Ready to shine your light on the world? Detox your yoni

Detox your yoni_yoni steaming herbs.jpg

When you ask yourself what it will take to restore personal and planetary wellness, what comes to mind?

For me, an important piece of the puzzle is detoxification. To truly live in balance we must detoxify our environment, our relationships and, of course, our own bodies.

By now you are aware of the importance of detoxing your body. You understand that every day you are subjected to an onslaught of chemicals in your air, food and water, and that these unfavorable substances must be eliminated from your body in order to function optimally.

Yet, while eliminating toxins such as heavy metals and industrial chemicals from your system is critical for your wellbeing, it’s really only half of the conversation. Of equal importance is emotional detoxification – the release of the stored thoughts, memories, traumas and emotions that hold you back.

Painful memories, emotional scars and self-doubts persist in our bodies as emotional toxins. Like filing cabinets, our bodies store the memories and traumas that remain unprocessed throughout our lives. These stored emotions concentrate in the most powerfully charged parts of our bodies, becoming toxic if they are not released.

Emotional toxins create blockages that stifle ambition, hinder creativity and limit intuition. They can even contribute to the development of disease. They often hold us back from becoming our most extraordinary selves, and they create barriers to realizing our dreams, fully expressing our purpose on planet Earth, and making an impact in our lives and careers. Yes, it’s that big.

As women, we store many of our emotional toxins in our most potent energetic powerhouse – our yoni. The Sanskrit word for vagina and womb, “yoni” is a way of referring to the physical and energetic entirety of a woman’s reproductive system. The yoni is a highly emotional center of a woman’s body, the place from which you radiate your truest purpose, and cultivate your potential for personal and planetary transformation. Your yoni has the capacity to bring ecstatic pleasure and cultivate life, so is it any wonder that it is also your center of power as a woman?

When you understand the importance of detoxifying your body and the critical role your womb plays in your life, it becomes glaringly obvious that clearing your yoni of both physical and emotional toxins is essential.

But how?

The answer lies in the wisdom of an ancient healing practice called the yoni steam.

A time-tested folk remedy, yoni steaming has been known to clear physical and emotional toxins from the female body. In Mayan culture, it is a form of spiritual bathing.

A yoni steam is done by allowing the mild steam of water infused with yoni steaming herbs to permeate the exterior of the vagina for 20-30 minutes. The ancient practice is revered by women and healers around the globe for its ability to gently but effectively cleanse, tone and revitalize a woman’s most sacred energetic center.

On a physical level, yoni steaming works similarly to the way a steam room is used to draw toxins out of your body via the skin, or an herbal steam is used to clear congestion from your nasal passages when you have a cold. Likewise, steaming the exterior of your vagina draws out toxins and clears congestion from your womb. Yoni steaming utilizes healing botanicals and hydrating steam to increase circulation, open pores, thin mucus, dislodge stuck tissues, and release of toxins in all their forms. The gentle heat and moisture cause physical toxins to be released from cells into the lymphatic fluid, which is expelled from the body as sweat. The process, which involves mild warmth and zero pressure, is relaxing, gentle, and feels absolutely wonderful.

There are a myriad of tangible results associated with physical detoxification of the yoni, including reduction of discomfort, bloating and exhaustion associated with the menstrual cycle, treatment of uterine abnormalities, reduction of the symptoms of menopause, improved fertility, and more rapid healing after birth. Remarkably, many times women experience these results after doing the treatment just a few times.

Yet, many women who have discovered yoni steaming find that the practice elicits deeper and more subtle effects than physical benefits alone. They find that yoni steaming brings a more profound connection with themselves, their bodies and their natural cycles. When combined with meditation and intentionality, steaming releases emotional toxins, resulting in a sacred experience that inspires greater self-love and initiates powerful forward motion in their lives.

It is the body’s imperative to be as healthy and efficient as is possible. And while it is true that your uterus and vagina are self-cleaning and self-regulating organs, yoni steaming is a natural way to support your body to function optimally. The treatment is equally effective and profound as a dietary cleanse in terms of its impact on your body and mind as you eliminate that which has been weighing you down.

Are there any drawbacks to yoni steaming? Not many, as long as you follow a few simple precautions. First and foremost, never try a yoni steam while pregnant or if you have any sort of infection. Secondly, yoni steams should only be used while you are not menstruating, and are not recommended for women with an intrauterine device (IUD). Finally, always be sure the steam temperature is mild so as to avoid scalding. As long as these simple precautions are followed, yoni steaming is a safe and effective holistic health treatment!

With a planet in peril, now is the time to dig deep, reconnect, and light up our best selves in service to all beings. Women play a critical role in elevating the quality of life for all at this turning point in human history, and it’s time to rise to the occasion. To do so, we must eliminate not only the physical toxins from our bodies, but the emotional toxins that that hold us back from doing our best…in service to ourselves and our collective future.

Sierra Brashear, MA, is an Ayurvedic Practitioner and founder of Vibrant Souls, which was the first brand to make organic yoni steaming herbs and unique tea blends available to women around the world. Sierra provides personal wellness consultations, goodness guides, and virtual courses that support women to reawaken their true vitality and radiance through her joint Ayurveda practice, Cultivate Balance. Sierra also combines ancient wisdom with modern intuitive alchemy to curate earth integrated bathing rituals as co-founder of Moon Bath.

Is this part of the modern day witch hunt?

Vaginal Steaming Wikipedia.JPG

Dear Community,

This may not be the best, most well-crafted post I ever write, but there is something I must share with you because I am mending a broken heart.

We have all seen the media posts that crush the ancient wisdom of vaginal steaming/yoni steaming...bashing celebrities who speak out about trying it, while citing doctors who call this women’s wisdom something of sorcery or a hoax. With my google alerts set, I am well aware of the naysayers and their opinions… but I continue what I do because of what YOU ALL share with me about how the practice has transformed your relationship with your body, your cycle...and in some cases, your life. There is no doubt in my mind that yoni steaming has a profound positive impact on just about every woman who does it, and I choose to believe in the lived experience of generations of women who speak out to share the value of the practice. I am here to ensure the voices of the women are heard, and to move this beautiful, sacred practice out of the shadows and in to the respected place it deserves in our society.

But ladies… we have a long way to go, and I feel stuck.

Yesterday, I discovered the awful, scathing Wikipedia article on Vaginal Steaming (note: the article has since been made even worse, to read like this). As you know, Wikipedia is an information platform written collaboratively by the people who use it. The current crowd-sourced version cites mostly media sources like the Guardian and the Daily Mail who are making fun of Gwyneth Paltrow, with a few extremely biased journal articles sprinkled in. I noticed it was missing a lot of information — about the history of the practice, the benefits and ways it’s being embraced today. So, I figured yesterday was as good a day as any to forward the conversation by contributing the voices of those who have devoted their lives to understanding and sharing this women’s wisdom, and those who have benefited from it.

I set out to revise the Wikipedia article myself.

Below I will post my revision. In my updates, I maintained all of the information that was included in the then-current version of the article in order to maintain neutrality. I do not seek to silence anyone, only add to the perspectives already shared. Also, please note that I do not claim for this Wikipedia version to be perfect or complete — I was simply trying to elevate the conversation in the time I had.

What I want you to know is that my updates were denied by Wikipedia three times. Each time I attempted to resubmit, I sought to evolve the message by acknowledging my bias and self interest, refining my sources, evolving my language to be the most neutral and focusing only on the facts. Below, I will share with you some of their reasons for denial.  

Wikipedia Entry (attempted Friday, January 18, 2019)

Vaginal steaming, sometimes shortened to v-steaming, and also known as yoni steaming, is an alternative health treatment whereby a woman sits over hot water containing herbs such as mugwort, rosemary, wormwood and basil, and allows the warm herbal steam to gently penetrate the exterior of her vulva.

Benefits

Thought to be an ancient reproductive health practice, vaginal steaming is claimed to have a variety of benefits. Proponents of the practice state that it:

  • Reduces pain, bloating and exhaustion associated with menstruation

  • Decreases heavy menstrual flow, and regulates irregular or absent menstrual cycles

  • Increase sexual pleasure for both women and men

  • Improves fertility

  • Speeds healing and tones the reproductive system after birth

  • Reduces prevalence of endometriosis, uterine fibroids, ovarian cysts and uterine prolapse

  • Assists with the healing of hemorrhoids

  • Relieves chronic vaginal/yeast infections, and works to maintain healthy odor

  • Eases symptoms of menopause including dryness or pain during intercourse

  • Stimulates the production of hormones to maintain uterine health

  • Protects the uterus from ulcers and tumors

  • Detoxifies the womb and body

While there is no scientific evidence to support any of these claims, the historical usage and lived experience of women who claim to benefit from the practice provides anecdotal evidence worth consideration.

Risks

Women who are pregnant, or think they might be, should avoid vaginal steaming, as the herbal steam is believed to cause the uterus to contract and shed its lining. Similarly, women who have an Intrauterine Device (IUD) should not steam, as the practice may cause the birth control device to dislodge, rendering it ineffective or causing other complications. Additional side effects and potential dangers include: allergic reactions, second-degree burns if the steam is too close,[1] and vaginal infections.[2][3]

Global History

Different forms of vaginal steaming have historically been utilized by women in Africa (Mozambique, South Africa[4]), Asia (Korea, Indonesia, Thailand[4]) and Central America (among the traditional healers of Belize[5] as well as the Q'eqchi' people[6]).

According to a study on vaginal practices by the World Health Organization published in 2011, one of the ways in which women practice vaginal care is by "vaginal steaming or smoking: the 'steaming' or 'smoking' of the vagina, by sitting above a source of heat (fire, coals, hot rocks) on which water, herbs, or oils are placed to create steam or smoke".[4] For that study, over 4,000 women in Tete (Mozambique), KwaZulu-Natal (South Africa), Yogyakarta (Indonesia), and Chonburi (Thailand) were asked about their vaginal care. When it came to vaginal steaming/smoking, very different results were obtained, and very different reasons were given: in Chonburi, 67% of women reported having performed vaginal steaming or smoking, "which they associated with maintaining wellness and feminine identity", especially after having given birth (85.5%). In Tete, only 10% of women practiced steaming or smoking, "mostly intended to enhance male sexual pleasure by causing vaginal tightening (64.1% of users) and drying (22.9%)". In the two African locations, 37–38% of women said they practiced it to enhance "male sexual pleasure"; in the two Asian ones, 0% gave that answer. Conversely, of the Asian women 26% reported their "feminine identity" was a reason, compared to 0% of the African women.[4]

Vaginal steaming is respected by certain traditional healers around the globe. For example, Dr. Rosita Arvigo, ND is a naprapathic doctor and teacher of Maya medicine who lived and studied with Mayan healers in Belize for nearly 30 years. During her time working with local healers, she gained an intimate understanding of the benefits and practice of vaginal steaming, locally referred to as a “bajo”.[5] She later incorporated vaginal steaming into her Arvigo Techniques of Mayan Abdominal Therapy[7] philosophy. Many credit Dr. Arvigo for bringing this ancient women’s health practice to the United States.

Prevalence in the United States

Although some scholars and practitioners had been touting the benefits of vaginal steaming in private for decades, the practice was a largely unknown in the United States until around the year 2014, when the concept spread rapidly in the mainstream. The following is a brief overview of how vaginal steaming gained popularity in recent decades:

  • 2001: Dr. Rosita Arvigo, DN and Nadine Epstein publish Rainforest Home Remedies, which details “The Vaginal Steam Bath” (p. 92-93)[5]

  • 2009: Olosunde Ajala founds the Yoni Steam® Institute to reflect her holistic approach to vaginal steaming.[8]

  • July 2013: Tia and Tamera Mowery receive a vaginal steam treatment at a spa on an episode of their television show, Tia & Tamara.[9]

  • Mid 2014: Dr. Rosita Arvigo, DN writes the article Vaginal Steams: Forgotten Ancient Wisdom for Women’s Healing for Birth Institute, and the article goes viral (Birth Institute is no longer in business, but the article is available on the Delightful Knowledge website)[10]

  • January 2015: Gwyneth Paltrow hails the benefits of v-steaming on the Goop blog, based on her experience at Tikkun Spa, a Korean spa in Santa Monica, California.

  • March 2015: Sat-Ra Sobukwe-SoDaye' publishes the book Yoni Steam: Divine Feminine Hygiene (Level 1 Wombuel) (Volume 1)

  • June 2018: Chrissy Teigen posts an image of herself doing a vaginal steam on Instagram[11]

Criticism

There are many who believe vaginal steaming to be a hoax at best, dangerous at worst.

Those who do not support the practice say that vaginal steaming is falsely marketed with pseudoscientific notions of "balancing" female hormones and "revitalizing" the uterus or vagina[1][2][3], and discredit the idea that the practice can reduce the discomfort, bloating, and tiredness associated with menstruation, regulate irregular menstrual cycles, treat yeast infections, decrease the menstrual blood flow, increase fertility, relieve symptoms of menopause, treat endometriosis, or speed up the after-birth healing process. Those who discredit vaginal steaming do so on account of a lack of scientific evidence to support any of the above claims and concerns regarding the risks.[1]

Critics also point out that vaginal steaming is sometimes marketed as "cleaning" the vagina, which the critics say it does not do, and which they believe is not necessary.[3][2] Some critics take it a step further, believing that the marketing and perception of vaginal steaming falls within a mix of ideologies including post-feminist, new age, and inherently sexist notions in which the female body is on the one hand a dirty, defective thing, yet one that a woman can "optimize" to become "goddess-like".[12]

  1. Ghose, Tia; January 30, Senior Writer |; ET, 2015 02:45pm. "No, Gwyneth Paltrow, Vaginas Don't Need to Be Steam Cleaned". Live Science. Retrieved 2019-01-18.

  2. Robinson, Ann (2015-01-30). "Sorry, Gwyneth Paltrow, but steaming your vagina is a bad idea". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2019-01-18.

  3. Gunter, Dr Jen (2015-01-27). "Gwyneth Paltrow says steam your vagina, an OB/GYN says don't". Dr. Jen Gunter. Retrieved 2019-01-18.

  4. Hull, T; et al. (July 2011). "Prevalence, motivations, and adverse effects of vaginal practices in Africa and Asia: findings from a multicountry household survey". Journal of women's health (2002). 20 (7): 1097–109. doi:10.1089/jwh.2010.2281. PMID 21668355.

  5. Rosita,, Arvigo,. Rainforest home remedies : the Maya way to heal your body and replenish your soul. Epstein, Nadine, (First edition ed.). San Francisco. ISBN9780062030412. OCLC 860769988.

  6. Q’eqchi’ Maya Reproductive Ethnomedicine. Spring. 2014.

  7. "The Arvigo Techniques of Maya Abdominal Therapy". www.arvigotherapy.com. Retrieved 2019-01-18.

  8. "ABOUT THE CREATRESS". WELCOME TO THE YONI STEAM® INSTITUTE. Retrieved 2019-01-18.

  9. "V-Steam: Why Tia and Tamera Steamed Their Vag!nas". Retrieved 2019-01-18.

  10. "Vaginal Steams: Forgotten Ancient Wisdom for Women's Healing". Delightful Knowledge. 2014-11-05. Retrieved 2019-01-18.

  11. Wang, Emily. "Here's a Photo of Chrissy Teigen in a Face Mask, Steaming Her Vagina". Glamour. Retrieved 2019-01-18.

  12. Vandenburg, Tycho; Braun, Virginia (2017). "'Basically, it's sorcery for your vagina': unpacking Western representations of vaginal steaming". Culture, Health & Sexuality. 19 (4). PMID 27719108. (taking as its title one observer's characterization – "Basically, it's sorcery for your vagina") Beck, Laura Hopper (January 27, 2015). "I Went To A Spa For My Uterus And This Is My Story". Fast Company.

What happened next…

On Wikipedia’s back end, I posted my update with the title “Update to make article less bias”, along with the following message:

SBrashear (talk) 23:28, 18 January 2019 (UTC): Hello. I am new here, but I feel strongly that the current version of the vaginal steaming article is extremely negatively biased. I am therefore seeking to ADD information to this article in order to provide a more balanced view (I do not seek to delete any current information). People may say that there is no "proof" of the benefits, but there is also no "proof" that the practice is dangerous or isn't effective. The current version cites articles written on pop-culture websites by non-experts, and I am proposing to cite websites and books written by people who have devoted their careers to understanding the practice, yet my version has been removed twice. I am going to try again, this time removing certain sources and trimming down the benefits, so that they are in balance with what the critics say. I would like to humbly request that, if possible, we work together to make the version I post acceptable and in alignment with wikipedia guidelines (which I am grateful exist!). Thank you!

The wikipedia editors’ removed my updates, and stated the following:

Jonathunder (talk) 23:46, 18 January 2019 (UTC): The article [already] references a number of high-quality sources. So which reliable sources can you add?

Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 00:20, 19 January 2019 (UTC): SBrashear, if you are looking to cite medical or scholarly sources, then keep WP:MEDRS in mind. Read WP:MEDRS. As seen above, editors have already tried to use WP:MEDRS-compliant sources to source this topic, but there are barely any. They have instead mainly kept this article regulated to media sources because the topic as a health treatment is so dubious.

Jonathunder (talk) 00:21, 19 January 2019 (UTC): Note also that blogs about how a celebrity felt after doing this or websites promoting collections of herbs to be used are poor sources.

SBrashear (talk) 01:00, 19 January 2019 (UTC): So, media articles written by non-experts are relevant, but a book written by a doctor is not? For example, I cited this source in my last revision: Rosita, Arvigo,. Rainforest home remedies: the Maya way to heal your body and replenish your soul. Epstein, Nadine, (First edition ed.). San Francisco. ISBN 9780062030412. OCLC 860769988. I feel that my most recent version is balanced and demonstrates varied opinions on the matter. I really don't understand what the resistance is to improving this article with ADDITIONAL information (I am not trying to silence those who do not agree with the practice). Are there any parts of my latest revision that could be accepted/added? For me, the current version of the article is completely unacceptable because it denies the experience of a VAST population of women. It needs to be made more balanced SOMEHOW.

Jonathunder (talk) 01:11, 19 January 2019 (UTC): That book promises to tell the reader how to "Rid your house of negative energy with a Maya cleansing ritual." Do you understand why we might be skeptical?

SBrashear (talk) 01:21, 19 January 2019 (UTC): Jonathunder,  No, I absolutely do not. I thought Wikipedia was supposed to be neutral and unbiased. Just because you don't believe in energy clearing, doesn't mean that it doesn't exist. Many cultures and people have very real experiences with it, as is the case with vaginal steaming. That book is written by DR. Rosita Arvigo...she is a doctor, which is more than the editors of the Guardian or Live Science can say. Why are they the experts and she is not? Can we address my question? — Are there any parts of my latest revision that could be accepted/added?

Johnuniq (talk) 01:24, 19 January 2019 (UTC): No.

 SBrashear (talk) 01:51, 19 January 2019 (UTC): Jonathunder I am reading that Wikipedia articles are required to present a neutral point of view. Do you really believe that the article is neutral as it is? I understand the policies and am willing to work to make the article meet the guidelines, while also sharing a broader perspective. If this is not possible as you say, I believe this is an example of the systematic silencing of women's lived experiences in our world. I am utterly and truly disappointed that an organization that I have loved and trusted is so unwilling to explore this topic more deeply.

IS IT JUST ME OR DOES THIS FEEL LIKE PART OF THE MODERN DAY WITCH HUNT?

Author and feminist historian Silvia Federici states, “I think there is a major campaign that’s been unfolding at the social-political level, and also through the media, that is systematically distorting women’s power, and presenting this power as something dangerous, as something perverse, as something obnoxious,” she asserts. “In fact, the witch is the personification of women’s power, but presented in this most destructive way. In other words, she has powers that are not legitimate, that are presented as ultimately destructive, asocial.” (Ms Magazine)

Seriously, why is a practice that clearly supports women and has deep historical roots thrown so much shade in our modern society?

Is it because vaginal steaming/yoni steaming is about women taking back ownership of our personal health…and thus, our power?

Is it because it relies on utilizing our intuition and herbal knowledge to support and nourish our own well being rather than sacrificing ourselves to big pharma?

Is it because it implores people to trust the wisdom of generations of women, especially the wisdom of women of color, elevating their perspectives as not only valid, but integral to our wellbeing as a whole?

What are we doing about it!?

DEAR COMMUNITY,  I AM CALLING ON YOU!

I, like many of you, am so tired of the ancient wisdom and lived experiences of women being denied and trashed as if our wisdom and tools mean nothing. I know this happens in many forms, in many ways, and that the conversation around vaginal steaming is simply a sliver of the pie when it comes to the ways women are silenced.

How can we shift the conversation about this practice in the mainstream, and gain acknowledgement that our wisdom is valid?

It’s time to rise, sisters… please comment with your ideas! I am here to collaborate! If we work together, perhaps we can create the tidal wave that will ultimately shift the conversation to include our collective voice...

A few thoughts….

Given that we are living in a society in which “science is god” and medical doctors are viewed as the only experts, we need MORE articles and books written by doctors who have seen this wisdom in action and believe in its worth. If you know anyone who might like to write or have any links to pieces written by doctors, please paste a link in the comments.

If you would like to work with me to craft a more well-balanced and well-sourced Wikipedia article, please drop me a note in the comments!

Please talk and write about — and share — your true experience with vaginal steaming/yoni steaming. Comment on the posts of critics to share how yoni steaming has benefited you. If you post on social media, please tag us and we’ll re-share! IG: @vibrant.souls, FB: @soulvibrance.

Finally, please let me know if at any moment this movement does not feel inclusive to you. As a straight, white woman I am consistently seeking to deepen my understanding of my own privilege. While I do not feel that it is anyone’s responsibility to show me, I acknowledge my blind-spots and invite reflection where it is offered.

Thank you, THANK YOU to each of you. Every one of you is integral to the journey. Let your voices be heard. I love you!

Sierra

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has. — Margaret Mead

3 Simple Yoga Postures for Relaxation During Menstruation

During menstruation, our intuitive senses are heightened. It’s a great time to notice our visions and journal about our dreams. To support ourselves during menstruation, here are some simple yoga postures (resourced from The Woman's Yoga book by Bobby Clennell) to balance us during this cyclical time of rest and to aid us in restoration.

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Supercharge Your Life with Cycle Syncing

Cycle syncing is the ancient practice of syncing your lifestyle and activities with each phase of your full monthly menstrual cycle. This powerful way of honoring the female body and soul has amplified my understanding of my menstrual cycle, and my ability to embrace my mind, body and heart in each of the four phases.

Read More

Discover the Power Of Tracking Your Cycle

Discover the Power Of Tracking Your Cycle_Vibrant Souls Yoni Steam.jpg

Track your cycle has become a buzzword that is making its rounds on the internet and in sister circles, and for good reason. At first, it may seem inconvenient or even embarrassing to track your cycle, but it’s actually one of best ways we can reconnect to ourselves and the rhythms of nature. Female bodies function in hormonal cycles that range from about 28-32 days, and tapping into your unique cycle helps you understand your body — and work with it, instead of against it.

During the four phases of menstruation, Follicular, Ovulation, Luteal and Menses, our bodies are pumping out different levels of hormones like estrogen and testosterone to ensure we are functioning happily. While each body has unique chemistry, it’s helpful to understand which phase of our cycle we are in so we can best support our wellbeing.

The benefits of tracking your cycle go deeper than just understanding these four rhythms, however. In fact, tracking your cycle has many benefits! Here are the most notable:

Tracking your cycle takes the mystery out of ovulation, your most fertile phase of the month. By knowing when you are ovulating, you hold a primal key to your body. If you’re trying to get pregnant, you should have sex during this time, whereas if you are avoiding pregnancy, be sure not to have unprotected sex during ovulation.

Tracking your cycle also builds intimacy with your body. You’ll notice if your period is late or early and you’ll be able to detect any irregularities or other symptoms sooner. This intimacy of tracking your cycle also helps to defy stigma. Knowledge reduces shame and getting to know our bodies helps us care for them.

As you track your cycle, your ability to support your body is enhanced. Moving through each part of the cycle you’ll learn how to support your body in each phase. While your follicular phase may require that you move your body more, your luteal phase will likely require more rest. Cultivating our ability to listen to your body is a form of power.

Paying attention to your cycle also helps you to plan your yoni steam. If you find that steaming once per month is ideal for you, you might find it’s best to steam the week before you begin bleeding. This way, you support your body to fully cleanse and release what is no longer serving. By tracking your cycle, you can carve out the time you’ll need to spend on yourself.

Along those lines, when you’re in the habit of tracking your cycle you’ll avoid being surprised when you begin to bleed. Before I started tracking my cycle, I remember walking around in terror, always carrying pads, just in case. Tracking my cycle gave me my power back as I began to understand my body and have a closer estimate to when my period was going to start.

For the actual tracking, there are different methods. If you’re just getting started tracking your cycle, I recommend using an app where you input the first and last day of your period, and over time it begins to reflect when your period will start next. Most apps will also show you when you are predicted to ovulate, and when you’ll be moving through the other phases of menstruation as well.    

I’ve tried Flo, P Tracker, and Clue and enjoyed them all, though I love the personal recommendations that Flo gives for each different phase of my menstrual cycle.

If you’ve already been using an app and want to dive deeper, you can try the Fertility Awareness Method or F.A.M. There are three main methods to F.A.M, but the core is tracking when you ovulate, which can be done by tracking your temperature daily, checking your cervical mucus daily, or charting your cycle on a calendar (or app!). I know women who use a combination of those three to great effect. If you’d like to learn more, check out Taking Charge of Your Fertility, by Toni Weschler, as this is one of the most comprehensive resources out there!

I recommend beginning with a method that you can stick to for a couple of months, and notice the benefits of over time. Enjoy getting to know yourself a little better.

Brooke Lorimer is the founder of A Simple Alternative, a Virtual Assisting company that supports female entrepreneurs in reclaiming their time and bringing their bright ideas to life. She believes in using our values as a guide map for our life work and is passionate about women taking up space in the world.

Reusable Pads — Better for the Planet, and For You

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Our bodies have always menstruated, but we haven't always created so much waste with our cycle. Prior to disposable pads and tampons, women used cloth rags to catch their menses and then washed and reused them. While modern menstruation has brought with it plenty of convenience, unfortunately, disposable pads and tampons create an incredible amount of waste.

In 2015, after reading The Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson, I made the switch to using cloth menstrual pads. Johnson opened my eyes to the horrors of garbage, and with how much vigor Americans produce it — about 4.5lbs of trash per person per day. The trash we produce simply can’t be ignored, even though we may try. It clogs up our landfills and leaks methane gas and carbon into the atmosphere, increasing the greenhouse gas effect that causes climate change. Equipped with this knowledge, I have chosen to make small adjustments in my life that I know make a difference.

I want to take a moment to acknowledge that disposable options aren’t always been a bad thing. In many communities or cultures in which there is a lack of access to pads and tampons, women may miss out on vital education or social activities while they menstruate. In this case, certainly the use of disposable pads is vital to women thriving. Knowing this, I certainly don’t admonish disposable pads. However, in the United States and other western nations, many women have access to additional options — options that both support our health health and decrease environmental harm. I recognized the privilege I have to choose something different and feel a sense of duty when making that choice.

I began by using Gladrags pads a few years ago, and it was an enlightening journey. My friends and roommates were foreign to the idea that a woman could use reusable pads, and so I had a lot of explaining, and educating, to do.

Here are the main questions I received about reusable pads:

Q: Is it gross to wash your own pads?

A: Nope! It’s just a matter of getting used to it. I hand rinse my pads at the end of the day and soak them in water. When I have gathered enough to run a small load in the washing machine I do so. You can also just hand wash them after each use, then hang them to dry. I’ve actually found that it feels good to have a deeper involvement with my cycle by having to wash my pads. It makes me feel more connected to my body and my cycle.

Q: How do you change your disposable pads while you’re out in public?

A: I was so used to throwing things away (pads especially) after one use, and breaking that status quo felt quite odd for a while. It was an adjustment to carry them with me after use. I usually take a small brown paper bag from the public restroom — you can grab one out of most bathrooms sanitary napkin disposal area, as they often have extras. I keep that in my bag throughout the day and put my used pad in there. I also find that because the cloth is thicker I usually only need to change it twice on my heavy days, so it’s really not a big deal.

Q: How do you explain to other people why you use reusable pads?

A: You actually don’t have to explain yourself to anyone if you don’t want to. If you are asked about it or would like to share, choose which value you’d like to speak to. I often talk both about avoiding chemicals on my body and the importance of reducing waste.

If you choose to make the switch, you can start slowly, as I did. Just try incorporating a reusable panty liner every now and again. As you become more used to the idea, you can incorporate more pads and even try other products like period underwear (check out Thinx!), or a menstrual cup. All of these options help reduce trash and help us avoid putting chemicals on our skin, our largest organ.

The most exciting part for me about learning more about reusable pads was the sense of empowerment I feel when I take my menstrual health into my own hands. Using cloth pads makes me feel connected to my cycle, as I have to pay more attention to my body. Over time, I have felt less shame about the choice to use cloth pads, and less shame talking about my menstrual cycle in general. It seems to me the gift of this switch, beyond the environmental impact, is that it allows me to love myself and my body more deeply.

Brooke Lorimer is the founder of A Simple Alternative, a Virtual Assisting company that supports female entrepreneurs in reclaiming their time and bringing their bright ideas to life. She believes in using our values as a guide map for our life work and is passionate about women taking up space in the world.

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