Blog Archives

Bubzbeauty – T.O.M (Time of Month) Girl Talk Video

When I saw this video posted up by Bubzbeauty on my Facebook, I almost fell off my chair. Never did I think that such a public and world-wide figure would ever post something like this: a topic of much taboo and ‘shame’ – particularly in Asian culture. The most I could do was write a heartfelt comment on the Youtube video about how great it is to see someone who, under the eyes of so many, would “dare” speak about periods and menstruation so openly. I’ve always loved Bubbi because of how genuine she is, but seeing something like this makes me feel that she’s a hero to many, including myself!

Periods, Short Airplane Trips & Long-Haul Flights

Being the thrilled blog owner of MiM, I get the joy of receiving many quote-on-quote, “embarrassing” emails from readers and contributors alike with their own experiences of menstruation, particularly events which often trigger question marks. One of the ‘events’ that have been brought up on several occasions involved girls who have questioned me about how they should deal with their periods when flying. Now I have to say, it’s a great honour for me to receive questions from females, because it shows that I am at least, a trusted source of information regardless of my gender and “lack of realistic experience of menstruation”. I’ve flown a lot throughout my life, both short-haul and long-haul trips and you can’t imagine how many times I have thought about the pains of how menstruating women have to deal with the extra “responsibility” of dealing with their periods while on a flight – passengers and flight-crew included. I’m sure a few of the period-loving guys who read my site would smile at the thought of a cute menstruating flight-attendant!

Menstruation, being on up in the air or on the ground should be handled in pretty much the same way. After all, there hasn’t been a commercial aircraft I’ve been that didn’t have bathroom facilities, therefore, you one can change their feminine hygiene product within a private space. Planes, while with much credit to those who clean them, are often filthy with germs so you should take even MORE care when it comes to personal hygiene, i.e. washing your hands thoroughly before touching sensitive areas of your body or handling any feminine hygiene products. To avoid a bathroom faux pas, ensure that as your enter the facility that you lock the door behind you. Most aircraft toilets are equipped to be quite obvious when the door is unlocked/locked, because when it’s locked properly, it is displayed on the sliding switch and the lights will be brighter than usual. Granted I will admit that unless you are in Business or First Class, your bathrooms are quite cramped, but it is more than sufficient space for most people to maneuver and change supplies. There is usually enough space for even someone to put one foot up on the toilet, spread, to insert a tampon , cup or sponge for those who prefer this position. Like any public facility, please do take extra care to dispose used products properly (in the bins, don’t flush) and clean up after yourself. While I personally won’t faint or puke at the sight of menstrual fluid or a half-open, hanging-from-the-bin pad – I’m not sure there are that many people who would appreciate such a sight.

I would say it’s always prudent to keep some feminine hygiene supplies in a carry-on throughout your flight, whether you think you will be getting your period or not (well, unless you’ve gone through menopause I guess), because shit happens right? If you know you are due for your period (or even started), then obviously the decision should come even easier. When planning for the number of supplies to keep handy, think about the time you will be on the flight and figure out the number of them you will go through in that period of time – try to account for your heaviest flow. Do remember that depending on the number of passengers and the frequency that they use the bathroom, it may not always be available to you on-demand. Don’t wait until one of those last-minute-about-to-leak times before deciding to change up. Also, expect that lineups at the bathrooms usually occur when: the plane has just stabilized and the seat-belt light goes off, before/after meals and right before landings. Working around those times will usually help you get into the facility quicker. If your period has already started, try going to the bathroom and changing before boarding. You can also do so before lift-off, but it’s usually frowned upon to clog up the aisles as people are coming aboard. If you “expect your period any time” you can also likewise put on a pantiliner or smaller pad ahead of time (or a reusable product of your choice). Remember that tampons should not be used prior to menstruation, despite the convenience and comfort.

Every woman’s body is different, so while I will say that for most women, their menstrual activities aren’t affected, there are also some women who experience heavier-than-usual flows when flying. However, some of these cases don’t necessarily have to do with “the period itself”  – but that stress and anxiety may also cause changes in flow amounts. First time flyers, especially when it coincides with menstruating days can make the thought of flying stressful. Let loose, because stressing over the crimson tide will only make the matter worse! After all, think about female astronauts being in space, void of gravity and even they menstruate properly, so that should bring relief as to how much effect flying above the clouds will have on menstruation. Alternatively, there are pills that can delay or eliminate menstrual bleeding for the month, but in my opinion, it’s not the greatest choice because I really dislike messing with the body like that. If you’re the type that have heavy flow and really don’t want to deal with having to change and such, you can always use adult diapers (or if you’re the small girl, just baby diapers) that will probably absorb your entire trip worth of flow, if that’s something you’re comfortable with doing. Look on the bright side, you can even relieve yourself of urine and feces without getting up. I’m not sure how safe it is from a smell-standpoint though.

Now, fear not for the women who prefer not to carry any supplies with them or got surprized by their periods! Most plane bathrooms will usually have a stock of sanitary napkins in one of the bins or containers (See picture). Unless you’re one of those unlucky ones who get into a lavatory where some ladies needing the same products beat you to it, they are usually readily available. Suffice to say, the choice of products usually aren’t the greatest (only seen one airline that offered tampons as well) brands or sizes, but they will have to suffice until you get your hands on some better stuff yourself. However, now that I say that, I fly with Cathay Pacific a lot and I find that their choices of pads are quite exceptional, in fact, my most recent long-haul trip they had Kotex Whites (Hong Kong brand name) offered in the sanitary bin. As much as I was tempted to take one as a souvenir, I did also respect the fact that there might be a lady who needed this much more than I did, so I let it be. Worse-case scenario is that if they aren’t available, then you can always page a flight-attendant who can assist you with stocking it up. As much as a commotion that may make, it’s a better alternative than leaking at your seat and having to SIT in it for hours to come. You could always make the lovely toilet-paper pad to hold you up as well and inform a flight-attendant discretely and return to the washroom later to change into a proper product.

For those who are super-super cautious of leakage chances, you can wear disposable underwear (yes, they really do have them) or Lunapanties (I love them, despite not owning a pair, lol – It’s a great concept) to curb the fear. Just like ANY time on your period, being on a plane should be no different and making your period as comfortable as it can be! Heck, why not even consider Lunapanties with their inserts as a complete replacement for your period-traveling needs?! For the guys, if you really see a woman who seems to be in desperate need to get ahead of the line, do show a bit of sympathy by letting her take care of her business. Now of course, if you REALLY have to go, then take care of yourself as well first but try to speed it up a bit! I’m not sure if I’m just extra lucky, but there hasn’t been a flight I’ve been on where I had to stand in line for an extremely long time and there were probably at most, 3 people ahead of me. If you’re flying short-haul distance or flights that have stops, you can always disembark the plane (if permitted) to freshen up, including a more spacious area for you to change your products (or even buy some if you prefer certain brands/types).

Now we come down to the girls who are self-conscious about changing their products, especially disposable ones in the plane bathrooms. First of all, if you’ve never been on a plane, you’ll be happy to know that there’s a lot of “background noise” and even more-so when you’re inside the bathroom. Bathrooms are usually located at the front, mid-sections and end, where it is usually noisier due to engines, turbines and other mechanical things (I’m not a plane engineer, lol). Also, in each of these washroom sections, you can expect there to be the galley, therefore providing more “cover noise.” Rest assured, the likelihood of someone standing directly outside of the bathroom won’t hear your pad or tampon wrapper noise because there’s so many other distracting noises around them. For the extra shy, you can even flush the toilet and for your information, most toilet flushes on the plane are super noisy, enough to mask out a murder scream. Although the doors on the bathrooms are usually not thick, but I’m sure they have some kind of noise-proof material built within them, so the privacy  you’d get in a plane bathroom may even be better than the stalls in a mall.

Just like how many girls take their bags to the washroom, period or not, you can always do the same when you’re on a plane – people don’t think much of it. Being on a plane doesn’t mean you have to act differently or treat your period as if it has suddenly become a monster. Your period should be handled in a similar fashion – with the goals of being comfortable, protected and hygienic! You should also not take risks that you might normally do, such as waiting last minute to change (due to lineups) and that your repercussions of leaking on a plane might be more devastating than when you’re on land. I have read about women who have been so stressed out about flying that they have super heavy flows, so I would really recommend having some of the heaviest absorbency pads/tampons handy, even if you normally have lighter flows. If you’re the parent, guardian or even a younger female yourself who has not reached menarche or who has not achieved a regular menstrual cycle, then being prepared will give you that extra peace of mind, for yourself or on behalf of another female party. Checking frequently is also an option if you’re already on your period and really want to keep an eye on your flow. With so many people on the plane, most people don’t even look up to see if it’s the same person going to the bathroom all the time. With most large aircrafts, there are usually an assortment of 3-4 bathrooms per section (different classes), so if you vary between them, other passengers will be none-the-wiser.

If you’re flying for the first time, all I have to say is that you’re much safer in the air, than on the road. Also, flying is a wonderful experience, that not everyone gets to feel for themselves. Consider yourself lucky, enjoy your flight and better yet, enjoy your trip. Just as I always say, love your period, even if it comes on  your vacation because you can make the best of it!

Opening Up About Menstrual Interests

Having been almost a year and a half since I started this blog, I’ve received lots of comments both on-site and as well as through IM and email. People often ask,  how is it that I can be so open about a topic that is not native to my biological gender? Easy, it is an interest! With that said, the topic itself should not be embarrassing or shameful to tackle, as menstruation and is wonderful and mystical element of the female body. Women may not bond over the fact they share breasts, a vagina or long hair – but, many sisterhoods are formed over a common ground, their periods and naturally bleeding body. Suffice to say, one of my god-sis’ best friend was actually formed inside the women’s bathroom in high school. How could that happen? Simple, she lent one of her tampons to someone she didn’t know who was begging for one. After 7 years, they still remain close friends, despite facing the trials of life, finishing post-secondary, getting a job and working on starting their “adult” life – all through the small act of lending out a tampon. While this may be a rare circumstance to have such a friendship formed, it is but a simple example of the bond formed through an act of kindness over the pains and unfortunate appearance of menstrual flow.

Regularly speaking to my female friends and some male community members over the fascination of menstruation, I have come to realize that particularly for guys, opening up to fellow friends or a female partner is a daunting situation. Particularly in the case of a female partner, whether a girlfriend or wife, I think it’s necessary that two people are able to speak keenly about their own interests, both personality-wise and sexually. After all, if two people are in it for the long-run, why should they not know everything about their other half? Being able to share things openly with each other is an essential part of a functional relationship. Every girl I’ve been with in a romantic relationship knows about my menstrual interests, because I think it should be fair I can share it with them and fair that they need to be aware of it. There needs to be acceptance both ways, the fact that I fee lcomfortable enough to share such intimate details with them and also that they can accept my interest. Accepting in my mind, does not necessarily mean participating in my interest, but simply allowing me to “do my own thing” so to speak. Also, because this interest, generally speaking, is not something of destructive nature I believe wholeheartedly that it should not be something to cause alarm. For instance, if I were to start using illegal drugs, it would definitely be in any girlfriend or wife’s place to say STOP IT, but she should have no right to TELL me to stop. Suffice to say, if bebe asked me today to give up my interest in menstruation, I probably could because of my love and devotion to her that I would be willing to make such a sacrifice. With that said, it doesn’t mean any male or female should have the right to demand that the other person suppress their right to have a menstrual interest, despite whether they want to “take part” in it.

How did I approach the girl’s I’ve been with about my menstrual interests? Well, I would not be able to answer that in any concrete way, because just like any individual, each girl had a differently personality type, predisposed openness to menstruation and comfort level with their own body. I definitely found the girls who had the most comfort with their own body and open-minded personality that they adapted easily to my interest, including ones who even LOVED my passion with menstruation. Each girl is different so I can say for sure that the way I introduced my interests to Girl #1 is definitely differently compared to Girl #2. As I’ve mentioned before, I never had any girls in my life (who I shared a romantic relationship with that is) who did not at bare minimum accept my love for menstruation. Even bebe with her semi-frigidness seems willing to accept my interest in it and try to share herself with me when it came to such discussions. While she is far from being as enthusiastic as my ex over it, her efforts to do so make it extra heartwarming. Sharing such an interest comes with great danger, because it may very well make or break a relationship – or even – friendship. Remember that even in such an “advanced” and “modern” society, many people still ‘have a problem’ when it comes to the subject of menstruation.

Yes, I agree that menstruation, especially one’s OWN menstrual cycle is a personal detail, many people take it beyond the fact that it’s just “personal” – but the fact they themselves resent it or feel disgusted by it. I have no problem with a girl feeling exposed or that she rather keep her menstrual details to herself, but those who feel that their menstrual cycle is shameful is where the ‘problem’ occurs. Just like our sex-lives, some like to share, some do not, but one should not shelter information about periods for the wrong reasons. With each of the girls I’ve had a relationship with, I took many different approaches and anecdotes, with some I could literally blurt out, “Oh by the way, I love periods” and other ones, where I had to play little games of injecting hints over a period (heh) of time.

One thing is for sure, before any one considers telling their partner or someone about their own interests in menstruation, you really have to “feel out” the other person. What kind of person are they, do they seem receptive of such information? What do you have to gain from them knowing, but also, what costs are involved should it fail? The best way is usually to try to engage them in “period talk” of sorts by somehow directing a conversation towards that subject. If the person veers the conversation away, it may mean they’re very sensitive towards that topic, in that case, I would be very cautious about expressing open interest. Likewise, if they engage in that subject and also seem passionate about it, you may have a green light. These are NOT set-in-stone rules, because while a girl might be open about menstruation or even her own menstrual information, she may not always be accepting of you being interested in menstruation. I remember one conversation with a girl I had who would participate strongly in any conversation about menstruation, including divulging many of her own experiences and intimate details of her, but when I ‘tested the waters’ on how she would react to know that a male was interested in periods, she furrowed her eyebrows. Therefore, one must be cautious about indications of openness to menstruation, in alignment with the whether it shows true openness (to all genders) or whether the openness is present under the consideration that it is a “female-only topic”.

While I would love to share my interest of menstruation, there are some girls who are simply object to men knowing anything about periods, let alone be interested in them. It’s up to you to decide whether it is worthwhile to consider pursuing the chance to open the topic or whether it is best to never touch upon it again. Furthermore, you have to ask yourself, if this is a woman who you are interested in, would you be able to go the rest of your life without expressing your interests or perhaps, even suppressing them? Of course I am not saying just because the girl doesn’t share the same love or acceptance to menstruation doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be with her, but you just have to consider the long-term impact and your own willpower. After all, there are several members even of Kayo’s community who has admitted that for years they have sheltered their own fetish and interest in menstruation in fears of that it would affect their romantic partners. Opening up to your partner about your love for menstruation is hard, particularly if every aspect of the relationship is “right” that you don’t want to risk the loss of such relationship over your own passion.

While I do not restrict the knowledge of my love of menstruation to girls I date, I definitely keep it close-knowledge because girls that I’ve known for a long-time and built a solid relationship with, or girls like my god-sis’. Also, with each girl, you can get an idea of their comfort level to the degree of which they are willing to share about menstruation, whether in general or about their own bodies. I suppose I’ve achieved comfort in a lot of these girls because they share the most intimate details about their periods with me and sometimes when we’re out, they won’t even say something like, “I need to use the washroom” – they’ll be like, “Hey, I gotta go change my pad!” and that’s just totally cool with me 😛 I have to say though, when it comes to girls I’ve dated or am dating, I also “restrict” the amount of information I share with them based on what I perceive to be their comfort level. Even with bebe, as much as I love her and want to be with her for the rest of my life, there are still some reservations that I make when it comes to my interest in periods with her. Timing and comfort-over-time is a very large factor when it comes to how little/how much you reveal and with proper timing.

Writing this entry, I’m hardly saying I’ve “perfected the art of revealing my menstrual interests” – but with a handful of relationships and 2 serious ones under the belt, I can say I’ve had at least ‘experience’ with displaying my interests of menstrual within the scope of a relationship. Having girls who appreciate my passion in menstruation is a really wonderful feeling and for the guys who share similarities like this with me, I can definitely tell you it is a liberating feeling being able to tell trusted friends and the special person in your life about your own passion. While such interests differs from hobbies like playing basketball, interest in menstruation can still be a respectful interest and with much to learn about. Remember that loving menstruation isn’t just about benefiting yourself, but also about the benefit of others. With knowledge about menstruation, one can better themselves by knowing that when a girl is angry, it isn’t a matter of her (not always at least) PMS’ing or that she’s “on the rag” and knowing the realities and separating the myths of what menstruation is about. It’s about using your love and education in menstruation, that you may be able to help girl-friends, girlfriend and/or wife to cope with her changing needs over the years. With your love of menstruation, you should help your fellow females feel comfortable with menstruation in generality and personally. It is your love of menstruation that in the most painful times of need, that you are there to support your friends and lover and to help them overcome obstacles in their periods and throughout the rest of their lives.

Remember that knowledge of menstruation comes with great responsibilities in knowing that what other women may confide in you when it comes to their period, they may not want to share with the whole world. I am lucky to say, many of the girls who I associate with and who share many details about their own experiences and regular monthly habits, that they openly share with me and feel ok that I share it with the world at-large. Of course since I rarely define names in my posts, I still hold the information which they provide me with in highest regards and if a girl is open enough to share these details with you, that you return the favour of their secrecy. I always welcome passer-byers and regular visitors alike to share their own stories, comments or feedback with me, on the blog or by other methods of contact. I hope you enjoy reading this blog, as much as I love writing it!

What Makes This Site Worth It

I have a habit of checking my emails every morning, just to see if I need to “expect” anything during the day. Since I have all 5 of my email accounts hooked up to my iPhone, they all get pulled onto my phone once I switch it on. As I’m sitting there to “do my business” for the day, I saw 2 emails pop up in my MiM mailbox. One of them was particularly touching and really, emails like these are really what make running MiM worthwhile. Besides being an output for my menstrual interest and public discussions, I really enjoy hearing feedback from readers about their experiences with MiM. Certainly, not every experience or readers think that MiM is a great thing. Despite my efforts to bring menstruation out in the light of beauty, many, men and women alike, still find menstruation an abhorrent subject to be talking about, let alone from a heterosexual male. The email I got simply wasn’t a “I like your site” – but it was an expression of personal rapport, which is a very rare thing to receive over the internet. I felt deeply touched reading through the email and though I still have to reply to it, I decided to write this entry because I haven’t done one in so long. Rest assured, MiM is not going to become a past-legacy, I am still devoted into maintaining this blog and keeping it up-to-date as time permits. After all, the blog is secondary to my life and certainly friends and family alike are more important.

Recently, I was also featured on a pro-menstruation site, it was very exciting. I’m actually trying to sign up for Tumblr right now just so I can follow them, but apparently the workplace firewall is not a big fan of Tumblr and keeps blocking it. I suppose I will just have to wait until I go home. And yes, while working in the I.T. department I can probably break through it, but let’s just be on the safe side 😛 For those who are menstrual enthusiasts, I recommend you check out the following site: http://itsjustaperiod.tumblr.com/ — furthermore, the site is all about being inclusive of all lifestyles, which I felt grateful for. After all, there’s nothing more frowned upon it would seem, than a man writing about menstruation. Nevertheless, rather than being ridiculed over my interests, I was happy to see on their site that they gave the thumbs up to several of my posts, yay! I’ve of course added them to my links navigation because it’s a site really worth checking out!

I missed my bebe’s most recent period, that made me sad… but I did however, give her a few of the pads that I purchased in my most recent posting of Stayfree products that I purchased, hopefully she has found them comfortable and provides her with a sense of security! I’m rather pleased to hear that quite a few of my girls have really gotten great results using Stayfree pads, which makes me smile because feeling secure and safe with a product-of-choice makes those period days feel easier to get by, no one wants protection which scares them whether it will stand up to the flow!

One last site I wanted to make big mentions of is Kayo’s Flow Forum @ http://www.dotcomjunkies.com/members/kayo/forum/ — Even though they’ve been listed in my links navigation for ages, I thought they deserve some EXTRA credit because of how long they have been around for, what the site stands for and the history behind it. I’ll have to admit, before I even became of legal age, I had already been visiting Bianca’s (a pro-menstruation community) and when the site became overloaded with spammers, Kayo’s Flow Forum came to rise. I have been a member of Kayo’s for ages, again, even before I turned 18 (shhhhh….). Because the menstrual community is quite small in comparison to the vast world of the internet, it’s often hard for those with similar interests to find a place they can freely share information and their own personal thoughts. As such, there may be many out there interested in menstruation who don’t even know that this site exists. I should however mention that Kayo’s Flow Forum does have adult content and may or may not agree with your own interest in menstruation. The board itself welcomes (to everyone of legal age) everyone from the curious, the learner, menstruators, the interested or even the true hardcore fetishists. I’m not quite sure where I fall on that line, lol, but that’s irrelevant as the board is a fantastic place for you to meet people who are genuinely “into” menstruation. There, you will rarely find those who are object menstruation (that is unless we get a troll in or something) and while individuals interests vary, the board is oppression-free. There casual discussions over menstruation as well as those that are visually intensive. If you are the type of person who is easily offended, then I’d recommend you stick to the posts and not follow any of the links within the content. Also, we do have several female members who make huge contributions just with their presence alone as it helps align the male views of menstruation. If you feel comfortable with menstruation, as a male or female, we extend our open arms to you to join the community. You may or may not find what you want at Kayo’s, but it’s a great experience and will help expand your horizon over the interest of menstruation that you would never thought once existed!

The New “You ARE Loved” Site and Brochure!

A month ago, I made a post about Toxic Shock Syndrome and a site called “You ARE Loved” who promote education about TSS. They had a nice little site before, but recently, they have redesigned their entire site with a slick and intuitive layout. They also acquired a domain name so I would like to take the opportunity to provide a link to their new site:

http://you-are-loved.org/

The site is dedicated to the blog owner’s daughter, Amy Rae Elifritz, who last year passed away from TSS.

The authors and contributors of the site also put a lot of work into a TSS brochure they have made and over a twitter discussion, I was happy that they would allow me to share this great piece of work, in hopes that if even all our efforts would help save just one potential TSS death that it will be worth it. Whether it is your friend, sister, daughter or even mother, your knowledge about TSS may very well be that separation between life and death for them.

Please take time to read and pass on the brochure here:

http://you-are-loved.org/files/2011/06/YAL-TSS-Brochure.pdf

I’ve just added You ARE Loved to my blog’s link and if you’re a blog-owner yourself, you should too!

A Tampon Without An Applicator (O.B.)? DIRTY!

So my entry title is what I’ve heard from many of my girl’s who have taken my advice to switching or trying non-applicator tampons. Namely in Canada, I believe O.B. is the only “mainstream” brand that has tampons without applicators, although there are “side brands” – particularly organic manufacturers – who make non-applicator tampons. I’m sure people wonder where they get such an unusual name for a tampon manufacturer, but the letters O.B. is an acronym, “Ohne Binde German for, “without a pad” (or rough equivalent), so now that it makes sense, it’s a very fitting name. Of course being the menstrual enthusiast that I am, I am actually quite ashamed to say I took little note of this tampon brand until it was introduced to me by one of my ex’s – name withholding obviously.

A tampon is a tampon, however, just the minor difference (well, minor in my mind) between inserting a tampon WITH an applicator and WITHOUT an applicator has struck fear into even some of my elite-tampon using girls. I remember when even introducing O.B. to my god-sis, she blinked at me blankly when I told her that you just “use your fingers to push it up” – rather than pushing the bottom of the tube to feed the tampon up the vagina. She did try using them, but unfortunately, they were confiscated (yes seriously, by her mom) and she still said she preferred using an applicator because it removes the “ickiness” of possible contact of her fingers with her vagina or menstrual fluid. Honestly though, I would assume that following general hygiene that one would wash their  hands before and after handling any feminine hygiene products (or obviously even after just going to pee/poop), so the idea that one may come in contact with their own vagina or menstrual flow makes my mind spin a little. In fact, good insertion techniques with a non-applicator tampon is probably more “clean” than having to withdraw a blood-smeared applicator and risk any strands of menstrual flow or clots from falling out during the applicator withdrawal.

It’s probably quite obvious that the environmental footprint for an applicator and non-applicator tampon is very different. Non-applicator tampons are generally sold in smaller boxes (physical size) and individually wrapped only using a film-type wrapper. Applicator tampons are usually individually wrapped with a plastic wrapper and also the cardboard or plastic applicator itself generates additional waste. While cardboard is indeed recyclable, you have to wonder, how many people really separate their tampon applicators from regular waste? I can say that out of all my girls or women I have ever talked to, they just ditch their cardboard applicators along with the regular garbage. Since the sizing for applicator tampons is larger (even the compact ones sold by other brands), the boxes they come in are also larger as well.

In my opinion, O.B. tampons are SUPER CUTE. Well, not that it matters from a usage perspective, but making a cool-looking tampon can have its appeals. Or wait… maybe it only appeals to us menstrual lovers, LOL! Also, don’t forget that an applicator can sometimes cause injuries. Because many tampons have flanged ends for the applicator tip, it can catch on skin causing some major owies. Also particular to women who are just learning to use tampons, stabbing themselves with the applicator DOES happen. With an O.B. tampon, because you are more attuned by a fine-motor skill (your fingers), you have full control of the direction and movement while inserting the tampon. Don’t forget that assuming you are practicing general hygiene, using your fingers to insert the tampon is a clean alternative to introducing a foreign object such as cardboard or plastic into the most intimate area of your body. Although I’ve had debates with women on whether it’s “faster” to insert using an applicator or without one, I for one must say that it’s a lot easier to insert a non-applicator tampon since it requires less “unpakaging”, “preparation” and “fiddle-time”.

For those who may be interested in switching or exploring the use of a non-applicator tampon (or if you’d just like to educate yourself), here’s one of those O.B. pamphlets that are included in every box of their tampons:

O.B. Tampon Instructions

O.B. Tampon Instructions

You can click the image for a better resolution pictures and to see the text better!

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).

Walmart Sampling (Canada): U by Kotex

Looks like Canadian Walmart’s are finally adopting American Walmart marketing tactics. Walmart (Canada) is now beginning to offer samples via their site to promote products which they sell. Up for grabs this round is 2 U by Kotex tampons and 1 U by Kotex pad.

You can access the samples by filling out the order form at… https://sampling.walmart.ca/kimberly-clark/

UbK has been in-stores in Walmart for quite a while now, but they just recently released this banner to make it sound like it “just” arrived… which is not really the case though:

You can see all the UbK products available at Walmart (location dependent) in their Health & Wellness section of the website at…

http://www.walmart.ca/Health-Wellness/Product-Collections/U-by-Kotex-products

I like rather than demonstrating the features and all the great protection value of the pad, they emphasize “style” and “cute”… oh man, is the next generation of pads and tampons going to look pretty but work like a rag? LOL…

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.

Are girls growing up too fast?

Although not all of it is directly related to periods, certainly, the earlier onset of puberty will inevitably mean earlier menarche and young girls who are unable to cope with changes to their body at such a young age, particularly with the early sexualization of girls. This is a repost from http://www.besthealthmag.ca/embrace-life/home-and-family/are-girls-growing-up-too-fast

Are girls growing up too fast?

Breasts at age eight; first period by age 11. Are kids hitting puberty younger–and should we worry?

By Mary Teresa Bitti

Are girls growing up too fast?

The onset of puberty for females now ranges from age eight to 13, and is typically defined as the beginning of breast development. “If a girl comes in at age nine with the start of breasts, that is normal,” says Dr. Rose Girgis, a pediatric endocrinologist at Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton. “After about two years of these first signs, parents can expect their daughters to have their first menstrual period.”

While there is no Canada-specific research, a large-scale American study in 1997 showed that the average age girls get their first period has gradually fallen over the centuries, dropping from age 17 to about age 12 today.

A 2009 study from Denmark shows that girls in Europe are also entering puberty earlier. There is research arguing that the age of puberty in boys has also come down, but not as dramatically.

The many theories

Parents, doctors and the media have floated around theories as to why girls in particular are maturing earlier: Is it hormones in some 
of the meats we eat, products we’re exposed 
to that contain chemicals which mimic hormones in the body (think bisphenol A, banned in Canada for use in baby bottles), the growing trend to childhood obesity, or even the early sexualization of children via the media?

In effect, each of the theories is possible, but there is no hard data to prove that any of them is the actual cause, says Dr. Mark Palmert, head of the division of endocrinology at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.

“There have been reports of isolated exposures to environmental chemicals leading to early puberty,” says Palmert. “But to say that environmental exposure is widespread and that this is why girls are now starting puberty earlier is much less clear.”

Kids are exposed to environmental estrogens or endocrine-disrupting chemicals found in everything from insecticides and pesticides to nail polish, makeup, lotion and plastics. Extensive research has shown that these chemicals send signals through the estrogen pathways that can trigger early breast development and puberty in girls.

“Have such exposures affected the pubertal development of the population as a whole? We don’t know,” says Palmert. “It depends on when, how and to what extent the child has been exposed. It’s going to take a lot of good epidemiologic data to prove cause and effect, and that may be difficult because effects can depend on the route, the dose and the time of exposure.”

The cause-and-effect link is further blurred when it comes to the impact of the overt sexuality found in magazines, movies, TV and music videos. Some researchers argue that today’s kids are constantly exposed to sexual stimuli and this might somehow trigger their bodies to adapt accordingly.

“While there is evidence that your mind can affect some systems in the body such as the immune system, there is no hard evidence that those kinds of signals are changing the timing of puberty in the general population,” says Palmert. “There is less buy-in to this hypothesis.”

One of the biggest areas of concern for parents is the growing trend of obesity in children and the role it may play in early puberty. On average, girls who are overweight begin puberty earlier. Hormones released from the added fat cells could play a role in girls maturing faster. “Again, it may be a factor, but we don’t know how much of it is related to being overweight or if this is a definitive cause of earlier development in the general population,” says Palmert.

The most likely cause

The good news is parents can relax: The most accepted reason for the earlier start to adulthood is better nutrition and health. “You need to be about 93 lb. to be able to men-struate, and in previous centuries this weight was attained later, at around 16 years of age,” says Dr. Franziska Baltzer, director of the adolescent medicine/gynecology program of the Montreal Children’s Hospital. “Today, we are eating better and we’re healthier.”

In fact, historically the earlier onset of puberty in girls was not necessarily seen as 
a bad thing. In the past, it was perceived as 
a sign of our progress, just like people getting taller was, says Palmert. “More recently, as concerns about early development have increased, researchers started looking for unhealthy explanations for it, and ideas about better health and nutrition gave way to environmental issues.”

While the health consequences of earlier puberty are not clear, and more focused research is necessary, some studies have linked early puberty in girls to increased risk for self-destructive behaviours such as drug and alcohol abuse, early sexual experimentation, depression, heart disease and breast cancer. But in fact early onset of puberty in girls is rarely a cause for medical concern.

The fact is, girls tend to follow in their mothers’ footsteps when it comes to puberty, and boys in their fathers’. “Heredity does play a role in when a child enters puberty,” says Girgis.

How parents can help kids

What’s the best way to help your child—
and you—adapt? “Parents should keep in mind that puberty brings many changes—hormonal, behavioural, and some emotional confusion,” says Ester Cole, a psychologist in private practice in Toronto and the current chair of Parenting for Life, a non-profit education program promoting positive parenting skills. “So children may not want to talk to you as much. It doesn’t mean they are angry with you. They are struggling—and the younger they are in the developmental stage of adolescence, the more confusing it is.

“As parents, we have to realize that the physical, emotional and cognitive changes are all happening simultaneously and that there is no linear path of progression simply because their bodies are maturing,” she says.

According to Cole, the best thing parents can do when puberty hits is give their kids some latitude, and listen. “Positive communication and reinforcement is always important. We are good at this when they are younger, but we tend to think they need it less as they get older, particularly when they look much older than they are.”

This is particularly important as children come to terms with their changing bodies. And parents need to realize that there isn’t going to be a direct line from puberty to sexual exploration, and a sudden boy-crazy/girl-crazy attitude.

“It’s important to maintain a clear value system at home so children feel there is psychological security and a sense of acceptance while they exercise new choices,” says Cole.

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