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

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

 

 

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

Menstruation Hygiene Awareness Day

It’s the Menstruation Hygiene Awareness Day on May 28th. This year the theme is “Education about menstruation can change everything”, and we here at Natural Cycles cannot agree more. So this week’s agenda is to raise discussions around the topic.

Education about menstruation can change everything

Regardless of where in the world, periods have always been surrounded by taboos. Although certain societies have come extremely far when it comes to education and availability of hygiene products, did you know that in Ghana girls don’t even know about menstruation when they hit puberty? In Iran many girls think menstruation is a disease? Or that even in Sweden it can take up to 8 years to get a diagnosis for endometriosis?

This of course has an impact on girls’ and women’s emotional state, lifestyle and health. With raising awareness and educating we believe in a world where girls and women should not be ashamed of something as natural as their periods, or treated differently because of it. Every woman has the right to know how her body, how the menstrual cycle works and just how unique she is.

Make sure to follow us on Instagram & Facebook this week for more. Take a stand and post your why experiences using the hashtags #Menstruationmatters to join the discussion!

https://mensenorg.wordpress.com/2017/05/07/menstrual-hygiene-awareness-month-tema-1-mensbildning

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4408698/

 

Alcohol and your temperature

SkiGoing out for a few drinks at the weekend? Here’s what you should know about alcohol and your temperature.

How alcohol affects your temperature

When it comes to Natural Cycles your temperature is the main indicator the algorithm takes into account to calculate your result. Alcohol can cause your temperature to rise, which could end up skewing your data. If your temperature is fluctuating, the algorithm will detect it, and it can result in more red days. And we don’t want that now do we? 

When it’s time to tap ‘Deviating temp.’

That’s why it’s good to know when it’s time to skip measuring or tap ‘Deviating temp.’. If you’ve slept poorly or got up during the night many times, you should skip measuring. Also If you have hangover symptoms after drinking alcohol like: feeling sick, a headache or feeling groggy the next day, best leave it be.

Situations when you can still measure, despite the wine.

If you had a glass of wine or two over dinner, you probably won’t feel it the next day (depending on how often you drink etc.)  So you can log your temperature as ‘Normal’, if you don’t have any signs of a hangover.

Here at Natural Cycles, we’re no party poopers, everyone has a glass of wine or more every now and then – especially at the weekend. Just remember to skip on these days 😉

 

Your Natural Cycles Team

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

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

How to get that spring back into your step

Today is the first day of spring and we reckon it’s not just all about tidying and cleaning your entire home. As the days get longer and temperatures start rising (not just your basal body temperature ;)) it’s a great time for making some small changes. With a healthier daily routine you can enjoy a little more spring in your step this season.

Wake up early and get into your routine

As spring comes along the sun starts rising earlier, so why not set the alarm an hour earlier? Getting up earlier leaves you refreshed and feeling productive and rising with the sun is a heck of alot better than on those dark winter days.

With Natural Cycles you should measure your temperature around the same time every morning, just after waking up – so it’s also great for getting out of the bad habit of winter snoozing. We find setting a labelled alarm at the same time to measure is not only great for a pretty temperature curve in the app but for a productive morning routine too.

Get outside and exercise

Did you know that exercise can relieve PMS cramps? The benefits of exercising (no matter what day of your cycle you’re on) just can’t be ignored, it’s great for your body all round and shows benefits for mental well-being. So once the weather starts getting a little better it’s great to get out into nature and enjoy the warmer temperatures and fresh air. From now on it’s time to grab your runners and hit the ground running.

So to get off on the right foot this spring, after the long winter – wake up a little earlier, measure regularly and exercise so you can hit the ground running. 

 

Winter is here: will it affect my basal body temperature?

Generally speaking your body should not be affected, given that you have normal bedding (what you usually use) and room temperatures at home. Your body is great at maintaining a regular temperature and will adjust to the cold weather!

photo-2016-11-09-08-46-38-copy

With Natural Cycles it is important to measure your basal body temperature in your mouth and underneath your tongue. By closing your mouth and breathing through your nose you can avoid external factors like room temperature influencing it. This is why measuring your temperature on your skin or in your ear is not accurate enough to use with the app.

We also want to point out that electric blankets and heating pads can have an effect, so keep an eye on your temperature curve when using these. Winter is also the time of year where a lot of us get sick, so if you feel unwell and your temperatures are much higher than usual be sure to disable the measurement until you feel better again.

inactivate
If you haven’t entered any temperature, you cannot click on inactive.

 

Read more about measuring the basal body temperature related articles here:

When and how to measure basal body temperature.

Why should I use a basal thermometer?

What if I forget to measure?

 

Happy Cycling!

How common is early miscarriage and what causes it?

In the lead up to our #HappyPregnancy campaign we want to highlight the other side of the story a pregnancy ending in a miscarriage.

Miscarriage is the sudden loss of a pregnancy before the 20th week. Although it is natural, very common and happens to up to 10-20 percent of all known pregnancies, it is a topic that is not so discussed and known as taboo.

Early pregnancy loss are most common

Most of the miscarriages happen before week 12, after that the risk decreases week per week.  In about half of the cases of early pregnancy miscarriages the reason is that the fertilised egg does not divide properly or is not properly attached in the womb. 

What causes early pregnancy loss?

A miscarriage can be very tough emotionally, and it is not unusual that the woman blames herself for losing the baby. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, there are no certain activities that cause early pregnancy loss. Smoking, alcohol and caffeine have been studied but the research is not clear. The advice is to stay away from alcohol, caffeine and smoking when trying to get pregnant.

How can Natural Cycles help you?

You can ovulate after your miscarriage, as early as in your first cycle.  So if you want to try to get pregnant again, there is no medical reason to wait. With Natural Cycles, you can pinpoint your fertile days and see if and when you ovulated after a miscarriage, and plan your pregnancy.  Once you’re pregnant, you can track the first trimester of your pregnancy in the Natural Cycles app. This is done by tracking your temperature, because it should stay high throughout the first trimester due to progesterone that is continuously being produced.  The Natural Cycles algorithm can detect potential fluctuating hormone levels and will notify you if you should visit a doctor. 

On the picture above you can see how the woman’s temperature kept staying high after the entered positive pregnancy test, and the fluctuating values.  

Emma’s Story 

We do encourage women to talk openly about their fertility stories. As mentioned, miscarriage is something natural caused by our bodies and shouldn’t be taboo to talk about. Emma is a Cycler since last year and after reading about Natural Cycles she decided to start using it.

 

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“I heard about Natural Cycles and since we planned to get pregnant in near future I figured it was a great way to get to know my body. I ordered the startkit and started measuring my temperature every morning. It took me couple of months to get into it, but once I did I realized how fantastic the body is! When I understood my rhythms from month to month, me and my partner started talking about getting pregnant. With help of LH-tests I could find my ovulation with great precision, and I got more aware of my body’s signals! I got pregnant in may this year (2016) on the first try!
Unfortunately it ended in a miscarriage. But knowing how easy it’s been to find my ovulation with help of Natural Cycles, we didn’t stop trying. Now 4 months later, I’m pregnant again and that makes me a Preggo Cycler!


preggocycler

It’s still very early in my pregnancy and anything can happen, but we got pregnant so close into the miscarriage thanks to Natural Cycles. I will continue using natural Cycles for monitoring my pregnancy, and use it afterwards for tracking my fertility!”

 

Thanks to Emma for sharing this fantastic story! If you want to share your Natural Cycles story with us, don’t hesitate to reach out to us, and if you want to plan your pregnancy read more on our #HappyPregnancy website and sign up to get 40% off.

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