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    7 Reasons Your Period Might Be Late — Other Than Pregnancy

    On the one hand, you have to deal with cramps, bloating and mood swings. On the other, yay, you’re not pregnant! Suddenly missing your period when babies aren’t on the agenda can be a real freak-out moment, but there are a few other factors that may be to blame. Here, gynae Alyssa Dweck, co-author of V is for Vagina, offers potential reasons you have a late period that have nothing to do with a bouncing bundle of joy.
    Major Weight Loss Or Excessive Exercise
    “This is a reason I see not that infrequently in my office,” says Dweck. “If your BMI rapidly dips below 18 or 19, you may start to miss periods.” This isn’t strictly based on BMI, though. Serious conditions like anorexia and bulimia can cause a missed cycle, but so can training for a marathon or some other major event that requires you to exercise more than usual. “Nature has a way of protecting you from getting pregnant if your body is under such extreme stress. Your body prevents ovulation so you don’t have a lot of oestrogen, don’t build a big uterine lining, and then don’t get a period,” says Dweck.
    READ MORE: “I Swapped My Regular Skincare Routine For A More Natural One — And The Results Were Surprising”
    A big scary event in your life can cause hypothalamic amenorrhea. “This particular area of the brain, the hypothalamus, is where a lot of the hormones for your cycle are regulated,” says Dweck. “The hypothalamus is very affected by stress.” So if you’re dealing with a big move, death in the family, huge breakup, or any other life event that’s shaking you up, it could be the cause of your late period or missed period.
    READ MORE: Are you experiencing a ‘friendship recession?’
    A Thyroid Irregularity
    The thyroid gland, located in your neck, regulates your metabolism. It also interacts with many other systems in your body to keep things running smoothly. “If you’re dealing with any type of thyroid imbalance, whether it’s hypo- or hyperthyroidism, that can have implications for your period,” says Dweck. If you notice other symptoms of a thyroid disorder, check in with your doctor for an official diagnosis.
    READ MORE: How To Tell The Difference Between Period Blood And Spotting
    Polycystic Ovary Symptom
    PCOS is a hormone imbalance that comes down to a lack of ovulation, so you have altered levels of oestrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. “We’re seeing a lot more of this, although there are varying degrees. It can cause you to completely miss your period or just not menstruate regularly,” says Dweck. Other PCOS symptoms include hair growth in places like the face and chest, difficulty losing weight, and potential fertility issues. Your doctor can help you come up with a treatment plan to manage the condition.
    READ MORE: Exactly How To Train Like Kim Engelbrecht
    Chronic Diseases Like Coeliac
    “I know coeliac disease is on everyone’s mind right now,” says Dweck, referring to the disease that’s characterised by gluten intolerance. “Any chronic disease that’s left untreated or undiagnosed is a stressor to your general system and can result in missed periods.”
    READ MORE: Vaginal Infections 101 — What You Need To Know About That Itch
    Your Birth Control
    A missed period or late period can actually be a harmless byproduct of the measures you take to avoid pregnancy. “Some low-dose pills will cause a lack of menses that isn’t dangerous and is many times a welcome side effect,” says Dweck. The same goes for methods like hormonal IUDs, implants, or shots. It can also take some time for your period to come back if you’ve stopped birth control, but it will usually resume without issue in a few months.
    READ MORE: “I Tried Masturbating To Cure My Hangover — This Is What Happened”
    Premature Menopause
    When women under 40 have hormones misfiring in a significant way, they can go through premature menopause, also known as premature ovarian failure. Along with a missed period, signs of it include hot flashes, night sweats and vaginal dryness. “This isn’t very common, so you shouldn’t immediately worry about it,” says Dweck. If your gyno rules out the many other potential causes and thinks this may be the culprit, she’ll clue you in. More

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    The Nutritionist’s Guide To Actually Surviving A Hangover

    Last night was a total blast, but this morning? Not so much. Anyone who’s ever shamelessly downed one too many glasses of wine, mixed drinks, beers, shots, or all of the above, is familiar with the body-aching regret and toilet-clutching desperation that so kindly ensues after a night of hitting the booze bag. And while the only real cure to avoiding this ungodly feeling is to drink moderately — or not at all — thankfully, there are a few ways to bounce back without posting up in bed the entire day. We asked two nutritionists to share their best-kept secrets to surviving a hangover.
    1. You know this one… drink water
    Need help surviving a hangover? You know the drill: drink one glass of water for every alcoholic beverage you swig. But, let’s be honest, it usually never happens that way. That’s why water’s the first beverage you should drink after waking up from your hangover haze. “The best way to normalise your body fluids and regain a balance in your body’s chemistry is to focus on getting as much water in as possible,” says dietician Elizabeth Shaw. Aim for eight to 10 glasses to start feeling like your old self again.
    READ MORE: Seriously Now, Is Alcohol Really THAT Bad For Your Sleep?
    2. … And an electrolyte-rich beverage
    Because your body is so depleted of liquids, it can’t function at its normal level. This causes you to go into starvation mode — queue the headaches, body aches and fatigue. “Alcohol sucks your organs dry of any liquid, so not only do you need to replenish it with water, but you also need more vitamins and nutrients to quench that hangover thirst,” says celeb dietician and fitness expert Isabel Smith. Your best bet: opt for coconut water, a more natural beverage that’s loaded with potassium and low in sugar content.
    3. Suck on ginger sweets
    Pregnant women swear by them to treat their morning sickness and you can bet they also come in handy when it comes to curing those equally pesky hangover symptoms. “Ginger has been used for centuries in traditional herbal medicine to cure motion sickness, vomiting and nausea,” says Smith. Pour yourself some ginger tea, or chop up some ginger root to put into a yoghurt or smoothie. If you’re not a fan of the taste, there are pills that’ll also do the trick. Just make sure you have some food in your stomach beforehand.
    4. Eat a well-balanced breakfast
    Along with hydration, your body needs nutrients when it comes to surviving a hangover. “Because alcohol disrupts nearly every tissue in your body, along with its ability to absorb nutrients, it’s important to replenish all vitamins and minerals from real, solid foods,” says Shaw. “Focus on fuelling up with hydrating eats like watermelon, cucumbers and leafy greens, as well as heavy, protein-packed foods like lean meat, avocado and eggs to give your organs the nutrition and fluid kick they’re craving.”
    READ MORE: A Therapist Answers 6 of Your Questions Around Feeling Lonely at Christmas
    5. Sweat it out
    It may be painful, but breaking a sweat is one of the best cures for helping people kick headaches, bloat and fatigue. “The natural endorphins released from your body while you get your heart rate up will make you feel 10 times better,” says Smith. “In addition, you’re speeding up your metabolism so that it processes the alcohol more quickly.” Just be sure to have plenty of water on hand and don’t do anything that makes you feel like you’re going to lose your breakfast (or pass out!).
    6. Go easy on the caffeine
    Your morning cup of coffee might be the one thing that helps you function and snap into action on weekdays, but after a night of drinking it’ll only further dehydrate you. “Caffeine constricts blood vessels, which can make headaches even worse,” says Smith. “Also, remember that coffee is a diuretic, so in a situation where you’re already dehydrated, you don’t want to lose anymore fluid.” Instead, choose a lower-caffeine option like green tea — iced or hot. It will bring you back to life without further evaporating your body’s liquid levels.
    READ MORE: Are you experiencing a ‘friendship recession?’
    7. Avoid acidic foods and beverages
    Sometimes we can be more prone to acid reflux the day after drinking, so steer clear of citrus fruits, like oranges and lemons, or tomatoes. “A bloody Mary might sound like the perfect remedy (and taste like it too!), but your bod is not equipped to handle the acidity level,” says Smith. Instead, sip some carbonated water, which can help bring up any trapped air in your stomach that’s making you feel even more nauseous.
    And… you’re back! So how about a cocktail? Haha!
    This article was originally published on  More

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    What To Eat To Keep Your Gut Healthy And Your Skin Glowing

    Here’s something new: it’s no longer bad manners to talk about what’s going on inside our tummies. Research now confirms that if we pay attention to the health of our gut, we can prevent breakouts, redness, dullness, inflammation and toxic build-up in our skin. Sounds good. But how can we improve gut health, fast?

    And what exactly is the connection between the gut and our skin? We ask the experts to shed some light on gut-healthy foods and supplements.

    READ MORE: “I Swapped My Regular Skincare Routine For A More Natural One — And The Results Were Surprising”

    Here, seven ways to keep your gut healthy and happy and your skin glowing…

    1. Eat a wide range of food

    Especially vegetables, fruit, seeds, legumes and fibre-rich carbohydrates to stimulate different strains of good bacteria.

    2. Get into fermented products

    Yoghurt, sauerkraut and kefir contain good bacteria lactobacilli, which help reduce the risk of disease.

    Choose a few fermented products and incorporate them into your day, or opt for a daily probiotic drink like Rawbiotics Daily, R97, from Faithful To Nature.

    3. Limit sweeteners

    Research shows artificial sweeteners increase blood sugar by stimulating the growth of unhealthy bacteria in the gut. Oof.

    READ MORE: Seriously Now, Is Alcohol Really THAT Bad For Your Sleep?

    4. Take a supplement

    Particularly when your skin is looking blah, a probiotic supplement ensures you’re giving your gut a healthy dose of live bacteria.

    Try Terra Nova Probiotic Complex, R397.50, from Faithful To Nature.

    5. Stock your plate with prebiotics

    Think artichokes, bananas, asparagus, oats and apples. These foods create a beneficial environment that allows good bacteria to grow instead of the bad stuff.

    6. Embrace whole grains

    With loads of fibre and beta-glucan, whole grains will encourage good bacteria to flourish.

    READ MORE: 21 Best Self-Care Gifts For Her That Go Way Beyond Face Masks

    7. Focus on polyphenols

    Plant compounds found in red wine, green tea, dark chocolate and olive oil, polyphenols help boost healthy bacterial growth.

    Try Cocoafair 95% Dark Chocolate, R57.99, from Faithful To Nature.

    Women’s Health participates in various affiliate marketing programmes, which means we may get commissions on editorially chosen products purchased through our links to retailer sites. More

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    Seriously Now, Is Alcohol Really THAT Bad For Your Sleep?

    A nightcap may be nice, but is likely to lead to a fragmented night’s rest.
    While it is true that booze acts as a sedative, it also disrupts dreams and shakes up the sleep cycle. It reduces time spent in the stage of sleep understood to be the most restorative, the rapid eye movement, or REM, phase. Prolonged use can cause insomnia, sleep apnoea and snoring.
    These are the findings of the London Sleep Centre, which has published a review of all known studies on the effect of alcoholic beverages on sleep in healthy volunteers.
    Alcohol: a sleep disruptor
    ”At all dosages, alcohol causes a reduction in sleep onset latency, a more consolidated first half sleep and an increase in sleep disruption in the second half of sleep,” the authors said in the latest issue of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. Lead researcher on the review, Dr Irshaad Ebrahim, told the BBC people should be cautious about using the bottle to send themselves to sleep.
    ”One or two glasses might be nice in the short term, but if you continue to use a tipple before bedtime it can cause significant problems,” he said. ”If you do have a drink, it’s best to leave an hour-and-a-half to two hours before going to bed so the alcohol is already wearing off.
    READ MORE: 21 Best Self-Care Gifts For Her That Go Way Beyond Face Masks
    It can also mess with your breathing
    ”With increasing doses, alcohol suppresses our breathing. It can turn non-snorers into snorers and snorers into people with sleep apnoea – where the breathing’s interrupted.”
    Professor Peter Cistulli, the head of sleep medicine at the University of Sydney and director of the Sleep Health Foundation, says there are three reasons for this.
    First, alcohol is a muscle relaxant so the throat muscles become vulnerable. Second, the additives in some forms of alcohol, particularly red wine, cause nasal congestion. This means people are more likely to breathe through their mouths and therefore more likely to snore and more prone to sleep apnoea. Third, ”alcohol numbs the brain [so, if for instance] the throat collapses and there is alcohol on board, recognition of that problem is delayed”.
    READ MORE: Mindful Drinking: How More And More People Are Becoming ‘Sober Curious’
    Booze can mess with deep sleep
    From the hundreds of studies assessed by the London Sleep Centre, the most significant finding was the effect of alcohol on REM sleep. This is because the body does not slip into the deeper dreaming sleep state until it has metabolised the alcohol.
    ”The onset of the first REM sleep period is significantly delayed at all doses and appears to be the most recognisable effect of alcohol on REM sleep followed by the reduction in total night REM sleep,” the researchers said.
    REM sleep is still not fully understood, but it is seen as necessary for survival. Reduced REM can also lead to people feeling more fatigued the next day. One British study found almost half of the 2000 drinkers surveyed acknowledged increased tiredness after a drinking session, but 58 per cent did not realise alcohol was the reason. Cistulli said a greater awareness of the effect of alcohol on sleep means people are more able to address sleeping issues.
    ”Alcohol is a chemical and the brain is a soup of chemicals,” he said. ”Alcohol gets in there and mucks up the soup that is relevant to sleep.”
    However, he said the London Sleep Centre review is based on generalisations and ”there are clearly individual variations”. The findings are of most benefit to people who have trouble sleeping and aren’t aware of the impact alcohol is having, Cistulli said. ”Once they start to understand the link, they can start to modify their behaviour.”
    Courtesy of Stuff
    READ MORE: How To Do The Festive Season Sober, Plus The 14 Best Alcohol-Free Drinks More

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    Vaginal Infections 101 — What You Need To Know About That Itch

    Being a woman certainly has its benefits but some aspects of womanhood are far from glamorous, in fact they are down right unpleasant. Bothersome vaginal infections are high on the list, with about a third of women being affected at some point during their lifetime.
    Gynaecologist and Lactacyd spokesperson, Dr Lizelle Nortje sheds some light on the topic.
    What Are Vaginal Infections, Exactly?
    It’s a broad term for a number of feminine conditions, the three most prevalent types are:
    • Bacterial Vaginosis (BV); presents with thin, increased, smelly (fishy odour) discharge. This is the most common cause of vaginal infections, accounting for 50% of cases.
    • Candidiasis (yeast infection commonly known as thrush); presents with white clumpy discharge and inflammation with symptoms such as itching, redness and/or burning of the intimate area.
    • Trichomoniasis (a parasite affecting both women and men, it’s a STI); presents with discoloured, smelly (fishy odour) and increased discharge as well as inflammation with redness and swelling of the vagina. It’s also the most common infection, with about 30 million infections in sub-Saharan Africa.
    It’s also quite common to have a mixed infection, which may not be identifiable by one’s discharge.
    READ MORE:  “I Tried Masturbating To Cure My Hangover — This Is What Happened”
    What Causes It?
    Well, it’s complicated; there are many factors that have an impact on our feminine health. Bacterial Vaginosis is caused by a change or imbalance in the types of bacteria normally found in the vagina. Candidiasis is caused by an overgrowth of normal fungi in the vagina and can cause more serious systemic infections in people with a compromised immune system, such as pregnant or HIV positive women.
    Some common triggers include…• Stress• Antibiotics: they destroy healthy bacteria that prevent an overgrowth of yeast.• Allergies to detergents and fabric softeners.• Hormonal changes that may be brought on by menopause, pregnancy or ovulation.• Diabetes, the condition alters the body’s sugar content and therefore the pH is altered.
    Tips to help prevent vaginal infections
    • Wash with just water, unless prescribed otherwise by your gynae. Feminine hygeine products can be scented and disrupt your natural flora.• Stay, healthy, eat well, get enough sleep and drink enough fluids.• Do not douche: it disrupts the natural balance of bacteria and fungi and alters the pH of your vagina.• Keep your intimate area clean and dry.• Wipe from front to back after urination and bowel movement.• Wear cotton underwear.• Avoid using deodorised pads and tampons.• Don’t use petroleum jelly or other oils for lubricants.• Avoid sexual intercourse until the treatment is completed and you are free of symptoms.
    Also, give your body regular breaks from tight clothing; choose natural fabrics over synthetic ones, especially when it comes to underwear; and avoid perfumed feminine sprays.
    READ MORE: Here’s EXACTLY How To Skip Your Period Every Month
    When Should You See A Doctor?
    Bacterial Vaginosis and Trichomoniasis only respond to antibiotics so you will need to pay your doctor a visit if you suspect one or the other. Pregnant women should always consult with their doctor for treatment as vaginal infections can cause complications in pregnancy if left untreated. You should also see a doctor if you have excessive pain or vomiting and fever. If the infection is recurrent you will need to see a doctor to ensure you are getting the right treatment.
    READ MORE: 5 Sex Positions You Should Finish With For An Orgasmic Grand Finale More

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    How To Do The Festive Season Sober, Plus The 14 Best Alcohol-Free Drinks

    SoberSeptember, OcSober, DryJanuary or even going #StraightEdge (no stimulants at all!) – there’s no end to the sober bandwagons you can jump on. Whether it’s for health and fitness reasons, a way to detox and reset or manage your tolerance levels, many people are opting to ditch the booze and embrace a teetotalling lifestyle. Here’s what you need to know about having a sober festive season.

    The Sober Trend

    According to Janet Gourand, founder of Tribe Sober, a South African membership programme helping people change their relationship with alcohol, they have seen more people wanting to decrease their consumption of alcohol or cut alcohol out completely lately.

    And women are leading the charge. Gourand says that 80% of those in Tribe Sober are women with most of the women being 40+ but despite that there is still a trend for younger women to drink less. Plus, local non-alcoholic G&T brand The Duchess reported that 74% of its buyers are women between 18 and 34 years old.

    The truth is many millennials are driving a huge trend towards cutting booze completely – or never starting. Hashtags like #SoberSaturday and #SoberLife (over  two million tags on Insta) are being seen more and more and form part of what has been dubbed the “sober curious” movement. The number of alcohol drinkers in the world has decreased by nearly five percent since 2000, according to reports by the World Health Organisation.

    In fact, 49% of Women’s Health readers said they would buy non-alcoholic beers or cider (up from 34% when we asked you in 2019), while 31% said they would be choosing Castle Free over Castle Lite this festive season. 47% of Women’s Health readers said if they were offered non-alcoholic wines – that actually taste good – they’d try it.

    READ MORE: Mindful Drinking: How More And More People Are Becoming ‘Sober Curious’

    Reasons To Have A Sober Festive Season

    According to Gourand, the stress and the “working from home” impact of the pandemic has created more dependence on alcohol.  “People who would only use alcohol for ‘socialising’ have now discovered that they enjoy drinking alone and their drinking has become more about self-medicating their anxiety than having fun,” she says.

    This has been dubbed “Grey Area” drinking and it has seen an increase since the pandemic. Healthline describes “grey area” drinking as the realm between healthy levels of alcohol consumption and a diagnosed alcohol use disorder. 

    It’s no secret that South Africa is known as a drinking nation, with 2.1% of total household spending in South Africa going to beer, according to Stats SA (only 1.5% is going to veggies). And the festive season is a period that sees a dramatic increase in consumption. But many people, even South Africans, are taking the downsides of drinking alcohol more seriously.

    “People are becoming aware that drinking more than a bottle and a half of wine a week puts their mental and physical health at risk.  The wellness trend is resulting in more people eating organic, doing yoga and meditation and they are realising that drinking alcohol doesn’t really fit in with this lifestyle,” explains Gourand.

    READ MORE: 17 Super-Stylish Stocking Fillers & Gifts Under R150 – That Aren’t Socks

    The Sober Life

    “The smart people are getting sober curious.  The wine industry has been marketing directly to women for the last 25 years – and they have been stunningly successful.  Many women cannot imagine having fun or socialising without it.  As many women get older the fun turns to self medication and drinking alone,” says Gourand. 

    If you are wanting to change your relationship with alcohol, finding your tribe helps. “Community is a big part of recovery,” says Gourand. In his TED Talk, writer and journalist Johann Hari explains the science behind the fact that connection is the opposite of addiction.

    “There is so much shame around drinking (especially for women) that joining a community of others with the same issue is a huge relief and we feel less alone.  We learn so much from hearing about other people’s experiences and as we progress in our alcohol-free journey we are able to inspire others,” explains Gourand.

    “Even if people are just “sober curious” or not even sure that they want to make a change they can join a tribe, listen and learn and it will help them decide which direction to take,” she says.

    READ MORE: The Top Gifts WH Team Want Under The Tree This Season

    Tips For Going Sober

    Janet Gourand has been sober since 2015, leading her tribe at Tribe Sober and inspiring people to have an alcohol-free life. These are here three tips for people who are sober curious or looking to cut down their alcohol consumption:  

    1) “Take a look at your life”

    “What would it look like without alcohol in it?  If all your social activities involve drinking then it’s time for a change.  First step is to increase your awareness – keep a drinks diary and note your consumption.  Are you drinking more than the low risk limit of a bottle and a half of wine a week?”

    2) “Take an alcohol free challenge – at least a month.”

    “If you can get through it easily then you are probably fine.  If not (or if you can’t even contemplate taking a break) then it’s time to make some changes.  Join a group like Tribe Sober to connect with others who are looking to quit drinking and to learn to thrive in their alcohol free lives.”  

    3) “Start discovering the vast choice of alcohol free drinks.” 

    “Try everything and you will find your go-to alcohol-free choice.  Integrate that into your lifestyle.  Alternate it with alcoholic drinks when you go out and make sure you have at least 4 alcohol-free days a week.”

    The Best Alcohol-Free Drinks For Adults

    Designated driver, watching your calorie intake, fitness stole your alcohol tolerance or realising it might be time to cut back? Going booze-free is a health trend that celebs, brands and just about everyone else is getting behind! 

    Below you’ll find the best wine, gin, beer and cider 0.0 versions. With half the calories and no need for a stash of painkillers in your bedside drawer, your sober summer is sorted!

    If you like IPA, try Devil’s Peak Zero to Hero, R94.99 (six pack).

    If you like gin and tonic, try The Duchess Virgin Gin & Tonic, R75 (four pack).

    If you like Weiss beer, try Erdinger Alkoholfrei, R439 (24 pack).

    If you like a full-bodied beer, try Non-Alcoholic Super Bock 0.0%, R12.99 (available at selected Tops).

    If you’re a Heineken gal, try Heineken 0.0, R95 (six pack).

    If you like cider, try Savanna Non-Alcoholic Lemon, R375 (24 pack).

    If you like light lagers or Pilsners, try Beck’s Blue, from R239 (24 pack).

    If you like Castle, or lagers in general, try Castle Free Alcohol-Free Lager, R200 (24 pack).

    If you like white wine, try Natura De-Alcoholised Classic White, R499 (six bottles).

    If you like gin cocktails, try Seedlip Garden 108, R469.

    If you like red wine, try Van Loveren Radiant Red Almost Zero % Alcohol, R75.

    If you like bubbly, try Lautus De-Alcoholised Sparkling, R720 (six bottles).

    If you like fruity beer, try Bavaria 0.0% Pomegranate, R99.99 (six pack).

    If you like an aperitif, try Babylonstoren BitterLekker, R139 (six pack)

    Women’s Health participates in various affiliate marketing programmes, which means we may get commissions on editorially chosen products purchased through our links to retailer sites. More

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    Here’s EXACTLY How To Skip Your Period Every Month

    By Laura Stampler
    It’s all about which type of birth control you choose. 
    Have you ever wished you could just skip your period? Whether you get cramps, mood swings, migraines, or just have a beach vacation on the horizon, there are many reasons why you might want to delay—if not completely eradicate—your monthly menstruation. So… why don’t you?
    “You absolutely don’t have to get a period every month,” says Dr Taraneh Shirazian, a gynae NYU Langone. “And if you’re on medication, it’s completely safe.” In fact, researchers from the University of Oregon found that 17 per cent of 1,324 surveyed women on hormonal contraceptives including the patch, pill, and vaginal ring use them to alter their bleeding patterns.
    READ MORE: 12 Contraceptives You Should Think Of Trying – Other Than The Pill
    And considering that the period you get when you’re on hormonal birth control is actually fake anyway—that’s right, Shirazian notes your so-called menstruation during your placebo week on the pill is “all manufactured,” meaning it’s facilitated by the hormones in the pills (not by ovulation)—you can actually feel free to skip it every month by changing how you take your birth control.
    Here’s how to skip your period using:
    Monthly Hormonal Birth Control Pills
    Oral contraceptive pills (OCP) typically come in four-week packs, meaning the first three weeks contain hormones and the last week is usually placebo (or sugar) pills. The body withdrawals from the hormones during that placebo week, and thus, you bleed. But if you want to skip your period, all you have to do is skip over that final row of sugar pills and go right into your next pack. But taking your OCP continuously isn’t always foolproof. “Some women will have spotting and others could notice other symptoms,” like breast tenderness, Shirazian says, depending on how sensitive a woman is to her birth control. Still, other women will feel absolutely no side effects—other than the missing period, that is.
    READ MORE: 7 Ways To Meditate For Anxiety Relief That Are *Actually* Easy To Do
    Although Shirazian says that many insurance companies will cover continuous and cyclic OCPs, it’s worth letting your doctor know that you are planning to take your birth control this way so that the prescription is written correctly—you’ll need more packs than normal in a year.
    Extended Cycle Contraceptives
    If switching to a new pack of pills every three weeks seems like too much, you can also talk to your doctor about switching to extended cycle contraceptives. Pills like Seasonale or Seasonique come in 90-day packs, and although they don’t completely get rid of your period, they do reduce your menstruation to four times a year. Lybrel is an extended cycle pill that gets rid of your period completely—although the FDA warns that women may experience unplanned breakthrough bleeding.
    The IUD
    If you want your flow to fade into a distant memory, consider a hormonal IUD like Mirena. Women with this type of IUD might get a lighter period or “may not bleed at all for five years, if you’re very lucky,” Shirazian says. That’s because the progesterone secreted by the IUD thins the lining of the uterine wall, making it shed significantly less than it would otherwise.
    READ MORE: Cycle Syncing Sex: 28 Days Of The Best Sex Of Your Life
    The Ring Or Patch
    Skipping your period on these methods of birth control is similar to the monthly pill. After three weeks of wearing the patch or the ring, you just need to swap it out for a new one instead of foregoing it for a week. Like with the pill, you might have some breakthrough bleeding, but it all just depends on your body. Just make sure you mention your plan to your doctor, so you have a new ring or patch ready to go.
    This article was originally featured on More

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    7 Ways To Meditate For Anxiety Relief That Are *Actually* Easy To Do

    A way to meditate for anxiety relief that’s actually easy to do? Please, say some more…
    Anxious thoughts are (arguably) the least pleasant kinds of thoughts—and as soon as they pop up, your main goal is to get them gone (which, honestly, only seems to make them multiply). Real talk: You can’t necessarily stop yourself from ever having them…but you can learn how to manage them (and prevent them from going rogue)—that’s where meditation comes into play.
    Meditation can actually teach you how to recognize anxiety-inducing thoughts, observe them, and then let them go. Basically, you’re learning to recognize and respond to your feelings rather than instantly reacting to them, says Andy Puddicombe, meditation and mindfulness expert and co-founder of the meditation app Headspace.
    Still, it can be hard to know where to start—and, uh, what to do when you’re actually feeling anxious. Try one of these seven quick meditation tips for anxiety to help bring yourself back to reality ASAP.
    7 Ways To Meditate For Anxiety Relief

    1. Focus on the rising and falling of your breath.
    With your hand on your stomach, focus on your breath as you inhale and exhale. Count your breaths—”one” on the rise, “two” on the fall—as you pay attention to the movement of your body, to bring you back to the present moment, suggests Puddicombe. Do this for 10 seconds, he says, repeating if necessary.
    READ MORE: 8 Things That Are Sucking The Happiness Right Out Of Your Life
    2. Pay attention to how your feet feel on the floor.
    Or how your hands feel on your keyboard; or how your back feels against the chair—anything that grounds you to where you are and what you’re doing at that very moment.
    Allow thoughts to come and go as you normally would (because they will—meditation isn’t void of thought), but as soon as you realize you’re lost in the thought, pivot your thinking back to the sensation you were focusing on, says Puddicombe.
    3. Do a full-body scan, starting at the top of your head.
    Close your eyes and focus on your forehead—then begin to scan down your entire body, stopping at specific parts (like your eyes, your mouth, your neck, etc.) to take note of each sensation—good or bad—that you feel, says Puddicombe.
    Don’t pass judgement or fixate on any specific feelings—just make a note of it and move on; scanning your entire body two to three times, paying attention to how you feel before versus after the scan is complete.

    4. Imagine bright, warm sunlight shining down above your head.
    You know how it feels when you’re sitting next to a window (or lying on the beach) and a beam of sunshine hits your face just right? Imagine that feeling the next time you’re overwhelmed—but instead of just your face, imagine the light beam filling up each part of your body, from your toes to your head, suggests Puddicombe. “Allow the warmth, light, and spaciousness to melt away any tension in the body,” he adds
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    5. Let your mind think about whatever it wants to think about.
    Yep, that even means feeling anxious, says Puddicombe. It sounds counterintuitive, but when you sit with your thoughts—without any expectations, sense of purpose, or focus for several minutes—you give your mind the extra space needed to help it unwind, he says.

    6. Picture someone you love—and breathe in their anxieties.
    All right, this one sounds weird but just go with it: Hold an image of someone you love in your mind, and imagine yourself taking on their anxieties and insecurities with every inhale. On the exhale, think about all of their good qualities and the great times you’ve had together—kind of like breathing in the bad and breathing out the good.
    This exercise of putting the happiness of others before your own is called “skillful compassion” according to Puddicombe, and it’s “one of the most effective ways to let go of a strong emotion such as anxiety is to focus on another person,” he says.
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    7. Talk to yourself like you’d talk to a friend.
    Ask yourself, “what do you appreciate most in your life?” Once you’ve got something (or things) in mind, dwell in that gratitude for 30 seconds.
    Inquiring in the second person separates you from your mind and encourages a space of appreciation, free from any overwhelming emotions, Puddicombe explains.
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