You might know Polycystic Ovary Syndrome as PCOS. Although it might sound scary and complicated – and not just when you try to say it fast five times in a row – it’s actually quite common with 1 in 10 women in the UK having it.

PCOS affects how your ovaries work. They’re often larger than usual and contain tiny non-dangerous cysts, making it harder to release eggs. PCOS can show up in each person differently. Some people might not have any obvious symptoms at all, but PCOS will often affect your periods, fertility, appearance, and weight.

Ugh, why me?

The exact cause of PCOS is unknown. Super unhelpful, sorry. But it DOES often run in families, so if your mum, nan, or cousin’s dog’s sister has PCOS then it’s probably sensible to keep an eye out for any symptoms.

We do know that PCOS is related to certain hormones wanting the spotlight a little too much and overproducing in your body, including insulin and the male hormone testosterone.

Hold on, are you saying PCOS will turn me into a boy?!

No. No, no, no. #No.

It’s true that a common symptom of PCOS is hair growth on your face, chest, back and bum, but that does not make you any less of a girl.

Everyone has testosterone in their body, whichever gender you are. We all just have different levels. Those who are born male have high levels of the stuff, but being female and having a lot of testosterone absolutely does not make you a boy.

Oh. Ok. So what other symptoms do I have to look out for?

Like we said, PCOS will affect people differently, but these are some common symptoms:

Hair growth (Hirsutism, if you want to sound fancy)

Loads of women sprout facial hair, it’s totally normal, but those with PCOS tend to experience it more obviously and excessively. DON’T PANIC. It might feel embarrassing but there are plenty of removal treatments out there if you want them.

Irregular periods

Having PCOS will likely mean that you don’t ovulate as regularly as others so you might not have periods as regularly either. Some people don’t have periods at all. It might sound awesome – no cramps, no being caught without tampons or pads, no bloating… right?  Well, hormones still might do their thing and pretend you’re having a period anyway, just without the blood. So don’t throw away your hot water bottle just yet.

Weight gain

Abnormal insulin levels in the body could mean you put on weight more easily. This might not be a problem at all, but it’s still something to be aware of. If you find you’re having to buy new jeans every six months and don’t understand why, you could blame your insulin. Bloody insulin.

Acne and oily skin

Ugh, sorry.

Thinning head hair

Yes, PCOS can make you grow hair where you really don’t want hair, and make your wanted hair fall out. Life is a bitch sometimes.

Tell me there’s a but?

There is! These symptoms of PCOS aren’t great and can be frustratingly noticeable, but remember that the severity of them will differ for everyone. Some people with polycystic ovaries won’t get the symptoms at all, and anyway, there are plenty of treatments out there to chill them out.

TL;DR? Here’s the important stuff:
  • 1 in 5 women in the UK have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).Abnormal hormone levels can affect how your ovaries work.Symptoms can include irregular periods, facial hair, weight gain, and acne.PCOS isn’t curable but there are many treatments to control the symptoms.

So PCOS is treatable?

Yep! PCOS can’t be cured but it can certainly be managed to help you feel in control.

Diet and exercise

Adapting your diet and exercise routines can level out your weight gain, help your skin, and keep you feeling energetic and healthy. Figuring out the best lifestyle changes should always be done with your GP though. Don’t just ask Google.

Medication and creams

If you have irregular periods, the contraceptive pill could help whip them into shape. The Pill could also help with weight control and acne – triple whammy. You can also get medication and creams which help suppress testosterone, to control any unruly hair probs.

Surgery

Later down the line, PCOS sufferers might be able to have a minor procedure to help with any fertility problems. You don’t have to think about this now, but it might soothe you if you’re panicking about a lack of sprogs in your future.

Right… what do I do now?

If you think you might have PCOS, get an appointment to see your GP. If you can’t do this alone, or don’t want to, then have a chat with a nice adult in your life first. As having PCOS is likely genetic, it could be good to grab your mum, auntie, nan, etc, for support… and then poke them in the eyes for giving it to you. (No. don’t do that.)

PCOS might sound complex and horrible, but it’s a really common condition. If you have it, you’re not dealing with it alone and can live a totally happy and normal life with the best treatment for you.

Repeat after us: I am a strong woman and bloody awesome. Did you repeat it? Good.

@louisejonesetc

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Image: Getty

Much as we’re all for being positive about your period, sometimes it’s just a little… annoying. Painful. Unexpected. Or all of the above. So, in 2018, we want to make periods happier. Our own, yours, everyone’s. Because who wants to be miserable every fourth week of the year?

So get ready, girls; here’s how to make your period better for the next 12 months and beyond…

Always be prepared

If you are or were a Girl Guide, you’ll be familiar with the motto ‘be prepared’, which you can totally apply to your period. Think about it: if you can avoid leaks and don’t have to shuffle to the medical room at school to grab a pad, you’ll probably be less bothered by your monthly visitor, right?

So use your bettybox pouch or get yourself a cute make-up bag to stash some pads, tampons and clean knickers in (in case a leak DOES strike), make sure your supply is plentiful enough for a whole day and carry it in your bag all the time. As long as you replenish your stock when used it’s really not that tricky, eh? And boys wonder why we need such big bags all the time…

Find a sure-fire way to alleviate your cramps

Whether it’s yoga, a nice gentle jog, eating a banana or taking a bubble bath, work out what works for you and do it often during your period. Even if that means eating an entire bunch of bananas in four days.

Exercise!

Speaking of jogging and yoga, exercise really will help you feel better during your period, because it releases those mood-boosting endorphins everyone’s always banging on about.

Cramps too painful to move much? Try swimming: it’s no-impact and, as long as you change your tampon before and after getting in the pool, totally doable while your flow is in the building.

Treat yourself

If ever there was a time to be good to yourself, it’s during your period. Craving chocolate? Eat it. Want an entire bowl of mashed potato? Have it. It’s only a few days out of the month and, chances are, if you let yourself have a little of what you fancy you’re less likely to binge than if you try to deprive yourself.

Don’t overstretch yourself

Most weekends you can manage your homework deadlines, hanging out with three different mates and winning a Saturday morning hockey game without flinching. During your period, however, everything tends to feel a little overwhelming. Make sure you don’t overcommit and, if everything does start to feel a bit ‘much’, don’t be afraid to cancel plans. Your buddies will still be there in a week.

Make time for fun

That being said, nothing makes you forget about your cramps quite like fun times with your best buds. Can’t be bothered going out? Invite the girls round for a movie night and stockpile the snacks. No getting ready required.

Subscribe to bettybox!

For just £12.99 a month you can build your own bettybox. Choose what tampons or pads you want and what date you want them delivered on then sit back, wait for your bettybox to arrive and enjoy all the extra treats in there. What, you didn’t think it was JUST sanitary products, did you?

Every month you’ll get different treats, from beauty products to tasty snacks, all designed to make your period just a little sweeter. Get more info and sign up here!

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Image: Katie Edmunds

Let’s be honest here girls, those shiny, sparkly New Year’s resolutions that you came up with last week probably aren’t gonna stick around on your priority list for much longer than erm… three days, maybe? In fact, if they’re still going past 11am on January 1st then we’ll give you a gold star.

We all know that the new healthy lifestyle everyone has planned right now sounds like a pretty terrible, hopeless and chocolate-less idea, so why not set yourself some much better, actually useful goals instead?

There’s a handful of little life changes that you can make which will mean that getting your period every month isn’t quite such a nightmare, and that sounds like a much better plan to us. Try your best to stick to this lot and you’ll be large and in charge when it comes to handling your period like a pro in 2018.

1. I will stop ruining my favourite undies

You: ‘Yeah, I did get my period last night and it’s kind of a heavy one but honestly I just really want to wear this mega expensive pair of brand new, posh Calvin Klein undies that I got for Christmas. No stress really, no risks here, it’ll be totally fine’.

Narrator: ‘It was not fine.’

How many times have we all made the naive, innocent mistake of assuming that there’ll be zero leakage today, so we’re safe enough to wear a fresh pair of white knickers for Day 1 of the ol’ period? Agh, too many times tbh. In January 2018, join us in making a vow to stop ruining our favourite underwear forever with dark stains that never go away, and let’s stick only to dark colours and old comfies for just one week of the month. We can DO THIS.

2. I will get enough sleep

As well as all the explosive uterus pain, mad mood swings, irrepressible cravings and actual blood leaking from your crotch on a monthly basis, around 33% of women also have to battle with sleep problems when their period arrives. JOY. Your cycle affects your body temperature, your hormones and all sorts of other things related to a good night’s sleep, so it’s kind of a vicious cycle that skipping on a good night’s sleep can really affect your period the next day.

Promise yourself that this is the year you have a warm bath, get cosy and comfy, read in bed to unwind, spray a little bit of lavender scent and drift off into the dream eight hour snooze. It’s super important for your energy levels, as well as calming your brain from the day’s stress, restoring the hard work that your body’s been doing, and preparing you for the next day of you vs the world. Oh, and once you’re in bed, stop the social media scrolling ’til 1am plz.

3. I will always have a tampon on me

Say it with us, I *insert name here* solemnly swear to never leave the house again without a pad or tampon shoved into the bottom of my bag. Never again will we find ourselves feeling the drippy feeling and then experiencing the horror of having absolutely nothing to handle the situation with. Never again will we spend a whole day paranoid that it’s gone through our undies and splodged onto our jeans. Never again will we resort to folding up a load of loo roll and stuff it into our knickers.

And even if you’re more organised than we are, it’ll mean that you can be the girl who saves a sister in distress when she’s caught short. We love ourselves enough to stick to this one.

4. I will dress to impress literally nobody

There’s got to be some kinda vague benefit to leaking actual blood from your body for a solid week each month, so promise yourself that this is going to be one of them. Make a resolution to stop yoga-ing yourself with lunges and struggles into wearing a pair of super tight, uncomfortable skinny jeans when all you want to do is cradle the squishy, cramping bloated period baby that you’ve got going on right now thanks to Mother Nature.

Make a vow that you’ll forget dressing to impress anyone when you’re on your period and promise to put your own comfort first. Give your lovely tummy the chance to chill out for a few days, ditch anything tight fitting and have zero shame in it. Come at us, cosy loungewear and fuzzy pyjama bottoms, we love you.

5. I will think about my fave method

Once you feel like you’ve mastered the art of having a period (hey, it is totally an art that can take some time, so no pressure), it might be time to have a think about all the weird and wonderful options that still lie ahead of you. If you’re feeling confident enough to take on a menstrual adventure, you could try having a think about whether you’re totally happy with your choice of pads or tampons.

There’s a few more, less talked about but equally brill options out there that, you never know, might suit you even better. How about a menstrual cup, which means not having to buy any kind of sanitary stuff for YEARS? Brave enough to free bleed? Sounds liberating. How about superhero style period pants? Do a bit of research and you never know, you might find a new fave.

6. I will not let it stop me from doing anything

Never, ever let yourself think that being on your period means you can’t do something. It’s just not true. You can still climb a mountain, go dancing all night, swim with sharks, run a marathon, launch yourself inside a space rocket – you can do ANYTHING. In fact, as long as you’re taking some quality rest time and keeping your energy up too, the time that you’re on your period should be the time that you make a point of sticking to your usual schedule, to prove that you can still achieve everything you want to achieve while bleeding from your vagina because you’re kickass.

7. I will do a bit of light exercise

Alright alright, it’s basically a given that the last thing you feel like doing when you’re losing your actual uterus through your pants is hoisting on a sports bra and hitting the gym. Bleugh. Wrapping yourself in a duvet burrito and catching up on an entire season of a new Netflix show is always a better option, but setting a resolution to do a little (and we mean little) bit of light exercise is a pretty brill idea. Trust us.

Moving your body can really help to fight mood swings, especially if it’s outside in the fresh air. It doesn’t have to be anything awful with leak potential like HIIT training or a full on netball match, but some relaxed yoga or a gentle swim will kick those magical endorphins into gear and help to shake your bad mood and stomach cramps.

8. I will eat the right things

It goes without saying that you should always listen to your body and eat intuitively, but there are also a few important foods and food groups that you can slip into your usual day to day meals when you’re on your period that’ll benefit you, big time. It’s a good idea to make a resolution that you’ll get enough fibre in your diet to keep things moving, enough protein to boost your energy, calcium and vitamins to look after your bones, iron for inner strength and plenty of good fats, too.

Variety and creativity with your meals and snacks will not only leave you feel better on the inside, but you’ll be glowing on the outside too. Oh, and obviously this includes a decent amount of chocolate when it’s needed.

9. I will look after myself

And last but not least, with all of this lot firmly stuck on your resolution list, the best way to make your period happier every month is by treating yourself right, and giving yourself the attention and pampering that you’ve earned by getting through it all.

Rather than confronting this whole period thing as the negative part of being a girl, use your period as the perfect excuse to treat yourself and make things a little bit brighter. Stay in with your favourite movie, run the ultimate bubble bath, buy that lipstick you’ve wanted for ages, or sign up for a bettybox to land on your doorstep full of goodies every few weeks. You’ve EARNED it, after all. Who’s with us?

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Image: Katie Edmunds

Question: who decided that women’s shoes in this country should stop at a size 8? What was it about that magic number that made someone say our feet won’t grow past that size, so we don’t need to make bigger shoes? Because we’re pretty sure they’ve made life hard for a whole lotta gals.

While we’re totally grateful for brands like Topshop and ASOS trying to stock bigger sizes in cool styles, those of us with clodhoppers for feet are still pretty limited in the footwear department, and are waaaaay too familiar with all these setbacks…

Shoe shopping is a chore, not a pleasure

There are only so many times you can watch a sales assistant return from the stockroom empty-handed before you start to get seriously fatigued.

People assume you hate shoes

Quite the contrary; you LOVE shoes. You just wish you could actually fit your feet into them.

Trainers are your bff

They’re pretty much all unisex, so over to the men’s department you go to stock up on Converse, Vans and adidas Stan Smiths.

Sales are surprisingly good places for you to shop

Somehow they never have your size when they’re full price, but come sale time all your favourite shops are bursting with lonely 9s and 10s, because all the average size 5s and 6s have been snapped up. WINNING!

You can never borrow your mates’ shoes

Forget heading to an impromptu party straight from your bff’s house; unless it’s a casual affair and you can keep your trainers on, you’ll definitely be stopping at home to pick up your own shoes.

Finding heels that fit is an absolute nightmare

Did the same person who decided to stop making women’s shoes at a size 8 also decide that any they MIGHT make in a bigger size had to be flat and ugly? Sigh.

Your feet are permanently damaged from squeezing into smaller sizes

It feels like a small sacrifice to make for good shoes… until your tootsies are covered in blisters and bunions.

When you find a brand that stocks cute shoes in your size, you’ll never let it go

Girls with big feet know customer loyalty.

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

God bless the internet, with its endless cat videos, its infinite ability to turn random things into memes (yelling Meryl never gets old – just like real Meryl), and, of course, gifs. Where would the internet be with gifs? Where would society be without gifs? Gifs get it. Gifs get us.

And gifs get boobs.

Firstly, there’s the waiting, and the waiting, and the waiting…

Until you get bored of the waiting and take matters into your own hands…

And all your friends are like

Then one day, suddenly, they grow. 

And they get in your way

But you’ll be the first to admit, they’re comfy AF…

And nothing in the world feels as good as taking off your bra at the end of the day.

Or, maybe your boobs never quite get around to growing…

And while you were annoyed for a while, you actually love having small knockers because you get to wear bralettes all day.

But no matter what size they are, you’ll end up spending a lot of time looking in a mirror wondering…

And despite being uneven (they probably are, it’s totally natural) you’ll grow to love them, in all their fun bag glory.

And if you pay attention, you might even learn a thing or two from them.

Love ya, boobs.

@LilyPesch

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Image: Two Broke Girls

Greasy hair, frizzy locks, a dodgy cut – there are plenty of hair dramas to deal with in life without adding dandruff into the mix, agreed?

An itchy, snowflake scalp, aka dandruff, is a super-common skin condition that can often get worse during the winter, but that doesn’t mean you have to put up with it. Let’s find out what the deal is with dandruff, so you can fight those pesky flakes.

So, what are the signs of dandruff?

The major symptom of dandruff is easy to spot – flakes of white, grey or yellow skin that fall from the scalp and hair when it is touched or brushed. Dandruff can also cause the scalp to be red, dry, itchy and sore.

Is it common?

Dandruff can strike anytime – even babies can get a form of dandruff, called cradle cap, but it’s actually more common in teenagers due to the hormone spikes that occur during puberty, increasing the production of scalp oil. In short, more oil that’s made on the scalp means more irritation. Dandruff isn’t contagious, or considered to be a serious medical condition, but it is *really* annoying and can make you feel self-conscious, especially if the flakes of skin are noticeable or dropping onto your clothes.

What causes dandruff?

First off, a flaky scalp has nothing to do with hygiene, or how often you wash your hair but having dirty hair can make the scaly bits easier to spot, and using dry shampoo can often aggravate dandruff.

A scalp stays healthy by producing new skin cells and shedding the old ones. Dandruff – also known as seborrheic dermatitis – happens when this cycle is in overdrive, meaning the yucky patches of dead skin cells build up way faster than usual.

Seborrheic dermatitis (which can also occur in other places on the skin, not just the scalp) affects areas that are rich in oil glands and it is triggered by an overgrowth of a harmless yeast-like fungus called malassezia, which irritates the scalp and causes more skin cells to grow.

A red, itchy, scaly scalp can also be caused by sensitivity to some hair care products  – this is called contact dermatitis. It is thought that dandruff may be linked to tiredness and stress, and can often get worse during cold weather too.

How can you get rid of it?

If you’re suffering with a mild-moderate bout of dandruff, the first thing to do is ditch your usual shampoo and hair care products and treat it with anti-dandruff shampoo. These shampoos are available over-the-counter and contain certain antifungal agents that can fight dandruff. Look out for an anti-dandruff shampoo containing one of the following key fungal-busting ingredients: zinc pyrithione, salicylic acid, selenium sulphide, ketoconazole and coal tar.

At first, it’s likely you’ll need to wash your hair everyday using an anti-dandruff shampoo – follow the instructions on the bottle which will probably advise you to massage it in well and leave for five minutes before rinsing off. Once there are less noticeable flakes on the scalp and you have your dandruff under control, you can cut back on the medicated shampoo and use it every 2nd or 3rd time you wash your hair.

And if that doesn’t shift it?

If you’ve been using anti-dandruff shampoo for around a month and your scalp is still showing no signs of improvement, you should have a chat with your doctor. You might need to try another type of medicated shampoo, or there are stronger, prescription treatments your GP can give you for more severe cases of dandruff. You don’t need to suffer in flaky silence.

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Image: Film still

Elijah, 26, was born in a biologically female body but identifies as a man. He began his physical transition just over two years ago.

I was 13 when I got my first period. Most people at school had already started and my mum had prepped me quite well, so I knew what was on the horizon, but that didn’t make it any easier. I hated them from the word go.

At the time, I was a long way off understanding myself like I do now. I was dressing as a tomboy and was struggling with my sexuality because I was finding myself attracted to girls, but I hadn’t yet realised I was transgender.

I remember my periods being a great source of great pain and distress, and looking back, I think that was linked to general feelings of being uncomfortable in my body. I now know that what I was probably experiencing was something called gender dysphoria [where a person experiences distress because there’s a mismatch between their biological sex and gender identity] but I didn’t understand that at the time, or have the language to articulate it.

As I got older, the distress my periods caused me became more and more tied to my gender identity. And once I’d decided to transition, having periods became even more frustrating. I had to live as my ‘desired gender’ for a while before the doctors would give me the hormones I needed to start making my body change. So I was using male toilets and asking everyone to call me these new male pronouns like ‘he’ and ‘him’, but I wasn’t visibly changing. That was really tough and at that point having periods started to feel really hurtful. The best way I can describe it is that it was like a personal insult every month. I’d made these decisions and announcements but my body wasn’t keeping up with things. I was trying my best to change but they were undermining everything.

When I started hormone therapy, my periods stopped relatively quickly but I had to up my dose a couple of times because I was getting period pains and bloating and things like that. That was really hard because I felt like I was past having periods and then some of the feelings came back again.

There are a few things that helped me cope, and which might help you if you’re transgender and are struggling with your periods. The first is to try not to give your periods power. My dad used to say the same thing when I had panic attacks – if you give the anxiety power then you’re not in control. It’s the same with periods. Remember that it’s your body and you’re in control.

You can take back control by giving yourself time, space, love and care. If you know that your period is going make you feel extra rubbish (or maybe there are a couple of days of your period that are particularly bad) then take care of yourself all the more on those days. Eat ice cream, exercise if that helps you feel good (it’s always helped me), and just do what you need to do.

Try to be open as well. I think I would have had an easier time if I’d been more open about what I was experiencing. Once I’d learnt how to communicate about it a bit with my mum, I could say “I feel really bad because of my period” and I think that was one of the things that helped me to take the power away from it. Not talking about my periods and suffering in silence gave them all the power in the world.

The good news is that young trans people today are having a very different experience to the one I had. There’s so much more awareness then when I was young. And the internet has really helped, too. You can find information and support and other trans people to talk to.

And things have moved on medically, too. These days, lots of young people have the opportunity to put female puberty on hold so they can try testosterone as soon as they turn eighteen. You obviously have to see psychotherapists and other specialists and jump through various hoops but, generally speaking, it’s much easier nowadays to start some sort of treatment before puberty hits and your periods start.

But if you are having periods and hating them because you’re transgender, just know that it won’t be forever. Keep telling yourself that. If you decide to transition, your body will move past this tricky time eventually. You just have to give it time and be patient.

As told to @LucindaEverett.

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Image: Hailey Hamilton

Damn those girls whose periods seem to last for a fraction of a second. Those who can wear dainty dresses, white underwear and nothing more than a mini tampon to soak up the thimble full of menses coming from their vagina every month.

Those girls are not us, are they? Because if you’re reading this, it’s probably safe to say you pulled the short straw when it comes to the time of the month.

Welcome to the heavy period club: an elite group of menstrual superheroes. We might look like other women and girls, but behind the cool facade we’re dealing with serious pants carnage, and secretly panicking that the 16 pack of super tampons stashed in our handbag might not see us through the day…

Here are 16 things you only know if you have a heavy flow.

Leaking is a given

Cue checking every seat when you stand up.

Sneezing has all kinds of consequences

Pray for us during flu season…

Long journeys are a nightmare

Needing to pop to the loo every hour is pretty restrictive.

Even travelling to the toilet can be risky.

Don’t make any sudden movements.

You regularly clear the local supermarket shelves clean out of sanitary items

You’re single-handedly supporting the government with your contribution to tampon tax.

And getting caught short is your worst nightmare

Send help.

You have special period knickers

And who knows what colour they were to begin with?

And wearing white is completely out of the question

Unless you want the pink ombre look, that is.

Sleepovers are a no-no for one week each month

It’s bad enough risking leaking onto your own sheets for seven days, let alone spoiling your friend’s fancy bedding.

And swimming?

One word: bloodbath.

You’re genuinely impressed by how much blood you lose

 

It’s a miracle we’re still alive, tbh.

With heavy flow can come great pain

Ouch.

But the more you bleed, the more chocolate you can eat

So it’s swings and roundabouts.

The day you’re due on is like a military operation

Super tampons? Check. Clear line to the bathroom? Check.

But when you finish you want to throw a party.

Finally, it’s over. Until next month.

You feel sorry for yourself, but know it’s just the way you’re made…

This Mean Girls GIF is your soulmate.

Jokes aside though, heavy periods are totally normal most of the time. But they can be a sign of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, or other issues.

According to the NHS, the average amount of blood lost is between 30-40ml, with 9 out of 10 people losing below 80ml. Generally, your period will be considered heavy if you lose more than 60ml over the course of your period. But unless you’re about to sit on a measuring jug for a week, it’s best to learn what is normal for your body – and if you’re concerned, have a chat with your doctor or an adult you trust.

@Brogan_Driscoll

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Image: Getty

Being ill sucks, full stop. But when you’re suffering with an invisible illness things can get extra complicated, simply because people can’t see that you’re sick. “Oh, but you don’t look ill” people say, as if their opinion will somehow make a difference to your health. *Eye roll*.

Sound familiar? Here are 13 more things you’ll totally understand if you have an invisible illness.

1. Your day is made of spoons

If you’re not familiar with the Spoon Theory then swot up, ‘cos it makes loads of sense. In a nutshell, it explains how people with invisible illnesses have a reduced amount of energy compared to everyone else, measured in units called ‘spoons’. Every daily activity needs a certain number of spoons, and once you run out, you have to rest until they’re replenished. As a ‘spoonie’ you have to make careful decisions about how you’ll use your spoon allowance every day, which can be depressing when the people around you seem to have an unlimited supply.

2. You constantly have to justify yourself

A lot of people think that if you don’t look sick, then you’re not really sick. You’re either making it up or overreacting. So you’re always having to explain that while you look okay on the outside, you feel like you’ve been hit by a bus or like your insides are on fire (or whatever fun symptoms your invisible illness means for you). And it’s exhausting.

3. Everyone has an opinion

Either people don’t actually believe you’re ill, or they feel compelled to tell you all about someone else they know with a similar condition. Sometimes you’ll meet someone well-meaning who’ll ask if you’ve tried something blindingly obvious, such as eating more vegetables or ‘getting some fresh air’. Ugh. Can everyone just shut up, please?

4. You have to reassure other people a lot

Of course you’re super grateful for the friends and family who try to understand your illness, but because they’re not actually living in your body it’s still difficult to explain how you feel and what your limitations are. This means they probably worry a lot, which can feel stifling, especially when they ask you how you’re feeling every five minutes and try to do things for you which you’re more than capable of doing yourself.

5. No, it’s not fun being off school

It just means you get massive FOMO and have loads of work to catch up on, which just stresses you out and can make your illness worse. Not fair.

6. It’s lonely

Even when other people try their best to understand your illness and help you as best they can, you’re the one that has to live with it, so even on good days you can feel isolated and alone.

7. You worry that you’re boring

Some days it feels like everyone else in the world is out living exciting lives and doing amazing things, while you need to sleep for the whole weekend just to recover from school.

8. Recuperation is not the same as laziness

A trip to the shops or an afternoon in the park might not be a big deal for some people, but if you’ve got an invisible illness it can totally wipe you out. Having a lie down afterwards, or spending the next day or two being quiet and still, doesn’t mean you ‘can’t be bothered’ – it’s a physical necessity for you.

9. You get anxious about minor things

A car journey, visiting a friend’s house, sitting in a particular chair, spending a night away from home… Having an invisible illness means you have to consider all kinds of outcomes from every single situation and it’s easy to get wound up about the ‘what ifs’.

10. You’re good at bottling things up

Some days you’ll feel guilty because you worry you’re being a burden to other people or because you think you’re letting them down, so you try really hard to keep your illness under wraps. On other days you’ll feel really angry about your illness and want to talk about it, but when people don’t understand what it’s like you feel worse, so you just keep quiet. It’s totally normal to have these feelings but keeping them bottled up is super tiring, and it’s not like you’re not tired enough already, right?

11. You’re a master of excuses

Sometimes it’s just easier to tell a white lie than explain for the millionth time why you can’t do something, especially when other people don’t understand your illness. So instead of listening to your friends complain that ‘it’s only a trip to the cinema’ and that it’s ‘not a big deal, why can’t you come?’ (which just makes you feel worse), it’s loads easier to just say your mum won’t let you go out (sorry, mum).

12. It doesn’t get easier, but you do learn to manage it

Unfortunately there aren’t any miracle cures for invisible illnesses, but over time you do get a better handle on your condition. You learn what works for you and what doesn’t, and you build up a resilience which makes you better able to deal with the really bad days.

13. You’re really hardcore

Living with an invisible illness isn’t easy. It takes loads of inner strength, optimism and perseverance that a lot of people don’t have. You might not feel like it, but you’re actually totally badass!

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome.

Image: Hailey Hamilton

Free bleeding. A protection-free period. Letting your flow just flow. But where does it go? Who does that? Is it hygienic? Yep, we’ve got a LOT of questions on this one. You want to know a little bit more too, amirite?

What does it actually mean?

Some women choose to go without protection during their period. So that’s no tampons, no sanitary pads, no cup… nothing. Nada. Zilch. Let’s just think about that for a minute. A normal period, with the normal amount of blood, but without any ways of collecting it.

Why might people choose to free bleed?

The idea of free bleeding can sound kind of shocking. Staying clean and keeping your period under wraps are really important for a lot of girls, so deciding to flow freely turns all of that upside down. But what if you want to make a statement?

Girl power

We all know that being a woman is totally amazing, and some people believe that hiding periods as if they’re dirty secrets is like being ashamed of an important part of womanhood. By bleeding publicly and wearing stained clothes with pride, free bleeding is one way to shout from the rooftops that you love everything about being a girl.

Political protest

It’s been used to protest politically, too. In the UK, we pay 5% ‘luxury’ (lol) tax on feminine hygiene products and see that as a totally unfair tax on women. Public free bleeding was used as part of the protest that saw the government agree to scrap this tax – and it worked! It’s due to be abolished next year.

Body worries

Some women also choose to free bleed for health reasons. Most sanitary pads and tampons contain traces of chemicals and a small percentage of people find that they leave them feeling irritated and uncomfortable. Not using any protection at all can be the simplest way to get over these types of allergies. Some women reckon that free bleeding means they can wave buh-bye to cramps, too.

Enviro smart

The average woman uses 11,000* tampons in her lifetime, and that means one heck of a lot of waste. One way to avoid adding to this menstrual mountain? Avoid tampons and pads altogether!

So, who actually does it IRL?

Anyone who has periods could give it a go, but it’s not super common. The poet Rupi Kaur published a photo essay about periods in 2009, featuring photos of herself bleeding through her tracky bums. In 2015, Kiran Ghandi ran the London marathon while bleeding. When her period started the night before, she decided that she didn’t want to worry about a tampon while she was running. She got a lot of attention (including criticism) from the press and on social media, and she wrote this blog post in response, explaining that she wants it to be OK for women to be open about their periods and not feel that they have to hide it.

What if I want to try it for real?

There are a couple of ways to try it out without, y’know, bleeding everywhere. You could only do it when you’re at home (sitting on an old towel, wearing dark clothes or special period underwear like Thinx).

Consider your average flow, too: a lucky lady with a light flow is going to find this a lot easier than someone who usually has to change their protection every couple of hours. Or you could just wait until towards the end of your period, when you’re not bleeding much at all, and you might find that your normal underwear can handle a couple of stains. Basically, if you wanna free bleed go for it and if you don’t fancy it, that’s fine too! You do you, girl.

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

When we were around fifteen, some of my friends and I started a new weekend ritual; hanging out at our local park. It was free, we could chat about whatever we liked without being overheard by our mums and it was a pretty place for us to take photos. This was just before the age of the iPhone, so we would usually have to try and manoeuvre a digital camera and put it on a self-timer before taking ridiculously silly photos.

In the summer, armed with 99s and ice-cold cans of Coke, we’d take magazines and lay out on the grass. As the months grew colder, we’d huddle up on the bench with hot chocolates and watch our breath in the air as we chatted and laughed until our cheeks ached.

Then, one day, it all changed. A few of us were walking home and we had to pass the skateboard park. There were a group of boys there, some older than us and some around the same age. We didn’t really know them but said “Hi” and carried on walking. Then, in the distance, I heard one of them yell after me. He was yelling nasty things about me. About how I looked. I knew it was about me because my friends were slim and slight, whilst I was taller and bigger. Tears started to prick my eyes and I could feel my cheeks burning against the freezing wind. The worst thing about the whole thing though, was that none of my friends stood up for me. They all carried on walking, and no one said a word.

What happened that afternoon in the park changed things because after that I was painfully aware of my size. I started to fold my arms over myself whenever I was out, and couldn’t bear to look at myself in photographs.

I soon wanted to fix things.

I started to diet and would write down everything I ate every single day. I joined a slimming club and would be weighed every week. I did lose weight, but I’d find myself obsessing over whether I could eat a piece of chocolate or go to a restaurant for dinner. I burst into tears on my sixteenth birthday because I wasn’t sure that I could eat a slice of my own cake. I’d see my school friends tucking into doorstop sandwiches at lunchtime, and I’d be stuck with a limp salad or even worse –sandwiches made with diet bread (it was so thin, I really don’t know how it could have been called ‘bread’). It all became utterly soul-destroying.

After I finished my GCSEs and started college, it became harder to keep the weight off. I would have to stick to my diet plan rigidly, or I’d put on weight in an instant. Another thing about me is that I suffer with a condition called Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, and one of the symptoms is weight gain and sufferers often find it difficult to lose weight and can also put on weight easily (a win/win situation really.)

Ten years on I am 5ft 10 and a size 16-18, but I no longer fold my arms over myself. I finally feel that I am comfortable in my own skin. My sister took a photo of me the other day and I didn’t wince or tell her to delete it. Instead, I looked at myself, dressed up, smiling and red-lipped and thought, “Yes! I do like myself!”
When I turned 25 earlier this year, something in me changed. Instead of constantly battling with myself about what I should or could look like, I started to realise that I like myself as I am. I think I always have done, really. I’ve just let other people’s comments or opinions dictate my own sense of self.

I enjoy food. I love to cook. I love to eat out with friends. I try to eat healthily and exercise because it makes me feel good, not because I think I ought to do it to be thinner or to lose weight. I don’t deny myself either, because life really is too short to not have a slice of chocolate cake on a rainy afternoon or a roast dinner cooked by your mum or a pizza with your best friend. If I added up all the time that I have wasted worrying about how I look, or what I weigh, I’d probably be mortified.

Most of all though, I wish I could go back to the fifteen-year-old me and tell her to dry her eyes and stay as she is. Those words stung me for a long time, and yes, of course I still get the odd comment from strangers about my size, but I choose to ignore them. Words hurt, but I think a stranger saying something nasty to someone says more about them than it does about anything else.

It should not be a revolutionary act that a bigger person can be happy with the way they are. Society and popular culture may try to tell us to change or to fit into a certain mould, but how boring would it be if we all looked the same?! We should try to remember that attractiveness is not always linked to how we look on the outside. It is important to be kind. To be a good friend. To stand up for what you believe in. To try hard in all that you do. To be passionate. To have goals, things you want to achieve.

Whether you’re slim or big, petite or tall, your body and how you look is no one else’s business but yours.

I have learned that true happiness lies not in how you look to others, but how you feel within yourself, and if we feel happy and content with who we are, then that’s all that matters.

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

According to my sources (the internet), we each see around 5,000 adverts a day. Some people even say it can be anywhere up to 10,000! Now, imagine how many of those adverts feature ‘perfect’ toned, slim, hairless bodies. A lot, is my highly scientific estimate. So, is it any surprise that we start to wonder why we don’t or can’t look like them?

Most models in magazines don’t have tummies that pop out over the top of their jeans or stubbly legs or spots, so we question why we do. We look in the mirror and make a beeline for our supposed flaws. It’s easy to say, ‘love your body!’ but let’s face it, we’ve pretty much been conditioned not to. Not cool.

So, if sometimes you don’t feel 100% smiley, happy, positive about every inch of your body, you’re not doing anything wrong, you’re just feeling something that’s totally normal to feel. You don’t have to be a body positivity role model every hour of the day. You can, however, remind yourself of all the other reasons to love your body that aren’t about appearance and show yourself a little extra appreciation when you really need it. Ready? Love incoming…

1. You can dance

It doesn’t matter whether you’re doing a full-on Beyoncé routine or waving your arms around in dangers of having someone’s eye out, dancing is basically one of the best things we can do with our bodies. I like to do very uncool dance moves around my kitchen when I’m cooking but it doesn’t matter how you do it – standing, sitting in a chair, spinning on your head – if you can dance, it’s a gift.

2. You can basically grow a winter coat

If I see another razor advert in which a woman shaves her already hairless legs, I’m going to scream “WOMEN HAVE BODY HAIR!” out of my window. Surely they’d sell more razors if they showed their blades are capable of shaving a grizzly bear or something? Anyway, advertisers might like to pretend that we’re mythical, hairless creatures but we’re not and it’s actually super useful. I mean, you’ve literally got a built-in winter layer just ready to go.

3. You can enjoy tasty food

It doesn’t matter whether your stomach is flat or round or soft or tanned or bloated; the main thing is that it’s the place where food goes. And food is delicious. Of course, not everyone has a straightforward, healthy relationship with food and it often goes hand in hand with body image. But ultimately food is there to enjoy so shake off any guilt and relish every gooey pizza, crunchy carrot and brain-freezing ice cream.

4. You can heal

Is it only me that finds it amazing that we can literally heal? We can fall over and slice our leg open on a stone and then a few weeks later, it looks like it never happened. Or you can break a bone in two and then it just goes right ahead and knits itself back together! Some people might call it basic biology but I’m calling it what it really is: magic.

5. You can do (almost) impossible things

Once upon a time, I couldn’t pick a barbell that equalled half my body weight up off the floor. A few months later, I was lifting more than my bodyweight. A whole me plus a bit more! Forget having smooth legs or poreless skin, thanks to our bodies we can lift heavy weights, climb up mountains, race for miles and miles, swim down rivers, go really fast and break records. Our bodies can adapt to huge changes and still, we can keep going and doing the nearly impossible.

6. You can be creative

Do you knit? Paint? Sculpt? Play an instrument? Say a little thank you to your body. I’m grateful that my fingers are nimble enough to crochet scarves and blankets. Maybe you’re grateful that you’ve got arms strong enough to play the drums or steady hands that can create detailed drawings. Maybe you hold a brush between your toes and paint amazing portraits. However you use your body to be creative, it’s one of the best tools you have, so show it some love.

7. You’re different to everyone else

The thing about lean, airbrushed legs, perfectly flat stomachs and big, bouncy, curly hair is that it all looks the same. Ok, you could try and look like that if you really wanted to but the truth is you’re probably much more interesting. People have scars that tell stories, disastrous haircuts, and asymmetrical features. Our bodies aren’t there to be a vision of perfection; they’re individually wonderful in endless, completely different ways.

@SophieBenson_

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Image: Amber Griffin