- It’s normal to poo more when you’re on your period- prostaglandins are chemicals which simulate the muscle in your uterus to help it contract and shed it’s lining (hello cramps) – the increase of prostaglandins can have a similar effect of other muscles such as your bowel, hence the need to poo more often during your time of the month.
- Period stigma is still a thing but shouldn’t be. As much as we live in a much more open society these days (at least in the UK) it’s normal for people to refer to periods by euphemisms, hide taking a tampon or towel to the toilet and keep the symptoms to themselves, largely because we’ve all had the ‘time of the month’ or ‘too much information’ comments and generally people can still feel uncomfortable talking about them. Yet most people don’t react with horror if you do bring the subject up.
- When you have your smear test you can ask for them to use a smaller speculum, which may be more comfortable (especially if you get tense during smears due to nerves). The option isn’t normally offered in my experience, but the nurse is normally fine with it if you ask.
- Detoxing isn’t a thing. Your liver does a pretty good job at helping your body detoxing and beats any juice, pill or fast out there. Of course not over eating, smoking or drinking too much can help the body maintain it’s best condition.
- Loose skin and stretch marks are normal. Whilst most of us know that having a baby or dramatic weight loss can cause stretch marks and loose skin, in actual fact most of us have stretch marks and as we get older and skin loses a bit of elasticity looser skin is also quite common, even though most of us feel like we’re the only one when we look at others (we always tend to judge ourselves more harshly).
Earlier this week I went for a smear test.
I suspect I’m not alone in dreading this test, from the moment I get the letter reminding me it’s been three years and it’s time to book right up until the moment of climbing on the table. I know they’re important and a few moments of discomfort are worth it to check I’m healthy but equally it just isn’t the nicest ting and nobody ever really wants to put themselves into situations of discomfort.
Smear tests are used to monitor any abnormal changes early on allowing them to monitor and treat these changes early thus helping to prevent the chance of those changes turning into cervical cancer. They take roughly ten minutes from entering the room to leaving (the actual test is a couple of minutes if that) and for most women it really is a matter of mild discomfort over any form of painful experience. However in 2018 it was reported that one in four women don’t book an appointment when they get their reminder letter due to embarrassment, body shape shame or fear of the unknown / pain. This figure increased to one in three in the 25-29 age range and one in two in some of the most deprived areas of the UK.
Much like periods, I feel like smears are something quite common, all women should have them, if you talk to other women most will admit to disliking them or having anxiety around some part of them but which we often feel silly talking about.
But for someone who writes about health and fitness on a weekly basis, I also feel like it’s important to stress that physical fitness or strength or a balanced diet or calorie deficit is all kind of pointless if you don’t take care of yourself at a more fundamental level. I admit I stated thinking about his when I got my smear test reminder and as a result as well as booking the smear test also booked in a dental check up and an eye test (fyi I over much needed new glasses and twelve years between eye tests is by far too long!).
If you are nervous about getting our smear here’s some tips I’ve found useful for reducing the stress of the situation and making it more comfortable:
- Wear a long skirt – reduces the amount of undressing you need to do and can make you feel less exposed.
- You’ll almost always get a female nurse but if you don’t you can request one. You can also take someone with you if that helps.
- Tell the nurse you are nervous – they are used to doing his test and will generally be good at putting you at ease, keeping you talking and more relaxed.
- Ask for a smaller speculum. I had a horrible couple of smears when I was younger that really made me dread going, and I read this tip on the internet. I asked the nurse and she explained that they don’t always work and sometime it can mean them trying then having to use a bigger one anyway. But they will try if you ask and for me the smaller one worked without issue and now I always ask and it always works fine, to the point I barely feel anything. If you are really nervous this is an option worth discussing with the nurse beforehand.
So three messages for this blog.
- Male or female – be more holistically health conscious in 2020. Don’t just eat well or exercise but make an effort to look after your body in all ways. That means things like health check ups, resting when injured and not making a training session a priority over other aspects of your overall health.
- Help make 2020 a year to reduce stigma – feel less pressure to avoid conversations on periods, health checks like smear tests, prostate checks, checking your breasts (not much experience here but equally important) because these conversations can help others.
- If you haven’t had a smear test and are of an age where you should book an appointment with you GP.