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, want to work on improving women’s health, continue to push the scientific research behind it and truly make 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

Why you are in the mood for sex (or not)

Libido, sex drive aka. whether you are in the mood for sex (or not) is something that is quite hard to measure and is subjective to each person. However, you might notice times when you are really in the mood and when not.

So what impacts your sex drive? And what could we do to have a better sex life?

Here’s what we found, so you can get more in touch with your sexuality and get to know your body better:

Cycle phases & Hormones

Your sexual desire is influenced by some of the same hormones that fluctuate throughout your cycle and initiate the different phases, like estrogen and progesterone. You might notice that your sex drive tends to increase in the days leading up to ovulation. Once ovulation has occurred your sex drive is likely to drop.

Similarly, menopause and breastfeeding can have an effect as your body goes through hormonal changes. During the transition to menopause, estrogen levels tend to drop which can cause a decrease in sex drive. When it comes to the months following pregnancy, not only do hormonal changes occur but the stress and fatigue of having an infant can also impact your sex drive (we’ll get to more of this below).

With Natural Cycles you can see exactly when you are predicted to ovulate and have ovulated so you can take note of how you feel during these days in the app if you wish to do so.

Lifestyle habits

A glass of wine may make you feel tingly and sexy, but too much alcohol isn’t the best when it comes to sex. Fatigue and lack of sleep can also be a dampener. So not only will keeping it to one-two drinks and getting a good nights sleep give you better Natural Cycles results, they just might have a positive effect on your sex life too.

Mental health 

Our awareness of the importance of mental health and keeping it in check is on the rise at the moment. Recent studies and meditation apps like Headspace are changing the way we think about our health. Mental health is not only linked to things like stress, anxiety, and depression but they are also things that can cause a loss of libido. So keeping your mental health intact just might help you keep things exciting in the bedroom too.

Things like the phase of your cycle or lifestyle habits just might be the reason why you are in the mood for sex or not. Have you noticed any particular time during your cycle when you tend to be in the mood? What are your experiences? We would love to hear your comments below.

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Bullivant SB, Sellergren SA, Stern K, Spencer NA, Jacob S, Mennella JA, et al. Women’s sexual experience during the menstrual cycle: identification of the sexual phase by noninvasive measurement of luteinizing hormone. J Sex Res. 2004;41(1):82-93.

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/low-sex-drive-in-women/basics/causes/con-20033229

Petersen, M., Kristensen, E., Berg, S., Giraldi, A., & Midgren, B. (2011). Sexual Function in Female Patients with Obstructive Sleep Apnea. The Journal of Sexual Medicine,8(9), 2560-2568. doi:10.1111/j.1743-6109.2011.02358.x

Spijkerman, M. P. J., Pots, W. T. M., & Bohlmeijer, E. T. (2016). Effectiveness of online mindfulness-based interventions in improving mental health: A review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials.

 

Planning your life according to your cycle

Who knew that being aware of the different phases of your cycle can make your life just that little bit easier? Knowing where you’re at in your cycle is powerful and always preps you for what’s to come – so let’s make use of it ladies!

From your to-do lists to taking notes in the Natural Cycles app, integrating what you know about your cycle in day to day life planning can be extremely useful. Here’s just a few of our examples on how you could plan ahead according to your cycle and make the very most out of every phase:

Plan a date night 

Coming up to and around ovulation (the follicular phase of your cycle) us ladies often look and feel our very best, as well as attracting our partners. So planning a date night around this time is always a good idea* 😉

Schedule a workout

There’s phases of your cycle when you feel like you could conquer the world and run a marathon (usually in your follicular phase coming up to and during ovulation). Yet before your period is about to arrive you might be feeling sluggish and or have pains – did you know that exercise can help relieve cramps? So why not schedule a yoga or swimming class with one of your friends in time, that way you won’t even give those cramps a chance to arrive. 

Indulge in self-care

Last month we talked about how your cycle can affect your skin. Around your period your skin might feel a bit dull and dry, so what better time to schedule a facial or a spa day with your friends? 

Time to travel

When it comes to traveling, arriving at your destination and being surprised by aunt flo isn’t exactly what you were hoping for (especially if you don’t have tampons at hand). So knowing exactly when you will have your period might be something you can keep in mind when planning your trips. Traveling can actually have an impact on your cycle, too – so it’s always great to keep track.

Natural Cycles gets to know your Cycle over time and gives you as accurate predictions as possible, just keep in mind that these can of course change over time and you should check the app every day for your status of the day.

How do you make use of knowing where you’re at in your cycle? Do you take it into consideration when making plans? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Your Natural Cycles team.

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 *https://academic.oup.com/beheco/article/15/4/579/205993/Attractiveness-of-women-s-body-odors-over-the

 

 

Meet the team: Dani, Community Manager

Every month we introduce one of the Natural Cycles team members so you can get to know what happens behind the scenes, this time round Dani our Community Manager is up. She takes care of all of our lovely Cyclers.

Where are you from?

I’m originally from Serbia.

Tell us about your work at Natural Cycles?

As a Head of Community, I find that our Cyclers are the most important. In the end, everything we do is for the women using the app. So whether it’s communicating a new feature, how the menstrual cycle works or hearing Cycler stories, my job revolves a lot around making the Cycler experience the very best.

Why Natural Cycles?

I’m proud to say that I’m the #1 employee at Natural Cycles. After graduating at Hyper Island, I was eager to get started and ‘change the world’ (as one of the slogans for HI is). After hearing the story about Natural Cycles from Raoul,  I felt like this will change the world for sure, and I want to be a part of it. And here we are now almost 3 years later.

Favorite project at NC?

I still find the very first projects at NC my favorite – like #CyclerOfTheDay or “Meet a Cycler” blog post series. Basically all things that include Cycler stories are usually my favorite.

What does it mean to be a good Community Manager?

I believe it means a lot of different things, and for me if I have to choose two important things, it’s to be empathetic, and to truly love the product.  Without these two, I think it my work would be impossible.

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

Done is better than perfect 😉

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

I have a few: Urban Deli, Meal Prep, and Nostimo.

Favourite feature in the Natural Cycles app?

The graph definitely, and of course green days.

Favourite song?

Lana del Ray – ultraviolence.

Tell us about your hobbies?

Photography and cooking delicious LCHF meals.

 

 

That was all from Dani! Here are few of the other team posts if you’ve missed them:

Meet Raoul, CEO & Co-founder

Meet Elina, CTO & Co-Founder 

Meet Olle, Data Scientist 

Meet Olivia, Content & Translation Manager  

 

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

3 ways traveling can impact your cycle

The summer months are here and we all know what that means – traveling through time zones, sun tanning, beach chilling, long nights and sipping cocktails.

Traveling can affect your routine and cycle for several reasons and it is not uncommon to experience a shift in your cycle. Some women experience shorter, longer or even anovulatory cycles.

Here’s some more info on what can affect your cycle when traveling, that way you’ll be prepared and can get to know your body even better.

Switching time zones

Usually the further you go, the more impact it will have on your cycle. This tends to go hand in hand with being exposed to completely different environments and jet lag that will affect sleeping patterns. That’s why we recommend skipping measuring or to tap ‘Deviating temp.’ until you have adjusted to the time zone and have a good nights rest (1-2 nights upon arrival and departure).

Stressful moments

Keep in mind that travel acts as a stressor on the body and can affect the length of your cycle and whether or not you ovulate. So it’s important to keep track of your cycle and to check the app everyday, as things might shift.

Environment, Weather and Dietary changes

Traveling usually means change – from the bed you sleep on to the food you eat. Although you might be traveling to a warmer country, your body tends to regulate it’s temperature quite well. So if you slept well, you can measure as normal. You can read more about how warm weather affects your temperature here.

 

Wondering how to use Natural Cycles when traveling? Check out our Cyclerpedia article for more info.

 

Hope you enjoy your summer holidays,

Your Natural Cycles team

Encouraging your besties to get to know their body and cycle

At Natural Cycles we’re all about increasing choice for women and encouraging them to get to know their body and cycle.

Now you can do that too, by spreading the word with our ‘Refer a friend’ to Natural Cycles program. Every friend you refer will not only get a discount on the ‘Yearly plan’, but if you are a Pro Cycler and have referred ten friends – you will get Natural Cycles for free, for life.

If you are a Newbie, Junior or Skilled Cycler your friends can enjoy a 10% discount if they sign up through your very own personal link. If you are already a Pro Cycler they will get a 30% discount. This applies to the ‘Yearly plan’ which also includes a thermometer, that way they can get started right away.

To refer a friend:

  1. Go into your ‘Profile’
  2. Tap on ‘Achievements’
  3. Scroll down to the achievement ‘Refer a friend’ and tap on this.
  4. ‘Share your link’ with friends on social networks such as Facebook, Whatsapp etc.

Login below to start referring your friends to Natural Cycles now:

Hope you enjoy sharing your Natural Cycles experience!

Your Natural Cycles team