Category Archives: Pregnancy & Childbirth

What’s the deal with the Pill?

 

We’ve probably all heard it. “Don’t get on the pill! You’ll gain weight! What about your libido?” Deciding to start taking the birth control pill can be scary because of all the things we’ve heard. So, just how many of these heavily-warned side effects are true? Is the birth control pill safe? Most importantly, is it right for you?

There are different reasons people go on the pill. Some doctors prescribe it to treat heavy or irregular periods or severe acne. It’s most common use is to prevent pregnancies. The pill can be really helpful and great for some people! (Pro-tip: The pill lowers risk of ovarian and uterine cancer!)

But is the pill bad for us?

The answer is not so simple.

-Some argue that the birth control pill is unhealthy because it’s a synthetic hormone and messes with your body’s natural cycle.

-It has been proven that the pill causes increased risk of a blood clot, though experts are quick to assure that it’s less than that associated with pregnancy. According to Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, clinical professor of obstestrics and gynecology at Yale School of Medicine, the higher the dose of estrogen means higher risk of blood clots.

-What about the increased risk of stroke and heart attack? According to Dr. Minkin, if you’re a smoker and over 40 years old, there is an increased risk. Otherwise, if you don’t smoke and have normal blood pressure you’re pretty much in the clear.

-Should people on the pill be worried about breast cancer? The older pills with a higher dose of estrogen have been proven to have a higher risk of breast cancer, especially the longer one took it. However, according to ob-gyn Alyssa Dweck, after about ten years of being off birth control the risk of breast cancer is about the same as someone who hasn’t been taking birth control. And the older pills with higher estrogen aren’t prescribed as often anymore.

-The birth control pill has been linked to depression and weight gain. According to Dr. Minkin there is data on a linkage to depression because of progestins in the pill which can cause mood fluctuations. She advises that if you have a history of depression, to keep track of your moods if you begin taking the pill. The issue of weight gain remains a little murky. The implant and the shot have a higher risk of weight gain. Generally, it seems that the pill could cause weight gain, but doctors say minimal.

-Now, what about your sex drive? The pill prevents ovulation, which can lower the boost of testosterone that occurs during ovulation. This can lead to a decreased libido. If you experience low libido or vaginal dryness, your doctor might suggest a progesterone-only option, instead of the estrogen-containing pill.

These are some of the main worries people have about birth control and its side effects. If you decide that the pill is the right method of contraception for you, you can visit your local Planned Parenthood health center to get a prescription or visit plannedparenthood.org to learn about all different types of contraception.

 

Sources:

https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/birth-control

https://bodyecology.com/articles/dangers_birth_control_pill.php

http://www.womenshealthmag.com/health/how-worried-should-you-be-about-birth-control-risks

 

What IS Reproductive Health?

By Alexis Martinexz

According to who.int about 1 million girls under 15 give birth every year and about 3 million girls aged 15 to 19 undergo unsafe abortions. This is one of the many factors of not having the resources to have a healthy reproductive life.

Reproductive health is the well-being of your mental and physical life. It’s the ability to have a healthy sex life and having the right resources to decide when/if you want to start a family. This is more than sex, it’s about having the access to the appropriate health services to make sure that when you are sexually active, that you are 100% safe and smart about the decisions you’re making.

Birth control access is a huge part of reproductive health. It gives women and men the ability to choose when/if they want to start a family. Having access to birth control decreases unwanted pregnancies and creates a better opportunity for children to grow up in loving homes. Before having sex, you should research the different types of birth controls to find out which one is best for you. There are many different options and every person has their own preference.

We need to begin educating our teenagers about what reproductive is and how to ensure that they do have a healthy lifestyle. Whether we like it or not, teenagers will have sex. The best we can do is make sure that they are safe and fully aware of what a healthy reproductive life is. Instead of pushing no sex, we need to be pushing the concept of safe sex.

Some resources to educate yourself and those around you are http://innovating-education.org and http://www.amwa-doc.org. You can also go to the Planned Parenthood website and learn about our services and how we can help you.

Source

http://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/topics/adolescence/en/

https://www.optionsforsexualhealth.org/birth-control-pregnancy/birth-control-options

The Link Between Depression and Reproductive Health: Yes, they’re connected

By Cassandra Hedrick

 

Recently, doctors have been looking into the connection between reproductive health and depression in women. Depression is a severe sadness that comes with lack of motivation and can cause suicidal thoughts. According to Dr. Mendel, who conducted a study on this topic, “Psychological symptoms continue to shift in relation to reproductive events—for example, the menstrual cycle, childbirth, menopause— across women’s lives.”

 

This study found that girls are at higher risk of depression during puberty due to the drastic change in hormones. Similarly, women show some symptoms of depression during PMS. The same goes for women during pregnancy. 14-23% of pregnant women develop depression, however, it tends to go undiagnosed because it is assumed to be a just a hormonal imbalance. This can be dangerous for both the mother and child. Postpartum depression, meaning depression after giving birth, is also very common. It has not been previously talked about, but women are trying to bring more attention to it.

As a woman, you may be at higher risk for depression. Throughout your life, with the changes your reproductive system, you may experience depression due to hormonal changes. These changes happen through puberty, pregnancy, and after pregnancy. If you think you may be experiencing depression, talk to your doctor and get help.

Do you know how babies are made?

By: Nicole McLaren

The goal of sexual education is to teach young folks how to lead healthy sex lives, at least that is the ideal form of it. Unfortunately only 24 states and D.C. require that public schools teach sex education. Even among these sex education programs there is variance, some programs focus on abstinence only instead of providing a comprehensive education.

Not only have these abstinence only programs been found ineffective at keeping teens from having sex, some of them are not based on scientific fact and actually rely on religion to educate. The federal government has spent taxpayer money to fund these abstinence only programs even after the research found them to be ineffective.  Advocates for Youth claims that overall congress has spent over $1.5 billion on these harmful programs.

Multiple studies have found that parents regardless of educational obtainment, economic class, and religious affiliation, support the idea that comprehensive sexual education should be provided to their children. These studies have been completed nation-wide and in individual states and the results have been the same.

The prevention of teen pregnancy and STD/STI contraction is important for young people to lead healthy, successful lives. The best way to do this is to provide sexual education for teens in school, at home and in the community. Every year, according to dosomething.org 750,000 teen girls will get pregnant in the U.S. That’s 3 out of every 10 teenage girls. Becoming a parent is the leading cause of dropping out of high school, 50% of teen moms never graduate. Only 2% of teen moms earn a college degree.

There is much we can do in way of changing policy by working with organizations  like Planned Parenthood to lobby legislators into listening to the wants and needs of their constituents. Something that we can do right now though is start a free Babysitters Club to help teen moms stay in school or earn their GEDs. Here is a link https://www.dosomething.org/us/campaigns/babysitters-club?source=node/152

The Social Construction of Gender and the Gender-Neutral Parenting Trend

By: Jillian James

From the moment we are born, we are classified as either biologically male or female and raised according to our gender. Girls get pink toys and clothes, boys get blue. Girls wear dresses, boys don’t. However, there is a distinct difference between your biological sex and your gender. A person’s sex is refers to their anatomy, while a person’s gender refers to a person’s concept of himself or herself.

 

As more and more social science research has been conducted, scholars have realized something very important- gender is a social construct. Just because a boy has long hair or wears makeup doesn’t make him any less of a male biologically. He is just going against his society’s prescribed ideal about what a male should look like.

 

Gender is a social construct because the definition of masculinity and femininity has changed in our society over time. Less than one hundred years ago women were given the right to vote and a woman wearing pants could cause a scandal. The social construction of gender also changes from country to country, region to region, state to state. Every culture has its own prescribed gender ideals and ways of thinking. This is all proof that gender ideals don’t have a connection to a person’s biology.

 

So what can we learn from this? Luckily, society is becoming more and more accepting and has gained more understanding about gender fluidity and societies’ pressure to conform to gender norms. This is very positive step in the right direction.

 

The new trend in parenting is raising a child to be “gender-neutral”. This means that you don’t raise your child as being distinctively male or female or you don’t make them follow prescribed gender roles. Instead you let them grow and develop independently and make their own choices about their gender as they get older. This is becoming very popular in other countries like Sweden and is now making its way to the United States.

 

There are different levels to this type of parenting. Some couples don’t even reveal the gender of their child and raise their children as neither male nor female while others simply encourage their children to break gender stereotypes. Things as simple as buying both boy and girl toys and encouraging them a wide variety interests can help children feel comfortable being themselves.

 

Having prescribed gender roles can be harmful. Human beings are incredibly complex, multifaceted creatures. They can’t fit into any one box or type. The people who struggle to conform to the societal norm can feel ostracized and begin to question themselves and their self-worth. By understanding and accepting that both boys and girls can have a wide variety of interests that may include things that are typically associated with the opposite gender, we can start to understand, accept, and encourage them to be their truest selves.

 

Source:

http://everydayfeminism.com/2015/06/difference-sex-and-gender/

http://www.parents.com/parenting/gender-neutral-parenting/

 

The Freedom of Decision: Marriage and Child-Raising are a Choice, Not a Requirement

By: Jillian James

Sociologists are noticing a trend among modern women: they are getting married and having children at lower rates than ever before. Why? Why are women choosing to delay or forgo the experiences of marriage and childbirth, the two things that used to be so commonplace that it seemed like a requirement for women?

Part of it stems from the fact that marriage used to be something that was tied to economics and, for most women, was the only way that they could provide for themselves. Up until very recently in history women haven’t had very many opportunities to attend college, make their own incomes, and forge their own futures. They had to depend on marriage and their spouse to provide for them. The patriarchal structure of society meant that women had to get married at a young age or risk falling into financial despair or becoming dependent on their parents.

Now in modern society, women are finally being given choices. Marriage and child rearing are absolutely wonderful life paths, but they are no longer their only life paths.

Both men and women are now focused on carving lives for themselves and finding their own personal fulfillment before marrying. The emphasis is now on cultivating a relationship with a person and searching for a partner that you truly connect with. Taking the time to grow with your partner before marriage could potentially lead to less divorce and stronger relationships.

Women are also choosing to forgo marriage entirely, focusing on other facets of their lives. They may focus on careers or their own personal well being and fulfillment, or enter domestic partnerships. Many women who don’t marry are still in satisfying and enriching relationships with their partners.

Many women are also choosing not to have children or to delay childbirth until later in life. This could be because women are taking the time to pursue their own personal passions, like traveling, or are waiting until they are sure that they are financially stable and have achieved their own personal goals before having children.

In the end, choosing whether or not to get married or have a child is a personal choice, a choice that every individual woman should make for herself. A woman should always be the one who makes the choice to marry and have children, because then she will be happy and fulfilled with her life and relationships. In modern society, women have the freedom and the power to create their own lives, and that is a remarkable thing.

 

 

Sex Education in America: Why Abstinence Only Education Does More Harm Than Good

By: Jillian James

WHAT IS ABSTINENCE ONLY EDUCATION?

Abstinence only education is sexual education that promotes and teaches abstinence until marriage. Discussion of different types of birth control, STDs and STIs, and other sexual topics are excluded completely. Abstinence only education also for the most part only discusses heterosexual relationships and doesn’t provide a depth of information on LGBTQ+ issues.
WHY IS COMPREHENSIVE SEXUAL EDUCATION BETTER?

Abstinence education does more harm than good. It is incredibly important to provide comprehensive sexual education in schools because it gives students the power to makes informed decisions about their bodies and their sexual health. According to Advocates for Youth, 88% of millennials support comprehensive sex education.

Comprehensive sexual education gives students the power of knowledge and the resources to be healthy. By discussing sexuality, it becomes less stigmatized and students grow up feeling more self-actualized and confident about their identity and their bodies. Abstinence only education makes sex and sexuality seem shameful and causes students to have low self esteem and question their natural desires.

The idea that teenagers in high school must be “shielded” from comprehensive sexual education is ridiculous and counter intuitive. Teenagers are exposed to sex and sexual acts through music, movies, and pop culture and it is crucial that they are given medically correct information that is taught by a professional.

It is also important to note that the message of abstinence can be taught effectively while still providing comprehensive sexual education. Several studies have shown that providing comprehensive sexual education does not make the teen pregnancy rate go up. In fact, teen pregnancy rates have been dropping over the past few years and many studies owe that fact to wider contraception access and education.

Take steps to educate yourself and research sexual education in your area. If you have any questions at all about sexual health, Planned Parenthood clinics are available to provide educational services and professional help and advising. You can find your local Planned Parenthood and learn more about the educational services they offer at PlannedParenthood.org.

Marriage before the Age of Consent

By: Nicole Mclaren

Childhood marriage is something that usually we do not think of happening in the U.S. but the definition of a childhood marriage is any marriage in which the parties are under 18. In almost every state this is legal but the requirements to get the marriage certificate changes between states.
The national average is about 5 out of 1000 underage people are married. The two states that have the highest average are Texas and West Virginia both averaging around 7 out of 1000 15-17 year olds being married. Still other states have outdated laws that allow 12 year old girls and 14 year old boys to marry with parental consent. in 2014 there were over 57,000 15-17 year olds married in the US, 55% of them were women.


According to Human Rights Watch, one out of four girls in the world will marry before the age of 18. There are over 7 million women and over 1 million men in the world who are in a childhood marriage. The over representation of girls in childhood marriages in the US and around the world is alarming. It is because of the rights of women and girls being an afterthought in cultures across the globe. Childhood marriage is an outdated system and we should be working to address it in the US and around the world.
Currently there is a bill being proposed in the New York state legislature that seeks to end child marriage by changing the age of marriage from 14 to 17. In the first decade of the 21st century over 3000 children were married in New York. Human Rights Watch has started an email to legislators in the state to push them to pass this bill. The organizations and politicians that support this bill are seeking to help protect the rights of these children, mostly girls married to adult men. Click the link to put your voice in!

 

https://www.hrw.org/EndChildMarriage

5 Myths About Abortion Debunked

By: Cassandra Hedrick

There is a lot of information about abortion circulated these days. But how much of it is true? Because of the wide variety of sources available is can be hard to tell. So, let’s look at 5 myths about abortion and talk about why they are wrong.

Abortion increase the risk of breast cancer

This is a straight up lie made up by anti-choice activists. It is unsure exactly where it started, but since it began circulating, scientists have been studying it. No scientific study has shown any link in breast cancer and abortions. Even the World Health Organization put out a statement saying this.

Prohibiting abortion will lead to fewer abortions.

The logic behind this makes sense. If it’s illegal, less people will do it. However, this simply isn’t true. 19 million illegal abortions are performed every year. The truth is, women who have unwanted pregnancies will do what they have to. This means making abortions illegal will just make them unsafe. Just like alcohol prohibition didn’t stop people from drinking, abortion prohibition will not stop people from getting abortions.

Women who have abortions can suffer from “post-abortion syndrome”

This is the idea that women who have abortions will develop depression or bi-polar disorder because of it. It is supposedly a post traumatic disorder. However, there has been no scientific evidence found. In fact, most women have reported feeling relieved after getting an abortion. Read more here.

Abortions are unsafe

Like any medical procedure, there can be risks to getting an abortion. Complications can happen and, if the doctor is not following all of the protocols, things can go wrong. But, like any medical procedure, abortions have very low risks and are generally safe. There is more risk giving birth to a child than having an abortion

Abortions can cause infertility

Like the link to breast cancer, this is a rumor completely made up by anti-choice activists. Safe, legal abortions will not lead to infertility. Women return to their normal fertility and menstruation shortly after an abortion and there are no long term affects.

There are a lot of “facts” circulating about abortion, so it can take some digging to find the truth. Just make sure you look for the facts to back up any claims you read. If you want more information about abortions, the procedure, or risks you can visit plannedparenthood.org or call their main center.

Everything You Should Know About Roe v. Wade in 2017

By: Jillian James

OVERVIEW

Roe v. Wade was a Supreme Court Case that changed the face of women’s health in America. The case stated that a woman had the constitutional right to privacy under the 14th amendment if she decided to have an abortion, and that she had the right to have an abortion without interference from politicians.

HISTORY

Roe v. Wade was a case that challenged a Texas statute that stated that it was illegal for a woman to receive an abortion (unless the woman’s life was at stake). A woman named Norma McCorvey, who used the name “Jane Roe” to protect her identity, filed the case. McCorvey was a woman who lived in poverty and had a ninth grade education. After she found herself pregnant with her third child, she decided to fight for the right to have a safe, legal abortion.  She won her case, which was argued by lawyer Sarah Weddington, who was only 26 at the time.  The ruling make restricting access to abortion by making it illegal unconstitutional. McCorvey recently died this month. She had famously conflicting views about abortion, being the face of the abortion rights movement and then the anti-abortion movement later in life, but the legacy of the court case that defined her continues to live on.

ROE V. WADE- Before and After

Before Roe v. Wade, up to one-sixth of all childbirth related deaths were caused by illegal abortions. Now it is one of the safest medical procedures in the U.S. and has a safety record of over 99%.  Abortion is legal in all fifty states and women have access to medically safe abortions performed by trained doctors.

CALL TO ACTION

Tell your friends and family members about the importance of Roe v. Wade and its impact on women’s health. Share your voice let others know that you stand with the Roe v. Wade decision and that every woman should have the right to choose.

For more about abortion and abortion services, contact your local Planned Parenthood location to get information from professionals or visit Planned Parenthood on the web at plannedparenthood.org

SOURCES:

https://www.plannedparenthoodaction.org/issues/abortion/roe-v-wade

https://www.plannedparenthood.org/files/3013/9611/5870/Abortion_Roe_History.pdf

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2017/02/18/jane-roe-made-abortion-legal-then-a-minister-made-her-repent/?utm_term=.86a0b7541a26

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law/legacy-of-roe-v-wade-endures-after-death-of-woman-who-sued/2017/02/18/6ea7d444-f615-11e6-9fb1-2d8f3fc9c0ed_story.html?utm_term=.5c405c91e416