbook during SexEd class or from the hearsay we get from guy friends (usually non-factual) harbour a very poor perception of menstruation in our minds. We’re criticized by women for being un-knowledgeable about menstruation but at the same time, we’re ALSO criticized when we want to genuinely learn about it. So what is it that women want or rather, do women just assume the information we absorb “from around us” is enough for us to have positive view of menstruation? We need brave and mature women who are willing to provide anecdotal support about their own menstrual experiences and educate men in these matters. We should not be degraded or berated for our willingness to learn – WHETHER this is a fetish or simply an interest.

As I was passing through Yahoo! Answers, it was so sad to see girls flocking down on this poor guy who made an honest question about periods. With a solid page of “answers” – most of them were either unhelpful or downright insulting towards this guy. Rather than taking the time to provide a useful answer, these girls told him off, called him names and made personal attacks – when these girls likely don’t even know this individual personally. Only a few “answers” that were posted addressed his question. What is it that women want? …Us to know about periods or us to remain immature about it and then blame us afterwards? I can understand that women might pounce on a guy who asks a question that is “highly inappropriate” – but these were all reasonable questions. Furthermore, if these women didn’t feel comfortable replying, why even post to yell at this poor guy who is trying to LEARN?

How do we separate the fetishists from the learners or is there that gray-area in between it? To understand a fetish, let’s take a look at the definition of it:

fetish  fet·ish (fět’ĭsh, fē’tĭsh)
n.

  1.  Something, such as an object or a nonsexual part of the body, that arouses sexual desire and may become necessary for sexual gratification.
  2.  An abnormally obsessive preoccupation or attachment.

Fetishes are usually not-harmful by nature. For instance, I love menstruation, but I don’t think I’ve ever “hurt” anyone as a result of my interests. At the same time, am I a fetishist or am I a learner? Menstruation IS related to a “sexual part of the body” (opposed to the definition of a fetish being a “non-sexual” part) – closely associated to the vagina, but is not a “part” itself. Likewise, it “may become necessary for sexual gratification” – and luckily for me, I haven’t hit that point where I feel menstruation is so deeply rooted in me where I can’t become sexually aroused without periods/feminine hygiene on my mind. Easy example is that I can easily become sexually excited just thinking about bebe – absence of her period or any products related to it. If someone DID label me as having a menstrual fetish, I also wouldn’t deny it, as I do have that border of “interest” and “excitement” – but nor would I agree 100% since it is the initial desire to learn more about menstruation where it later developed into a sexual-interest.

What though, separate fetishes over menstruation as it does to other ones – ones that people deem more “common” or even “acceptable”? In the world of men, I’m sure many of us wouldn’t deny that a good bra and panty would excite us. It seems like when guys talk about panties, it is pretty acceptable we think about it – but panties are a “non-sexual item” by nature and therefore, would be considered a fetish. Why is it “ok” for a man to have a fetish for an inanimate object, such as female underwear – but NOT ok when it comes to feminine hygiene products or a woman’s period? My ex used to always tease me by leaving some of her bras and panties on her bed so that I’d see them or she’s ask me to pick out for her what to wear underneath. However, my excitement was not necessarily the object itself, but the association. When I think about panties, I don’t get particularly excited. When I think about bebe’s panties or bras, they’re exciting because they’re HERS and the association is with her beauty and body. The other day, I was graced by seeing bebe’s panties/bra while I helped her pack and I was excited – only because she wears them and not so much the “item itself” and therefore the association with it being SEXY is based on her connection with them. So now, do I have a fetish for her panties or do I have a fetish for her? (The answer is obvious, LOL)

I have to say, there’s only been a handful of times I’ve ever felt bad about my interest in menstruation. I’ve received much praise and kudos for my dedication and commitment to being a positive male role model for menstruation. I’m sure many of my readers know my passion is probably have driven by fetish and half by knowledge – but still, does it really matter? I see so many of these poor guys who should have their curiosity fostered and to be able to engage in professional dialogue with a woman who is willing to answer their inquiries. If they pose a question and they’re hoarded by women berating him, what kind of attitude does that suggest? It suggests that men “do not need to know” or in fact “should NOT know” about menstruation and thus, we become negative towards menstruation through our experiences of being ridiculed. These poor male children, tweens or teens (and possibly even adult men) who make a genuine attempt at learning about menstruation will never ask a question about it again if they’re shot-down, what will they say to future generation of guys? Luckily for me, I have the support of many of my girls and even more proud of my girlfriend who is slowly opening up to me about her period and is willing to answer my questions to her. You have no idea how much that has changed my attitude towards her and how blessed/appreciative I feel over her openness in menstruation to me, especially because she’s not easy to pry information from, especially those of such sensitivity. Although it seems weird to take pride in your girlfriend’s period – I certainly do!

For all the men reading this, please find a woman whom you are comfortable with, trust and is willing to share her menstrual knowledge with you. For the women who read this, please extend your hand/knowledge of menstruation to willing-men around you… for this society has much to learn and crush the taboo of menstruation! If you suspect the guy is learning about menstruation because he as a fetish for it… why does it matter to you anyways? If you’re able to change the way another person views menstruation positively, educationally or otherwise, you’ve done a great job! And also… don’t assume anything about the guy when he’s asking a question – not all of us are cross-dressers, transsexuals or the-like 😛

My Uphill Battle with Learning Chinese-Mandarin

For those who keep up with my blog, I’m sure you’ve seen many references to me learning Mandarin, or Putonghua for those who prefer it being referred to as that. A little background on my “language” abilities. I have grown up in a household of speaking Cantonese, with only English “taught” to me at home, but it was expected I speak Cantonese at home. I remember when I went through that phase of ‘just’ wanting to speak English, my parents told me clearly that if I’m unable to ask for something in Cantonese, it was not happening – this included if I asked for something to eat. I’m sure in today’s standard, that would be considered child-abuse, but my parents idea was if you can’t ask for it in Cantonese, you aren’t getting it! I’m quite glad I was forced to learn Cantonese because it is so damn useful knowing a different language, especially your ‘own’ language.

I was enrolled in “Chinese school” (you’ll understand why I quote that later) for about 6 years. I met a lot of friends there and we were all native Chinese, with those varying from general communication vocabulary to those who could barely say ‘good morning’ to their parents in the morning. Nevertheless, through those 6 years, I cannot say I learn a great deal. Most of my learning just simply came from using it at home and watching Chinese movies. Although in class we were taught to read, write, speak and understand Chinese (Cantonese dialect), during recess or anytime the students communicated with each other, it was all in English. The class was much more of a place for you to “drop off your kids for a few hours” rather than true, hardcore learning. Then again, these classes combined kids from 5 to 15, making an “appropriate teaching level” incredibly hard, especially when you have those who were much more fluent such as I compared to those of my friends who could barely say their own names in Cantonese. I remember I used to loathe my parents for forcing me to learn a language that I would ‘not be practical’ – but let’s face it.. look around the world, Chinese (particularly Mandarin) is working its way up to being one of world’s “international business language.” I’ve seen many Caucasian people taking up an interest in learning Mandarin, mostly because it can move them quickly up the ladder and especially if you plan on doing business with China. Although when I return to Hong Kong I have problems navigating or ordering at places that have menus strictly in Chinese, at the very least I can speak and listen well enough to hold my own.

So before I started learning Mandarin, I had an excellent grasp of spoken/listening to Cantonese, very minor written/reading comprehension of Chinese characters and almost completely fluent in written/reading/spoken/listening of English. Although I had always known that knowing more languages never hurts, languages are not a particularly easy thing to learn… or at least not for me. Also, females seem to be a lot more adept at picking up languages than guys due to biological factors. I remember that I was one of the top 3 students in my grade during high school in French. My French teacher had highly encouraged me to continuing my pursuit of French due to “natural ability” for it. The truth is I didn’t have any natural ability in French, I simply studied very hard for my class, with many hours dedicated when I got home to learning enough to do well on my tests. In the end, I stopped taking French after my mandatory credit year because I just didn’t feel like it was useful in my future career field (in computers). Secondly, learning French was very hard for me, so as much as my teacher thought I had a knack for it, I really didn’t.

The reason I never took up Mandarin before was because I saw it as a language of little use to me. To me, speaking Cantonese was already enough, along with the most useful language in Canada, English. My cousin had always said I should definitely pick up Mandarin so I can hit on all those cute Taiwanese chicks. I’ve never found a Taiwanese girl I’ve really been interested in, so I never felt that desire to learn it. Furthermore, I have this unfortunate (and I’m not claiming it to be correct) equation of Mandarin and China-Mainlander girls who I did not have the most positive feelings about. Over time as I was deciding to pick up Mandarin so that communication would be easier between bebe and I and furthermore, hoping to bridge that gap of communication between her family and friends with me, it took a lot of effort for me to bring myself to learning a language which I have no grasp of at all. You may think, “Hey, you know Cantonese… so therefore, Mandarin must be very easy for you!” – this is not the case as much as you may think.

Cantonese, Mandarin and the many dialects spoken within China all share a common base, it is the written form of Chinese characters. Before my mom’s Mandarin was more fluent, she volunteered at an organization where there was a Mandarin-speaking lady. Although a lot of the communication were in English, when they could not convey what they wanted to, they wrote it out in Chinese. For me, it is harder for me to build the connection between Cantonese and Mandarin spoken forms is because I have a very minor understanding of written Chinese. It’s easy for my mom because she can put 1 and 1 together… “So this characters sounds like X in Cantonese and sounds like Y in Mandarin based on what I read.” and since I cannot read it very well, I can’t equate X with Y. As you can see, this makes learning Mandarin for me a very uphill battle.

Why did I start learning Mandarin? I began to learn it when I returned from Hong Kong this year. Bebe had expressed to me that she sometimes finds it uncomfortable that I am not able to understand her in her language. Suffice to say, although we share two common languages, Cantonese and English, I can understand her want of me to learn her language. Even I think it would make hanging out with her friends and spending time with her family much more convenient. As you may have read, I had a dislike of learning Mandarin, but sure enough, I feel that I can put forth much effort in learning this language to make future communication a lot easier. Learning languages when you’re older is not like learning it when you’re young. My brain is much slower to absorb and it takes actual effort. When I was young, I barely recall how I truly “learned” languages other than listening to people use it and it’d naturally kick-in. As I got older, this is no longer the case. Although I listen to a lot of people speak Mandarin around me, prior to me starting my lessons, it was just a bunch of words that floated in one ear and out the other.

Switching from Cantonese and learning Mandarin is quite hard because Mandarin is the “original” and “proper” way of the Chinese language. Speaking Mandarin follows the strict written form of Chinese, unlike Cantonese where we have lots of words that don’t even exist in the written form or even within the actual Chinese dictionary. In fact, a lot of my Mandarin-speaking friends have problems picking up Cantonese because we like to use “non-existent” words. Bebe has amazingly mastered Cantonese, probably from watching all those TVB dramas. My realization and pain was having to relearn many of the vocabulary I use. Something as simple as saying “house” 屋企 does not actually exist within the realm of Mandarin and written Chinese. Although those who speak Cantonese and Mandarin might be able to understand that if you were to use those characters together in Mandarin, it is definitely not the PROPER way of saying it. 房子 is the proper written and Mandarin spoken form of house. There is much slang used in Cantonese, so it has taken me a lot of reworking of my brain to deal with the “formalized” Chinese. Mandarin is easy if you have grown up properly learning written Chinese as written Chinese follows-suit with spoken Mandarin. Cantonese not only has a lot of slang, but literally, a bastardized version of Mandarin and Chinese. Mandarin is a very formal and cultivated (斯文) language and I never realized this until I began learning it. Before I started learning Mandarin, I also found it to be a very annoying language, because I suppose it sounded like screeching to me. I ended up relating that to the fact that the people I hear speaking Mandarin aren’t the more “elegant” types. Listening to a very gentle, Mandarin-speaking girls or even  Taiwanese ones (although Taiwanese people have their own language-set, they share a lot of the wording with traditional Mandarin) is actually very sexy. Mandarin really is beautiful when it comes out from the right mouth… haha, especially bebe’s!

People have always complained that I speak English way too fast – most notably when I’m presenting. Teachers always used to say that I got too nervous when presenting and I’d begin to speak really fast, but then I explained to them that it is due to habit of speaking Cantonese. Chinese languages in generally are extremely fast and pronunciations can be VERY easy to miss. I never noticed I spoke very quickly in Cantonese though, but now when I listen to bebe talk on the phone with her friends, I realized that Mandarin is also a very fast-paced language… that is bad, from a learning perspective, lol. When I listen to people speak Mandarin slowly, I have time to notice the tones and decode the word. When they speak fast, I’m trying to absorb so much I only catch bits and pieces of it. Of course I need to adapt to listening to it and decoding it fast enough, but that will come with time and exposure. I always hoped that when we go out, bebe can use some easy communication with me in Mandarin, but I try to avoid it with her mainly because I don’t think she has the patience to teach me her language and all that would do is get her frustrated and then become even more negative. I’m not saying I could even hold up a complex conversation as well as I can in English or Cantonese, but that is a START.

Rosetta Stone - Mandarin

Rosetta Stone - Mandarin

I started using a program called Rosetta Stone. I did a lot of research into this program before getting it because it is a lot of money. It’s about $500 for the entire Mandarin Chinese box set. Yes, I am nuts, all that damn money right? Well, it’s for bebe and there’s almost nothing that I wouldn’t do for her to help our relationship. One could argue learning a new language is only for my own gain, but the reality is why ELSE would I need to learn this language otherwise? Everywhere I need to go I can get away with just English and if necessary, Cantonese. This program is incredibly long and built with much complexity – not complexity for the student, but the way they make it WORK. I’m absolutely amazed by how much I have learned. Even my mom, as rare as it may be, expressed how proud she is that I can pick up the language so quickly. Now, I’m not saying I’m a professional Mandarin speaker now, but compared to how crappy my Mandarin was before (or try, not even knowing any, lol) – it is a huge JUMP over a matter of 2 months. For the first few sections, I did relatively fast, however, I am beginning to slow down. This is not because I’m losing the drive to learn, but because the chapters are beginning to become harder, making fast chapter advancements much slower. I’d much rather take the time to perfect it and truly understand it, rather than trying to jump ahead for the sake of “getting further.”

What makes this program so amazing when there are so many language-learning programs out there right? Well, I’ve experienced it first hand myself, WOW! They use a method called “Dynamic Immersion” and while there are times when it simply tries to drill things in your head over and over again, you don’t feel it much – unlike at school. Honestly, there were times I quit a chapter and said to myself, “Damn, there’s no way I can even remember this” and then I walk away. When I think of it a day later, all of a sudden I realized I could remember it… in fact, almost crystal-clear. It makes me amazed at how well they’re able to make things stick in your head. I didn’t even know I learned that stuff when I actually DID! One of the biggest things about learning a new language is finding someone to speak it with you. Luckily, I have many friends who are native-Mandarin speakers, who help me along my way. However, I still find it tough to bring myself to have conversations with them. On the other hand, when I go out to places like T&T or even at the Chinese food place in the mall, I dare to speak it with them – however little I can do. I know that unlike a fluent-speaker, I spit out word-by-word rather than “smoothly” – but at least I should get credit for ATTEMPTING it rather bravely. The reality is that when I speak to these people, they may be laughing inside at my horrible attempt to ‘speak their language’ – but I may never see them again, so it’s easier to get over my follies. On the other hand, speaking to someone I know always seems rather embarrassing when I can’t get the right words out. I wish I was more like my dad because he told me when he came to Canada, his English still wasn’t “all the way there” and he’d often carry a dictionary around as he conversed and eventually, built up his language skills enough to be fluent. Nevertheless, he always said to me, “Sure, I’m sure those people laughed at me when I tried to speak English, but I don’t care what they think!” – if I had that kind of courage, I’d be much better off.

I think about this entire learning process, I must say, it is rather wonderful. Every time I complete each “section” just a small fraction of a chapter, I feel extremely proud. I know bebe is feeding me the willpower and the intellect to continue learning. I’ve lost motivation many times in the past, particularly with working out, lol, because I lack that DRIVE. This time, bebe is providing me with this drive, enabling my mind to stay concentrated and to focus on learning this language. Bebe is also giving me a reason to learn it, because it will help improve our communication ability with each other and also, making sure that I understand what’s happening around me when her family or friends are speaking Mandarin. Do I dare say that I’ll be able to decode everything that will happen around me? Well, maybe and maybe not. As I get more exposure to Mandarin, hopefully through her and interactions with family and friends, I’ll be able to pick up on “real” lessons through experience and immersion – rather than just through this program. Although I may only be able to communicate effectively after finishing the entire 3 sets , further immersion into her environment will truly help me to build upon what I learned and make my language learning practical.

For those who are learning Mandarin or perhaps even a different language, I will definitely vouch for Rosetta Stone being a great tool. I’m not sure whether it effectively replaces a “teacher” or “in-class lesson” – but I’ll tell you it’s definitely cheaper and less time consuming. The odd thing is this type of learning style doesn’t require “homework” – but reinforces the learning very well. Conversely, many of the “taught” courses all require in-class lessons along with homework to accomplish the same thing. According to them, you learn naturally, speak confidently and stay motivated. The way they teach the language simulates the way that children learn languages, therefore making it effortless for me to learn it. Like I said, I didn’t even realize I learned half the things I actually did. By matching apple with apple, it made the learning experience EASY. Speaking confidently, I definitely do it well in front of the computer. This programs has a state-of-the-art voice recognition system which is very important particularly for Mandarin because of the word enunciation and that tone is absolutely CRUCIAL. Sometimes I get tongue-tied saying something and it forces me to say it over and over again until I get it right! Of course when I actually speak it with people, they don’t ask me to “say it again” (unless it’s REALLY messed up) and we make do with trying to communicate with what I do know. Staying motivated is amazing how they do it. Because the program allows you to go at your own pace, repeat things, pause on things, fast forward and doesn’t hassle you – I feel very RELAXED when I’m taking these lessons. These lessons also feel very fulfilling after I complete them, I get a sense of, “Hey, I’m doing better!”

Looking at one of the words I learned, I almost know I’m going to trip on it one time and get my ass laughed off. Nevertheless, it’ll be pretty funny. Washroom is 衛生間 or pronounced wei sheng jian. Sanitary napkin is 衛生巾 or pronounced wei sheng jin. Whether or not you can properly read pinyin, as you can see, the sounding of those are EXTREMELY close, lol. Maybe to a native Mandarin speaker, they can easily separate the tones of jian and jin, but I can’t do it very well at the moment and I need to continue to ensure I hit the right tones XD Can you imagine the embarrassment if I said the wrong thing? LOL! Um.. “Excuse me, where can I find the WASHROOM?” 😆 — can you see the potential for major catastrophe there? HAH! Of course I wouldn’t mind being led to the sanitary napkins section if I was in a supermarket, but how weird would that be if I asked that in a restaurant? Oh man…

Anyways, so today, I was planning to have a lighthearted discussion with bebe. I told her I missed her while she was away and asked her if she felt the same. Obviously she couldn’t answer that, so then I kind of asked her why she still doesn’t feel like that. I was not planning on having a huge argument over it because when I asked her, it was simply of inquisitive nature and I wasn’t intending to imply she was “not being fulfilling enough” – which is what I guess she ended up perceiving it as. It was really just an innocent and perhaps grin-and-ask type question, one of those ones you never really expect an answer for. I expected a shrug and a “I just don’t feel ready yet” answer and then that would’ve been the end of that and moved on. Unfortunately, because of my stinking big mouth, it erupted into a very negative situation. The bad thing is that if I had just said nothing, it wouldn’t have caused all of this.

Sometimes I tell myself I’m so fucking stupid for saying things like that. I know that I understand myself and that I know when I am joking or just prodding at her – but sometimes she doesn’t know when I’m doing that and then she ends up taking things the wrong way. I was in no way telling her or wanting to making her feel she wasn’t “holding up her end” because she is – I can tell just from the past 3 months that she’s been trying her best to bring those feelings to surface, so there is NO blame at all that I’m placing on her. But unfortunately, by asking, I brought some negativity to the surface and that was purely my fault for bringing it up. Perhaps when I wanted just grin-on-my-face jokingness, it ended up not so well when I can’t convey tone/facial expression properly. It kind of pissed me off WHY I would even say such things… sometimes I question my own intelligence. I know that when she’s ready to take the relationship to the next step, she’ll tell me so, whether verbally or through body language, why would I be so foolish as to even ask her these things, particularly when she has problems conveying her thoughts? ARG. Can’t I just keep my mouth shut sometimes? I totally instigated this… she trailed into a conversation where it was a defining moment whether we would erupt this into something and I still stepped into it by having to make a statement about it. Why must I have an opinion on everything? I should learn what my mom taught me about just holding back sometimes. Ever since my dad passed away, my mom had always said she looked back and wonder why they got into arguments sometimes. It dawned upon her that sometimes if she had just held back her “thoughts” and not always “take a stance” on everything, there would never be a catalyst to start an argument. I know that if I just didn’t comment on what bebe said and I had to “throw my 2-cents of thought” into the conversation, none of this would have happened. I know that it doesn’t change the reality of the situation, but it DOES prevent something like this that gives her MORE leverage and negativity.

I had to completely steer clear of anymore relationship-related stuff because I didn’t want this to fester. The last thing I need is something to give us more reasons to throw at each other. Best to keep the calm and keep the peace. Unlike other couples, maybe we should not talk about the direction of our relationship, and just accept it as-is, lol. Oh, I definitely need less opinions on everything… or well at least not express them. As of the last time I saw her, things were beautiful and we were growing closer. Something happened over the past week with her friend that has really drawn this negativity out in her. I would think perhaps it was relationship or family-related that happened with her friend that seemed to throw a wrench into the crankshaft. Bebe had been so positive about our relationship, up to the last week when she was away at her friend’s and something was amidst. I need to work on embracing bebe’s comfort level with me, making sure that she doesn’t feel like she’s bad in this relationship or the failing point. NEITHER of us are a failing point and we can’t let this relationship fail. I promised bebe I’d continue to be whole I am and told her to stop feeling like she’s “not giving me enough” because I’m not asking for more, I’m asking her to be who she is until she wants to give me more. Sometimes I guess she feels like I’m pushing her or feeling like I’m implying she’s not being satisfying enough. I’m definitely NOT trying to convey that as much as sometimes I ask her things about our direction, I simply want to “know” things – but not with the intention of pushing her beyond her limits at the moment. I know that bebe’s the type of girl that when she feels she’s ready, she’ll step up to the plate – just like she did for us the first time and now is like no other – we will overcome these obstacles together and we will grow and learn to cherish each other in all the right ways to come!

Alan Tam 譚詠麟 – 小風波

如讓你看見這痛苦中的我
誰願再掀起小風波
其實我與你好知心好清楚
但偏要製造苦楚

還願看見你看你想不想我
還願看你心可苦楚
其實你也痛彼此一般的多
問可有快樂分給我

今天的當初我只愛你一個
心裡有句說話要對你說清楚
可否息風波你對我已不錯
心裡也暗暗認我也有一點點錯

還願你再約我到公園等我忘掉了往昔開始過
其實我共你好知心好清楚願此際你在想我
其實我與你過往真開心過留住那笑聲於心窩
其實我共你早交出心一顆應該帶笑入愛河
共墮愛河

OOH但願大家言你與我都有點錯
OOH但願大家言再與你相唱和

Oddly enough, I was JUST listening to this song yesterday so I thought it’d be very fitting today to post it. I blame myself for instigating this argument because I could’ve avoided it all had I just not pushed her buttons. Sometimes I even find myself annoying, why do I purposely do things like that? LOL. It’s kind of like the kid who sees a puddle and still jumps into it, knowing very well that he’ll get dirty! This song is about all the “trivial issues” that couples run into but in the end, he (the singer) expresses that no matter what matters come up, that she (the song recipient) is still the one and only person to him. I really believe in the power of words, because hearing these lyrics makes me think of these stupid little things I do to bebe and although most of it are misunderstandings. Even though bebe and I may sometimes do something that the other end “doesn’t like” – I still know that I need to make myself clear that she is the one and only special girl for me and that these little matters can be overcome. I admit I am wrong to her when I am, and apologize deeply for my mistakes.

I don’t have any pre-translated English versions of this, so if you can understand it – great – if not, oh well 😛 Just skip this part, haha.

Funny tidbit that I never realized how learning Mandarin would help me… I can (partially/fully) understand the pad/tampon commercials that are in Mandarin now, LOL! 😀

Feminine Hygiene Products and Your Vagina is Repulsive. Period.

Hygiene Matters. Period.

Hygiene Matters. Period. (SCA)

Holy crap, before someone shoots me, that is not what I think – it just happens to be the topic of my entry and also the general sentiment within the media industry. Having a short discussion with one of my readers via comments on my blog, he brought up an excellent point – that because of culture and religion, menstruation is “viewed” very differently. I’m going to start to touch on this topic for 2 reasons. One, was because I was inspired by @campaignperiod showing me a video link and from that, I read up on the Hygiene Matters 2011 Report compiled by SCA. I realize I’m probably giving them free advertisement, but whatever… it was great having read this little report and yes, it IS little, only 43 pages and if you’ve read 300 page reports before, this is nothing, lol. I highly recommend those interested in personal well-being, whether male or female, to read it. If you are not interested in going through something that long (and it is NOT all about menstruation, it is about hygiene in general), please at least see this video.

The second reason was because as I was going through my MENinMenstruation YouTube account, I was “recommended” a video that caught my eye. Bebe once sent me a parody of how “strict” Malaysia TV broadcasting is when it comes to ‘revealing’ body parts. There are so many countries in the world and many cultures that have a particular view of menstruation, so you may wonder why I particularly selected that country and whether it had been influenced by bebe. In this case, it didn’t, because it showed up on my “suggested” videos to watch in which I read a very interesting quote:

6. Are there restrictions upon creative license in Malaysia?

Until very recently, sanitary napkins were not allowed to be shown on TV. Apart from that we could not show armpits or navels.

– Kancil Awards 2008 Chairperson Interview

I’m not interested in generating a debate over religion on my blog. As far as this entry is concerned, all people need to understand is that Malaysia’s official religion is Islam. According to Article 160 of the Malaysian Constitution, all ethnic Malays are considered Muslim, which approximately 60.4% of the Malaysian population practicing the Islam religion. Thus, you can see why broadcasting rules within Malaysia are so strict. I have a Muslim coworker and he is highly devoted and abides by the rules set forth by his religion closely. Although I knew about that showing of the armpits and navels on public TV in Malaysia violates broadcasting rules, I did not know that even sanitary napkin commercials were not allowed until I read the quote as stated above. For as long as I can remember, I always struggled in finding sanitary napkin commercials or even (Malaysian) manufacturer websites regarding sanitary napkins. All of this now makes sense as to why I had such difficulties!

Libresse Maxi Pads made by SCA. These are the same ones bebe gave me, but these are not mine and I did not take the picture!

Libresse Maxi Pads made by SCA. These are the same ones bebe gave me, but these are not mine and I did not take the picture!

Further digging revealed an article which was published fairly recently in October of 2010 by The Malaysian Insider author, Dina Zaman. There was a particular quote that almost made me choke on my coffee, not because I was disgusted by the thought of menstruation, but rather, how someone could have such a STARK view of menstruation…

“For example, commercials on sanitary pads are openly shown on TV and this could influence the young to get involved in social ills,” said Johor Bahru Puteri Umno member, urging the ministry to increase shows that teach good values and religious practices.

Umm.. excuse me, did I just read that seeing a commercial of sanitary pads would cause me to be involved in social ills? If that’s the case, I should have murdered a ton of people and raped many women by now according this member’s statement. Although I can’t say I’m the most normal of people in my interests such as menstruation, I’m definitely not socially dysfunction and I don’t pose harm to society or something. The likelihood is I’ve watch more sanitary pad commercials than probably all the females I know put together, so this member must hate my guts by now, lol. The author of the article then continues to write (regarding the above statement):

As a still menstruating woman, I have yet to witness how sanitary pads and their ads could lead one to sin. I have always thought that sanitary pads are a bane to women and frighten the hell out of men, especially bloody and wet ones.

The CMCF (The Communications and Multimedia Content Forum of Malaysia) under Part 3 section 8.6 of their broadcasting standard dictates..

8.6
Sanitary Protection Products and Incontinent Pads For Adults
Advertisements in this product category is unusually sensitive and commercials for it can easily cause offence or embarrassment, even among people who have no objection in principle to its being advertised on television. Because it is often viewed in a family setting, television advertising needs to be treated with restraint and discretion. Anyone intending to produce a commercial for a sanitary protection product and incontinent pads for adults MUST abide by the following:-
(a)
Restriction on Times of Transmission Commercials portraying a sanitary protection product and incontinent pads for adults are permissible only after 10.00pm.
(b)
Visual Treatments and Product Descriptions Sanitary protection products and incontinent pads for adults – visual treatments must be done with taste and restraint, particular care is needed with shots of unwrapped towels, pads or tampons, whether actual or diagrammatic. Detailed references, whether in sound or vision, should avoid graphic descriptions which might offend or embarrass viewers.
(c)
Appeals To Insecurity Sanitary protection products and incontinent pads for adults – no commercial may contain anything which, either directly or by its implication, is likely to undermine an individual’s confidence in her own standards of personal hygiene. No implication of, or appeal to, sexual or social insecurity is acceptable. Commercials may not suggest, by whatever means, that menstruation is in any way unclean or shameful and variations of the word “clean” are unacceptable in advertising for this product category, as are other potentially offensive words such as “odour”. The same applies to the advertising of incontinence.
(d)
Taste and Offence All advertisements for the category of sanitary napkins and incontinent pads for adults must not offend against good taste or decency or be offensive to public feeling and should not prejudice respect for human dignity.

So within that section, they state that they do not want commercials suggesting that menstruation is unclean or shameful (insinuating an attempt to be positive). However, from my perception of the above conditions of a commercial they want to avoid embarrassment, offensiveness and requires “restraint” that they’re being completely contradictory. They want you to avoid making menstruation or related products sound negative, yet they’re clearly NOT comfortable with the idea of advertising such products. Furthermore, I wanted to cry when I read that, “…portraying a sanitary protection product and incontinent pads for adults are permissible only after 10.00pm.” Wow.. after 10PM… that’s when all the kids “should” be asleep.. imagine if they ever stayed up past 10PM, their eyes and brains would be tainted forever should they be SO unfortunate as to seeing a commercial which depicts a menstrual or incontinent product. Their childhoods would be forever ruined and those kids will probably have premarital sex, fail at school and kill their parents as a result 🙄 If I ever had to deal with the broadcasting industry, even in Canada, I’d get so infuriated with this that I’d ask to borrow one of my girls used pad or tampon and just chuck it at the camera.

Clearly someone has the same taste of pads as I do :P

Clearly someone has the same taste of pads as I do 😛

Let’s move back into “North America” for a bit… you know, the free world where we have “freedom” of everything. In this land where drugs, sex and violence is shown freely on TV, and where I could probably get away with saying, “I’m going to fucking shit on your head and piss on your mother” – yet, if I were to say the word vagina, oh my god, I’m sure it’d be bleeped out for sure! This is not new news, so sure, bitch at me if I’m digging up older topics, but it linked into this one so whatever. You can read up on a UK news/blog author’s (Richard Adams) post on the whole U by Kotex thing when it started. The article writes:

An executive for Kimberly-Clark, the owner of Kotex, notes that US TV networks have no such compunction about references to “erectile dysfunction” in prime-time ads for Viagra and Ciallis.

You know, back in the day when I still had cable TV, I felt really uncomfortable when that 40 year-old guy came on the screen and was talking about the “issues” he had… essentially he can’t get it up or goes ‘limp’ when he has sex… and that it is a common problem and there should be no embarrassment to asking the doctor for help in getting Viagra prescribed. Umm.. I found that this was much harder (and grosser) to watch when my parents were around, than a maxi pad or a tampon commercials. Let’s face it, if erectile dysfunction should not be embarrassing and is a common issue, then how is MENSTRUATION of all things “unnatural” and “should cause embarrassment”? Menstruation, unlike erectile dysfunction, is a natural bodily process and the use of menstrual protection products to manage it is the hygienic and proper thing to do. Me knowing that you can’t get hard makes me more uncomfortable than if you were to tell me you were having your period. Hey, maybe it is just me and the fact I like periods that makes it feel more normal, but I really don’t want to know that you can’t pump enough blood to your dick to make it hard. Furthermore, it is also “frowned upon” (as in, they won’t even broadcast your ad) in a commercial to use the proper anatomical reference, vagina on prime-time TV. The last time I saw menstrual fluid, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t blue as well.

Menstruation is still a stigma

Menstruation is still a stigma (Found in the SCA Hygiene Matters Report)

Aren’t those statistics crazy? I have made a blog entry before about how sanitary napkins (because they are the more “conservative” choice over tampons, which you have to *gasp* stick something in your vagina) are still the preferred choice of menstrual protection in Asia regions before, but it was shocking to see how uncomfortable the subject of periods are still to Chinese women. Oddly enough, most of the Asian girls I happen to know are quite open with me on the subject, but I suppose that perhaps bebe is part of that 87% (even though she’s not “from China” per se, she is “Chinese”). The good thing is that even if she’s not open about her period to others, as long as she is to ME, I don’t give a shit 😆 But anyways, even if you look at the U.S (closest to Canada I guess), the statistics still show that HALF of the population still experience social discomforts when they have their period. Clearly, “America” is FAR from reversing the many years of menstrual taboo and the denouement of it. I remember in high school, I had a Swedish girl in my class (boy was she hot, lol) and I remember one time I spotted a tampon in her backpack and I gave it an extra glance. Clearly she caught me looking and during high-school, I was still rather shy about my interest, so I never talked about it… but then after class, she said if I was interested in seeing what a tampon looked like, she said, “Here, you can have my tampon if you want to know what one looks like.” and just put it in my hands, smiled and walked away. I was completely dumbfounded. I mean obviously this one Swedish girl doesn’t represent the entire culture of people, but I get the feeling there’s a lot more openness to menstruation from other cultures than from Chinese culture.

So the moral of this entire post? Feminine Hygiene Products and Your Vagina is Repulsive in the eyes of the broadcasting industry.

Please make sure you check out Period. (@campaignperiod) on twitter, their Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/SCA and oh… just as I was about to end this post, found something cool 😀

Innovative launch of Libresse Secure Fit in Malaysia

2011-03-07

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY | 2010 the Libresse secure fit platform was launched in Malaysia. This is unique in many ways, not only because it is the first Asian market entry for The Libresse secure fit but also because it was decided to launch with a price line, which is completely new in the feminine category in Malaysia.

Libresse secure fit launch in Malaysia - SCAIt means that all products have the same price. A pack of ten thick towels has the same price tag as a pack with eight thin towels. However price is not the main differentiator. It is the performance and properties of the product that are differentiating Libresse secure fit from its competitors.

Contraceptive Options – Know Before You Act! (Birth Control)

Options of Preventing Pregnancy

So you may wonder why I have such an odd “non-related” topic on my blog – but in reality, the likelihood is if you’re pregnant, that you’re not going to be getting your period, so I guess in a way, it IS a related matter, lol. What inspired me to write this little blog post (and yes it will be “little” because there is just way too much to cover) is that I was listening on the radio on the drive to work and one of the hosts mentioned that in Canada, they found that many women are actually unaware of the many contraceptive choices that are available to them. I would dare wager that the 2 most well-known contraceptive methods are the pill and condoms. I have done my best to do proper research, but feel free to correct me if mistakes are found as I am more than happy to learn, particularly from those with anecdotal experiences. I have yet to be with a girl who uses such contraception, particularly with a lack of knowledge about the pill and administering techniques other than by hearsay, so my knowledge may be iffy on that.

So many contraceptive choices!! What do you do?

So many contraceptive choices!! What do you do?

Suffice to say, while those two methods are well-known and used by many who choose not to have children at the moment (or never), they are not the only options available at this day in age. In this entry, I hope to gain some insight myself and also help open the world of contraceptive options to men and women. Where do men come into play? Well obviously contraceptive choices between couples or consenting adults is recommended when there is no intention to cause pregnancy. I should mention before I start this post that I’ll be concentrating on avoiding pregnancy in this posting, but should point out that most contraception forms do not protect against Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) and Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD).

Birth Control Pill (or “the pill”):

The basis of “the pill” is to prevent ovulation through a mixture of hormones, estrogen and progesterone. By suppressing ovulation, there is no egg released by the ovaries to to be fertilized by male sperm, therefore eliminating the risk of becoming pregnant. In addition to inhibiting the ovulation process, the pill also works by thickening the mucus around the cervix, reducing the likelihood that sperm is able to enter the uterus in the event that a female egg has already been released. Due to the combination of hormones present in the pill, even if fertilization does occur, the changes to the uterus lining much harder for the fertilized egg to attach to the uterus wall.

Most of “the pill” packages come in a 21 or 28 day-use cycle. The pill is administered orally (I should make that clear that “orally” means through the MOUTH) daily and at the same time every day. Users of the 21-day pack is taken 21 days continuously where the user will then stop for 7 days before starting the next 21-day pack. Users of the 28-day pack will continue to take all the pills in the package, but the last 7 pills of the cycle are actually hormone-less, usually called a placebo, which really has no effect on the body other than maintaining regularity and familiarity in maintaining the habit of taking the pill daily. If a single dose is missed (other than the placebo pills), then the chances of contraceptive protection drops considerably, so it is imperative that the pill be taken effectively. For women who start using “the pill” – it takes up to 7 days for it to take effect, therefore those who are sexually active within that 7-day window should continue to use alternate contraceptive methods such as a condom.

There are variants of “the pill” (such as progesterone-only), and your health-care professional will be able to give you the best advice on which suits you the best. There are of course benefits and risks for using “the pill” and making it important for you to consult a professional and to research what is in your best interest to use as contraception. For some women, the use of “the pill” is highly discouraged if they have certain medical conditions, so “the pill” is not recommended for everyone. There are also emergency contraceptives, such as “Plan B” for those “oopsies, we had unprotected sex” scenarios that prevent an embryo from attaching the the uterus wall after fertilization. “The pill” requires a prescription to acquire, but “Plan B” is available over-the-counter.

Birth Control Pills

Birth Control Pills

Contraceptive Patch

The contraceptive patch works similarly to “the pill” by delivering the combined hormones through the skin. A “bandage-like” adhesive is applied to the abdomen, buttocks, upper arm or upper torso. The scheduled usage of the product is like “the pill” and carries generally the same benefits and negative side effects, only that the method of which the hormones enter the body is different.

Contraceptive Patch

Contraceptive Patch

Intrauterine Devices

IUD’s are devices implanted into the uterus to prevent pregnancy by preventing sperm from fertilizing an egg. These “T-shaped” devices can be left in the uterus for several years and are usually composed from plastic and copper. Recent ‘enhancements’ to IUD’s also allow them to be loaded with a hormone-containing device which slowly release hormones over time to help alter the menstrual cycle and suppress conception. The IUD acts as a “physical barrier” which hinders the ability for sperm to meet with an egg and also due to a foreign object (the IUD) irritating the uterus lining, it prevents an embryo from implanting onto the uterus wall. This device is not suitable for those who have reactions to copper as it may cause increase menstrual cramps and flow. On the contrary, hormone-releasing variations of the IUD have been known to reduce menstrual flow and regulate periods. Nevertheless IUD’s have the potential of being pushed out of the vagina due to natural contractions. IUD’s are a great contraceptive choice if a user wants to be able to quickly become fertile again (assuming one was fertile in the first place). IUD’s should be implanted with the skills of an expert practitioner.

Intrauterine Device

Intrauterine Device

Vaginal Ring

The vaginal ring works similarly to “the pill” by delivering the combined hormones through the vagina. A “ring-like” device is inserted into the vaginal which stops ovulation, thickens cervical mucus and creates a barrier to prevent sperm from fertilizing an egg. The scheduled usage of the product is like “the pill” and carries generally the same benefits and negative side effects, only that the method of which the hormones enter the body is different. It is possible for the ring to fall out and may cause vaginal irritation. If the ring is left outside the body for more than 3 hours, pregnancy once against becomes a risk and requires a 7-day window to become effective again. The vaginal ring can be inserted/removed without professional intervention.

Vaginal Ring

Vaginal Ring

Contraceptive Injections

Contraceptive injections containing synthetic hormones can be absorbed into the body via intramuscular injection. The hormones contained within prevent ovulation, thickens the mucus in the cervix and also makes the womb lining thinner to prevent an embryo from attaching to the uterus wall. Initial injections prevented pregnancy from 8 to 12 weeks, however, newer shots are said to last up to several months. Unfortunately, because hormones are injected directly into the body, they may stay resident in the body for up to 2 years, therefore resuming fertility is not as fast as other methods. Also, there have been riskier “aftermaths” even after discontinued use of contraceptive injections. With the use of contraceptive injections, menstrual periods completely stop (other than spot-bleeding) and do not become regular until a year or more of discontinued use of the product.

Contraceptive Injection

Contraceptive Injection

Implants

Capsules which release fertility-inhibiting hormones were implanted into a woman’s arm which could prevent pregnancy for up to 5 years. It was highly effective, however, side-effects were not properly communicated to customers which resulted in several class-action lawsuits. I’m not going to talk a lot about this method since it has been pulled off the shelves in North America.

Contraceptive Implants

Contraceptive Implants

Diaphragm

A diaphragm is the “female equivalent” of a condom, a barrier contraceptive method. A diaphragm is a latex or silicon device shaped in a dome which is inserted into the vagina to “block off” the contact of sperm and a released egg. Just like a condom, a diaphragm is inserted prior to sexual intercourse, however, unlike a condom, the device should be left in the vagina for another 6 to 8 hours (although debated due to lack of evidence/conclusion) from the last male ejaculation within the vagina. It is common that spermicide be applied to the rim and/or dome of the diaphragm prior to insertion. Diaphragms can be reused as long as they are properly cleansed and can be reused immediately if required. Care should be taken to avoid contact with oil, whether it is oil-based vaginal medication of lube as it causes the deterioration of the diaphragm. Depending on the material used to make the diaphragm, it may be used from anywhere between 1 to 10 years.

A fitting appointment is recommended with your health-care professional to assist in finding a diaphragm that fits each woman’s size and needs. Whether a diaphragm is too large or too small may affect the woman’s health and may increase the risk of pregnancy if a seal is not properly formed. The diaphragm covers the cervix and physically prevents sperm from entering the uterus. It should be noted that like tampons, diaphragms are susceptible to causing TSS (Toxic Shock Syndrome) when it is worn for periods of greater than 24 hours. A diaphragm does not affect future fertility opportunity and does not affect hormones or regular menstrual cycle in any way.

Diaphragm

Diaphragm

Closing

I hope this helps shed some light on the various birth-control options for everyone. For those of us who are in relationships, please be reminded that birth-control is not a one-sided decision and it’s best made with both parties involved. If you are having sex outside of a monogamous relationship, then it’s a totally different story. While it is rightful and legal for a woman to make a sole decision on birth-control methods, please do be considerate and include or at least consult with her partner on his/her feelings and objectives.

Your choice of birth-control may have irreversible or long-term effects, thus, it is advisable to also seek the opinion of your health-care professional. Also, some medical conditions you may have may exempt you from the opportunity to safely utilize some of these methods. There are many risks and rewards to using the above options and I have hardly even touched on the advantages and side-effects of the choices. It is also in your best interest to do prior research and then consult your medical specialist to help make the best decision, fitting to your scenario.

“Sales” Might Not Be Worth Buying Into

You may wonder what I mean by my entry title, but you will after reading this! I was talking to one of my readers and she mentioned a few pads that she asked me to take a look at and one of them got me interested. I had been hunting for sales for a week already since it would appear that my supplies at home are running low and it’s time to switch it up a bit. With her recommendation, I decided to follow suit and had already been scrounging my e-flyers and deal-sites online to see if I can find myself some upcoming sales. On Thursday night, I still did not find any store that had good sales (most stores have their “flyer week” start on Friday or Saturday, but display their ‘upcoming’ week deals by Thursday).

I was a bit frustrated, given that I’ve been back in Canada for 2 weeks already and haven’t even noticed any decent sales on pads/tampons. I understand that the whole O.B. Ultra fiasco may have put everyone into a high-alert situation, but come on, they already pulled the O.B. tampon sales right out of the flyers now, because usually they get included in the same sales as Carefree Liners and Stayfree pads. Oh, speaking of the whole O.B. Ultra tampon shortage, feel free to read about it here: http://www.chatelaine.com/en/blog/post/23534–why-these-tampons-will-cost-you-79-99

O.B. Ultra Tampons - Discontinuation shocks the world!

Pulling a well-known tampon off the market is like taking well-known condoms away from guys!

Anyways, off this whole O.B Ultra tampon situation because there’s tons of sites covering that already. So as I was getting annoyed at the fact I’ve been trying to find sales for several weeks already, I decided to look up some manufacturer coupons right off their sites, rather than relying on clip-outs or store-sales. So then I found a new coupon since their old one expired. If you’re an existing or potential user of Stayfree pads, feel free to checkExclusive $2 Off Coupon for Stayfree Maxi Pads this out: http://stayfree.ca/sampling/en/coupon.asp — although I believe that THIS coupon is only usable in Canada and participating stores. Please note that the expiry on the coupon is March 31, 2011.

I was quite happy, that is, until I read closely at the use-of-coupon terms and conditions. One of the key terms state that, “Not valid in combination with any other offers. Offer only valid on regular-priced STAYFREE® products.” and so after reading that, it set me back a bit since “regular priced” pads are usually quite expensive. So I continued to mull around and then my reader told me about Walmart, being one of the cheapest place to find pads/tampons (or well, mostly anything) at a reasonable price when other places don’t have them on sale.

As I was checking the flyers once again Friday morning at work, I did notice that Shoppers Drug Mart had Carefree/Stayfree (yep that’s right, no O.B.) liners and pads on sale for $2.99. Unfortunately the sale didn’t start until Saturday though, so I frowned. I was bored at work and still trying to think of where I can get myself an awesome deal, I decided to print out 4 of the Stayfree coupons (wasn’t meant to be greedy, but more of the fact every 8.5 x 11 page fits 4, so I don’t like wasting so much space) and just keep them in my car whenever I see a chance to use it.

It dawned upon me what one of my readers said. She did say that Walmart tends to be a good place to buy cheap products when other stores are selling them at (higher) regular prices, so I thought I’d do some research. Of course Walmart’s online site is a bitch and I couldn’t find the price of Stayfree products for some reason, so I decided to go there since I live less than 1km away from one. The reason why I was interested in going to Walmart is to see their “regular price” because that means I’m eligible to use the coupon. Since SDM had them on sale for $2.99 already, the coupon would not be valid under the clause. When I reached the feminine hygiene aisle and spotted the Stayfree section, I was happy to see it was $3.93 and doing a quick head-math, it would mean I’d be able to acquire a pack for $1.93 after the coupon deduction!

Stayfree pads @ regular price paired with a $2 off coupon!

Stayfree pads @ regular price paired with a $2 off coupon!

==MAJOR INTERRUPTION START==

As I was looking at the receipt more closely, I just noticed they applied HST to this purchase. As I recall, only the GST portion (5%) is supposed to be taxed on feminine hygiene products! The 8% PST portion should’ve been exempt or an “instant-rebate” should’ve been applied. Those Walmart fuckers charged me 31 cents more than they were supposed to on the tax! Yes, I understand that taxes are usually calculated on the pre-coupon prices which is fine, but the total tax should’ve only cost 20 cents!! I should take the receipt back and bitch at them, or report them to the government for incorrectly charging me, but they’re lucky it’s only a few cents or they’d never hear the end of my wrath!

==MAJOR INTERRUPTION END==

So ya, I realize after all this, I could’ve told my story in a paragraph of something, but the point I’m trying to make is just to remind people that sometimes we’re blinded by the allure of seeing things “on sale” because as you can see, with a coupon, I ended up getting a much better deal (even after being ripped off, lol). To make the most economical choice, you have to weigh whether the sale is better WITHOUT a coupon, or better WITH a coupon, even buying it at “regular price”. However, I should also note that there are some coupons (like Brandsaver/Save.CA) that don’t have this restriction, so make sure you read carefully all the coupons/deals you use to ensure they abide to the store/coupon policy! And so, for $2.44 total, I got myself a wonderful pack of…

Stayfree Ultra Thin Overnight Pads

Disclaimer: I did not get the bonus pack, the picture is JUST for reference

Stayfree Ultra Thin Overnights!

I’ve experimented with these before, but it wasn’t until one of my readers informed me that they changed the pad a bit and added rear-wings (similar to the ones I displayed in previous reviews of pads I bought in Hong Kong) – so after hearing that, I certainly had to give them another shot to let them redeem themselves! Not only that, but she also said she really liked them, so heck, never hurts to revisit a pad I haven’t tested in so long. Who knows, maybe it will surprize me – and it sure did! However, lets leave that for the review later.

So there you have it folks, make sure you take some time to do some quick math and consider whether just shooting for the sales or making use a coupon (or both if you’re lucky) will net you the BEST pad/tampon shopping price! The world has changed a lot, so don’t forget that not only can you clip-out coupons from the paper/flyers, in-store/on-shelf rebates – but that you even have online/printable coupons as a resource! I have heard of some places that refuse to accept printable coupons, so make sure you check the store’s participation level ahead-of-time or if they give you a hard time, speak to one of the supervisors/managers of the store! A couple dollars here and there may not seem like a lot, but your wallet or credit card statement will notice the difference!

If you have any comments or hints for fellow readers, feel free to share!

How It’s Made – Sanitary Napkins

Found a feature on the Discovery Channel which I’m sure flow-lovers and curious-minds alike will like… how conventional sanitary napkins (maxi pads) are made:

I’m sure they have manufacturers with perhaps more proprietary or advanced techniques, but it gives us a good idea on the process 😀

I uploaded this myself, I feel so proud… 😛 lol!

Menopause Basics for Men

As promised, a period-related post before I head off on my trip! This is a slightly unhappy moment for us flow-lovers, but very liberating in various ways for women and men. The process of menopause is an extremely complex transition in a woman’s life, so I’m just going to skim over some very basic information about menopause to hopefully help men understand it. I have mixed feelings of menopause and perhaps because my love of menstruation may affect may outlook on it – but perhaps “all good things must come to an end.” While I will surely miss the idea of my wife/significant other no longer having her period down the road, it may also be a very beneficial thing. I think it’d be very contradictory for me to say that I love the menstrual cycle but against menopause as it is all intertwined seamlessly in the progression of life.

Hopefully now that you know what menstruation is, we can start talking about the permanent end of menstruation, menopause. It needs to be understood that menopause is a natural transition as a result of aging in females and is not a disease, disorder or something that needs to be “treated”. Menopause, the cessation of monthly menstrual periods occur between the ages of 40-50 or as late as 60’s. Medically speaking, menopause is declared when a woman who has an intact uterus, is not pregnant and not lactating, when her period is absent (amenorrhea) for one full year. It is important to note that the date of menopause is back-dated one year when there is no sign of flow, as minuscule as it may be.

MENOPAUSE - It's nobody's fault, but somebody's going to pay

While most menopause occur naturally through the aging process, it can also be “forced” to occur – such as the case of surgical menopause where a woman’s ovaries are removed. It is possible to undergo a hysterectomy, the removal of uterus, and not be considered in a state of surgical menopause as long as the ovaries exist, regardless of the fact one will not menstruate. Menopause which occur through aging are often associated with many signs and effects leading up to her post-menopausal life which we will look at later.

The significance of menopause is that while marking the end of monthly menses, it also signifies the end of female fertility, where one is no longer capable of child-bearing. Menopause is an effect resulting in changes to hormonal levels, where estradiol and progesterone production by the ovaries decrease sharply with age. As a woman approaches menopause or perimenopause, the production of hormones become irregular, often leading to unpredictable periods or bleeding. In this time until menses completely ceases, she is still considered to be fertile.

Menopause may also occur at a young age, from puberty all the way to one’s 40’s which is considered premature menopause, as a result of Premature Ovarian Failure, or POF – and where this occurrence is not considered as part of the normal aging process. There is no definitive reason of why POF occurs, although some have been identified such as:

• Autoimmune disorder
• Genetics
• The end of a treatment for cancer with radiation or chemotherapy
• Hysterectomy with both ovaries removed
• Thyroid dysfunction
• Turner syndrome
• Viral infection
• Inadequate gondaotropin secretion or action
• Eating Disorders

Menopause is often seen as a “bad” thing as a result of large hormonal fluctuations, resulting in side-effects and other discomforts. These effects may happen as early as 30’s where a woman is reaching closer towards menopause, but does not usually become highly apparent until her 40’s. Symptoms of menopause may last from a few years or well into 10 years where one stops feeling the effects of menopause. The length and severity of menopausal discomforts cannot be predicted and just like the menstrual cycle, varies from one woman to another.

 

The following is a quote of some, but certainly not an exhaustive list of menopausal indicators:

1.  Hot flashes, flushes, night sweats and/or cold flashes, clammy feeling
2. Irregular heart beat
3. Irritability
4. Mood swings, sudden tears
5. Trouble sleeping through the night (with or without night sweats)
6. Irregular periods; shorter, lighter periods; heavier periods, flooding; phantom periods, shorter cycles, longer cycles
7. Loss of libido
8. Dry vagina
9. Crashing fatigue
10. Anxiety, feeling ill at ease
11. Feelings of dread, apprehension, doom
12. Difficulty concentrating, disorientation, mental confusion
13. Disturbing memory lapses
14. Incontinence, especially upon sneezing, laughing; urge incontinence
15. Itchy, crawly skin
16. Aching, sore joints, muscles and tendons
17. Increased tension in muscles
18. Breast tenderness
19. Headache change: increase or decrease
20. Gastrointestinal distress, indigestion, flatulence, gas pain, nausea
21. Sudden bouts of bloat
22. Depression
23. Exacerbation of existing conditions
24. Increase in allergies
25. Weight gain
26. Hair loss or thinning, head, pubic, or whole body; increase in facial hair
27. Dizziness, light-headedness, episodes of loss of balance
28. Changes in body odor
29. Electric shock sensation under the skin and in the head
30. Tingling in the extremities
31. Gum problems, increased bleeding
32. Burning tongue, burning roof of mouth, bad taste in mouth, change in breath odor
33. Osteoporosis (after several years)
34. Changes in fingernails: softer, crack or break easier

While some of these effects are a result of decrease estrogen levels, the rapid fluctuations in hormones trigger the more well-known signs of menopause, hot flashes, where one’s body temperature soars upwards and peaking-out. It is a common misconception that the feeling of such a hot-flash is related to the spike in body temperature but in reality, is actually the result of the body not returning to normal-bodily temperatures. While this is a very uncomfortable feeling, hot flashes do not pose any physical harm. Hot flashes may however, make one feel sweaty or weak. Menopausal discomforts can be tackled by prescription medications such as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI) for anti-depressive uses or Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) to deal with discomfort associated with diminished circulating estrogen and progesterone hormones.

Some might have noted that menopause can be liberating for women and men and may wonder why. For women, it is quite obvious for those who have had to deal with years of having monthly menstrual cycles that they don’t have to worry about having plans interrupted by their period and having to keep feminine hygiene products handy around the house/purse. The liberating part for men is that post-menopausal, they no longer have to fear their wife’s PMS (if it existed). Furthermore, it is liberating for those who are still sexually active to no longer have to worry about the risk of pregnancy. For fear of unwanted pregnancies, many couples may choose to use birth control and/or condoms during their fertile year, and can now enjoy the feeling of internal ejaculation and an enhanced sex-life. Menopause might be the end of fertility, but is also the beginning of a new lifestyle.

It is important for both men and women to understand menopause, just as much as I believe everyone should understand menstruation and the menstrual cycle, particularly for women who will (without unfortunate premature death) go through it. Education about menopause will not change the reality and discomforts arising from it, but will help women feel comfortable and better-prepared for the process to occur. Menopause is often met with great fear and unknown as most women are not informed about the cessation of menses in a structured manner. Like menstruation, menopause is even a greater taboo subject where there is little discussion and open-dialogue to help women understand what to expect during their perimenopausal and post-menopausal years.

When periods are a long-forgotten past...

Once symptoms of menopause begin to appear more noticeably, it is always a good idea to see or suggest your significant other to see, a medical professional so that knowledge about what to expect can be acquired. Since menopause is a natural female reproductive occurrence, medical treatment for it is not required. However, menopause can result in many discomforts and psychological problems such as depression which should be treated with due care. There are many options available to mitigate severe symptoms, both through natural and medicinal methods. A medical professional would be your best resource for finding what is the most practical and comfortable method to transition through such a beautiful part of life.

Menopause can be both an exciting and an unexciting time in a woman’s or male-partner’s life as it closes a window, but opens a door. What you decide to make of it is what matters most.

When one has to worry about pregnancy NO MORE!

Self-Confidence: Renewal Plan

After many long conversations with friends and loved-ones yesterday, I’ve finally decided to take a new plan of action and start taking control of my life – or well, at least things that I can decide upon. Ever since high-school, I’ve had a fairly bad self-image physically of myself. Through a combination of poor diet, lack of exercise and sedentary lifestyle lead me to lose my boyish good-looks and fit body. Yes, that is right, I was a cross-country runner, track-and-field participant, sprinter, cyclist, tennis-player, basketball-player, volleyball-player the list could go on.. I was always out, never at home. So anyways, of course paired with puberty, I grew… both upwards AND sideways. I’ve told myself, that I will forbid my (future) kids from ever eating cafeteria food as that just compounded the problem. I wanted to “fit in” – not be the kid who always packed a lunch and that’s what screwed me today. Nevertheless, I went from being the guy that all the girls wanted to “hang out with after school” and “wanted to invite to the school dance” to the fat Asian kid. It was traumatizing.

Even currently, the shame and self-doubt sticks with me. I admittedly for the past years, been a person who lacked self-confidence, physically, about myself. Many older women have a thing for me, but not ones my age or younger. Ones who have their own children always want to set me up with their daughter(s). In fact, one of the ladies at work brought her 3 daughters into work when my dad was still alive and asked him to bring me in (before I worked there) so I could “get to know” her daughters. Unfortunately, all 3 of those girls were considerably older than me and things wouldn’t work out. Many of the “moms” see me as a great guy, but I see myself as this fat, ugly Asian guy. Over so many years, I’ve been used to rejection from girls because I just didn’t look good enough.

As of Saturday, October 16th 2010, I stand by myself that I need to re-evaluate my own perception. Given that so many people have such a positive view of me, both personality and those who do admire my manly and handsome look – I question myself how I can’t even get over myself. For the past while, my anguish of lack-of-self-confidence was deepened by my receding hairline and thinning hair. For the past year I’ve worried, had nightmares and cried over my changes in hair growth, a once lush-head full of hair. I’ve had enough of this shit and I’ll tell you why. The lack of self-confidence really damages me. Confidence has an aura of its own. Truth be told, I know a guy who weighs 60lbs more than me, is not even as fit as I am, is not particularly “attractive” and man, the girls he pulls in is amazing. I ask myself how.

How can a guy who doesn’t meet what most women would consider to be their “physical criteria” have such attraction? Don’t lie to yourself. The first time you saw your boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife/significant other, the first thing you looked at was his/her body and face… don’t even bullshit about it. My friend, he’s a confident man. He acts like he’s good looking and it WORKS. His confidence in himself and his willingness to not see a girl being “out of his league” amazes me. I’m a bit self-aware… I date girls or will chase after girls who “match” with me. I won’t go for a girl who is too low or too high in social status. I won’t go for a girl who is too unpretty or too pretty. I won’t go for a girl who is in a career where it puts my career to shame. The list could go on, but I never try to “overextend” myself is what I’m trying to get at. I know what I have to offer and of course I’d look for a girl who isn’t miles ahead of me – because I’d be setting myself to be crushed.

For the past few months as my hair began to recede, I became not only sad, but annoyed. I think for 2 weeks, I couldn’t even bare looking at myself in the mirror. Every time I looked, I’d subconsciously glance at my hair too. It’s thinning – there’s no doubt. The last time I got a hair cut, my bangs were down past my eyes. This time, my bangs were only down to my eyebrows and wasn’t as thick as last time. I’m so fucking tired of it. I will say, I respect the fact bebe likes hair – most girls do. I understand that having hair makes you appear younger and physically attractive. However, my hair loss isn’t something I desire and it’s already hard enough as it is. For her to tell me she “really wants hair on me” hurts a lot – a whole fucking lot. That’d be like me telling her you need to shave your armpits (whether that’s true or not, I don’t know.. I never bothered looking, it was just an example). People grow hair, not grow hair or lose hair, regardless of where on their body because it’s their body-at-work, not a choice. I love my hair, I do and I wouldn’t want to be without it, but I also don’t want that being held against me. I love bebe for who she is, not because of “portions” of her.

Today, I am a brand new me and I’ve already seen the effects of it. Allowing myself to let my confidence show has made my day amazing. Last night, I decided I had enoguh with dealing with my hair and all the negativity surrounding the way I looked. Yesterday, I went to Lundy’s Lane in Niagara Falls and had a make-over. I stocked my closet with some new clothes, both casual and business-suitable attire. I can flip between a “young and trendy look” to a “smart, professional, clean look” by mixing and matching. Fashion helps change a person’s appearance immensely. I woke up in the morning looking at my mushroom-hair on my head and got my hair cut short. No, it’s not quite like a buzz-cut or even anything close to a “shave” – it’s just trimmed, short and SEXY. Yes, that’s right, I called myself sexy for the first time in ages because I FELT it. I left the hair stylist with new cut, the first time ever that I’ve let someone “take full control” on my head. She did a fantastic job. I got home to change as I was scheduled to meet a bunch of friends for lunch. I finally dared to look myself in the mirror today – the style fits my head so well – doesn’t make me look like I’m losing hair and fits my face. Shit, who’s that nice guy staring back at me in the mirror? I felt charged. It has been so long since I’ve stared at the mirror in self-confidence. I feel like a new me. Today – I am not ugly, I am an attractive young man, hoping to win the hearts of girls (ok well I lied, just girl 😛 bebe… lol).

Where does confidence come from? Not from others, but yourself. I haven’t smiled in quite a while as I walked around. Shit be told, the act of feeling confident is almost as good as looking like a model. When my friends and I hit the mall afterward, I seriously swear I strutted as I walked. I had so much confidence and assurance in myself that I didn’t feel shy or self-aware. When my friends and I were trying on some clothes, I talked to some of the girls who stood around waiting to change and even the salesgirl. I glowed, I really did. I didn’t feel as if I wasn’t “good enough” to speak to them, her and I were just the same -a human being, no judgments. There were maybe some exchanges of implied compliments and it was nice. It was nice not to feel ugly and whether I am or not – that wasn’t the point, my appearance and aura of self-confidence was enough to make a girl smile. I suddenly realized how my friend gets the girls… just not worrying about oneself is golden, because a girl can tell apart of a man with confidence from one who does not. As unattractive physically as a man with confidence may be, it’s not any better for an attractive man with no confidence.

I am truly happy today because after a very engaging talking with family and friends, I decided I need to change my approach to myself. I am a good guy, I’m a guy deserving of a sweet girl, I’m professional, I’m handsome, I’m intelligent and I’m interesting. I need to drop my “I’m not good enough”attitude because I actually am good enough. I’m a respectful human being and I should treat myself and others as such. I am not any “better” nor any “worse” than the next guy. I am born with a “normal” body, I have all 5-sense intact, I am healthy and I have a mind which can think and a heart which can love. I am in fact, luckier than many individuals on the face of the planet who have been unfortunately deprived of these things. I am a fortunate person and I should take advantage of the fact I am blessed with this. I need to learn to be satisfied, but at the same time, strive to do better. I am now full-out concentrated on improving my self-image, confidence and continue chasing after bebe. She’s no longer going to set me back by saying she wants a guy with hair, because I’m going to make a stand. She can’t just make it the center-of-attention in our relationship – I need to make it clear to her I care about her for who she is and she really needs to get over these physical things which we can’t control. One day, she will lose figure, her beautiful body won’t be there, her hair will turn white, but guess what? I WILL STILL, love her the same way I do now, if not only stronger. I guess some people saw me as being a bit weak, that I let too many things that bebe “wants” affecting me and hurting my self-image and confidence. Today I’m rising to say that despite what she “wants” or “desires” I’m going to display myself as an upstanding and handsome individual deserving of her love – because I will return the same to her.

I’m going to wake up tomorrow, refreshed, happy, satisfied and strong. It’s going to be a long week as I’m involved in an intensive 5-day course out in Mississauga. It’s 9 hours every day, just session time, and about 1 1/2 hours of driving each way (due to traffic). It has been almost 2 months since she’s left and there’s still 4 more to go. However, I will wait for her because my heart tells me she’s the right girl. There are some things and some people who are worth fighting and waiting for – and she’s one of them. They’ll be lots of competition and lots of courting to happen. I need to reassure her I am good enough for her and that she can feel secure with me. There’s probably a lot of doubt in her mind about whether we will truly get along in a relationship and what the course of her life is and whether she’s doing the right/wrong thing by committing herself to me. I need her to know that just because she may not date other guys or have been in relationships before, that doesn’t mean she’s “missed out” but rather, won the lottery on the first try and that she doesn’t have to go through the pains of a long-term relationship break-up! I want her to know I’m prepared to be a part of her family and friends and that I will represent “us” in good nature.

I stand strong. I cannot allow others to damage my confidence and belief in myself. I am a capable person. I need to allow my image to change and reflect the person who I really am. I need to accept and appreciate positive comments from others. I need to believe their words more than I believe mine. If a girl says I am good looking, I will smile, thank her, and believe in it – not doubt her or think that she’s saying it with an ulterior motive or sarcasm. When someone says “you are a nice guy” to me, I will think, “Hey ya, I’m a pretty nice guy.” I need to STOP with this lack of self-confidence. The only way to make others believe in me is to believe in myself first and foremost. To allow a girl to feel secure with me, I have to be secure of myself. To show I’m not a wussy and that I am a MAN, I do need to not allow bebe’s words harm my image of myself just because I don’t have a full-set of hair. I asked many of my married friends, what if today, your husband or wife changed in appearance, what would you do? All of them without a thought said it’d make no difference. This is what I want bebe to see… me, not of the outer shell, but the inner-heart. This is also what I see of her… not the outer shell, but the inner beauty. It’s unfair for me to compare to her to others because every person has their strengths and weaknesses, where they glow and where they fall short. I think any girl I’ve been with will have a very tough time matching the same physical beauty as my ex-ex “L”… she is the most physically attractive girl I’ve ever truly known (celebrities don’t count, I don’t “know” them). I used to use L as my standard for girls. Every girl henceforth needs to at least be as hot/cute as L, otherwise they’re not worth my time. Suffice to say, you cannot take one girl and compare it to another, it’s just not damn fair. Suffice to say, just because one day when bebe compares me to another husband/boyfriend of one of her friends who may be more attractive or has more hair than me, doesn’t make me any worse of a person! When people ask me what bebe look like, I tell them that she is an extremely beautiful woman because that’s what she is to me. I do not say, “Oh, compared to ____ she’s not as ____” There’s no need to compare and yes, the grass will always be greener on the other side. Be satisfied and you will achieve happiness.

Shit, I gotta get sleeping now so I can meet my coworkers at the car-pool. Blog updates might be a bit sketchy for the week. Will bid you all a good night 🙂 Confidence > ALL!

Looks like I might spend some extra time in the mirror tomorrow smiling and saying, “Ohhhhh ya, just like the old days – handsome me!”

%d bloggers like this: