Tag Archives: Fertility Friday

Fertility Friday: Xenoestrogens in Black Hair Products – Tola Okogwu

This week, we share Fertility Friday’s podcast on black hair care products and their impact on our reproductive health.

Tola Okogwu is a British blogger and author of the ‘Daddy Do My Hair?’ book series for children. She recently launched KECHIS ‘Kechi’s Hair Goes Every Which Way’ in May 2018, Tola wants to tackle the relationship between young black girls and their natural afro hair in a vibrant, entertaining and educational way. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in journalism and has written for several publications including Black Beauty and Hair Magazine and Metro UK.

In her own words: “For black people, hair is so much more than just what grows out of our heads. Along with our skin colour, it’s the biggest signifier of the differences between us and other races and for the longest time we’ve been made to feel that there is something wrong and unattractive about it.”

In today’s show, we talk about the issue of chemicals in black hair products, and how black women can move away from products that contain harmful chemicals.

Today’s episode is sponsored by my Fertility Friday’s FAM 101 video series. Click here for access.

Topics discussed in today’s episode:

  • The complexities and politics of straitening your hair as a black woman
  • The toxic and damaging nature of hair relaxer
  • Relaxer and chemical burns
  • Is there a link between hair relaxer and fibroids?
  • The importance of informed choice as it relates to hair-care products
  • Embracing the beauty of natural hair
  • How manufacturers have adapted to the natural hair movement
  • The xenoestrogen and other chemical content of natural hair products
  • The particular way black women use hair-care and other beauty products, and why this exacerbates our toxic exposure
  • How to minimize your exposure?
  • How many products do you need?


Fertility Friday: 7 Things No One Tells You About Menstrual Cups

This week SuzyKnew! shares one of Fertility Friday’s popular blog post and podcasts on menstrual cups by Lisa Henderson-Jack.

Have you ever used a menstrual cup? Let me tell you, they are amazing! So freeing. There were so many things that I loved about menstrual cups right off the bat. I fell in love with the idea of using a product that was made for women by women, I loved using a something that collected my period, instead of absorbing it, and I also felt that I was being rebellious somehow by not participating in the “sanitary napkins” shopping experience at my local drug store anymore. I would walk past the “feminine hygiene” aisle in the store and quietly laugh to myself thinking — HA! I don’t need you anymore, or something to that effect.

One of the huge benefits that I immediately saw after I started using menstrual cups was the cost savings. Instead of spending money every single month on menstrual products I spent my money one time and had a product that was not only more comfortable to use and more effective at collecting my period blood, but since it was a reusable product I was immediately able to make a positive environmental impact by reducing the waste that I was putting out into the world.

Even though I could write a 5,000 word ode to menstrual cups because, don’t get me wrong, I LOVE menstrual cups, and I’ve been using them for going on 15 years now, there are a few things that you need to know if you’re thinking about using them and haven’t tried them yet. If you’ve been using menstrual cups for some time now you’ll be able to relate to many of the experiences that I’ve had and I’d love to hear yours!

So here goes….the 7 things no one tells you about using menstrual cups:

1. At first glance they look kind of…BIG – Um yeah. When you get your brand new menstrual cup and take it out of the package for the first time it looks pretty big. This is definitely a subjective measure, and perhaps your experience was different, but I need to call a spade a spade here. Menstrual cups are at least 2-3 times wider than tampons. Even the super duper “torpedo tampons” (as I used to lovingly call them as a teenager). I’m pretty sure you could stuff at least 3 tampons inside an average sized menstrual cup. My first thought was — where the heck is that supposed to go?

2. There is a steep learning curve – If you thought you were going to buy a menstrual cup and your first experience using it was going to be super easy and wonderful prepare to be disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, you’ll eventually have that amazing experience with the birds singing and the amazement from using such an effective and comfortable product, but it doesn’t start out that way.

You’ll likely have at least one day where you feel the cup poking out of you all day if it slips down too far, especially if you’re still figuring out just how far up it really has to go. Once you’ve gotten the hang of how to insert it properly, you’ll get to that wonderful stage where you don’t feel it at all.

Using a menstrual cup is nothing like using a tampon. Most tampons come with applicators, and those applicators allow you to get away with not ever really having to touch yourself. You can use tampons and never have to put your fingers inside your vagina. You can disconnect from the whole experience altogether, but with a menstrual cup there’s no way around it. You’re hands are going in. Possibly further in than they’ve ever been. You’re charting new territory here, and any ideas you had about how long, wide or big your vagina actually is will likely be proven wrong within the first few hours of using your cup!

3. They leak…sometimes – I don’t believe for a second that I’m a unicorn. I can’t be the only one. With that being said, my periods have always been heavy, and that definitely plays a role in the leakage. I fill an entire cup on at least 2 separate occasions during my period, and FYI, when your flow reaches the top of the cup it starts leaking. With that said, I’ve also experienced some degree of leaking even when the cup isn’t 100% full. I’ve experimented with different cups, but even so I’ve found there always to be some degree of leaking involved in the process. Although this is a drawback, I found the leakage situation to be much worse with tampons, and I only experience leakage on my heavy days. As for a solution? I use my cup along with my handy dandy Lunapads washable panty liners, and voila! Problem solved.

4. The first time you use it it will probably feel horrible – I hinted at this above, but I’m giving it it’s own bullet point here. The first time I ever used a menstrual cup I couldn’t figure out how to get it in far enough, and it kind of stuck out all day long. It was rubbing against my vaginal opening all day, and let’s just say it wasn’t a particularly comfortable or enjoyable experience. BUT — and this is really important– it was totally worth it!

Don’t get discouraged if your very first period with the cup isn’t super smooth and easy. Trust me when I say that it’s part of the process. Push through. Expect the first period or two to be a bit dicey. Figure out how to insert the thing correctly. Remember that you can’t feel it at all when it’s in the right place. And to take one step further, if you really do find it uncomfortable there are a plethora of different brands that come in different shapes and sizes. Don’t give up! You’ll find the cup that’s right for you. It’s out there. And you never know, maybe you’ll surprise yourself and get it “right” on your first try.

5. Menstrual cups are way more comfortable to use….once you get the hang of it – If you are or were a tampon or pad user, I believe you’ll love menstrual cups. If you’ve used tampons before then correct me if I’m wrong, but you’ve probably experienced the lovely feeling of inserting (or removing) a dry scratchy tampon on one of your light days? When the tampon isn’t soaked, and it just feels wrong when you pull it out? Or worse, you try to pull it out and it doesn’t move…because it’s so dry. Since menstrual cups are designed to collect rather than absorb, this is an issue you’ll never have to face again. Simply rinse your cup and insert – and you’ll never experience that uncomfortable dry scratchy feeling you get with tampons. When it comes to pads, I’ve never been a huge fan of that slippery slimy feeling I get when I use them. You might say that perhaps I’m not using the “right ones”, but either way it’s just not my favorite experience. Again, menstrual cups for the win!

6. Your period is really red, bloody and not completely liquid – If you’re wondering “geez Lisa…tell me what you really think”…fair enough, I’m not exactly known for dancing around the point. When you use a menstrual cup you actually see your period. This may be the first time you’ve ever had the opportunity to see how much you really bleed, what your blood really looks like, and really get the point that your period is what happens when your endometrial lining is shed.

Your period is made up of blood, tissue, and endometrial secretions. It really gets at the point that your period is absolutely not that “blue colored liquid” we see in those creepy menstrual product commercials. You may also come to appreciate how ineffective tampons really are at collecting your menstrual fluid. Once you see what’s really coming out of you, you’ll discover what all the “fuss” is about when it comes to menstrual cups. They are designed to collect your period, and that makes way more sense when you see what’s actually coming out of you!

7. You’ll feel a strange sense of satisfaction every time you walk past the “feminine hygiene aisle” – It’s probably silly to some degree, but using menstrual cups makes me feel kind of like a rebel of sorts. Like I’m rejecting the system and challenging the status quo. Menstrual products are expensive, uncomfortable and bad for the environment.

You can just google “menstrual products landfill” or “how many pads will I use in my lifetime?” to find out how much subscribing to this consumerist model of period management negatively impact’s the world. Just take a moment to think about how much waste menstrual products generate on a global scale. And to make matters worse, these are products that don’t necessarily biodegrade. That means they just sit there for thousands of years and clutter up our beautiful world…but I digress. Environmental rant over.

In addition to the environmental impact, what about the impact on your wallet? How does it feel to know that someone (probably male) is profiting from your natural bodily functions? I’ve often wondered why menstrual products aren’t free and available in every public washroom like toilet paper? Menstrual cups are reusable and sustainable. You pay for this amazing product once, and you are able to rely on it for years. Like 10 or more if you choose. The cost savings over even a 5 year period are formidable, and the experience as a user is much more positive.

All this is to say that I feel a lovely sense of satisfaction whenever I walk past the “feminine hygiene” aisle. Like I’m giving the metaphorical finger to the for profit menstrual product industry. Frankly the phrase feminine hygiene pisses me off a little. It’s a normal bodily function. Why don’t they just label the aisle “pads/tampons/panty liners”? Why is there all this unnecessary secrecy and shame around menstruation? Having periods doesn’t make me “unhygienic” thank you very much, but I’ll leave that discussion for a future post.

If you loved this blog post, I recently released an entire podcast episode on menstrual cups! Click here to tune in.
Now I want to hear from you! Have you used menstrual cups before? Did you like them? What was your experience like? Were you able to find one that works for you? Are you “converted”? Or do you prefer regular tampons and pads? Please share your experiences in the comments clicking here to get to the site!

Fertility Friday: What Does A Healthy Menstrual Cycle Look Like? The Menstrual Cycle As The 5th Vital Sign

Lisa Hendrickson Jack

Colleen Flowers is a Fertility Awareness Educator who loves teaching women and couples about their reproductive health from a holistic perspective. Colleen graduated as a Justisse Holistic Reproductive Health Practitioner in 2012 and she has been working tirelessly in this field ever since! Colleen founded Flowers Fertility in 2011 where she teaches classes and offers private consultations so that women can better-understand fertility awareness charting, and improve their chances of conceiving or avoid pregnancy naturally.
In today’s episode, Lisa interviews Colleen about the menstrual cycle. Colleen takes us through the parameters of a healthy menstrual cycle, and why it is important to chart your menstrual cycles not only for birth control and conception but also for overall health and screening for potentially serious illnesses. Colleen talks about what to look for in a healthy cycle, how to know if your cycles are out of the normal range, and when to seek support from a health practitioner if you have concerns about your menstrual cycle.

Click here for the podcast and more.


Fertility Friday: 5 Ways To Have Better Sex

This Friday, SuzyKnew! shares with you Fertility Friday’s suggestions on how to have better sex.  As someone who works one-on-one with women to understand their menstrual cycles and fertility, Lisa Hendrickson-Jack has a lot of insight into what makes sex better. She states:

What I’ve noticed is that the more I pay attention to when my clients are having sex in their cycles, the more I see a few troubling trends. One is how common it is for women to struggle with orgasm, vaginal dryness, and/or pain with intercourse, and another is the tendency for couples who are actively trying to conceive to only have sex during their fertile window. I’ll often see couples who stop having sex for the rest of their cycle after they’ve confirmed ovulation. Can you relate?

Far be it from me to tell you what your sex life should be like, but I suppose you’ll have to take my word for it when I tell you that I have your best interests at heart.

Sex is an amazing thing, or at least it should be, but only if you give it the time and attention it deserves. It’s pretty easy for sex to fall to the low end of the priority list the longer you find yourself in a relationship with someone, and especially when things get busy; but as I’m sure you can appreciate, when the sex starts falling to the wayside it can have a negative impact on your relationship overall.
If you’ve been trying to conceive for several months or even a year or more, then I’m guessing that your desire to have a baby has at least partially hijacked your sex life. What was once a carefree, fun, and stress reducing activity has now morphed into a purpose driven timed activity that feels more like a chore than a pleasurable trist after a long day of work.

I want to take a moment to honor your feelings around this. Unless someone has walked in your shoes and they really know what it’s like in their bones to try month after month to conceive with no avail, then they really can’t imagine how difficult it has been for you during this time. But even so, sometimes you need a gentle nudge from a friend who cares about you to encourage you not to let all of the magic go out of your sex life. So that brings me to a few things you can do to heat up the sex in your life. I mean, you’re having sex anyways right? May as well make it fun!

Click here to read Lisa’s 5 ways to have better sex

Fertility Friday: Vaginal Steaming For Period Problems

This Friday, SuzyKnew! shares a Fertility Friday podcast called “Vaginal Steaming for Period Problems.” Lisa interviews Keli on this technique. CLICK HERE for the podcast.

Keli is the founder of Steamy Chick–the largest distributor of vaginal steam supplies in the United States… Keli holds the only known research database on vaginal steaming. Learning from her customer’s experiences she developed unique vaginal steam treatment protocols for different conditions becoming a skillful practitioner able to treat a wide array of women’s health concerns. Based on her practice Keli is now founding a new field of women’s medicine called Peristeam Hydrotherapy—the use of vaginal steaming for menstrual and reproductive health. She has certified over one hundred practitioners worldwide through her Peristeam Hydrotherapy Institute and is conducting clinical studies which will help to establish vaginal steaming as an evidence-based medical science.


Meet Lisa Hendrickson-Jack, a fertility awareness educator based in Toronto, and the founder of Fertility Friday. Lisa’s on a mission to share the knowledge she believes every Sista’ should have been taught about her body back in junior high sex ed class. Her goal is to deepen your understanding of the connection between your fertility and your health, and to transform your relationship with your body and your fertility one period at a time!

Fertility Friday: What Does A Normal Period Look Like?

Lisa Hendrickson Jack

Meet Lisa Hendrickson-Jack, a fertility awareness educator based in Toronto, and the founder of Fertility Friday.  Lisa’s on a mission to share the knowledge she believes every Sista’ should have been taught about her body back in junior high sex ed class. Her goal is to deepen your understanding of the connection between your fertility and your health, and to transform your relationship with your body and your fertility one period at a time!

Today, SuzyKnew! shares one of Fertility Friday’s podcasts: What Does A Normal Period Look Like?  CLICK HERE

In this special solo episode, Lisa addresses some common menstruation questions. Unfortunately, periods aren’t talked about enough so, often times, women never truly understand what a normal period is supposed to like. Lisa gets asked questions about this topic time and time again by the women in the various programs and groups she runs. She realized, if they have these questions, it’s likely you do as well. In addition to this episode,

Topics discussed in this episode includes:

  • How long does a normal period last and what is the bleeding pattern like?
  • How hormonal contraceptives impact your period
  • Is the period you have on the pill a real one?
  • How does a menstrual cup change your relationship with your period?
  • Variations of blood colors and what they may indicate
  • What are natural ways to improve your cycle?
  • What does the amount of blood say about your health and your hormonal profile?
  • Researching your Endometrial lining and how well it is developed
  • Focusing on your cycle and taking the time to learn about your body
  • How intimately connected your cycles are with your health
  • How does your cycle change after coming off hormonal contraceptives?


Lisa has also written a blog post about this topic called How Much Am I Supposed to Bleed During My Period.