Beyond Condoms: Things to know before engaging in sex (that your school doesn’t tell you)

By: Eliza Wagman


Sexual health education in public schools is quite diverse.  Some schools employ abstinence-only programs, avoiding sexual health altogether, some teach about sex only in a reproductive sense, and some attempt to teach about safe sex in a neutral way, avoiding any sex-shaming biases.  However, even those in the third category are far from providing a comprehensive overview of safe and healthy sexual practice.  There is so much more to it than using a condom.


Here are some things to know before you consider engaging in sexual activity!


  1. Know your other options for safety. There are two risks of sex: pregnancy, and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Condoms are designed to prevent both, but as they are far from failsafe, it is important to consider using birth control as well.  There are also vaginal condoms, as an alternative to traditional ones.


  1. Make sure you are emotionally prepared. There are lots of outside pressures to engage or not engage in sex, but you should only do so when you are ready and eager. An important aspect of this is trusting your partner(s) – sex is an intimate act, and will be less intimidating if you trust who you do it with!


  1. Understand consent. Remember that you can say “no” or “stop” at any point during a sexual encounter, and that if your partner does, it is your responsibility to heed their wishes. Even if they don’t verbalize “no”, be conscious of their expressions and movements, and stop if you sense any discomfort (and require the same respect from them!)


To learn more about sexual health education, explore

Uber to the Rescue

By: Katherine Ackermann

Have you ever thanked the world, or ex-CEO and creator Travis Kalanick, for the miraculous Uber app? For always saving you from a boring party, or an annoying situation? Well this year Uber has stepped up as a hero in a big way.

Uber has teamed up with Polaris, a company which combats human trafficking on a global scale, to urge their drivers to combat what is now known as modern slavery.

As one of the biggest travel companies in the world, Uber has recognized that travel is something constantly used in the exploitation of adults, girls, boys, and LGBTQ youth. Drivers for Uber will now be educated about the different ways to spot a victim, and how to report it as well.

On Uber’s website there is a page dedicated to End Human Trafficking. At the bottom there is an inspiring story by a Californian Uber driver named Keith, who saved a 16-year-old girl from sex trafficking. This incident occurred before Uber’s new partnership with different human trafficking prevention organizations, and now there will be countless similar success stories through proper education of the issue.

Human trafficking is a problem that is hidden in the dark and behind closed doors. But when people are aware and educated, more victims can be identified and saved. The International Labor Organization has calculated that there are 20.9 million human trafficking victims all around the world.

Uber has also partnered with The Mccain Institute for International Leadership, ECPAT USA, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, and Thorn.

Thorn CEO Julie Cordua says she teamed up with Uber as a way to attack the issue from all sides. She said, “When we work together we can build a world where every child can be a kid.”

Ending Human Trafficking is a cause dear to us here at Planned Parenthood. To find out how you can volunteer with your local Planned Parenthood to end this exploitation, go to



Flu, Who? Yes, You!

By: Katherine Ackermann


This Flu season seems to be dragging on for way too long this 2017-2018 season. I remember in October of 2017, about five months ago, my mom frantically calling me that a distant friend of hers died of the flu. In a panic, I went to my University’s Health Center and got my flu shot in a matter of 30 seconds.

When I got to the Health Center, I followed a sign with a pointing arrow that read “FREE FLU SHOTS”. It led to a room with a nice-looking nurse, who was very happy to see a student come in. She, like my mother, urged the importance of the flu shot.

I proudly took a selfie while the needle was in my arm, and the nurse laughed at my laid-back demeanor. I called my mother immediately after and received a sigh of relief and a big “Thank you!”. But before this death of a young woman I knew, I didn’t realize the serious risks of having the flu.

Everyday, it seems a new article comes out about someone dying from the flu, and it’s clear this deadly disease doesn’t have an age. Children, young adults, parents, and elderly, are all dying from the flu.

The saddest part is that flu shots are available for free during flu season, and these shots could have saved many of those people’s lives.

Here are the facts about the flu shot from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • The best way to prevent the flu is to get the flu vaccine every year, also known as the flu shot.
  • The symptoms of the flu happen suddenly, not gradually, and include: fever or feverish chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue, vomiting and diarrhea which is more common in children than adults.
  • The flu spreads easily by people who have the flu. You can get it just from being around a person infected, or exchanging bacteria through coughing and sneezing.
  • A person with the flu can be contagious up to one day before their symptoms begin and 5 to 7 days after becoming sick.
  • Flu-related complications are the leading causes of death with the flu. Complications such as pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, and even congestive heart failure, asthma, and diabetes can all arise from the flu.
  • A flu shot cannot give you the flu. This is a terrible myth and misconception about the flu shot.
  • During a bad flu season such as this year in 2017-2018, every person 6 months and older should get the shot. The nasal spray is not recommended.

Here at Planned Parenthood, our goal is to make health care affordable and accessible to all people. Check out our website,, to find out how you can stay safe and healthy this flu season.



Two Great Moments of the 2018 Women’s March

By: Katherine Ackermann

 January 20th, 2017, marked the day Donald Trump was inaugurated as President of the United States of America, but more importantly, produced the first nationwide Women’s March. Now exactly a year later, the Women’s March is back again, seeming more special and important than ever before, considering the hectic and alarming year 2017 was in the world of women’s rights.

It seems as though every day a new sexual misconduct allegation arose, and every day it was revealed that yes, bad things are happening to women in the shadows of power. But women, and men, around the country have truly decided Time’s UP!

After the #MeToo movement, where women and men all around the world revealed their person sexual abuse stories to the Internet world, women entertainers decided to start the Time’s Up Movement, which aims to shaken up the decades old ways of the entertainment industry.

Proof of this is the successful Women’s March this past week, with women, men, and children, marching side by side owning their cities. Many women celebrities, from actresses to singers and more, all had powerful speeches at this years Women’s March.

Here are two great moments of the 2018 Women’s March:

Natalie Portman’s Powerful Speech “Sexual Terrorism”

From the young age of thirteen, Portman was exposed to constant sexualization which had a huge effect on not only in her acting life, but her personal life. She was constantly worried that people would view her sexually so for many years she was ashamed, embarrassed, and scared to be herself.

“The response to my expression from small comments about my body to more threatening deliberate statements served to control my behavior through an environment of sexual terrorism.”

Watch the full speech here:


Halsey’s Moving Poem

Singer Halsey spoke about her personal experiences, from helping a friend who was raped at fourteen years old, to being forced to perform sexual acts to her boyfriend. People all over the world are celebrating her speech for her encouraging closing:

“So love your neighbor, please treat her kindly

Ask her story and then shut up and listen

Black, Asian, poor, wealthy, trans, cis, Muslim, Christian

Listen, listen and then yell at the top of your lungs

Be a voice for all those who have prisoner tongues

For the people who had to grow up way too young

There is work to be done

There are songs to be sung

Lord knows there’s a war to be won”

Watch the full speech here:

Hopefully, the Women’s March protests continue as a tradition every year until all people are treated equally. The Women’s March isn’t only fighting for women, it’s fighting for black women, LGBTQ+ women, victims of sexual abuse, and anyone else who has been discriminated against.

When the day comes when there is true equality, we can still continue the Women’s March as a joyous celebration, and give thanks to all the people who stood up and said enough is enough.

Here at Planned Parenthood, we support women and their rights. Visit our website at to find more out about what health services we provide to women







Not Just a Celebrity: Oprah 2020

By: Katherine Ackermann

The buzz in the air is that Oprah Winfrey may be running for President in 2020. A lot of people excitedly jumped to the idea. At the same time, a lot of people are hesitant. Another celebrity? Donald Trump went from billionaire celebrity to President, and the results haven’t been pretty. But, Oprah is different. Yes, she’s a celebrity, but she is so much more than that.

Oprah Winfrey was born in Mississippi, and has a troubled childhood dealing with sexual abuse from many men close to her life. She later moved to Nashville with her father, and began school at the Tennessee State University in 1971, working in radio and television.

Five years later, she started hosting a Baltimore TV chat show, People Are Talking. There was an extensive search for a new anchor for the show, and out of hundreds of audition tapes, Oprah Winfrey’s caught the director’s eye.

He says, “She was relating a story about something that had happened at City Council, and she explained it so well. Knowing nothing about the politics of the place, I understood exactly what had happened and the significance. It made her hugely different from anyone else I had seen.”

From the start, Oprah’s career was political. It was about breaking glass ceilings, and about making political-goings-ons to relatable and to everyday people, so that they could be involved and inspired too.

On top of the Oprah Winfrey Show, the Oprah Winfrey Network, Oprah’s Book Club, O Magazine, and more, she has been an activist and philanthropist throughout the years.

Winfrey has always been an activist for children’s rights. She created the Family for Better Lives foundation and in 1994 her fight for children’s rights was made big. President Clinton signed a bill created and proposed to Congress by our very own Oprah. It was her idea to create a nationwide database for convicted child abusers.

2007 was the year Obama ran for President for the first time, and Oprah was right by his side. Together, they drew huge crowds, and she spoke to the people, inspiring them every step of the way.

Winfrey did not have to be in Congress or any other form of government to have an impact on politics throughout her life. It is clear she is intelligent, safe-made, and cares about all people. As a President, she will make sure to include those who have so been excluded for so many years – women, black women, children, and others. And in order to leap forwards from this current Administration, we need someone who has always been ahead of her time.

Here at Planned Parenthood, we support women who support women, and women who fight every day for all people’s rights. This is what Oprah has done her entire life and career and will hopefully begin to do so directly in our government.

If you are interested in making changes to your community by improving the lives of women and families, volunteer with Planned Parenthood today! Visit us at to find out about the different ways you can help!


Opinion Piece: Oprah 2020 – Why Celebrities Don’t Belong in Office

By: Eliza Wagman


We’ve all heard the buzz – Oprah Winfrey is being mass encouraged to run for presidential office in 2020.  This is, of course, largely due to her being a black, presumably liberal, woman – the opposite of current president Donald Trump.  But, while we may want to move as far away from his identity and behavior as we can, we should look closely at what Oprah and Trump have in common – and what damage would continue to occur because of such similarities.

When it comes down to it, Oprah and Trump are both entrepreneurial television celebrities, and nothing more.  Oprah has no political experience, and neither did Trump prior to election.  Why are we content to occupy the highest political office in the country with people who haven’t the slightest idea what’s involved in government procedures, the workings of policy making, and the effects of global politics?

Our glamorizing of celebrities has gone too far when we mistake wealth and fame – and even universal likeability – for political competence. Oprah has shared little of even her political views in the past; though it is a safe bet she is a democrat, there is plenty of room for non-progressive stances within the democratic party.  One thing we do know already is that Oprah has been vocally pro-Israel, and refused a meeting with pro-Palestine activists in 2015 – so, despite being a woman of color herself, who would undoubtedly be much more sensitive towards racial issues in her presidency than Trump, it is dangerous to assume that she will be the face of global racial equality.

Celebrities are unfit to jump from television to the highest position in American politics, no matter how well educated, how well spoken, or how down to earth they are.  If celebrities want to enter the political sphere, that’s wonderful – they can start at the bottom and work their way up, just as every seasoned politician has (including every president, until Trump).  I love Oprah, but in 2020, let’s elect someone who has the experience needed to tackle America’s deep, systemic crises, and patch up the political mess made by the first TV star.

To learn about political issues central to women’s rights, reproductive health, and more, visit


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The Trans Panic Defense: Yep, Still Legal!

By: Eliza Wagman


The trans panic defense, derived from the earlier established gay panic defense, is a legal defense used by people on trial for assaulting or murdering a transgender individual.  The defense is used to justify and excuse the attacker’s behavior by stating that when the victim’s transgender identity was ‘revealed’, the defendant was sent into a panic due to shock.  During such a panic, they argue, they cannot be held fully responsible for their violent actions.


The trans panic defense places blame for the violence on the victim, rather than the attacker, and legitimizes gender identity as a basis for justified violent anger.  Although the defense is not an official free-standing court defense, it has been employed in about half of U.S. states, and has been successful in getting charges changed from homicide to manslaughter, sentences decreased, and general sympathetic treatment for blatant, violent transphobia.


Only two states, California and Illinois, have banned the use of the gay and trans panic defenses.  Trans people experience a disproportionately high rate of violence, and eradicating the panic defenses is a crucial step in protecting all trans and queer individuals.  A trans person is not responsible for disclosing any aspect of their identity to another, and legal action against these defenses is needed in order to cement that truth in courtrooms.  As lawyer Max Stern stated when he helped convict the men involved in trans woman Gwen Araujo’s 2002 murder, “This

was not a manslaughter, because it is not reasonable to accept this behavior in response to the circumstances here.  Even if the defendants believed they had been sexually deceived, that

would be no basis, no justification for beating and murder”.  We must ensure that all judges convict along these guidelines, so that the murder of trans individuals is not seen as a justifiable, barely-punished fit of passion.


For more information on trans rights and to find trans-specific medical resources, visit



Kiss Goodbye to UTIs

By: Eliza Wagman

You wake up – suspiciously early – with an unbearable urge to pee.  When you rush to the toilet, there’s little of the usual relief; you’re met instead with discomfort, and – oh, no – is that burning? You start to panic a little.  You know what this means.  As soon as you arise, you have to pee again.  Well, you know you don’t have to pee again, but you sure feel like you do.  You groan, and check the fridge.  Thank god you’ve got some cranberry juice in there.  You chug it down and prepare for a miserable couple of days – oh god, the constant pain, the never-ceasing desire to sit on the toilet …… thanks, UTI.

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are bacterial infections in any part of the urinary system, most commonly the bladder and urethra.  Estimates indicate that people with vaginas have at least a 40% chance of getting at least one UTI in their lifetime (people with penises can get them too, but it is much less common).  UTIs are extremely unpleasant, but there are measures to take to prevent their occurrence, and steps to ease the discomfort if you do get one.


  • Drink lots of water! The more you pee, the more bacteria you flush away from your urinary system.
  • Always wipe front to back, to avoid spreading rectal bacteria to the urethra.
  • Urinate immediately after intercourse. Sexual activity, especially vaginal penetration, is an easy way to spread bacteria to the urethra and urinary system.  Peeing helps flush this bacteria away before it becomes lodged and infectious.

I think I have a UTI – What do I do?

  • DO NOT rely on household treatments. While there are over-the-counter medications to take, and cranberry juice is a commonly purported solution, these are not ample enough measures to fully kill the infection and prevent reoccurrence.
  • Always consult a doctor if you think you have a UTI. They will confirm with tests, and likely prescribe antibiotics, which will ensure a more painless, swift, and complete recovery.

Neglecting to get proper treatment for UTIs can lead to more serious health issues, including permanent kidney damage.  So, while UTIs are common and no reason to panic, using preventative measures and seeking medical treatment is crucial!

For more information on sexual and reproductive health, or to find a clinic near you, visit


Women’s March 2018: Are We Marching for All Women?

By: Eliza Wagman

As we approach the one year anniversary of President Donald Trump’s inauguration and the 2017 Women’s March, we must look critically at the failings of the original protest, and determine how we can proceed as increasingly inclusive feminists.  This year, the Women’s March official campaign is “March to the Polls”, because – supposedly – “when we vote, we win”.  However, the platform fails to account for a contrary truth – in 2016, 53% of America’s white women voted for Trump.  The same demographic dominated the coordination of the Women’s March, and their privilege was exposed throughout the process.

Before the event took place, multiple black women stepped down from their positions as organizers, citing white women organizers as being insensitive and silencing towards the specific issues raised by black women, the appropriation of Civil Rights movement imagery (i.e. the names “Million Woman March” and “March on Washington”), and an overall whitewashing of feminist needs.

Also prior to the event, the platform section advocating for sex worker rights was completely erased.  An event that should have championed sex workers took backwards steps to exclude them from the narrative of women’s rights.
At the march, Native women were mocked, had their photos taken by white women without permission, were criticized for calling attention to the stolen land being occupied, and were shamelessly approached by white women wearing R**skins hats.

Transgender women were alienated by the overwhelmingly cisgender crowd through vagina-shaped hats and signs with slogans including “Pussy Power”, “No Uterus, No Opinion”, and “Viva la Vulva”, imagery insinuating that womanhood = female-assigned sex organs.

This year, we must do better.  We must first and foremost listen to and empower black and brown women, Native women, disabled women, trans women, sex workers, and all women whose rights go unnoticed in mainstream, white feminist movements.  If there are no political candidates championing the rights of underprivileged women, then marching to the polls will merely continue upholding the trends that got Trump elected at the hands of many cisgender white women.  When we march, and when we politically engage, we must ensure that our feminism accounts for all.

To find more opportunities to get involved in women’s and gender rights efforts, and to learn more about intersectional feminism, visit


Myth or Fact? Find out the truth about UTIs

By: Katherine Ackermann

Cranberry Pills Get Rid of UTIs

MYTH! Although cranberry pills, found in any drugstores as over the counter products, can make the common symptom of frequent burning sensation and urge to pee go away, it doesn’t always take your UTI away. Some UTIs go away by drinking lots of water, and some are much more intent on staying in your urinary tract, and require antibiotics prescribed by a doctor. Cranberry pills are a great way to get you through your day while enduring a UTI, but make sure to monitor other symptoms, such as discharge or foul pee smell. Other symptoms may indicate that your UTI is persisting.

I Can Get A UTI From Wiping Back to Front

            Not a myth. If you wipe back to front, you’re at risk of getting a UTI by transferring bacteria into your urethra, which travels up into your bladder, and can even reach your kidneys if not taken care of. Just this one easy step can take away days and weeks of pain and annoyance.

Peeing After Sex Can Prevent UTIs

            Another fact! If you pee right after sex, your chances of flushing out all that bacteria go up. Don’t be afraid to get up and excuse yourself right after you’ve done the deed. You can get to cuddling in a matter of a minute!

You Don’t Have to Go to the Doctor Right Away

            As I mentioned before, over the product meds don’t always do the trick with UTIs. Your best bet is to go to a physician as soon as you suspect you have a UTI. They can test your pee and tell you exactly what you need to make you better in no time.

Here at Planned Parenthood, our goal is to provide accessible health information and care to all. Visit our website at to find more out about UTIs, how to prevent and care for them, or any other health services we offer.