Category Archives: Women’s Health

Keeping Your Vagina Clean

Many women worry about keeping their vagina clean, especially since vaginas can have a smell. There are also a lot of bacteria in the vagina, but don’t worry, they’re good bacteria. You’ve seen or heard of a variety of perfumed soaps, washes, and douches that will keep your vagina clean and smelling fresh, but they are completely unnecessary. Vagina’s are generally self-cleaning and you really only need simple soap and water in the shower to keep it at its best.

According to Professor Ronnie Lamont of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists “Vagina’s contain more bacteria than anywhere else in the body.” Again, don’t worry, it’s good bacteria. These bacteria protect the vagina against bad bacteria and keep the Ph level of your vagina balanced. This is why you want to stay away from perfumed washes and douches. They can kill the good bacteria and cause a Ph imbalance, which can lead to a lot of irritation.

Don’t worry too much about keeping your vagina clean. It generally will do that on its own. All you need it some plain soap and a soft wash cloth in the shower and you’ll be fine. If you use perfumed washes or douches they can just make things worse and disrupt the natural cleaning you vagina does on its own.

Sexual Health: What it is

By Nicole Mclaren

 

Before writing this article about sexual health I thought that it was focused on the physical aspect like STIs and their prevention, through researching this topic I have come to understand what it actually means. Sexual health has to do with not only the physical but also the social and mental well-being in relation to sexuality.

To be sexually healthy one should possess a positive approach to sexuality and their sexual relationships. Sexual health is related to other human rights like the right to be any sexual orientation without facing discrimination and gender equality. This means that the social setting in which one is engaging in sexual acts can impact the person’s sexual health. So someone who is not free to be informed about their choices for reproduction is someone who is not able to live a sexually healthy life. Without the fulfillment of human rights sexual health is absent from a society and therefore from the individual.

The lack of access to health care especially reproductive health care impacts the lives of young people across the globe. The U.S. has a relatively high adolescent birth rate, 27 out of 1000 15-19 year olds has a child. This is higher than almost every western European country and is only one off from India’s adolescent birth rate. We must understand that this is not always a choice by young people and it speaks more to the social norms and access to reproductive health care and education.

This aspect of sexual health can impact the rest of someone’s life. In the U.S. teen mothers are less likely to graduate from high school and are more likely to live in poverty than their peers. In order to prevent both mothers and children from facing these obstacles we must provide education about sexual health and access to birth control for young women. The education about sexual health must focus on evidence-based education instead of abstinence based education.

http://gamapserver.who.int/gho/interactive_charts/mdg5/atlas.html?indicator=i1

https://www.plannedparenthood.org/files/6813/9611/7632/Reducing_Teen_Pregnancy.pdf

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.

The Real Price of Cheap Clothes

By: Nicole Mclaren

In the U.S. we are lucky to have somewhat reasonable and protective labor laws. While there is room for improvement we have more protections as workers than people in other parts of the world. In the textile/cloth making industry, there has been a long fight for safe working conditions. Many of these textile factories are in developing countries like Bangladesh. In 2013 a factory collapsed and killed over 1000 factory workers. The factory was used to make clothing for Western companies including Walmart. This coupled with Bangladesh having some of the worst minimum wage laws in the world creates an unsafe and unsustainable work environment. This directly impacts many women in Bangladesh because they are the ones who hold these jobs.

The Fair Labor Association found that the wages that Bangladeshi factory workers make is below the world poverty line. In recentmonths workers have been organizing themselves and from December 11th to the 19th of 2016 they went on strike forhigher wages. The strike took place in 20 factories that produce clothing for global brands. The government immediately cracked down on labor organizers and activists in the country as a way to silence the factory workers. The companies that exploit this labor to produce clothes include H&M, Gap and other international brands. After the government crackdown against activists there has been a push from these companies to the government to address the low wages. While this seems like a step in the right direction it is also the responsibility of the companies to pay their workers a fair wage and to understand what their workers need.

As consumers we are also in a place of power to influence the companies and governments that make these decisions that impact people’s lives even across the globe. The market for cheap clothes is both out of necessity, because our wages do not allow us to make a different choice but also are value system. Being a more conscious consumer is an obligation we have to our fellow women and men. Pushing these companies and/or governments to respect the rights of these humans is easier said than done but there are ways to get involved. One organization to look into is United Students against Sweatshops http://usas.org/. You can become a member, start a chapter in your community or join a chapter near you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Treat Yourself: The Importance of Self-Care for Women

By: Jillian James

 Self-Care. It’s a very simple concept, and yet many women need to be reminded to take a step back and care for themselves. During the day we may find ourselves constantly investing energy into our jobs, schoolwork, partners, friends, pets, and a variety of other places. We may not remember to take time in our day to focus on our own health and our own needs. Self-care is incredibly important for our emotional and physical well-being.

Taking the time to care for ourselves can help us feel more confident and can give us more energy and a more positive outlook on life. We can’t properly take care of others or fulfill our jobs and responsibilities without first taking care of ourselves.

READ YOUR INTERNAL SIGNALS

When you are very busy throughout the day, you sometimes can get out of tune with your body and its rhythms. If you have a very hectic schedule take a few minutes to stop, slow down, and listen to what your body is saying. Are you hungry? Eat a granola bar or almonds, and try to never skip a meal or go long stretches of time without eating or drinking. Are you tired? Consider what things can be put off until tomorrow so that you can get a full night’s worth of sleep.

CONSIDER MASLOW’S HIERARCHY OF NEEDS

According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, we must fulfill our most basic physiological needs before we can fulfill our needs for love, security and friendship. Being healthy and feeling safe are key to our state of health. If these needs are not met then we will feel anxious and unsettled, which can lead to problems forming friendships and creating relationships.

BLOCK OUT NEGATIVITY

 

In a world where we are constantly exposed to information on a 24/7 news cycle, sometimes you need to unplug in order to maintain your mental health. If the negative news gets overwhelming, turn of the TV and focus on a positive, healthy activity. Or better yet, research ways that you can take action and get involved in groups that promote ideals that you believe in. Block negative people from social media and don’t expose yourself to websites that give you anxiety or feelings of dread.

 

 

TREAT YOURSELF

Taking a day to take care of yourself and relax can revive and reenergize you. Take a bubble bath, get a pedicure, have a casual day with friends or stay in bed and watch your favorite show. Our brains and bodies need time to recharge in order to stay healthy and to function at their best. There is nothing wrong with taking time to care for you.

If you feel like you aren’t taking enough time for yourself, then challenge yourself to set aside time this week and focus on yourself. Your mind and body will thank you for it!

Women’s Reproductive Health Around the World

By: Jillian James

States, the issue of women’s access to healthcare is a topic that has received considerable attention lately and is something that women are fighting everyday for. However, in other countries the circumstances are sometimes dire, and women lack the basic medical care that they need.

According to the World Health Organization, every day in 2010 about 800 women died due to complications of pregnancy and childbirth. These complications can include severe bleeding, infections, hypertensive disorders, and unsafe abortions. Out of those 800 daily deaths however, only five of them occurred in high-income countries. 440 of them occurred in Africa and 230 occurred in southern Asia.

If a woman is born in an economically developing country then the odds are immediately stacked against her and the prospect of a pregnancy can be a terrifying one. If a woman who lives in a developing country gets pregnant, she is twenty five times more likely to die from a pregnancy related cause compared to women who become pregnant and live in developed countries, according to the World Health Organization.

When one looks at maternal morality there is a very clear and saddening distunction between those who are rich or poor and those who live in countries that have advanced healthcare systems in place.

When women don’t have access to healthcare, it’s devastating for the entire population. Partners in Health states that the lack of access contraception in the developing world lead 63.2[(million maybe?) or something]estimated unintended pregnancies in 2012, and that over 100,000 women could be saved from maternal deaths by simply having access to contraception.

Women face health inequities simply because they are women, and there is still a stigma that exists about women’s healthcare worldwide. Women in developing countries also sometimes lack opportunities to create their own source of income, which gives them no way to pay for their healthcare. All the factors that that contribute to gender inequality like limited access to education, legal systems that favor men and do little to protect women, and gender based violence are magnified by poverty and a lack of knowledge and understanding about women’s health.

In order to help, do your own individual research about organizations that help increase access to women’s health globally and support them. Educate yourself and others about the issues and raise awareness of this issue on your social media.

 

 

Sources:

http://www.pih.org/blog/women-still-face-big-gaps-in-access-to-health-care

http://www.who.int/gho/women_and_health/en/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2492587/

Here’s Why You Need To Care About The Pill

By: Nicole Mclaren

 

Women sometimes take things like access to health care for granted. I am here to remind not only myself but my fellow women with the privilege of having access to things like birth image_7control, how important that is for women. That’s not to say that everyone in the US has access to reproductive health care because I do not believe that all of us do. According to Woman Stats Project the US has more restrictions on abortions than most other developed countries, this includes Russia and Vietnam.

It is important for women with access to birth control to understand the benefits of it. This privilege gives us the choice to have a child when and if we are ready to do so and can have health benefits for some women. According to an independent organization Institute of Medicine access to birth control is one of the things that is necessary to providing preventative healthcare for women. Some of the others on that list are breastfeeding supplies and screening for cervical cancer.

Impoverished women are the most at risk for unplanned pregnancies, unsafe abortions, sexually transmitted infections and other risks. This not only prevents women from participating in the workforce but also keeps them from receiving an education. Women that live in countries where there is an extreme legal or practical restrictions on women’s secondary education there is also less likely to be a national action plan to eliminate gender inequality.

Those of us who are in a place where we have access to affordable birth control and reproductive health care need to take advantage of it and appreciate it. This privilege can be powerful if we use it to improve other women’s ability to access these things that can greatly impact our lives. This could mean having a conversation with someone about the importance of women’s reproductive health care or if it means getting involved with Planned Parenthood or another organization that works to improve access to health care for all women. However you choose to get involved or want that to look like we need to keep the conversation going so that it cannot be silenced.

Sources:

http://www.womanstats.org/maps.html

http://nymag.com/thecut/2016/11/why-birth-control-should-be-free.html

http://www.womanstats.org/substatics/ABO-SCALE-1-2016.png

http://www.womanstats.org/substatics/ATC-SCALE-2-2015.jpg

http://www.womanstats.org/substatics/DiscrepancySecondaryEducation2015_11correctstatic.png

Tom Price: Unhealthy choice for leader US Healthcare Services

By: Nicole McLaren

 

In the past two weeks the Trump administration has dominated the news, some of this has been about the nominations he has made for leadership positions in the executive branch. He has nominated Tom Price for Health and Human Services. This nomination could have a direct impact on access to healthcare services and could dis-proportionally affect women and others who have benefited from the Affordable Care Act.

Tom Price is a congressman for Georgia’s 6th congressional district. During his time in Congress he sponsored bills that attempt to dismantle federal funding for healthcare services and he has spent years attempting to get rid of the Affordable Care Act. There is also speculation that he used his power as a US representative to benefit a health company that he owns stock in. The bill reversed cuts in reimbursements to the company. Since 2012 he has traded about $300,000 worth of shares in almost 40 different health companies. He has directly benefited from the rising cost of health care in the US which poses a problem if he is going to be the leader of Health and Human Services.

He will now be in a place of power to directly influence healthcare in the US if he is confirmed as the head of Health and Human Services. This nomination could have direct impact on the access to affordable healthcare. The ability to access healthcare services including reproductive and preventative healthcare is extremely important. For women to be able to participate in society we must have access to these services so that we have a choice and a say in our futures.

It is also important to think about the impact this will have on women who need access to reproductive healthcare through Planned Parenthood and how funding for Health and Human Services could hurt the ability to access these things. Healthcare is a fundamental right for all people and we have to work to make that a reality.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2017/02/02/hhs-nominee-tom-price-bought-stock-then-authored-bill-benefiting-company/97337838/

https://www.congress.gov/member/tom-price/P000591?q={%22search%22:[%22tom+price%22]}&resultIndex=1

http://www.politico.com/story/2017/02/tom-price-obamacare-234668

Women’s March 2017 Recap

By: Nicole Mclaren

 

The Women’s March on Washington and the sister marches were grassroots events that grew organically out of the current climate of our politics here in the US. The inauguration of Donald Trump, our 45th president, took place only one day before the event. There was also a historical moment that the march was celebrating, the 44th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. This march was able to combine both resistance to the political rhetoric surrounding women’s rights today and honor the fight for women’s rights in the past.

What is truly remarkable about this “movement” is that the importance of inclusivity is at the forefront. It is a reflection of our times and the modern feminists movements to address the fact that not all women have the same experiences and face the same troubles. There are factors like race, social and economic status, education, gender and sexual identity, language and cultural differences that have an impact on how we experience being a woman. It is important to address and celebrate these differences among the people involved in this movement as it gains momentum, we must also understand the connectivity of the various issues that affect us. We must  bear in mind the connection of immigration rights, civil rights, environmental justice, disability and worker’s rights to the empowerment of women across the world.

Planned Parenthood is one of the many organizations that is a partner to the Women’s March on Washington. The Florida chapter is becoming an official non-profit movement on February 11th and the group will host their first meeting in Orlando on the same day. Women of all ages are welcome to the meeting and it is important for young folks to be involved in this movement. The address is 134 E Colonial Dr, Orlando, FL 32801-1234, United States and here is a link to the facebook event https://www.facebook.com/events/104697503381796/.