How your cycle can affect your skin

Us ladies don’t always have it easy do we? Along with hormonal changes, mood swings, PMS and periods – turns out your skin tends to change over the course of your cycle too. This goes hand in hand with your monthly menstrual cycle and changes in hormones.

You might have already noticed some of these changes, but here’s a complete guide on what you might expect during the different phases of your cycle and how you can adapt your skin care a little to help compensate these changes. Of course everyone is different but you can take notes in the Natural Cycles app to keep track of changes and maybe even tweak your skin care routine.

skin

Period: skin is dry

In the beginning of your cycle, which starts on the first day of your period (Cycle Day 1), your levels of both progesterone and estrogen are quite low. This can cause skin to feel drier and wrinkles might become more obvious.

Tip: Pamper your skin, use gently cleansers and products designed to plump and hydrate your skin.

Follicular phase: skin is stronger

Your ovaries resume the production of estrogen as your period ends, which plumps the skin and encourages collagen production. This gives your skin strength and it will look very plump and healthy. In fact, your skin is not as sensitive to pain during this time.

Tip: Carry out hair removal or skin peelings for dry skin patches during this time.

Ovulation: skin is healthy and plump

This is often the time of the month where you are at your best. You feel great and your skin is healthy and plump. Increased estrogen means collagen is high but it can also lead to some pimples for some women as spots in your skin can get oilier.

Tip: If your gonna get some passport photos taken, do it now 😉

Luteal Phase: skin is oily and prone to break out

Once you ovulate, your body starts producing the hormone progesterone. Which we know to cause the temperature rise and helps the app detect ovulation. Progesterone also stimulates the production of sebum, which is a thick and oily substance that acts a natural skin lubricant. Which can ultimately also cause pores to clog up and be the cause of breakouts.

Tip: Soak up excess oil on the skin surface with a purifying and detoxifying mask.

PMS: skin is puffy

Some women tend to retain water during this time and skin looks puffier. Also because you tend to crave junk food and sugary treats your skin might suffer.

Tip: Do your best to stick to healthy foods and keep water intake high.

 

Want to keep track of your cycle and take note of changes to your skin throughout? Natural Cycles will tell you exactly what stage in your cycle your at.

 

http://www.dermalinstitute.com/uk/library/76_article_Hormones_and_Your_Skin.html

http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/acne/features/period#1

http://www.empowher.com/skin-hair-amp-nails/content/5-ways-your-period-affects-your-skin?page=0,0

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16433679

http://www.refinery29.com/period-skin-care

It’s getting hot in here. Why does my temperature rise after ovulation?

You might have noticed that after ovulation, your temperature tends to rise. Or if you’re new to us, now you know 😉 This is also an indicator for the app to know how to calculate your green and red days.

Your temperature is the main indicator the algorithm the app takes into account. This is because your temperature is linked to the hormone levels in your body, and changes throughout your cycle. Once an egg is released from the ovaries (ovulation), your body starts producing the hormone progesterone. This hormone prepares the lining of the uterus for possible implantation and also causes your temperature to rise.

Progesterone is actually only produced in high amounts once ovulation has occurred and once you have several high temperature readings the app will confirm that you have ovulated. You might even notice that you feel a little warmer at night in bed.

So the days before your temperature rise are the most fertile days of your cycle (be sure to use protection if you are preventing a pregnancy.)

Your temperature will drop back down again if the egg has not been fertilised, you will see that this will happen just before or during your period. And a new cycle begins again. On the other hand when a pregnancy occurs the temperature remains elevated and does not drop.

So you will see that you have a relatively lower temperature in the first phase of your cycle (follicular phase) and a rise in the second phase (luteal phase).

Hope that clears things up for you Cyclers. Have you noticed your temperature rise, or do you even feel it ? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

 

Upcoming changes to the Natural Cycles app

At Natural Cycles we are constantly working on improving the app so you can get the very most out of your experience with us. Within the upcoming months, we will be making some changes to the core functionality of the app, so we wanted to give all of our lovely Cyclers a heads up and also gather some feedback. With these changes we want to make the app even more clear and easy to use.

With Natural Cycles you should skip measuring when you feel sick, hungover or have slept more or less than usual. This is so you can get the best green day results.

Up until now you could also alternatively press the button ‘Don’t count this measurement’ when adding your temperature. This button will now be replaced by two buttons that mark your temperature as ‘Normal’ or ‘Deviating’. The functionality remains rather similar, let us explain…

What is a deviating temperature?

Certain factors can affect your temperature such as sickness, alcohol and lack of sleep. From now on we will be indicating this as a  ‘Deviating Temperature’, as it can skew your data and will cause you to have more red days – and you don’t want that right?

So if you have any of these symptoms, and still wish to save your temperature in the app – you should always manually mark it as a ‘deviating’ temperature. The app will also automatically detect very high deviations and you will notice this as the temperature will have a strikethrough.

A ‘Deviating’ temperature is not taken into account by the algorithm behind the Natural Cycles app to calculate your green or red day. So the more normal temperatures you enter the better your green day results are likely to be.

Skip today

Alternatively, you can now actively skip measuring your temperature by clicking ‘Skip today’ at the bottom of the add data page. You can also actively skip measuring if you forgot to measure in the morning and check the app later in the day.

This is great if you want to keep up the habit of checking the app in the morning and to keep track of how much you are measuring.

In your history and monthly view you will now exactly see when you have chosen to skip measuring so you have a better overview of your data. You can only skip today.

Days adding data

We will also update the data taken into account for your statistic of ‘Days adding data’. This will now only take ‘Normal’ temperature measurements into account as it is the key indicator for Natural Cycles to work effectively. LH and notes are optional so adding these will not affect these statistics anymore.

Anything above 75% days of adding normal temperature is a great achievement.

You might also have noticed that we’ve added reminders to Natural Cycles which we are very excited about. You can check out our blogpost about the Natural Cycles Reminders feature and how to use it here.

Hope you all enjoy the new features and looking forward to your feedback, please drop us a comment below – we would love to hear what you think. 

Your Natural Cycles team

 

Meet the team: Raoul, CEO & Co-founder

Raoul is the CEO and Co-founder of Natural Cycles, along with his wife – Elina. They have been the foundation of the company from the get go. So here’s a little intro and he has to say about what it’s like to run a startup that is disrupting the contraceptive market.

Where are you from?

Born and raised in the beautiful city of Vienna in Austria.

Tell us about your work at Natural Cycles?

I am the Co-founder and CEO of Natural Cycles, so I have been and am still involved in practically every part of the company. Whether it’s hiring new team members, managing them, speaking to regulators, doing research or developing our strategy – I like that I get to work with so many amazing people on a wide range of different topics. It’s challenging and exciting all at once.

Why Natural Cycles?

My wife and I were looking for an alternative contraceptive ourselves and once we realised we are not the only ones we decided to get started with Natural Cycles. That was around 4 years ago now and so much as changed since then – which is great. Contraception is one of the world’s biggest challenges – it’s important to increase choice, access and education around the topic. I believe it will make the world a better place.

Any favourite project?

It’s a privilege to work on something that makes a difference. I try to work with customer support on a regular basis – it’s incredibly rewarding to help our Cyclers. It really makes you realise what kind of an impact it has on their lives and we love to help them out as much as we can. Having amazing customer support is one of our core values here at the company. We have also a few exciting projects in our pipeline, but I won’t talk about that now;)

What does it mean to be a good CEO?

Ultimately, the best team wins. That goes for everything, so I think the most important part of my job is to surround myself with people who share our vision and want to make it a reality. The road to success is rough, very rough, especially if you go up against very big & smart competitors, so I also think it’s important to keep everyone motivated along the way by reminding them of what we are working towards.

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

Hard work always pays off. A few passionate people can make a big difference in the world.

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

I love Giro – a Pizzeria close to our office that makes excellent Pizza and always has available tables.

Favourite feature in Natural Cycles app?

Green days! No doubt.

Favourite song

I am a little bit weird when it comes to music – I like any sort of music as long as it reaches some level of mainstream – whether it’s Mozart or Rihanna. Currently, a source of motivation is Enrique Iglesias – I don’t really know why. 🙂

 

New feature: Reminders

We’re excited about the latest feature we released in the Natural Cycles app: Reminders.

You can now set the following reminders, to keep you on track with measuring and to get the very most out of your journey as a Cycler. Yay!

To activate Reminders:

1. Go to your phone settings

2. Turn on and allow Natural Cycles to send you push notifications (this is very important as reminders will not work otherwise)

3. Go into the Natural Cycles app and press the ‘Alarmbell icon’ in the top left hand corner. The icon always indicates whether your reminders are switched on or off.

4. Select the ‘Reminders’ you wish to receive. You can change these settings at any time as needed.

Where to find and activate the ‘Reminders’ in the Natural Cycles app.

 

Reminders to measure

Getting into measuring your temperature every morning might take a little while so we wanted to make things even easier. Set a reminder for ‘the night before’ or ‘in the morning so you don’t forget. Another little tip is to place the thermometer next to or on top of your phone before going to bed.

With these little reminders, measuring becomes second nature quite quickly – just like brushing your teeth in the morning.

First red day

The first day you need to ‘use protection’ is very important. This gives you a little reminder to keep those condoms handy.

Take an LH test

Unlike measuring your temperature, it’s best to take an ovulation (LH) test later on in the day. So we send you a reminder throughout the day, that way you can’t miss it. You can read up on everything you need to know about taking ovulation (LH) tests here.

PMS

Knowing exactly when you can expect PMS helps you understand your body better and you can take action that just might help with relieving symptoms. You can also take note of these symptoms in your notes in the ‘Add data’ page we find it helps to compare notes and realise just what works best for you.

Breast self- exam

From the age of 30 and upwards we recommend doing a Breast self-exam on a regular basis. Here’s a great article on how to perform one.

Make sure you have downloaded the latest version of the app to get started with our new ‘Reminders’ feature – enjoy Cyclers and let us know how you like our new addition.

5 surprising facts about the female egg cell

1. It’s the biggest cell in your body

Most cells in our bodies cannot be seen without a microscope, but the female egg cell is big enough to be visible to the naked eye. Pretty impressive huh?

2. You’re born with all of your eggs in two baskets

Every woman is born with a set of eggs in her ovaries opposed to men who produce new sperm every 90 days. You can have as many as 7 million eggs in your ovaries when you are born.

3. Eggs decline over time

Although you are born with millions of eggs they will diminish over time so you end up with around 700,000 by the time you hit puberty. Each month you continue to lose eggs, at the point of menopause you will have approximately less than 1000 eggs remaining. Opposed to common misconception neither pregnancy nor hormonal contraception slows the monthly recruitment and loss of eggs down.

4. You release an egg every cycle

For most women the body initiates ovulation every cycle, which is when you have a positive LH test – it indicates your body is getting ready for ovulation. But some women have the potential to release two eggs during one cycle, one per ovary, which is how fraternal twins are made. This is only possible within a 24 hour period.

Women who take hormonal contraception do not release an egg every cycle, as it inhibits ovulation. This is how pregnancy is prevented – if there is no egg to meet the sperm you cannot get pregnant. A regular cycle without ovulation is known as an anovulatory cycle.

5. An egg has a short lifespan after ovulation

Once released, an egg can only be fertilised over the next 12-24 hours. Sperm, on the other hand, can live up to 5 days if the sperm encounters the right environment. Natural Cycles takes these factors into account when calculating your fertile days.

 

 

Your Natural Cycles team

Source:http://natural-fertility-info.com/facts-about-the-female-egg.html

Everything you need to know about ovulation tests

No matter if you are new to Natural Cycles or have been using it for a while – here are the most important things you need to know about ovulation (LH) tests.

WHY should you test for LH?

Ovulation (LH) tests are optional but can help the algorithm to detect ovulation so you can get the very most out of your Natural Cycles experience, and who doesn’t want that right?

LH stands for Luteinizing Hormone, which has its peak roughly 48hrs before ovulation and can be found in your urine. That’s why a positive LH test is a strong indication that ovulation will occur soon, but do keep in mind that it does not mean that ovulation is occurring at this moment nor that it definitely will – the body is simply getting ready to ovulate. That’s why ovulation will only be confirmed in the app after a rise in temperature has accompanied a positive LH test.

HOW do you test for LH?

You can test your urine for LH with the Natural Cycles ovulation (LH) test strips. An increase in LH is usually found within 24-48h before ovulation. LH is always present in the body, put peaks just before ovulation. So a light LH indication can be found on many days in the cycle, that’s why the test is only positive if both lines are equally strong.  You can buy the LH test strips in our Webshop and find a more detailed description of how to do a test in our FAQs.

WHEN is the best time to test for LH?

On around 3-5 days of your cycle, the Natural Cycles app will prompt you to take an LH test. This is to minimise the number of tests you need to take, without missing your LH peak. You should measure between 10am-8pm as the LH-levels tend to rise during the day. You should also try to make sure you that you haven’t visited the bathroom or taken in a lot of fluids for 2 hours prior to testing. You can take ovulation tests as many times a day as you wish to. 

If you want to give ovulation (LH) tests a try, jut hop on over to our Webshop we’ve got plenty as well as other great period, intimate care and sexual well-being products.

Your Natural Cycles team

What protection to use on red days?

With Natural Cycles you know exactly when you are fertile and need to use protection. We recommend using condoms as they have been proven to be very effective and are easy to use. What protection you use on red days is of course up to you just keep in mind that the effectiveness on red days relies on the method you choose to use. We’ve put together a list of methods that can be used on red days, how they are used and how effective they are.

When it comes to contraceptives we recommend taking effectiveness, method of usage as well as possible side effects into consideration. On red days you can only use non-hormonal methods of protection, as hormones affect your body temperature. The only methods mentioned that protect against STDs and STIs are the male and female condom.

Effectiveness can be broken down into:

  • Perfect use: this refers to using the method of contraception correctly and consistently
  • Typical use: reflects how effective methods are for the average person who does not always use the method correctly and consistently.

These numbers show how many women out of 100 get pregnant during a one year period of using the contraceptive method. E.g. 2% perfect use means that in one year a total of 2 women will get pregnant if they use the method consistently and correctly, whereas 18% typical use shows that 18 women out of 100 will become pregnant when using the method in general.

The more correctly and consistently you apply a method of contraception – the more effective the method will be for you. Everyone is different so it’s important to take these factors into account when choosing which option is right for you.

Abstention

When it comes to contraception, abstinence refers to avoiding penile-vaginal penetration. Some couples like to interact in other forms of sexual expression such as masturbation, oral sex, having fun with sex toys and foreplay instead. The penis and sperm should however not come in contact with the vulva or vagina to avoid pregnancy. On paper this is a very effective method to use on red days, in reality you can always be overcome by the ‘heat of the moment’ so we recommend keeping some condoms at hand just in case.

Male Condoms

This is our recommended method for red days, as they are the most effective method and easy to use. Condom failure is usually due to breakage or slippage. You can minimise the risk of this happening by ensuring that you have applied the condom correctly and that it is a good size fitting. We have recently extended our Webshop range with various condoms in different styles and sizes – cause just like us ladies, every man is different and one size doesn’t fit all so be sure to find an option that is comfortable for both of you. 

Perfect use: 2% 

Typical use: 18%

Female Condoms

The female condom is somewhat similar to the male condom. It is a tube of soft plastic (polyurethane) that has a closed end. Each end has a ring or rim. The ring at the closed end is inserted deep into the woman’s vagina over the cervix, like a diaphragm, to hold the tube in place.

Perfect use: 5%

Typical use: 21%

Cervical Cap:

This is a small soft cup made of silicone or latex that fits over the cervix. It needs to be fitted so you should contact your Gynaecologist if you wish to use it and needs to be replaced yearly. It is used in combination with spermicide. You have to leave it in place 6 hours after sex, yet it needs to be taken out within 48hours. It’s effectiveness is also affected depending on whether you have given birth before or not.

Perfect use: 9% (if not given birth), 26% (after birth)

Typical use: 14% (if not given birth), 29% (after birth)

Photo: FemCap

Diaphragm:

The diaphragm is a little similar to the cervical cap. It is a round, dome-shaped device made of rubber that has a firm, flexible rim. It needs to be fitted so you should contact your Gynecologist if you wish to use it and needs to be replaced yearly. It fits inside a woman’s vagina and covers the cervix. It should also be used with a spermicide. The diaphragm must be left in place for 6 hours after intercourse and can be left in place up to 24 hours. It’s effectiveness is also affected depending on whether you have given birth before or not.

Perfect use: 6%

Typical use: 12%

Photo: Caya

Sponge

The contraceptive sponge is a doughnut shaped sponge that you wet before inserting. It is used along with spermicide and must be inserted for at least 6 hours, the combination of spermicide killing sperm and the sponge trapping them and ensuring they do not get to the cervix is important here.

Perfect use: 9% ( ifnot given birth) 12% (after birth)

Typical: 12% (if not given birth) 24% (after birth)

Withdrawal (pull out)

Withdrawal is pulling the penis out of the vagina before ejaculation and away from external genital organs of the woman to avoid pregnancy. With this method the man must rely on his own sensations to determine when he is about to ejaculate. Withdrawal is at the bottom of the effectiveness scale and the gap between typical and perfect use is very large due to couple finding it difficult to use this method consistently and correctly. Men who are less experienced with using this method might have more difficulty identifying when ejaculation is about to occur. In some men’s pre-ejaculate fluid may contain small numbers of sperm, which both partners are often not aware of when released.

Perfect use: 4%

Typical use: 22%

 

 

Talking to your partner about what contraceptive option is right for you can help you with your decision and if you have any further questions feel free to contact us over at support.

Your Natural Cycles team

 

Sources:

http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/contraception-guide/Pages/how-effective-contraception.aspx

Hatcher, Robert Anthony. Contraceptive Technology. New York, NY: Ardent Media, 2011. Print.

https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/birth-control/cervical-cap

Celebrating international women’s day

International women’s day is all about celebrating women, our rights, how incredibly far we have come these past few years and how hugely we have contributed to society, the economy, culture and politics. Because who knew that soon we could be calling our app the only certified contraceptive, right ladies?

Having come so far already we sometimes tend to forget what our earlier generations have fought for. So it’s also a time to raise awareness and realise how you are contributing to a better future with Natural Cycles and how we can inspire others to do so.

Contributing to women’s health research

Did you know that when using Natural Cycles you are hugely contributing to research in women’s health? Together with all women using the app we are driving advances in science within the fields of fertility, reproductive health and contraception.

How we talk about contraception, sex and periods

Topics related to women’s sexual health, menstrual cycles and periods are known to be somewhat taboo and we think they shouldn’t be. So we are all about encouraging women to talk about these things openly , whether it’s when you email us at support or on our social media channels – no need to be shy about it.

Inspiring others to get to know their bodies

Getting to know your body and taking control of your choices is liberating. Women often tell us how it has changed their lives and how great they feel – that’s inspiration right there. So whether it’s talking to your friends about Natural Cycles or it’s about your positive experiences in life, be brave to inspire others.

Your Natural Cycles Team

Contraception: a shared responsibility

At Natural Cycles we strongly believe that contraception should be a shared responsibility. So no matter what option you go for, you can talk to your partner about contraception and what suits you two best.

With Natural Cycles contraception actively becomes a shared responsibility, and couples are loving it. The thing is a woman can only get pregnant on up to 6 days in one cycle, and men are fertile all the time. You measure your temperature and on red days your partner uses a condom – everyone has a part to play. We have also heard from many of our users that partners enjoy getting to know about how the cycle works and actively help out in remembering to measure every morning.

This is what Janine one of our Cyclers has got to say about it.

“It feels like it’s more in line with my personal values and letting my body be in the most natural state as possible. Contraception plays more of an equal role in our relationship now, since none of us have to take hormonal contraception.”

How do you feel about sharing the responsibility of contraception? Please share your experiences and thoughts by commenting on this post!

Yours,
Natural Cycles Team