Cycler Story: “To learn about your own body in real time is a massive eye-opener.”

Thousands of women are using Natural Cycles every day and we love getting to know them and hearing their inspiring stories. This time around we have a chat with Beccy from Bristol, she talks about how much she loves nerding out on her data and how learning about her body has been an eye-opener.

Tell us a little bit about yourself:

I live in Bristol, England, with my gorgeous husband, my dog, and two cats, and work at the University of Bristol in the Library Services. I love my day job, but my major passion in life is writing. I took an MA in Creative Writing at Cardiff University, and led creative writing workshops in schools. I’ve had a few poems, a paper, and a couple of articles published, but my main focus at the moment is writing my first novel, ‘Goodbye Horses’, a psychological drama about a woman living in self-imposed exile on the Shetland Islands, haunted by a dark secret. You can read some of my work on my website, rebeccapert.com.

How long have you been using Natural Cycles for?

I’ve been using Natural Cycles since April 2017 as a method of contraception. I’m a pretty sceptical person – I need to see scientific evidence for everything! I did a lot of research before I started using it. The fact the app was certified and CE marked was incredibly reassuring and convinced me to give it a try. I’m so glad I did. It’s really easy to use – it only takes a minute or so each morning – and is amazingly accurate. I’m a bit of a data nerd, so I love seeing the variations in my temperature, the length of my phases, and how they compare to the average of other users. The little messages and reminders are great, and really useful; the app tells you the best time in your cycle to do a breast self-examination, for example, which is something I would never have remembered to do before. I feel like my whole adult life has been one long search for the right contraceptive, and I finally feel I’ve hit the jackpot with NC. It has given me so much insight into how my body works. We all learn the ovulatory cycle in school, but it all seems very abstract and a little intimidating, and somehow not applicable to real life. To learn about your own body, so easily, and in real time, is a massive eye-opener. I love feeling in tune with my cycle.

Would you recommend Natural Cycles to other women out there?

I would definitely recommend NC to other women, particularly if they’re struggling with other types of contraception. Read up about the app, research it yourself, give it a try. It’s been fantastic for me. It’s made me feel in control of my body and my fertility for the first time in my life.

A big thanks goes out to Beccy for sharing her story with us! We love hearing back from our lovely Cylers, everyone is unique and has their story to tell. We want to give women a voice so they can inspire others to get to know their bodies with Natural Cycles too – if you want to be a part of this movement go ahead and share your Natural Cycles story with us.

Looking forward to hearing from you, Your Natural Cycles team

Your Natural Cycles team

How to do a breast self-exam

Doing regular breast self-exams is something we feel every woman should be comfortable with as it’s a part of our overall reproductive health.

Which is also why we inform our Cyclers in the Natural Cycles app, when it’s best to do a breast self-exam. This will be shortly after your period, as your breasts are unlikely to be swollen and sore due to PMS symptoms. We send a message to women over thirty years of age automatically, as risk is increased, but everyone can set an automatic reminder in the app as they wish no matter what age.

This month is breast cancer awareness month, so we want to encourage you to learn how to do a self breast-exam and become more in tune with your body with our step by step guide on how to carry out a breast self-exam at home below.

This, of course, does not replace professional diagnosis and should you have any reason for concern, be sure to consult your doctor or gynecologist.

1.Visual mirror check

Begin the breast self-exam by stripping down to a bare upper body and taking a look at your breasts in the mirror.

Visually examine your breast in the mirror and check if:

  • Your breasts are their usual size, shape and colour
  • Check if there are any visual distortions or swellings. Some changes you might want to discuss with your doctor: dimpling, puckering or bulging of the skin, lumps, nipple distortion, fluid, redness, soreness not due to PMS, rash or swelling.

Also be sure to take a closer look at your armpit area as well by raising your arms overhead.

2.Examining with fingertips

You should examine your breasts with your fingertips, both while standing or sitting up and also whilst lying down flat on your back.

Tip: you might find it easier to do this in the shower as your skin is a little wet and slippery, or by using massage oil.

Use your opposite hand to feel your breast, so your right hand to feel your left breast and vice a versa. Keep your fingers straight and together, use the fingertips with a firm, smooth touch.

You can start from the nipple and move outwards in a circular motion and also use a more vertical up and down approach. Be sure to cover the entire range of your breast from your collarbone to the top of your abdomen and from your armpit to your cleavage.

If you notice anything don’t panic — 8 out of 10 lumps are not cancerous. For more information, you can visit http://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/breast-self-exam this post is based on their information or speak to your doctor or gynaecologist.

 

Meet the team: Florence, the one taking care of our Cyclers

Every month we introduce a member of the Natural Cycles team, this time around it’s Florence – our Customer Relationship Manager. She makes sure that all of our lovely Cyclers are taken care of.

Where are you from?

I was born and raised in France but I’ve been living abroad for 10 years. I first moved to Barcelona in Spain just after my studies and after several years decided to go up north and moved to Stockholm. French is actually the language I use the least in my day-to-day.

Tell us about your work at Natural Cycles?

I am behind the emails & notifications the users of Natural Cycles get. From Newbies to Star Cyclers, from tips to reminders, I am working on sending tailored messages to help & inform the Cyclers, wherever they are at in their journey with us.

Why Natural Cycles?

Because working for a company that is a life changer and has such a positive impact for so many people is amazing. It is also super exciting to see how the product, the team and the company are growing at such a fast pace. The icing on the cake is that I get to work with topics that have always found interesting such as woman empowerment, misconceptions around female fertility, etc…

Favourite project at NC since you started?

I loved working on the reminders 😍.

What does it mean to be a good… CRM Manager?

It means, of course, many things, but empathy is the basis of all my work. If I couldn’t understand how and why our lovely Cyclers use Natural Cycles – it would be impossible to do my job.

What’s one thing you’ve learned during your time at Natural Cycles?

Wow, just one? When I started working at Natural Cycles I thought I was well informed about women’s reproductive health and the menstrual cycle. Well, after just a few days I realised that “I knew nothing”. It’s so many exciting projects going around in the office that I learn something new every day.

What’s your go-to place to eat in Stockholm?

I like to take people who come to visit Hermods, a vegetarian buffet in Södermalm with a nice outdoor area and an amazing view of the city. Perfect to watch one of the amazing sunsets of Stockholm.

Favourite feature in the Natural Cycles app?

As a user, I am quite addicted to the graph. But a message telling me that I have a nice temperature curve can brighten my day 🙂

Favourite song?

It changes a lot but lately it’s been “Ride” of Twenty One Pilots.

Favourite quote?

I never lose. I either win or learn.

Nelson Mandela

Tell us about your hobbies?

I discovered climbing 7 years ago and I recommend it to everyone. It’s fun, challenging and a great activity to do with your friends. Even if Sweden is not the best place for climbing, there are some very nice spots around Stockholm and great indoor climbing centers.

 

If you are interested in joining the Natural Cycles Team, working on improving women’s health, pushing the scientific research behind it and truly making an impact within the contraceptive and reproductive market – go ahead and check out our job openings here.

Cycler Story: “I’m more in tune with myself and my patterns.” – Anne

Thousands of women are using Natural Cycles every day and we love getting to know them and hearing their inspiring stories. This time around we had a chat with Anne who lives and works in London. She tells us about her adventures and how the app has helped her get in touch with her body and mind

Tell us a little bit about yourself:

I’m all about relationship building, whether in my personal or professional life! I work in employee comms, in an amazing startup in the center of London, and I love what I do! We’re all about building great relationships, helping companies be great employers, and facilitate everything in their relationships with their employees – I just can not imagine anything better I could be doing. Fantastic co-workers, great clients, wonderful work. Every day.

My other big passion is traveling and adventures. Or testing something new. Usually, something that scares me… a little. I’m French, but have lived in the US (7 years), Australia (6 months), Mayotte (2 years), Reunion Island (3 years), and now the UK (almost 2 years!) – so, in-depth exploring is one of my specialties. I’m also a big nature lover. Sometimes, nature’s strength and immensity scares me, but there’s something so beautiful about it. The same way I got interested in Natural Cycles, I am now more and more interested in my carbon footprint, and my diet and lifestyle (how about a plant-based diet?). Nature is something I love and cherish.

How long have you been using Natural Cycles for?

I’m still a Newbie! I’ve only been using NC for 3 full cycles now (and a few days), so I can’t say I really know it all! But it’s been the easiest process to get used to. I put my thermometer on my phone, so every morning there’s not even a chance of missing it. The few times I’ve missed is because I really couldn’t (on a flight, forgot my purse with it, etc.), otherwise I find it’s the easiest thing to do.

I think what I like most is the monthly temperature graph. For some reason, in the back of my mind, I was always ‘scared’ to be abnormal, or that something was wrong with me, because my mother received a lot of hormonal treatments before getting pregnant, and I somehow always assumed it would affect me. But this simple little graph, that shows the ups and downs, somehow really got rid of my fears, and made me realise: I’m actually okay and right now, everything looks fine! (Not saying that anything else wouldn’t be okay, but it’s nice to know there is nothing to worry about!) It makes me feel like I’m listening to my body, I’m more in tune with myself, my metabolism and my patterns. It’s so nice to feel the synchrony, that I’m not two separate entities, my brain and my body, but a whole system and now I’m finally listening to all of it, rather than trying to control it.

Would you recommend Natural Cycles to other women out there?

Absolutely! Some women are more open to this kind of method of course than others. But at the moment, I use it to learn more about my body and my cycle, as I think it’s the first important step for using this kind of method. I reckon that in a few months, I will start feeling more comfortable with my ‘green’ days. And maybe my boyfriend will be too. To be completely honest, I almost look forward to the other side of it, when one day I will try to become pregnant. Because then, I’ll know, really know, my body and its patterns. And that’ll be a huge advantage.

A big thanks goes out to Anne for sharing her story with us! We love hearing back from our lovely Cylers, everyone is unique and has their story to tell. We want to give women a voice so they can inspire others to get to know their bodies with Natural Cycles too – if you want to be a part of this movement go ahead and share your Natural Cycles story with us. Looking forward to hearing from you!

 

Your Natural Cycles team 

Enjoy this Cycler story?  You can read up on more of them here – ’cause everyone is unique.

Third and largest prospective study carried out on Natural Cycles

Ever since the beginning of our journey, one of our missions has been to lead the way when it comes to research in women’s health by conducting clinical studies within reproductive health. Which is why we’re beyond excited to finally share the news that we have published a third study together with leading experts in Women’s Health, once again confirming Natural Cycles’ efficacy.

This study was prospective, whereby real life data on the usage of the Natural Cycles app was analysed. Having studied over 22’785 women, who were 29 years of age on average, and analysed 224’563 menstrual cycles this is the largest prospective study carried out not only on Natural Cycles, but on natural contraception as of yet.

The publication confirms that under perfect use, when using Natural Cycles consistently and correctly, the app is 99% effective and under typical use, it is 93% effective.

A big thanks goes out to all of our Cyclers who have been a part of this journey and have contributed to the study through using Natural Cycles. We are thrilled that more and more women are choosing the app as an effective method of contraception. It is changing the way we perceive contraception in society and gives women a powerful tool to get to know their bodies better.

Let’s keep pushing, because progress starts with research.

You can read the full study here

 

Your Natural Cycles team

What happens during your menstrual cycle?

A menstrual cycle is simply the recurring process of preparing your body for a possible pregnancy. Possible being the word of importance here.  

It actually starts on the first day of your period and ends when your next one comes. A cycle usually lasts about 29 days on average but we are all unique and so is every cycle. Which is why it’s great to keep track of yours with Natural Cycles – you’ll know exactly how long your cycle is and it detects variations, no matter how small or big those might be.

Your cycle has two main phases, the follicular and luteal phase. These phases all drill down to hormonal changes in your body. Hormones are chemicals that pretty much control a lot of things in your body and its’ functions; from complex things like determining when you can get pregnant or not to whether you’re feeling particularly hungry or not.

What happens during the cycle phases?

Phase 1: ‘the follicular phase’.

This is when your body is preparing to ovulate i.e. release an egg from your ovaries. The days leading up to ovulation are your most fertile days and the risk of pregnancy is relatively high. Which is why they will always be red days in the app when you are preventing a pregnancy.

The follicular phase starts on the first day of your period, and ends when you ovulate. Your body temperature will remain lower during the first phase of your cycle. Which is one of the main indicators for the app to know what phase of your cycle you are in and why you have to measure your temperature every morning.

Phase 2: ‘the luteal phase’

This phase begins once you have ovulated. The egg survives 12-24 hours from the time it has been released. At the same time, a reproductive hormone called progesterone is released, which causes your temperature to rise. Your temperature will be higher in the second phase of your cycle.

Temperature is the main indicator Natural Cycles uses to detect that you have ovulated, but there are some other signs you are ovulating you might notice too.

If the egg is not fertilised by sperm, which can live for up to 5 days in the body, your progesterone levels will drop again. (An easy way to prevent the sperm from meeting the egg, is to use condoms.) The dropped levels of progesterone will also cause your period to arrive, and so your next cycle begins 😉

 

We are very excited to go into depth into the topic following months, so do go ahead and comment with any feedback you might have and let us know what you would like us to talk about more.

We’re all about educating because the knowledge that lies behind the menstrual cycle not only allows you to truly understand and believe in how Natural Cycles works but it gives you control.

So help us with this movement, go ahead and share this blogpost! #yourcyclematters

The importance of understanding your body and menstrual cycle #yourcyclematters

Over the past few years, we have learned that when it comes to reproductive health there is simply a knowledge gap and some myths floating around.

We believe it’s time to change all that. Because no matter whether you want to prevent or plan a pregnancy, everyone should know how their body and cycle works. By understanding your menstrual cycle, you truly know just how Natural Cycles works and why it’s an effective method of contraception.

Your menstrual cycle also plays a huge role in your health and by getting to know it you can make more informed decisions and take control. Which is why it’s our mission, to close this knowledge gap and educate, now more than ever.

Natural Cycles is not just about contraception, it’s about so much more. We hear that from our lovely Cyclers every day and their inspiring stories keep us pushing forward. They reflect that Natural Cycles is a powerful tool to get to know yourself, your body and menstrual cycle better.

From now on, we will be taking things back to basics and start openly talking about all things reproductive health so everyone can learn about it.

Sure we all have a period, but what about the stuff that goes on and we don’t see? Ovulation, cycle phases and hormones – we want you to understand it all so you can take control of your future.

So keep your eyes and ears peeled for the useful and fun knowledge we will be sharing on our social media channels, on the blog and in newsletters.

It’s time to start talking about reproductive health, fertility and the female body openly, start busting some myths and spreading the word to all women out there because #yourcyclematters.

Meet the team: Manuel, Frontend Developer

Every month we introduce a member of the Natural Cycles team, this time round it’s Manuel – one of our Frontend Developers. He is a part of the product team who work extremely hard every day on improving the app in every possible way.

Where are you from?

I am from the city of Buenos Aires in Argentina.

Tell us about your work at Natural Cycles?

I joined about a year and a half ago to work on the app. My job is to make the interface work.

Why Natural Cycles?

I try to find reasons to work at companies other than salary. Here I get the retribution of working at a business with a very clear social impact. That makes me happier than working for the financial or real estate industries like I did in the past.

Favourite project at NC?

I think the app’s graph view was a challenge with a great outcome. I can’t wait to revisit it and improve it even further, but the list of improvements we want to make is never ending.

What does it mean to be a good Frontend Developer?

There are many ways to be good at this job. I prefer those who are technically strong, still manage to keep their eye trained visually and also have a structured approach to user experience problem solving. Being so close to the design team also requires us to be good at communicating with non technical members of the company.

What’s one thing you’ve learned during your time at Natural Cycles?

What fika means 😀

What’s your go-to place to eat in Stockholm?

La neta, my go to Mexican at lunch time.

Favourite feature in the Natural Cycles app?

The graph, for sure.

Favourite song?

The whole Pet Sounds album maybe? I don’t know 🙁

Tell us about your hobbies?

Music, History, Science and the likes.

 

If you are interested in joining the Natural Cycles Team, working on improving women’s health, pushing the scientific research behind it and truly making an impact within the contraceptive and reproductive market – go ahead and check out our job openings here. 

What is pelvic floor training and should you be doing it?

We have recently added pelvic floor trainers to the Natural Cycles web shop range and women are loving them – but we have been wondering whether we should be all training our pelvic floors, just like going to the gym?

We had a chat with Sylvia the Belladot Sexologist who’s an expert on all things sex, sensuality and orgasms to find out more.

She explains everything you should know about pelvic floor training and what benefits you can enjoy when regularly doing pelvic floor training.

What is pelvic floor anyway?

Everybody has pelvic floor muscles, both women, men as well as intersex people.

The pelvic floor is a group of muscles in the bottom of the abdominal cavity (stomach area) with function to basically uphold and keep the inner organs in place.

The muscles are the ones working to close the urethra, vagina and anus. They contracts during orgasm and are also responsible for bladder control i.e when you go for a pee. The muscles are also involved in exercising, coughing, sneezing, vomiting, peeing and pooping.

Is that why women can experience sexual arousal and orgasms when exercising?

Exactly, when doing particular exercises you can also activate the pelvic floor. It’s known as a coregasm. (more on that here)

Who should be doing pelvic floor training?

I think everyone can benefit from the training. It is very important not only to improve your sexual life and orgasms but also to prevent incontinence, which is when you cannot control urination.

I also especially recommend this training after giving birth or when getting close to the age of menopause where this is a common problem. Incontinence is nothing to be ashamed of and is not as uncommon as you might think. The NHS estimates that between 3 and 6 million people in the UK have some degree of urinary incontinence.

What about using it to increase sexual pleasure, would you recommend it?

Yes, I definitely would. Pelvic floor muscles will improve the blood flow and elasticity through the vagina, which might upgrade the sexual experience and bring more powerful orgasms and major sexual pleasure for you and your partner – but every woman is different.

The pelvic floor muscles contract when you orgasm so having a firmer and trained pelvic floor which means you can have a more intense orgasm. Training these muscles also enables a woman to identify and actively use these muscles – consciously.

How can you train pelvic floor muscles?

Pelvic floor training means to train specific pelvic floor muscles through contractions.

Finding these muscles can be a bit tricky, so I recommend pretending that you are closing a zipper, contracting inside, from anus to vagina. It is the same muscle that is used when trying to stop urinating. To make sure that the right muscles are in use, you can put a finger inside the vagina to feel the contraction.

What can you use to do pelvic floor training?

It can be difficult to find the right muscles when exercising. An easier way to find them and to get more satisfying effect of the training is to use a Pelvic Floor Trainer. Belladot Britt Pelvic Floor Trainer consists of two balls made of soft silicone, put together with a strap also made of silicone.

The first times the easiest way to use them is to lie down while inserting. Lube is highly recommended. You contract for a few seconds and then relax for about ten seconds. Repeat during a few minutes and do this training a couple of times a day as prevention, or more if you have a leakage problem. After training for some time you should be able to stand up without the Pelvic Floor Trainer falling out. You can go for a walk with it in and some women are even able to jog with their trainer inserted.

Anything to watch out for when buying a pelvic floor trainer?

The material should be durable, good for the environment and with a soft and pleasant surface, like Belladot Britt. It should be easy to clean, the Belladot Britt has both balls and strap made of silicone. It is also important that the trainer has some weight to ensure an efficient training. Belladot Britt has small metal weights inside for this purpose. If you want to grab one, head on over to the Natural Cycles Webshop – we have an offer on right now where you get a lubricant for free when you purchase on. 

 

A big thanks to Sylvia Lidén Nordlund and the Belladot team for collaborating with us!

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Useful sources:

Irwin, D., Milsom, I. et al. Impact of overactive bladder symptoms on employment, social interactions and emotional wellbeing in six European countries. British Journal of Urology International: 2005; 97, 96-100

Reider B (2016) Role of Pelvic Floor Muscles in Female Orgasmic Response. J Womens Health, Issues Care 5:6. doi:10.4172//2325-9795.1000250

Martinez, C. S., Ferreira, F. V., Castro, A. A., & Gomide, L. B. (2014, April 23). Women with greater pelvic floor muscle strength have better sexual function. Retrieved July 20, 2017, from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/aogs.12379/abstract

Coregasm, yup it’s a real thing.

Working out at the gym and having an orgasm? Sounds a little unusual at first but turns out that it’s not uncommon for women to experience when doing certain exercises.

A study by sex researchers at the Indiana University, has shown that women having orgasms during exercise is a real phenomenon.

They are more commonly known as “coregasms” because they tend to occur during core-strengthening workouts, like sit-ups and crunches. This is because these tend to train your pelvic floor and hence why it’s called a coregasm 😉

Coregasms tend to happen quite unexpectedly and most women report that they have not been having sexual thoughts beforehand.

The study shows just how common this can be, so if you’re feeling a tingly sensation at the gym (excercise induced sexal arousal) or even reach climax – you’re not the only one.

Among the most common exercises reported to induce orgasm were abdominal exercises, climbing and lifting weights.

Sexual pleasure but not orgasm was associated with biking/spinning, abdominal exercise and lifting weights as associated with their experiences.

So if you ever experience these during exercising we just wanted to let you know, that this is completely normal.

 

Exercising is great for you on so many levels, turns out it can also reduce PMS symptoms check out our blog post about it here.

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Herbenick, D., & Fortenberry, J. D. (2011). Exercise-induced orgasm and pleasure among women. Sexual and Relationship Therapy,26(4), 373-388. doi:10.1080/14681994.2011.647902

http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2012-04/qampa-phenomenon-exercise-induced-orgasms