Worried About Results?: 5 Steps for Taking Care of Yourself While Waiting for Medical Results

Posted on July 21, 2014 by

anxietyWe all know – tests can be anxiety inducing. This is especially true for tests that involve our health and our body, such as STD tests and pregnancy tests. Perhaps it’s too early for you to take one of these tests. Maybe it hasn’t been long enough since the sexual encounter occurred for you to get accurate results on a pregnancy or STD test. Perhaps you’ve already taken the test, and you’re just waiting for the results to come in. Here are some important steps for keeping yourself calm, and getting through until you get your test results.

1. Recognize that you are taking the appropriate steps for your health.

It’s important to remember, though it can be scary to wait for a test result, you are doing the right thing for yourself. You have already made the decision that knowing what is going on with your body comes ahead of living in ignorance, and that’s important. You’ve taken a huge step and that is something you should commend yourself on. You have shown that you have what it takes to face your fears, and that is a huge accomplishment.

2. Do something you enjoy to take your mind off of the situation.

Do you enjoy exercising? Taking long walks? Hanging out with friends? Reading a great book? Watching a new show on Netflix? Now is a good time to do what you like to keep yourself calm. Make a nice meal, do something fun, try a new activity! Distracting yourself from your fears by doing anything positive that will take your mind off the situation is a great way to cope right now. If it is too early for you to get tested or to know the result, there isn’t much you can do in the meantime. Waiting is a very scary part of the process, and whatever you can do to distract yourself from thinking about something you can’t currently control is great!

3. Constructively engage your emotions regarding your potential results.

Perhaps you’ve tried to disengage from the stress of waiting by distracting yourself, but you just can’t seem to do it! It might be a good time to sit in your emotions, and examine how and why you are feeling the way you are. Instead of just falling into negative emotions, however, try to constructively work through what you are feeling. Creative outlets are a great way to do this: you can try painting, drawing, or writing creatively. If you’re not feeling the creative outlets, you can also try journaling. Journaling is a private and simple way to map out your feelings and fears.

4. Talk to a trusted confidant about your feelings.

While working towards eliminating the negative side effects of stress on your own is a great start, you might be someone who needs the support of another to feel better. There is absolutely no shame in having someone close to you to rely on when you are having a difficult time. If you have someone in your life you feel safe sharing your fears with, confiding in them might be a great way to make yourself feel better. They can give you support and a shoulder to cry on. Many people also have their own story related to a sexual health scare, and they may be able to relate to you!

5. Remember that your have options, no matter the outcome.

Getting diagnosed with an STD can be a scary experience. And while finding out you are pregnant might be wonderful for some, there are other people who aren’t ready to be pregnant yet. For them, an unplanned pregnancy can be a terrifying experience. Before you know your results, you may be thinking about the absolute worst case scenario. However, it is important to remember that there are appropriate ways to deal with every possible outcome. Many STDs are entirely treatable, while ones that aren’t are becoming more and more manageable as medical technology advances. If you find out that you are carrying an unplanned pregnancy, there are non-judgmental professionals who can help you figure out your best option – whether it be parenting, adoption, or abortion. There are many caring professionals in the world who are ready and willing to help you with whatever outcome your tests reveal. Just reminding yourself that there are people out there to support you, even in the worst case scenario, can be a major relief.

Unlocking the Secrets of the Placenta

Posted on July 16, 2014 by

This week, The New York Times published The Push to Understand the Placenta. You must read it – it’s as fascinating as the placenta itself!

Ifetus2f you’re unfamiliar with the placenta, let us educate you. The placenta is the organ that forms and attaches to the inside of the mother’s uterus during a pregnancy. One side attaches firmly (we hope) to the uterine wall and the umbilical cord, which is connected to the baby’s belly button, extends out of the other side. Size-wise, the placenta is about the same diameter and thickness as a small to medium pizza crust. Or if you extend your hands out in front of you, fingers extended, with some overlap, you’ll get the general size of the placenta. The basic function of the placenta is to deliver oxygen (via blood) and nutrients to the developing fetus, and also to carry out waste. The placenta provides life support to the fetus placentaand if it malfunctions, results are often fatal. In this image you can see the web of blood vessels that form to sustain life.

The placenta is commonly referred to as afterbirth, well, because, it comes out after birth. After the baby is delivered and the uterus slowly starts to shrink down, the placenta starts to detach from the uterine wall. Uterine contractions and external abdominal massage from the doctor/midwife/nurse help the placenta continue to detach. The placenta will come out on it’s own time, often 5-20 minutes after birth. Sometimes the doctor will grab the umbilical cord and give it gentle tugs, but it CAN NOT be yanked out prematurely (hemmoraging is sure to occur). The placenta is utterly fascinating to see in person so if you’re giving birth soon, be sure to ask to see it! Unless you ask to keep your placenta, it will become medical waste. Why would you keep it? Well, some cultures bury it for spiritual reasons and some people it eat it.

So what secrets are left to be unlocked? Only recently, for instance, did scientists start to suspect that the placenta may not be sterile, as once thought, but may have a microbiome of its own — a population of micro-organisms — that may help shape the immune system of the fetus and affect its health much later in life.

Perhaps the Human Placenta Project will shed more light on “the least understood human organ[s] and arguably one of the more important, not only for the health of a woman and her fetus during pregnancy but also for the lifelong health of both.”

There’s a lot to learn and we can’t wait to hear what scientists discover!

Birth Control Sabotage

Posted on July 14, 2014 by

Many people find themselves in relationships that are not what they anticipated. No one starts out being a bully or abusive, but it’s all too common for coercion, manipulation, control to slowly creep into what appeared to be a healthy, romantic, loving partnership. You would hope if people realized someone was trying to control them or signs of abuse started showing up they would end the relationship before it progressed to physical or emotional abuse or before children came into the picture, but often excuses are made, emotional ties are too strong, or fear of retaliation comes into play. It’s complicated.

imagesOne of the ways most people don’t realize abuse can manifest itself involves birth control. While this usually happens with males trying to control a woman’s birth control, females sometimes try and sabotage his as well by poking holes in condoms or saying she is using contraception when she isn’t. In cultures where the expectation is that the male makes all the decisions, some women acquiesce to his desire to have a child or more children. I’ve heard so many times, “He doesn’t want to use a condom or for me to be on birth control.” He may throw out her birth control, poke holes in a condom, pretend to wear a condom, refuse to pay for birth control or take her to an appointment.

In cases where the female does want to use birth control without a partner’s knowledge, there are a few options.

Depo Provera – A shot every three months. However, she still needs to be able to get to an appointment and her period will most likely stop.

The Implant – Once inserted into the upper arm, bruising may appear for a few weeks. After that has disappeared, unless someone goes looking for it, it should be invisible. It provides protection for 3 years.

IUD – There are 3 types of IUDs that are effective from 3 to 12 years. Occasionally a partner may feel the strings at the top of the vagina.

Emergency Contraception – Available at health departments, Planned Parenthoods or over-the-counter, this may be a temporary fix but not a long term solution.

For more information on birth control methods, visit Planned Parenthood. To read another great article on birth control sabotage, visit this website. If you’re in an abusive relationship, please reach out to The National Domestic Violence Hotline.

Herpes Myths – Busted!

Posted on July 9, 2014 by


Herpes is very common.

TRUE! More than 50 percent of the adult population in the United States has oral herpes (a.k.a cold sores or fever blisters). Most people become infected with oral herpes as a child when grandma or Aunt Sue kisses them on the mouth when they were unaware they were contagious. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 16% (one in six) persons ages 14-49 in the United States has genital HSV-2 infection; however, as many as 90% are unaware that they have the virus.

If you wear a condom you can’t get herpes.

FALSE! Condoms give great protection against the STD’s spread by fluid (vaginal fluid and semen) and help reduce the spread of Herpes, but unfortunately condoms do not cover all of the genital skin. Herpes is transmitted through direct genital skin-to-skin contact.

Anyone who is sexuality active can become infected with Herpes.

TRUE! While it is more easily spread from males-to-females versus female-to-male, anyone can become infected. That’s why more females (21%) have HSV-2 than males (11.5%).

Herpes can only be spread when someone has an outbreak.

FALSE! Someone can be asymptomatic (have no symptoms) but have viral shedding on the mouth or genital skin. This means that the virus can be spread at any time. 

You can get herpes from a toilet seat.

FALSE! There are no documented cases of anyone getting genital herpes from objects such as a toilet seats, bathtubs, or towels. Herpes is a very fragile virus and dies quickly outside of the body.

Herpes tests can determine where you will have an outbreak.

FALSE! There are several different tests (viral culture, DNA, and blood tests) that can be performed by a medical provider, but they cannot tell you when you will have an outbreak or where it will occur. For more information on Herpes visit this website.

Female Circumcision: Plight of the Girl Child

Posted on July 7, 2014 by

Today’s post is by “Obi,” a Nigerian doctor conducting his field experience at Planned Parenthood as part of his MPH program. He was a general practitioner in his home country with main interest and expertise in maternal and child health.

nigeriaIt is often very surprising the degree to which certain practices take place in the world today but thanks to global communication, we are able to bring these issues to light and attend to them accordingly. I would like to discuss a topic which I have personally had some experience with in my home country of Nigeria as a medical practitioner. I will talk about female circumcision, extent of this practice, where, how and why it is practiced, which will help create more understanding about the social dynamics that perpetuate it. Increasing awareness is also important tool on the road to abandonment of this practice, which is a violation of the fundamental rights of girls and women.

Female circumcision, also known as ‘female genital cutting’ or ‘female genital mutilation,’ refers to all procedures involving partial or total removal of the female external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.

Female circumcision is practiced in about 29 countries mostly concentrated in Africa and the Middle East. According to UNICEF, over 125 million girls and women alive today have been circumcised. Countries with the highest prevalence of this practice are Egypt, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Sudan, Kenya and Burkina Faso.

The majority of the girls are usually ‘cut’ before the age of 5 years with most of the remaining girls being cut by the age of 14. This practice is conducted by traditional practitioners (which include traditional birth attendants, traditional circumcisers, or generally older women) or health personnel (which include doctors, nurses, trained midwives or other health workers).

There are four main types of female genital mutilation:

  • Type 1: This involves removal of the hood of the clitoris and all or part of the clitoris (also known as a clitoridectomy)
  • Type 2: A more severe form in which there is removal of the clitoris including all or part of the labia minora
  • Type 3: This is the most severe form; it involves the removal of the clitoris, the labia minora and adjacent medial part of the labia majora and the stitching of the vaginal orifice, leaving an opening of the size of a pin head to allow for menstrual flow or urine
  • Type 4 (Unclassified): This involves mild cuts, pricking, incision of clitoris or labia, stretching the clitoris or labia, cauterization, introduction of corrosive substances and herbs into the vagina and many other forms

Unlike complications from male circumcision such as bleeding and infection, which are minor and tend to be easily treated, girls and women who are circumcised suffer both short and long term consequences. These include damage to the urethra or anus, chronic pelvic infections, sexual dysfunction, difficulty with childbearing, and many other complications. The mental and psychological agony attached with female circumcision is deemed the most serious complication because the problem does not manifest outwardly for help to be offered. The young girl is in constant fear of the procedure and after the ritual she dreads sex because of anticipated pain and dreads childbirth because of complications caused by circumcision.

Multiple reasons have been given to justify female circumcision and it varies between different cultures. Some of the reasons include: traditional practice for preservation of chastity and purification, cleanliness and hygiene, aesthetic reasons, social acceptance, protection of virginity and prevention of promiscuity, increasing sexual pleasure of husband, enhancing fertility and many more. Most of these reasons are founded in beliefs and traditions centuries-old making its origin and significance uncertain and very confusing.

Although traditions, cultures, and beliefs are an important aspect of any society, certain harmful practices should be abolished. The uphill task of changing attitudes towards female circumcision needs a multidisciplinary approach involving legislation, health care professional organizations, empowerment of women in the society, and education and activism of the general public with emphasis on the dangers and undesirability of female genital mutilation.

To learn more about female genital mutilation, please visit Unicef.

You Might Be a Feminist If…

Posted on July 2, 2014 by

In light of yesterday’s Supreme Court decision concerning Hobby Lobby, we decided to revive this post from our 2012 vault. Unfortunately, not much progress has been made since 2012. Read on, Feronians…

As I’ve been reading through the Feronia Project lately (oh, I’m so proud of our brainchild!) I realized that we’ve never covered some topics fundamental to our message, predominantly feminism.

Now, if you just cringed as you read that “F” word, this post is for you. There are a lot of pop culture stereotypes about feminism as a philosophy/perspective and feminists as people who follow said movement that aim to pollute and dismiss its legitimacy. It’s probably got you, too.

My favorite false definition about feminists comes from the always-entertaining misogynist, Pat Robertson: “Feminism is a socialist, anti-family, political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.” Oh, Pat, so funny I forgot to laugh!

Or my second favorite, Mr.“It makes her a slut, right?” himself, Rush Limbaugh: “Feminism was established to allow unattractive women easier access to the mainstream.”

Mainstream media perpetuates these stereotypes about feminism, and general stereotypes about women (easy, bitchy, catty, stupid, weak, inferior, naturally submissive, etc.) to the point that people who would otherwise agree with feminist philosophies are shrieking in horror if someone labels them a … wait for it … feminist.

Lucky for you, I have a simple test. Raise your hand if you self-identify as a feminist. Anyone? Ok, now raise your hand if you believe in access to equal wages for equal work. Did you know that, on average, women only make 74% of what men do? Did you know that women account for about half of the U.S. workforce? Additionally, many women experience the “double day,” in which they are primarily responsible for the household labor and child raising in addition to their paid work. Clearly women must be more natural at vacuuming and caravaning than our counterparts, right? Why else are all cleaning advertisements targeted toward women? Please sense my sarcasm and blame the patriarchy.

Did you know we’re still not covered by an equal pay act? Just this year, the U.S. senate voted it down AGAIN. If you think that people should not be discriminated against because of their sex, gender, race or origin, and that domestic labor should be equitably divided, you might be a feminist.

Next, how about the ability to live a life free of sexual exploitation and violence? Yeah, us too. As we’ve reported many times, sexual assault rates around the world are beyond comprehension. In the U.S., 1 in 4 women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime. In many cultures, sexual violence and oppression are used as tools to control a society, bring shame to human dignity, and justify discrimination. In many cultures, women are systematically raped as a practice of war; within our own military, 60% of women have experienced sexual trauma while serving. Feminist philosophy proposes that people, regardless of sex, gender, color, creed or origin should never fall victim to physical, sexual, mental, or emotional violence.

You with me yet? How about the right to vote or hold political office? Feminists think that all people have the right to participate in their government, regardless of their gender identity, chromosomes, or physical characteristics. That all people are born with intrinsic value equally, and while we are of different perspectives, we are of the same worthFortunately, a relentless gang of feminists fought for almost 40 years to rectify voting rights in this country, because before 1920 only white dudes could cast a ballot.

The US ranks 90th globally in the amount of women holding office in national legislature. When you digest that only 6 states hold female governors, only 17% of seats in the Congress are held by females, and zero presidents have ever used a tampon, it’s not difficult to see how reproductive health is on the back burner.

Reproductive rights is a biggie within the “feminist” community. Feminism argues that all people should assume control of their own bodies, and that females have the human right to control their fertility. Think we’ve always had the right to buy Emergency Contraception the morning after? Think again. Yes, the feminist movement is still relevant, and fighting tirelessly for you to maintain ownership over your own body.

Feminist philosophy argues that no people deserve to be oppressed by a hierarchy of power regardless of sex, gender identity, color, ethnic identity, ability/disability, origin, or access to resources. It believes that all people deserve dignity, respect, and the right to a life free of violence, discrimination, and oppression.

Do I have your attention yet?

Feminism is a life perspective spoken from the “feminine” perspective, one that encourages traits such as compassion, compromise, non-violence, community, and human dignity for all. Opposed to this are patriarchal practices of discrimination, hierarchies, conflict, systematic violence/aggression, and dominance/subordination. In a nutshell, feminism believes in freedom, justice and harmony – woot!

Before I go, a couple more things. Contrary to faux news, feminists are people who are in alliance with the guiding principles I’ve laid out before you, and they are not confined to any particular gender, sex, race, class, ethnicity, origin, or other demographic characteristic. You do not need to reject femininity to be a feminist. That’s a biggie. In a culture such as ours that is obsessed with image and categorizing people, it’s often assume that in order to be a “true feminist,” you must reject things like shaving, wearing make-up, being heterosexual, enjoying the company of males, wearing a bra/dress, or being a stay-at-home mom. For me, feminism isn’t about the physical, it’s about the spiritual.

Simply put: “Feminism is the radical notion that women are people.” -Cheris Kramarae and Paula Treichler

Dads, Dishes, and Gender Equality

Posted on June 30, 2014 by

Father-does-housework-whi-006I’m the mother of two adult daughters. When they were young one of my greatest challenges was getting their father to appreciate how important a role he played in their lives. My father worked six days and one night a week. When he was home he was reading, watching sports, napping or listening to music. Although I knew I was loved, there wasn’t a lot of room in his life for a talkative, curious little girl. Back then girls didn’t usually play sports or go fishing so that left even less leisure time together. Gender roles were clearly defined. Mom cooked, cleaned, did the laundry, and took care of the kids. Dad worked. I wanted more for my daughters, but their dad would have little of it, especially the domestic chores part of it. Despite my best efforts to get him to help around the house, it was mostly left to me.

It’s old news that a positive male presence is a girl’s life can affect her in numerous ways. Considerable research has been done to connect a father’s involvement in his daughter’s early life to her future relationships with men. If a father is remote, unaffectionate, unsupportive or even not a part of her life whatsoever, she may seek relationships with males who also exhibit these traits. Conversely, if a dad is an important presence in her life, she may have higher self-esteem and healthier relationships. How often have we heard people describe a younger female dating an older man as her search for the father who was not available to her as a child? Many teens eager to jump into a relationship settle for any male attention available to them.

What I didn’t know was that new research links a male’s involvement in household chores with a daughter’s future career choices. The study indicates that how parents share the domestic duties plays a key role in forming gender attitudes and career choices of both sexes but especially daughters.

While a mother’s beliefs about gender and work equality were important in predicting a child’s future work, the strongest predictor of a daughter’s own professional ambitions were linked to their father’s involvement in house cleaning, cooking, doing dishes and the laundry. Like with many things in life, action speaks louder than words. Having daddy spout how important equality for women is does not have the same impact as him actually demonstrating his willingness to take on traditionally female roles.

Many males play a much greater role in all aspects their daughter’s lives then during my or even my daughter’s generation. Hopefully, these new and improved dads are helping inside the house as well.