Welcome to Period Routines, where we spotlight a different member of the LOLA community to learn how they manage their period. We want the ins and outs of their monthly routine — how they feel, how they deal, and what they can’t live without.
Want to share your period routine? Leave a comment below.
Today, we’re sitting down with Alex Friedman, one of the co-founders of LOLA. She tells us about her preferred period products, her unusual PMS symptoms, and how her period routine changed after giving birth.
Industry: Feminine Hygiene
Location: New York, NY
FIRST PERIOD STORY
“I was 14, and it was Passover. I was visiting family on Long Island, and went to the bathroom, which was right off the room where about 25 relatives were gathered. I knew enough at the time to realize I’d just gotten my period, and was very excited, but I didn’t know what to do. So I placed some toilet paper in my underwear, then tried to discreetly tell my mom that I needed a period product. She proceeded to not-so-discreetly ask everyone in the room for pads. I went back to the bathroom feeling like everybody knew what had just happened. On the car ride home, I remember thinking this special thing had just happened to me, and wondered if my mom had told my dad — or if my sister could sense it.
MY PERIOD ROUTINE
I don’t think I was tuned in to my cycle until my mid-to-late 20s, so for the first 10 years years of having my period, it was always a surprise. When [Jordana and I] started LOLA, I was in my early 30s and had been on the pill for a long time. I decided to go off of birth control and use cycle tracking as a method to avoid pregnancy. I wanted to see what happened once I stopped putting hormones in my body. That’s when I became fully aware of what was happening during my cycle.
My period comes every 28 to 30 days, and lasts 3 to 5 days. Everything about it — the cadence, duration and flow — is regular and predictable. My flow is never very heavy. I’ve only had a few extremely heavy periods, two of which were my first periods post pregnancy. But otherwise, I would describe my flow as medium for the first two days, then light for the remainder.
I occasionally get cramps during my period, but more so when I’m ovulating. I’ll experience cramping on one side for 24 to 48 hours.
I usually get PMS around two days leading up to my period. My symptoms are a little unusual: I feel fluish, congested, and get a bad headache! I don’t do a lot to manage my PMS… I just kind of suffer through it. I try to hydrate leading up to my period because I know these symptoms are going to appear, but even running a period business, I still get caught by surprise.
So, have you ever seen the Tina Fey SNL skit about Annuale? Basically, Tina goes on a birth control pill where she gets her period once a year — but when she gets it, hold on to your hat! [laughs] That’s what my first periods post pregnancy were like. I felt really sick, nauseous, and was bleeding profusely for days. I had to change out pads every two to four hours. I had never experienced anything like that before, and it made me really sympathize with people who have tough periods.
I think when my period arrives I get a bit depleted. I eat a lot of nuts and dried fruit as snacks when I’m feeling low energy — I carry them around in a Ziploc bag in my purse.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve given myself permission to take it easier during my period. I might go to bed earlier, or sleep in for an extra 15 minutes while my husband gets up with the kids. I typically avoid working out leading up to my period, and for the first day or two after it starts. My primary workout is swimming, so the last thing I want to do when I’m feeling bloated and uncomfortable is put on a bathing suit.
I use LOLA Cramp care essential oil blend whenever I get cramps (during ovulation or my period). I love the way it smells, and it feels like a nice routine.
I’ve always used a mix of pads and tampons, but since having children I’ve found myself becoming more interested in pads. I used pads a lot after delivery and got used to them. For the first 4 to 6 weeks, you’re still actively recovering from giving birth and bleeding in your underpants [this vaginal discharge is called lochia]. You need pads and liners during this time — you can’t use tampons. Then usually for your first period, it depends on how recovered you are. The first time I had a baby, I wasn’t ready to use tampons for three or four cycles.
I’ve used a few period tracking apps — Glow and Clue mostly. I’ve used them pretty religiously when I’m either trying hard to avoid pregnancy, or when I’m trying to get pregnant. Otherwise, I kind of just remember. Like, I know I’m 10 days out from my period right now. It’s that regular.
I’m interested in other hacks and products, but I think I’m in a life stage where I’m only using what’s essential. [laughs] I have no time or energy for trying out other things.
When I got my first period after each of my kids was born, I marked a ‘P’ in my calendar a month out. Just to get back in the cycle of remembering. After that, I don’t need to anymore, but I like knowing when it’s coming without using a tracker.
I always have pads and tampons with me, wherever I go… in every purse, in every pocket of every stroller. My daughter will find them, open them and play with them when we’re waiting in line at the grocery store. She calls them ‘mommy’s diapers.’ They’re not hidden in my life.”
— as told to LOLA