Breasts can be mysterious creatures. Like supporting characters from Alice in Wonderland, one day they can feel tiny, the next they feel huge. One day they look like twins, the next they barely feel like friends. Sometimes they’re like your own personal set of cushions – and sometimes, they hurt.

Curiouser and curiouser.

Why is this happening?

A lot of people find that their boobs are a bit sore, achy or tender in the lead up to their period. It can be a warm-up act before the main event, like the other symptoms of PMS.

While the exact cause is unknown (helpful, science) it’s thought be due to the changing levels of your hormones at that point in your cycle. Just before your period, your progesterone production peaks and your breast lobules (milk ducts, although ‘lobules’ is much more fun to say) might expand. As they swell, your nerves may have to stretch themselves a bit longer than normal, which could make your breasts feel a little on the tender side.

If you haven’t started your period yet, don’t panic if you have a tingling sensation or an aching in your chest, this is probably just your breast buds developing. Woo-hoo!

How long will it last?

Most women find that their breasts start feeling a little sore one to three days before their period starts, and generally go back to normal by the time they finish riding the crimson wave.

TL;DR? Here's the important stuff:
  • Breathe, it’s actually super common. More common than perfectly symmetrical breasts, in fact.
  • During puberty, it’s likely that one will develop faster than the other. They’ll probably continue to grow at different speeds throughout your teenage years, and most adult women still have one that is bigger than the other.
  • This shouldn’t affect your life in any way other than making bras shopping a bit more of a puzzle. But always buy the size that fits your bigger side, as a general rule of thumb. Or boob.

Is there anything I can do to ease the ache?

Some people find that cutting back on salt, sugar, caffeine and dairy helps, so you could give that a go if your boobs are being a real pain in the… er, chest. Comfort-wise, you may find that wearing a good supportive bra, such as a sports bra, helps to minimise the aching, and it will stop things jiggling about any more than is strictly necessary.

Lots of women say that regular exercise helps to fight their menstrual aches and pains. If you find running is a sore-boob nightmare (bounce factor), why not try cycling or walking? After all, you’re already wearing a sports bra.

If your boobs are super painful and playing on your mind, don’t panic. But do step away from Google. Over-the-counter painkillers might help (ask an adult and always follow the packet instructions), or just try giving your boobs a few days while your period finishes.

If they’re still feeling really sore, or if you just want to check what’s what, maybe head to your GP for a chat.

So I’m not dying?

Almost definitely not. You’re just going through the rabbit-hole of puberty. But hey, at least there’s cake.

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Although it can affect both girls and boys of any age, scoliosis is usually diagnosed around the time of puberty and is much more common in girls. It’s not rare, but despite this it might not be on your radar. How much do you actually know about the condition, huh?

Well first off, scoliosis isn’t a disease or something that can be caught. It’s when the spine curves into an “s”, “c” or “?” shape, rather than growing straight.

And there are a few different types of scoliosis. It can be there at birth, a curve can appear in young children at anytime between the ages of 0-10, or the growth spurt around the age of puberty can cause what’s called “adolescent idiopathic scoliosis” (AIS). The word “idiopathic” means there is no specific reason why this happens.

Other types of scoliosis can occur because of a condition like cerebral palsy, spina bifida and Scheuermann’s kyphosis.

So, what are the symptoms of scoliosis?

There are a few telltale signs of scoliosis. These include one shoulder blade sitting higher than the other, or sticking out more than the other, uneven hips, a rotating or twisted spine, clothes not fitting well, back pain and sometimes problems with breathing.

Is it common?

Yes actually, it’s waaay more common than you’d think. In fact there are plenty of celebs that have spoken out about their experience of scoliosis with the aim of throwing a spotlight on this condition and raising awareness. Madonna’s daughter Lourdes Leon was diagnosed with scoliosis when she was 12, Descendants and The Fault In Our Stars actress Shailene Woodley wore a back brace for two years to treat her scoliosis, and Victoria’s Secret model Martha Hunt uses her fame to talk openly about life with the condition, in a bid to help other girls.

The most surprising scoliosis sufferer though is the fastest man in the world – Usain Bolt. He’s certainly not let the scoliosis slow him down and has spoken out about the importance of exercising to develop a strong back and core when you have the condition. He said in an interview, “When I was younger it wasn’t really a problem. But you grow and it gets worse. My spine’s really curved bad but if I keep my core and back strong, the scoliosis doesn’t really bother me. So I don’t have to worry about it as long as I work hard.”

How is it diagnosed?

The Scoliosis Association (UK) say that along with recognising the above symptoms, your doctor might do the forward bend test if they think you have scoliosis. This is where you bend forward from the waist, keeping your legs and arms straight and the doctor takes a good look at the back and shoulder area from behind. If scoliosis is present, a clear bulge on one side of the back where the ribs are will be visible.

How is it treated?

If your doctor spots scoliosis, they’ll refer you to a scoliosis specialist for treatment. An X-ray will determine if the curve has developed for no reason or if there are other problems with the small bones that make up the spine.

The types of treatment offered can differ from teenager to teenager, depending on the severity of condition so far. A “watch and wait” approach might be taken, with close monitoring every six months to check the curve isn’t getting worse, or a brace might be used to correct the curve over time while the body is still growing. With this option a lightweight, plastic brace will be fitted to the body to be worn either full-time, or a specified amount of hours during the day.

If the condition develops quickly, surgery might be recommended to correct the curve. Surgery for AIS is called spinal fusion. The Scoliosis Association explains that, “spinal fusion uses metal implants (screws, wires, and/or hooks) that are attached to the vertebrae in your spine and then connected to a single rod or to two rods. During the operation bone graft is placed over the implants. These implants and rods are used to hold the spine in place until it can fuse itself. Over a period of about 12 months, this bone graft grows together with the existing bone in your spine and forms a solid column of bone in that area.” It sounds scary, but it’s a common operation and once recovered, you’re able to return to sport and activities as usual.

Where can I find out more about scoliosis?

The Scoliosis Association has tons of useful information on the condition. They can also offer support if you’ve just been diagnosed and put you in touch with other people in a similar situation to you.

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First things first, facial hair – aka peach fuzz, whiskers, face foliage, lip sweater… whatever you want to call it – is totally normal. Yep, even on girls. Most women won’t grow a full-on beard in their lifetime, but 40% will find hair on their face to some degree, whether that’s wispy blonde hairs on their upper lip, or coarse dark pricklers on their chin. It’s no cause for alarm, but you probably do have a few questions.

1. Why do I have facial hair?

For a start, everyone has facial hair. That barely-there fuzz on your cheeks? It’s called vellus, and it’s there to help protect your skin. During puberty though, vellus hairs can become slightly longer and thicker in some areas, such as your upper lip or your jawline, and it can become more noticeable. Another reason can be a condition called hirsutism, which is due to a hormone imbalance (more on this later!), which results in darker, thicker hair in places you wouldn’t usually expect it.

2. Why is some facial hair darker than others?

Facial hair varies massively from person to person, and a lot of it is to do with your natural colouring and heritage. Girls with darker skin usually find they have darker body hair, which means facial hair can be darker as well. As for differences between hairs on your face, a lot of that comes down to the way your vellus hair develops, or any hormonal imbalances you might experience. So you could have darker, longer hairs above your lip and fine blonde fuzz everywhere else, or completely unnoticeable hair all over your face, except for a small patch of dark fuzz on your chin.

3. How fast does it grow?

This depends on all kinds of factors, such as your diet and lifestyle, but generally hair grows about half an inch a month. But unlike the hair on your head, it usually has a finite length – in other words, it won’t keep growing forever! The length it grow to varies from person to person. Some girls might get a couple of millimetres of face fuzz, for others it could be longer.

4. How much is too much?

Everyone is unique – no two people will experience facial hair in the same way, and so a ‘normal’ amount of facial hair for someone else might seem like a lot to you, or vice versa. But if you’re worried that you’ve got very excessive facial hair it’s worth talking to a doctor, just so they can rule out any underlying health issues..

5. Why do I keep getting the odd coarse hairs in the same places?

Even if the rest of your face is entirely fuzz-free, you might get an odd thick hair that keeps sprouting in the same place even after you’ve gotten rid of it. Again, totally normal. Hair on different parts of your body has a different response to the hormone testosterone (which all women have), and hair on the chin area is more susceptible to it. This is why you might find that a random vellus hair turns into a thick beard-like hair. Ultimately, hair follicles have a mind of their own. Have you ever noticed two leg hairs growing from the same follicle on your leg? Or found a random curly patch on your head when your hair is otherwise stick straight? That’s just your hair follicles doing their thing.

6. Is everyone staring at my moustache?

Probably not. You spend a lot of time examining your face in the mirror, right? Looking for ripe-for-the-squeezing pimples and practicing your contour? So you’re going to be scrutinising your appearance way more than anyone else is. Plus they’d probably have to get really close to you to see it.

7. Should I get rid of it?

That’s entirely up to you. We live in a world where models are airbrushed to within an inch of their lives so it’s totally understandable that you might feel pressured to fight the fuzz. But it’s your body and facial hair is totally natural. Get rid of it if you want to, not because you feel like you have to.

8. How can I get rid of facial hair?

You’ve got lots of options, but the right one depends on the kind of hair you’re dealing with. If you’ve got one or two thick hairs, tweezing them is the quickest and easiest way to get rid of them. If you’ve got a bit of a moustache going on or a lot of fuzz around your jaw, put the tweezers down – it’ll be too painful and time-consuming. Instead you could consider bleaching the area. It doesn’t get rid of the hairs but it does make them much less noticeable. Just make sure you choose a bleaching product designed for facial use (other stuff will be too harsh and could damage your skin).

Alternatively, depilatory creams will remove the hair for up to three weeks, and waxing strips – while a bit painful – will get rid of hair for even longer (again, make sure you choose a product designed for your face). If it’s very thick or coarse, you might be a good candidate for laser hair removal – talk to a reputable clinic before you commit to anything.

Don’t go diving straight for the razor, though. Shaving your facial hair won’t change its thickness or colour, but it can make it look like it’s growing back coarser or darker. And the results don’t last as long as other hair-removal methods, so you’ll have to shave every couple of days to keep up. Plus, shaving the delicate skin on your face can cause irritation.

9. Could my facial hair be a sign of something more serious?

Facial hair on girls is totally normal, but occasionally it could mean there’s something else going on with your health. We mentioned hirsutism earlier. This is down to hormone imbalances and isn’t a dangerous or health-threatening condition.

Most women with facial hair simply have a very mild case of it, and are happy to manage the excess facial hair themselves. Some cases can be more significant though, and excess hair can be treated with prescription creams or oral contraceptives, which you can get from your doctor. However, hirsutism is often an indicator of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) which you can read all about here. If this sounds like something that could be affecting you, talk to your doctor – there are plenty of treatments available.

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Are you feeling a little clumsier than usual? Finding yourself tripping over cracks in the pavement, doormats, your own stupid feet? Don’t worry, you haven’t just woken up one day with the coordination of a baby deer. It’s probably just because you’ve grown a few inches instead.

During adolescence, girls can grow at a rate of up to 8cm per year. That’s the length of an iPhone 6. Or a £20 note. Or Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix stacked on top of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.

Am I going to be a towering giantess?

It’s hard to say definitively how tall you’ll grow to be, but your height is largely decided by your parents. Your parents’ heights, that is – they didn’t get to fill out a request form. If you have tall parents, you might want to take up basketball. If your parents are on the shorter side, a glowing career as a gymnast or jockey might await you. Or not. Point is, there’s no such thing as a ‘normal’ height – they all have their pros and cons.

If you’re on the smaller size of things, you will always have more legroom on planes, you will never hit your head on doorframes and you can shop in Topshop’s Petite section. If you’re on the taller side of things, you will always be able to reach the top shelf in the supermarket, you might be effortlessly good at the high jump in PE, and you can shop in Topshop’s Tall section. And medium height? Well, Topshop might sell out of 32″ jeans quicker, but at least you’ll never have to grit your teeth while aunties comment on your remarkable stature over Sunday dinner.

How does it work?

Your hands and feet are the first things to grow, so next time you feel your shoes pinching, it’s a pretty good sign that you’re going to have a growth spurt in the not-too-distant future.

Next come your arms and legs, and then your spine. Finally, your hips and pelvis widen, making you less likely to blow over in the wind.

TLDR? Here’s the important stuff:
  • Your height is closely linked to your parents' heights. But tall, short and everything in between is beautiful – so embrace it.
  • Often during your teenage years, growth spurts happen so quickly that your brain struggles to keep up. Hence the tripping over.
  • Growth spurts are often triggered during puberty as the levels of testosterone rise in both boys and girls.
  • Girls generally grow their fastest at 12-13 and tend to finish growing around 18, while boys grow their fastest between 14 and 15 and finish growing around 20.

Often during your teenage years growth spurts happen so quickly that your brain struggles to keep up. Hence the tripping. Your centre of gravity is changing so rapidly that your brain is having to calculate new rules for balancing, like, all the time.

Some people also experience growing pains, which can feel like an intense, cramp-like pain in your legs. Like owls, witches and vampires they generally only come out at night, and will have disappeared by the morning.  

Why now?

Growth spurts are often triggered during puberty as levels of the hormone testosterone rise in both boys and girls. This chemical also causes sexual organs (willies, vaginas, those guys) to develop, which is why these two things often happen at once. It’s kinda like a biological version of synchronised swimming. But not really.

When will it stop?

Girls generally grow at their fastest rate at 12-13 and tend to finish growing around 18. On average, boys grow their fastest between 14 and 15 and finish growing around 20.

So hold onto your hats ladies, we’ve got some growin’ (and tripping over inanimate objects) to do! But whatever height you end up, work it. Every inch of you is A++. 

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We’ve all been there. The good intentions, the 12 minutes of exercise and then… the sweat.

Whether it’s the telltale drip-drip-drip down the small of your back that you know is about to go full touch-and-reveal on your new t-shirt, or whether it’s just getting up from some equipment in the gym and seeing your own butt imprint left in sweat, the wet stuff can really be a buzzkill.

Whether you’re trying to exercise, dancing like a maniac at the weekend or simply… enjoying a sunny day, sweat can feel like a sneaky shaming pal, dobbing you in just when you thought you were going to have a good time. Except it isn’t a false friend. It’s actually clever, useful and kind of amazing – it’s just that we have convinced ourselves it’s the stuff of evil.

Ok, so no one wants to be wandering around looking like they’ve just been hosed down by a fireman, and no one wants to stink all afternoon just because they took their bike to the shops, but to know sweat is – if not to love it – then at least to fear it a little bit less.

So what’s the (g)lowdown on sweat?

Basically, sweating is our body’s way of regulating temperature. We each have 2-5 million sweat glands dotted around our bodies, and they release the damp mixture of proteins, salt and water onto our skin. The process of this liquid evaporating is what cools us down – as you’ll know if you’ve ever got off a crowded bus and felt your top clinging to you like an ice sheath as you hit the cold outdoors.

Despite what we think, there aren’t more sweat glands in, um, ‘moist’ places like our armpits or our groin – it’s just that those areas are harder to get air circulating around to evaporate the liquid. And not all sweat glands are the same, either. Most are ‘eccrine’ sweat glands, which are kicked into action by excess heat, but some are ‘apocrine’ ones, which are stimulated by emotional responses like stress or excitement. Weirdly, that sweat actually smells a little different from the stuff prompted by eccrine glands.

But the weirdest fact is that sweat itself doesn’t actually smell at all. Ok maybe if you had 10 garlic cloves in your dinner you might smell a bit like a French bistro in the morning, but the smell we associate with sweat is actually the bacteria on our skin breaking down the acids in our sweat. Its medical term is bromhidrosis and it’s totally normal. But if you want to get rid of the sweaty pong, the simplest way is to get in the shower: if you’ve got the post-sport sweat off your skin within an hour or so of exercising, that bromhidrosis isn’t going to be wafting around after you all day. If you wait till bedtime to get clean, it just might.

Don’t sweat the small stuff

What else can we do to master this soggy mistress? Well, not that much, but perhaps that is because we need sweat.

And we really do. Why else do we feel so great after a good run, a dance-off in our bedroom or even a chance to sit in the sauna at the gym? Because sweating flushes out loads of the crud on our skin’s surface, cools us down so we don’t pass out at the gym or on the bus, as well as letting us know if something serious is up in terms of illness.

So while we needn’t commit to a lifetime of honking up every small room we enter, we shouldn’t be ashamed of the odd bit of sweat either. After all, look at how many advertising images have artfully sprayed ‘sexy’ sweat onto both men and women, how proud athletes look at their sweat as they finish an event – or even how nice it feels to know that our body, without even being asked, is doing exactly what it needs to.

Now if only we could do the same for our feelings, we’d be sorted.

@Hemmo

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Cystitis is a common type of urinary tract infection (UTI) – aka “owww, it burns when I pee” or “I’ve been on the loo so long, maybe I should move the TV into the bathroom?”

Basically this means your bladder is inflamed, which happens when rogue bacteria finds its way into your bladder through the urethra.

The soul singer?

No that’s Aretha. Your urethra is the tiny tube your pee travels down – though like Ms Franklin, it also deserves R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

Feeling the burn…

The most common symptoms of a UTI are a burning, stinging sensation in your bladder and the desperate urge to pee more frequently. You might also have pee that’s darker or cloudier than normal, aches and pains in your lower abdomen and general fluey tiredness.

Some lucky people never experience it at all, but if you have, the first thing to say is: don’t worry. Cystitis is super common and generally nothing to worry about at all. The second thing to say is: poor you. Because while it might not be serious, it sure ain’t fun.

But isn’t cystitis… er, a sex thing?

NOPE. Or at least, not always. One of the most popular misconceptions about UTIs is that they’re only caught via sex (hence cystitis sometimes being referred to in an embarrassing, nudge-nudge-wink-wink way as ‘the honeymoon disease’) but the truth is they can be triggered by plenty of things, at any age, whether or not you’re sexually active. So it’s nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed to tell someone about – or text for help from your bathroom throne.

Causes of cystitis can include: wiping your bum from back to front, chemical irritants like scented shower gel and bubble bath, inserting tampons messily, not emptying your bladder fully, tight jeans or pants, dehydration or holding your wee in for too long. And yes, sex too. Friction around your pee hole is the most common way for bacteria to find its way in.

TL;DR? What is Cystitis - the important stuff:
  • Cystitis is a type of urinary tract infection, which can occur when bacteria gets into your bladder.
  • The most common symptoms are burning, stinging feeling when you pee, and the urge to pee more frequently than usual. Ow.
  • Scented products, wiping back to front, holding your bladder and friction from tight clothes can all cause cystitis – not just sex.
  • Drinking lots of water, going to the loo and taking painkillers will often get rid of it, but your GP can prescribe antibiotics in more severe cases.

Boys and men can also get cystitis, but girls and women are much more prone to it because our urethra is shorter and everything’s a bit more crowded down there. Cheers for that design feature, Mother Nature.

How do I fight the fire?

With fire! No, we’re kidding. That has basically never been good advice.

It might feel as though you’re never going to be able to get off the toilet, but don’t panic – most bouts of cystitis clear up within a day or two, if you catch them. The best way to treat it is to drink lots of water, and keep going to the loo regularly until the urge passes.

Painkillers such as Ibuprofen or paracetamol to ease the pain (ask an adult and follow the packet instructions) or a hot water bottle between your legs might help soothe things too.

You can also take over-the-counter powder to help relieve the symptoms (it’s not a taste sensation, you’ve been warned), while many people swear by drinking cranberry juice to help cure and prevent UTIs. Doctors are dubious about whether it actually works, though, and downing a bucketful of juice can just add ‘stomach ache’ to your sufferings.

What if it won’t go away?

If the symptoms don’t ease up or feel like they’re getting worse, head straight to the doctor. They can prescribe antibiotics to clear things up and make sure the infection doesn’t travel into your kidneys (ouch).

A GP can also help if you find you’re getting cystitis all the time – it may be common, but that doesn’t mean you have to just put up with it.

How can I stop it happening again?

The good news is that once you’ve done battle, the fire-breathing UTI dragon is fairly easy to keep at bay.

The best ways to prevent cystitis are through drinking plenty of fluids, avoiding harsh perfumed products near your vagina, always wiping from front to back to avoid transferring bacteria from your bum to urethra, and going to the loo as soon as you need it rather than holding your bladder (Netflix has a pause button for a reason, guys).  You might find avoiding tight jeans and underwear helps too.

And a note for the future…

If/when you’re ready to have sex, peeing immediately afterwards is the most effective way to prevent cystitis. It’s almost never shown on TV or in films but believe us – all over the world, cystitis-prone women are leaping from bed and racing cheerfully to the toilet.

So it’s NBD?

Nope! Just an big ol’ pain in the… bladder.

Find out more from the NHS here.

Illustration: Katie Edmunds

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. 

Girls, it’s time to talk about bras. Whether you call them over-the-shoulder boulder holders, boob baskets or (my personal fave) knocker lockers, getting to know your way around the bad boys can be a daunting task.

One in three women are wearing the wrong bra size fyi, so chin up girl because you’re not in this one alone. I’ll be the first to admit that I often walk into fancy lingerie shops and walk straight back out again, overwhelmed. I can barely get to grips with sizing, let alone shapes and styles. But fear not, for we have devised your busty bible, here to help you pick the perfect bra!

First, let’s get the facts. According to fancy undies retailer Rigby & Peller, 70% of us would rather wear an old grey bra which feels like a second skin than splash out on a new bra that turns out to be uncomfortable. We kinda get this one.

Also, it turns out that boobs change size on a monthly basis (there’s us thinking we were stuck with the same size melons forever), so although it may seem like a faff, having a yearly bra-size test is half an hour well spent. Why? Because a bra that actually fits means better posture, better fitting clothes and comfort. Oh, and sometimes a purse.

But before we get talking about fit, we need to break down some of the crazy myths surrounding boobs and bras. Jene Luciani, author of the Bra Book, gives us the DL…

Bras can be washed once a month

Na-uh hunny. “The dirt and oil in our skin can break down the elasticity of the bra,” explains Jene. It’s best to hand wash your bras as often as possible and leave them out to air-dry, this will ensure they stay in good shape for longer. Sure, homework gets in the way of basically all chores but we’ve got a solution: add more bras to your stash.

Bras can endanger your health

This myth is regularly discussed in the female community and apparently all stemmed from a survey taken waaaay before you lot were born. However Jene says “there is no scientific evidence to back up this claim.” So don’t fret it sister, your booby basket is totally safe.

Sleeping in a bra makes your boobs perkier

This one divides the masses but unfortunately girls, it’s a legit myth. The only time a bra can help reduce the inevitable sag? “When exercising and breasts are significantly stretching or bouncing up and down,” reveals Jene. Now onto the basics…

When will I need a bra?

There are no rules when it comes to your first bra – it’s all about when and what feels right for you. While the stats say the average age is 11 years old, you might not need or want one, or you might have been rocking them since your breast buds exploded onto your chest at the age of 8.

“Comfort is the main reason for buying a first bra, as breasts develop and get bigger they can feel tender and sometimes a little painful,” explains bra expert Sophie Law. So if you’re starting to feel aware or conscious of your boobs, maybe it’s time to go for your first fitting.

What sort of bra should I get?

You’ve decided it’s time to get your first bra. Dun dun dun… only joking, it’s chill babes. Finding the right bra is a trial and error process. For your first bra it’s best to go for something comfy so hit the shops and find what works for you.

And if you’re still totally stuck, take a look at this guide by Little Women – a lingerie brand especially designed for smaller boobs and first bras (remember, this is just a guide and not the rulebook of all boobs and bras).

After deciding that a balconette is SO YOU, you need to get down to the nitty gritty of finding your size. When it comes to first bra fittings, it’s probably best to visit a store. (And don’t worry it’s not as embarrassing as it sounds.) Good old M&S is always a safe place to start. They offer free consultations and have a great range of first bras. Plus, your mum will probably pay for it…

If Marks and Sparks isn’t on the agenda and you’re going to brave the shops by yourself, we’ve got two big tips that can help…

The boob scoop

Apparently this maneuver a legit method of checking whether a bra fits correctly. Fasten the back, dip your hand into the cup and literally scoop your boob up into the cup. This will ensure that the underwire sits properly and should make the bra a whole lot more comfortable. If your bra is gaping at the top it’s too big, if your boobs are spilling over the top it’s too small. Easy as that!

The middle hook

Make sure you’re always trying bras on using the middle hook at the back. If it feels comfy on this setting then it’s a good fit for you. The underband should fit snugly and should not ride up. I’d recommend a bit of jogging or some sort of on the spot exercise at this point. Although not scientifically proven, I’ve been a victim of taking a seemingly perfect bra home to find that it doesn’t fit when doing normal life activities, such as moving.

Hang on, what if my boobs are different sizes?

“We like to say that they’re sisters, not twins,” says lingerie designer Ra’el Cohen. “Very few women have perfect and symmetrical breasts.”

WE KNEW IT! Turns out the boulder babes are meant to be unique in their own right. Phew. The general rule is to always buy a bra to fit your bigger boob. It’s sizest, we know, but it’s better to have a little extra room than a nipple that keeps escaping every five minutes.

Remember, bras are just a part of puberty, you’ll get to grips with them eventually. Whether you choose to wear one or not (it is the 21st century, after all). The most important thing? You do you, hun.

Illustration: Katie Edmunds

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. 

Ever had an ingrown toenail? They’re the worst, right? So painful, so unsightly, so likely to have your mum attacking your feet with her clippers when she finds out… Ouch.

In a bid to end this pain and suffering, we asked Emma Stevenson – a podiatrist from The College Of Podiatry – for her advice on treating and avoiding ingrown toenails. Bonus: it’s probably a great excuse to buy some new shoes.

What exactly is an ingrown toenail?

“An ingrowing toenail is a nail that pierces the flesh of the toe. It can feel as if you have a splinter, be inflamed, or infected. Ingrowing toenails most commonly affect the big toe, but can affect the other toes as well.”

What are the most common causes?

“There are many genetic factors which can make you prone to ingrowing toenails, including posture and the way you walk. Toenails may also have a natural tendency to splay or curl out instead of growing straight, encouraging nails to grow outwards or inwards into the flesh. One of the most common causes, however, is cutting toenails too short. Other causes include tight fitting footwear and excessive moisture.”

Are they dangerous?

“Not usually, but they can be very uncomfortable and in severe cases – if left untreated – can lead to infection. It is best to see a podiatrist early and not to try and remove it yourself, which can cause more damage, and risk infection.”

How should they be treated? Can I do it myself at home?

“Our advice is to see a podiatrist as soon as you think you have an ingrowing toenail. Podiatrists have special nail clippers that can easily clip this bit of nail off for you. If you leave it too long though, and it becomes badly ingrown and infected, you may need a small operation just to remove the spike of nail. Your podiatrist can give you anaesthetic to take away the pain while they trim the nail back for you. They can show you how to avoid it happening again in the future and you should have no more problems. To relieve discomfort at home, you can bathe your foot in salt water, which can help to prevent infection. A sterile dressing can then be applied. Resting your foot as much as possible can also help.”

Is there any way to get rid of them for good?

“Cutting your nails properly will almost certainly help. It’s best to use nail nippers, rather than nail cutters, because they have a smaller cutting blade and a longer handle. Cut your nails straight across and don’t cut too low at the edge or down the side. The corner of the nail should be visible above the skin. It is better to cut your nails after a bath or shower when they are much softer. Good hygiene can go a long way to preventing ingrowing toenails. Avoid moist, soggy feet by rotating your footwear so each pair has a chance to dry out thoroughly. Avoid man-made materials (synthetics) and wear socks and shoes made of natural fibre, which fit properly. Keep your feet clean and dry, and in the summer try to wear open-toed sandals to let air get to your toes as much as possible.”

 

Image: Katie Edmunds

For more information about foot health and to find a podiatrist near you, visit www.feetforlife.org.

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. 

Cartwheels, leotards, THE SPLITS – gymnastics might sound like the most terrifying activity you could ever attempt on your period, but for those of us who love it and don’t want our bodies to hold us back (like, evereverever) you can totally still participate in gym. Yep, even if you’re bleeding.

How, you shriek? What if my pad looks massive and slides out of place, how the heck do I even attach it because I can’t use wings, or what if my tampon string hangs out in the middle of a backbend? The period terror is real.

Well don’t fret, back-flipping dreamers. One of team betty actually used to be a fancy pants gymnast and has a few helpful tips for you…

Double up

If you’re a bit of a pro, you’re probably used to whipping off all your underwear before you slip into your leotard – after all, knickers on show underneath your super glitzy competition outfit is not the one. But if you’re on your period, an extra layer between your vagina and your costume could be the difference between a flawless floor routine and one that’s accessorised with blood. Just try high-cut knickers if you’re worried about flashing and go for a pair that’s the same colour as your leotard.

Prep your pants

If you think you might-maybe-possibly-a-tiny-bit be about to come on your period, prep those knickers! Use those high-cut undies to the max and make sure you stick in a panty liner – even if the chances of you coming on are literally 1%. You can’t be too careful, especially if your feet are going behind your head at any point.

Try tampons

Never tried using tampons before? Well, this might be the perfect time to give them a go. Ask your mum to pick some up from the supermarket or pop to the shops after school then block out some bathroom time to perfect your technique. Chances are you probably won’t nail it the first time, the second, probably even the third time, but if you stay super relaxed you might be able to slide it in just fine. All you need to think about come competition time is tucking in your string and smiling!

You do you

No matter how much you want to compete or take part in your fave weekend club, if you’re not feeling up to it just stay at home! There’s absolutely no shame in looking after yourself and giving your body what it needs to get through your time of the month, whether you’re suffering from cramps, headaches or you’re just tired out. Period.

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. 

Whether you’re the kind of person who faints at a papercut or can watch gory hospital shows without nightmares, the monthly drama in your pants can be daunting. For one thing, it can look (and feel) like SO. MUCH. BLOOD.

But it isn’t. Honestly, it isn’t.

The average person will pass between two and eight tablespoons of menstrual fluid during their whole period. So even at their heaviest, that’s still less than half of a small Starbucks cup size – and it could be as little as a squirt of syrup. But let’s not ruin syrup by thinking about that too much.

Will it always be like this?

Just like your favourite hot chocolate order, the heaviness of your period can vary from person to person. The bottom line is: we’re all different, and you’ll find out what’s normal for your body.

It’s common for bleeding to be heavier during the first day or two, then calm down and lighten up towards the end of your period (so better use it as an excuse to claim that last cookie now).

TL;DR? Here's the important stuff:
  • On average, you’ll only produce between two and eight tablespoons of menstrual fluid during your whole entire period (it just feels like loads more).
  • It’s common for your period to start heavier and get lighter – both through the week, and as you get older. But everybody is different.
  • If your period is so heavy that it’s making life difficult, have a chat to your GP.

Your first period will often be light, more like a sticky stain or a few reddish-brown spots (more delightful details here), but many people find their periods are heavier in the first few years, while things are settling down. Stress, diet, medication, health conditions and loads of other things can affect the amount you bleed from month to month, and also over the course of your adult life – so don’t panic if you go from a trickle to a stream to a river.

Um, it feels like a waterfall.

Still don’t panic! Remember, it’s so much less than it looks. Periods are tricksters like that.

But if you find you’re bleeding so much that you have to change your pad or tampon every hour, use both a tampon and pad at once, or get up in the middle of the night to change your pad or tampon, it’s known as ‘flooding’ – and it’s not much fun.

So don’t be a hero, tell someone! If heavy periods are making life difficult, your GP should be able to help.

And if anyone tells you to ‘just go with the flow’, you have permission to throw a cushion at them.

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

Confidence. Everyone wants a little more, but there’s no magic way to acquire it. Most of us lack it, at one time or other. Sometimes it feels like everyone around us is oozing it, while we got forgotten at the end of the confidence queue.

But believe it or not, even celebs struggle with their self-esteem. From making ourselves heard to loving the skin we’re in, here are some of our favourite quotes to give us a little boost…

“Don’t be afraid to correct someone if they’re wrong. I think girls tend to be more polite. You don’t have to be mean about it, but you shouldn’t be afraid to correct someone if they’re wrong.”

When it comes to speaking up, Ellie Kemper wants us all to be a bit more Kimmy Schmidt.

“I don’t care what you think about me. I don’t think about you at all.”

Meanwhile Coco Chanel never lost any sleep over the haters.

“Don’t be afraid to have your own opinion. Don’t take no for an answer. Fight. Because people try to bring you down, and people try to get in the way of your dreams. But if you set your mind to something, you can accomplish that – and then some.”

Can you come round and recite this to us every morning please, Sarah Hyland?

“Never dull your shine for somebody else.”

Tyra Banks is rooting for us all.

“I think self-doubt is healthy. It pushes you, and humbles you… Sometimes I meet people who are too confident. I’m like, “I don’t even like being around you. You’re boring. Get a neurosis, and then we’ll talk.”

Anna Kendrick there, with a reminder that sometimes a little insecurity is better than a big ol’ head.

“I’m not going to apologise for who I am and I’m actually going to love the skin that I’m in.”

When it comes to self-love, Amy Schumer is sorrynotsorry.

“There’s always something you’re allowed to be thankful for, and if you remember that then the bad things become a lot smaller. I would say that that is probably the best way to feel confident about yourself – be grateful and happy for your lot.”

Fearne Cotton is so good at being happy, she literally wrote the book on it.

“When the demon starts to slither my way and say bad sh*t about me I turn around and say, ‘Hey. Cool it. Amy is my friend. Don’t talk about her like that.’ Sticking up for ourselves in the same way we would one of our friends is a hard but satisfying thing to do. Sometimes it works.”

Sometimes it’s hard to know where Amy Poehler ends and Leslie Knope begins. But either way, they’re awesome.

“Love who you are, embrace who you are. Love yourself. When you love yourself, people can kind of pick up on that: they can see confidence, they can see self-esteem, and naturally, people gravitate towards you.”

They don’t call Lilly Singh ‘Superwoman’ for nothing, right.

“Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another stepping stone to greatness.”

But Oprah, do you mean Khaleesi or Elizabeth II?

“Stay afraid, but do it anyway. What’s important is the action. You don’t have to wait to be confident. Just do it and eventually the confidence will follow.”

From queens to the badass Princess of Alderaan, who better to teach us about confidence than the late, great Carrie Fisher?

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. 

You might have heard of Lyme disease if you know a sufferer or regularly tune in to The Real Housewives Of Beverly Hills (Yolanda Hadid has it, as do two of her model children, Bella and Anwar). But, with Lyme not often talked about or fully understood in the UK, what actually IS it?

In short, it’s an infectious disease which is transmitted when an infected tick (a tiny blood-sucking bug) bites you, which probably won’t hurt at all. It’s what happens later that can prove harmful and manifest itself as Lyme disease.

Here are a few things you should know if you’re worried about contracting Lyme disease, or if you just want to be more clued up on the condition.

What are the symptoms?

A large red rash, often in circular ‘bull’s eye’ formations. Severe headaches coupled with a stiff neck. Joint pain and swelling (particularly in the knees) and ‘drooping’ of one or both sides of the face.

How is it diagnosed?

The above symptoms would generally show between two and 30 days after a tick bite, though initial blood tests will often come back negative for Lyme disease, with the antibodies doctors are looking for sometimes not detectable for weeks or even months. This can mean many sufferers are left with undiagnosed and untreated Lyme disease for quite some time, which can be frustrating, especially if symptoms are present.

How do you treat it?

The good news is that – if diagnosed early – Lyme disease can be curable with antibiotics. The bad news is that many people presenting symptoms aren’t tested for the disease due to a lack of knowledge around it. They can often be misdiagnosed or even stay undiagnosed for a long time, and by then they may have developed additional ailments because of the Lyme disease, all of which will require their own treatments.

Is Lyme disease contagious?

Chill, girl. There is no evidence of Lyme disease being transmitted from person to person.

How can I stop myself getting it?

The best ways to prevent Lyme disease are by avoiding walking through areas where ticks might live, covering up your skin if you’re playing in the woods or by using repellents containing the active ingredients DEET and Picaridine. Make sure you check your skin for ticks when you get home if you have been out in the countryside and, if you find any, make sure they are properly removed with a special tool like the O’Tom Tick Twister.

Where can I find out more info on Lyme disease?

The charity Lyme Disease Action has loads of info on their website if you want to know more and you can, of course, speak to your doctor if you’re concerned you might have it.

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.