Posts tagged women
Posts tagged women
We never talk about people who need or want abortions as living things. All the focus goes on embryos, because for some reason, they’re more important than the people who are carrying them.
the piece i wrote that i promised y’all i’d link to eventually :)
According to statistics, one in two pregnancies in the U.S. is unplanned, which makes birth control, well, a pretty hot topic. We have plenty of options, of course, but which are the best at preventing pregnancy? Below are the most commonly used contraceptive options, with facts on the reliability of each.
It just celebrated its 50th birthday in May, and it’s the preferred contraceptive option of many women in America. But is it right for you?
Pros: “One advantage of the Pill and of other hormonal birth control methods, like the Ring and Patch, is that they carry with them a variety of non-contraceptive benefits,” says Lisa Stern, RN, MSN, a nurse practitioner who works with Planned Parenthood in Los Angeles and blogs at gynfizz.com. “The Pill can help regulate irregular periods, make heavy periods lighter and eliminate or minimize period-related and premenstrual symptoms. For women with medical disorders like endometriosis, the Pill can have therapeutic benefits and possibly help preserve future fertility.” Bonus: A major British study out this year reported a correlation between taking the Pill and having an increased lifespan.
Cons: “Though many women and many health care providers immediately think of the Pill as the best birth control option, for some women it may not be ideal,” says Stern. “For starters, it really should be taken at the same time every single day, which is hard for busy or forgetful women. In my practice, I often advise Pill users to put their Pill pack next to their toothbrush or something else they associate with a daily routine.”
How effective? When used as intended, the Pill is very effective at preventing pregnancy, says Rallie McAllister, MD, MPH, a family physician and cofounder of MommyMDGuides.com. “When women use it faithfully according to instructions, fewer than 1 in 100 of these women each year will become pregnant. If women don’t always use the Pill as directed, about 8 in 100 of these women each year can expect to become pregnant.”
The “Rhythm Method”
According to a new government survey, more young people than ever are relying on the so-called “rhythm method”—a method commonly known as “natural” birth control, in which women learn to read their body’s signs and avoid intercourse on their most fertile days of the month.
Pros: It’s natural, which means no chemicals or hormones are necessary, and free. Plus, women who subscribe to this method often say they enjoy being in touch with the ebb and flow of their body’s natural fertility signs.
Cons: “Women who ovulate or menstruate irregularly will find it difficult to track their cycles and may be at higher risk for rhythm method failure,” says Stern. Plus, tracking fertility can sometimes feel like a full-time job. “Some versions of fertility awareness just involve a calendar and a calculator, but others require a higher level of user involvement—temperature tracking, checking cervical mucus, etc.”
How effective? According to data, perfect usage of the rhythm method results in 1 out of 9 women getting pregnant. But “typical” use leads to about 25 percent of women getting pregnant. “It’s important to remember that semen can survive for up to 5 days in the female genital tract,” says Stern. “So unprotected intercourse should be avoided both prior to, during and immediately following ovulation.”
The Vaginal Ring
The vaginal ring (brand name: NuvaRing) is a flexible ring (think of a thick rubber band) that you insert into your vagina once a month for pregnancy prevention. The ring releases the hormones estrogen and progestin to prevent ovulation.
Pros: “The Ring has all the advantages of the Pill minus the disadvantage of daily dosing,” says Stern. “So even those of us who sometimes lock our keys in the car or forget what we need as soon as we enter the supermarket can safely use it. The Ring contains a lower dose of estrogen and progestin than the Pill, so it tends to have fewer systemic side effects (e.g., headaches, breast tenderness) than the Pill.”
Cons: “The only downside of the Ring is that a woman has to be comfortable touching her vagina in order to insert it,” she adds. “But your doctor or nurse practitioner should also be able to give you some tips if you are uncomfortable or nervous. I’ve had many patients worry that the Ring will get lost inside their vagina. Not to worry. The vagina is only about 3 inches long, and the opening to the cervix, which lies at the top of the vagina, is way too small for the NuvaRing to slip through. And if you ever have trouble reaching it yourself, your doctor or nurse practitioner can help you take it out very easily.”
How effective? Per year, fewer than 1 in 100 women will get pregnant when using the vaginal ring as directed, while about 8 in 100 women will become pregnant if it is used incorrectly. According to Dr. McAllister, there is little information about accuracy rates for the Ring, though the March 2010 journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology found that “contraceptive vaginal ring users were more likely to report perfect use during the 3-month trial period than were oral contraceptive users.”
They’re cheap, readily available and perhaps the most common form of birth control around, but are they right for you?
Pros: “This is a good option for women who don’t want to alter their hormones in any way and for women who want to use contraception only when they’re having sex,” explains Dr. McAllister. “It’s great for women who don’t want to take pills daily, and for those who don’t want to wear patches on their skin or vaginal rings in their bodies.”
Cons: “Some men and women feel that the condom interferes with sensation, and some feel self-conscious or embarrassed by the whole process of putting on a condom before or during sex,” says Dr. McAllister. “Some men say they feel pressured to maintain an erection while they’re wearing a condom, since it will fall off if they don’t.” Plus, latex, the most common ingredient used to make condoms, can pose a serious allergy risk for some. “They may experience irritation, rashes or other issues when they’re exposed to latex. An estimated 2 percent of people are allergic to latex. If you or your partner have a latex allergy, you can use condoms that are made of another material, such as rubber.”
How effective? Condoms tend to be less effective than birth control pills, patches or the Ring, even when used correctly. “Each year, 2 out of 100 women whose partners use condoms will become pregnant if they always use condoms correctly,” says Dr. McAllister. However, she adds, “15 out of 100 women whose partners use condoms will become pregnant if they don’t always use them correctly.” Also, condoms can fall off or be damaged during intercourse, and that can increase the risk of pregnancy. “For many women and their partners, these odds are less than reassuring,” she says. “You can increase the effectiveness by using spermicide along with condoms, and by pulling out before ejaculation.”
Say what? Female “condoms” are plastic pouches that are inserted into the vagina before intercourse. “If you can insert a tampon, you can insert a female condom,” says Dr. McAllister.
Pros: “This is a good option for women who want to be in charge of contraception but who don’t want to alter their hormones in any way,” says Dr. McAllister. “It’s also good for women who are concerned about the risks of STDs.”
Cons: The female condom takes some maneuvering to put in place, so “if you feel shy or uncomfortable about inserting a female condom in your partner’s presence, this may not be the best option for you,” she says. Plus, it may cause irritation of the genitalia in women and men. “I’ve also had women tell me that the female condom can be a little noisy, and that can be embarrassing for them,” she adds. And, they’re also a bit pricier than the male version, about $4 per condom.
How effective? Bottom line: Female condoms are less effective than the male condom as well as the Pill, the Patch or the Ring—even when used correctly. “Each year, 5 out of 100 women will become pregnant if they always use female condoms correctly, and 21 out of 100 women who use female condoms will become pregnant if they don’t always use them correctly.”
The “Pull-Out” Method
The “pull-out” or “withdrawal” method sounds risky, but does it really work?
Pros: In a committed, monogamous relationship, many couples consider the pull-out method. It’s product-, hormone- and medication-free, plus it can make sex feel more natural than with physical contraceptives. “When used religiously, withdrawal can actually be pretty effective,” says Stern.
Cons: “If your partner is clumsy or stubborn or excitable, withdrawal isn’t going to work well for you,” adds Stern. “Not only does the sperm have to land outside the vagina, but it has to land outside the external genitalia as well for withdrawal to be effective.”
How effective? Surprisingly, when used properly, this method has a 5 percent failure rate. However, Stern says a more typical failure rate for most couples is about 27 percent—which would be the likely percentage chance you have of getting pregnant if using this method casually. Dr. McAllister explains that “even when a man pulls out in time, pregnancy can still occur.” This can be attributed to sperm from a recent ejaculation being carried to the egg via pre-ejaculation fluid or if semen lands onto or around the vulva and is then introduced into the vagina.
If you’re a forgetful pill taker, the birth control patch (brand name: Ortho Evra) might be for you. “It’s a small, adhesive-backed beige patch that sticks to your skin and releases hormones designed to prevent pregnancy,” explains Dr. McAllister.
Pros: It’s one of the best options for spontaneous romance. “There’s nothing for you or your partner to do right before sex,” Dr. McAllister says. Plus, it’s low-maintenance. “Simply place a new patch on an area of clean, dry skin once a week for three weeks in a row, followed by a patch-free week. Apply the sticky side of the patch to the skin of your buttocks, stomach, outer upper arm or upper torso, but never on your breasts.”
Cons: Women with oily skin, or those who sweat or swim a lot, may find that the patch loses its stickiness and falls off before the end of the week, notes Dr. McAllister. “If you forget and apply lotion or creams to the skin around the patch, that can loosen the adhesive backing as well. I’ve had patients tell me the patch sometimes starts looking dirty or grungy before the end of the week. Some women also forget to remove and replace their patches.”
How effective? “The patch is very effective at preventing pregnancy when used as directed,” says Dr. McAllister. “When women use the patch faithfully according to instructions, fewer than 1 in 100 of these women each year will become pregnant. If women don’t always use the patch as directed, about 8 in 100 of these women each year can expect to become pregnant.”
What pesticides are to insects, spermicides are to sperm. Chemicals in contraceptive creams, gels, films, foams and suppositories stop sperm from moving while also blocking the woman’s cervix so that sperm can’t reach the egg.
Pros: This is an appealing option for women who don’t want to take pills or alter their hormones, says Dr. McAllister. When used with a condom, she says, it can lower your odds of getting pregnant.
Cons: Tick-tock, tick-tock. “For some types, it’s recommended that you wait at least 10 minutes after inserting the spermicide before having intercourse,” says Dr. McAllister. “And most spermicides remain effective for only 1 hour after insertion. So timing is everything! Also, some spermicides can cause irritation of the penis. Nonoxynol-9, the most commonly used spermicide in the U.S., can be irritating when used several times a day.” Irritated tissues may also increase the risk of acquiring STDs and HIV, she adds.
How effective? Used alone, spermicides aren’t very effective. “Most women feel it’s just too risky to use them without a condom,” she says. “If women always use spermicide as directed, 15 out of 100 each year will become pregnant. If women don’t always use spermicide as directed, 29 out of 100 each year will become pregnant.”
An IUD is a contraceptive device made of bent plastic or metal that is inserted by a medical professional through the vagina and into the uterus for long-term pregnancy prevention. “Though the IUD got a bad name during the 1970s when many women contracted infections—some fatal—from an IUD called the Dalkon Shield, the IUDs currently on the market are safe,” says Stern.
Pros: “The ParaGard or copper IUD is an especially useful birth control option for women who either can’t or don’t want to use hormones,” says Stern. “Though there has been much speculation that the IUD can act as an abortifacient, large anatomical studies have dispelled this myth.” The Mirena IUD, which can last for 5 years and contains a small amount of progestin, “is not only the most effective, reversible birth control method presently on the market but can also have therapeutic use for women with heavy or painful periods.”
Cons: “One of my patients’ major complaints about ParaGard is that it can increase menstrual flow and make menstrual cramps more pronounced,” says Stern. “Both of these side effects can be alleviated at least in part by taking ibuprofen consistently, even before the start of the period.”
How effective? Very. According to studies of IUDs, pregnancy rates for women using them are fewer than 1 in 100 each year.
When a living, air-breathing human being actually comes into the world, being “pro-life” becomes infinitely harder. This requires you to actually care about people. The sort of care that takes a critical mind, patience, and self awareness. The sort of care that requires figuring out why things are the way they are so that you can work toward actually fixing them. The sort of care that takes compassion and an unending dedication to a better for life for all humans.
The sort of care that marching around, waving huge dead baby posters, and calling women murderers is completely and utterly devoid of.
somebody in one of my classes was judging gold diggers and sex workers and like tbh i yelled at her
like the day you start providing all women the materials to survive and thrive is the day you get to judge them for how they procure those materials
A few weeks ago my mom stapled pages of a story in one of her women’s magazines together and handed it to me. She gave it to me pretty much with the tag lines “for your feminist blog” and “something new to consider.” Indeed it was; she knows me well.
The story is titled “I was forced to be pregnant.” With a title like that, reading it was actually not on the top of my to read list. I thought it was about women not exercising their right to choice. I was very, very wrong on that one.
Have you ever heard of Reproductive coercion? It is a term that was quite recently coined by the advocates against domestic violence to describe a certain type of abuse some women face. It occurs when a man pressures their partner to have kids and/or impregnates them against their will. Reproductive coercion comes in three different types:
1. Emotional pressure that turns into verbal and physical abuse.
2. Sabotaging birth control
3. Marital rape
Over 75% of women 19-49 who reported once experiencing domestic violence also endured some type of reproductive control by men. It’s all about control and domination over a woman’s body.
The first story in the magazine is about a woman who got married around 36 years of age. After a few months of dating her boyfriend talked excitedly about having children. After he proposed he began calling her “The Babymaker.” She then confided with him that one of her fallopian tubes was blocked. He in return insisted she see a fertility doctor. She recounts, “I had finally met a great guy who was eager to start a family with me. What woman wouldn’t fall for that?” Soon after her honeymoon he persisted on in an obsessive manner, but his efforts had to be temporarily halted as she had to get emergency back surgery. Alas, 6 months into recovery he was back to pressuring her again. She was in much pain at the time due to her back, but she agreed to In Vitro Fertilization. She then became pregnant, but soon miscarried. In response, her husband grabbed her by the neck, choking her. He apologized, blaming his outburst on his grief and had her sign up for another round of IVF. And then a third round. She tried to put him off with the excuse that she needed to weigh more before she could take treatments, her husband forced her to get on the scale often and filled the fridge with fattening foods. “It hurt that all I was good for was getting pregnant.” She recounts. At the end, he screamed at her, threatening to replace her with a maid if she couldn’t get pregnant and she told him she no longer wanted to have his child. He destroyed bedroom furniture, pushed her down the stairs and threatened her with a gun. She fled to a domestic violence shelter.
The second story was about a woman who faced marital rape. This woman was 40, had a then boyfriend and two children from a previous marriage. After telling her boyfriend she did not want any more children, her boyfriend refused to wear a condom and began to rape her. She then became pregnant with her third child. Birth control was never an option for her because she couldn’t hide pills anywhere for he went through all of her belongings. Three months after giving birth, he raped her again, impregnating her with twins. She lost the twins in a physical fight with him, but soon became pregnant again. During her recovery she begged her obstetrician to remove her ovaries and devise a lie to tell him; that she had cancer. After a decade of sexual abuse and violence she was able to get a job that kept her out of the house and often times traveling.
One in four callers to the National Domestic Abuse hotline said that their partners had tried to force them to become pregnant. Why? As one woman stated, “Its like he wants to own me from the inside out.” Having a baby is the perfect tie that binds. These type of abusers want to create a circumstance in which their partner is dependent on him.
WHAT’S THAT HAVE TO DO WITH PLANNED PARENTHOOD?
Many voters never consider how defunding these clinics could hurt victims of domestic violence who turn to them for counseling as well as pregnancy prevention. Abused women will turn to health care providers long before they will turn to domestic abuse hotlines and organizations. Many women in abusive relationships rely on life saving, affordable care programs such as Title X. It is critical that such places are open and operation when women and children need them so desperately.
How do I possibly like this more, it seems impossible.
A Decade of War, the Women of Afghanistan and the White Savior Industrial Complex. There are a lot of reasons for concern about the fate of women and their rights in Afghanistan, and there continue to be further instances of bad news for the current and future status of Afghan women. President Karzai recently backed restrictions issued by the Ulema Council on the conduct of women. Recent reports about invasive searches of female visitors in Pul E-Charki prison are stomach-turning. This week Human Rights Watch released a report on the Afghan women jailed for “moral crimes” like running away from abusive husbands. There ought to be concern and anger, of course. However…
Women’s rights are often held up as the trump card for why Afghanistan needed/needs us. I’m not challenging the fact that the Taliban’s position and the current government’s position on women are reprehensible and warped and need to be addressed, but please, please don’t hold up women’s rights as justification for an extended military presence in Afghanistan. Or for that matter, ever having been in Afghanistan to begin with. Not only is that false on so many levels, but it’s repulsive to use something so crucial, so much about people’s daily human rights, as a superficial excuse to sustain a military presence that, after ten years, has at best kept at bay some of the forces that harm women and erase their voices and their rights.
In light of critiques of #Kony2012 and fauxmanitarian sentimentality, it’s worth pointing out the elements of that in the rhetoric about trying to troop presence Afghanistan into being more gender equal. Not only is this a stretch of logic, but it’s hardly an accurate representation of any actual commitment by the international community to supporting positive gender role-related change. One only has to look at the vague, unsubstantiated encouragements toward handed down by this past December’s Bonn Conference to see that actual commitment to preserving and increasing women’s agency both politically and socially is a secondary, or tertiary even, concern. Women’s rights are used as a rallying cry and then tossed aside.
Malalai Joya, one Afghanistan’s most outspoken critics of Karzai and the West, and a prominent women’s rights activists, challenges the narrative on helping Afghan women, saying “the real struggle is between progressive Afghan women and men, and a phalanx of regressive forces.” Assuming the false dilemma of a choice between our decade of occupation and the utter helplessness of Afghan women at the hands of the Taliban is wrong. I support the idea of everybody working on social and economic and political strategies that support Afghan women in the peace transition, but that’s hardly what the US and the broader international community has done or attempted to do. The peace transition is favoring warlords over women’s rights. Unsurprisingly, we did not use our decade of war over there to build a system designed to give women the voice and power for which they are fighting. No white savior trophies being handed out today.
I’m going to yield to quoting Teju Cole to end this blog post, because I don’t think anyone can say it better: “there is much more to doing good work than “making a difference.” There is the principle of first do no harm. There is the idea that those who are being helped ought to be consulted over the matters that concern them.”
Photo of Afghan women demonstrating in support of a female lawmaker in Kabul. Oct. 2012. Via HRW.