Posts Tagged ‘Sexual Health’

Scare Tactics: The Great Reproductive (in)Justice

BlackCelebKids posted this picture in their Hot Topics yesterday and my jaw hit my toes.

This billboard, is a part of an ad campaign by the pro-life group LifeAlways.

A billboard that reads, “The most dangerous place for an African American is in the womb,” has been placed in the heart of SoHo by Life Always™ as a part of a new national campaign to expose the truth about how Planned Parenthood targets minority neighborhoods as they perform over 300,000 abortions a year. This particular billboard is about half a mile from a Planned Parenthood abortion facility. Life Always board member Stephen Broden said that Planned Parenthood has had a devastating effect on the sustainability of the African American population.”

My heart is pained.

In case you’ve been out of the loop, there has been huge interest in Planned Parenthood since last week, when the House of Representatives, voted to strip the 95 year old organization of its federal funding. The decision was wrapped up in frilly bows and tape, but the bare bones of the matter is that it is centered around the pro-life movement.   Because Planned Parenthood does in fact offer abortion services,  these crafty legislators feel that they would much rather leave the three million people who use the clinics without care, than be involved with such an organization.

How intelligent. (more…)

Reproductive Health…in a Recession

If I’ve learned anything about politics, its that you can’t please everyone all the time.  No matter how you slice the bread, someone is always going to complain that they got the bad piece.  And in the case of decisions that include health or finance, there will always be one side staring at the other going, “I don’t get what you’re so worked up about”.  When the Affordable Care Act ,was instituted, allowing young adults to remain covered under their parent’s health coverage until age 26, I had quite the over-dramatic moment.  For the thousands of people who were boldly unimpressed with the President thus far, I wanted to throw my arms around him and hug his neck.  I guess, they’d never been where I’d been.

For me,  reading over the details in the fact sheet, it was hard not to remember how I felt myself, when I aged-out of my mom’s health insurance.  I was almost done with college, but silly me, I was not yet done with getting sick and having medical concerns.  No longer covered by my mom’s Blue Cross, I was the only person in my house subjected to making the emergency room, my primary care physician. When I finally got a job that included benefits, some two years later, I learned that health insurance was the fatted calf of all great jobs.  The fear of losing that security is what got me out of bed in the mornings, and for many of us, what kept us working at places we hated.

After finally grasping what it was like again to have a doctor to call, one who knew my name and symptoms, I never wanted to go back to the uncertainty of emergency medicine and unconcerned, overworked board of health doctors.  Well, for many of us facing unemployment and layoffs now, myself included, as well as those of us on a budget who pay for our own health insurance, we are once again looking down that barrel, and I am determined to not go at it with the same depressed attitude.  Health coverage or not, our bodies are worthy of adequate care, and we are the ones to make sure we get it.

For those of us whom our fertility is only a symptom of more pressing matters, not visiting the doctor regularly can be climactic.  For me, the irregular and massive menstrual cycles were just not going to allow me to stay away from the stirrups for too many long breaks.  Just when I would think everything was under control, She and I would spend a lovely 2 months together and I would finally have to go weeping into someone’s triage for relief.  Yeast infections, sexually transmitted diseases and even urinary tract infections can also become reproductive health problems for which many women need recurring treatments and maintenance. Finding a comfortable place that can help us monitor our bodies until we can return to more regular care, is vital to creating a healthy reproductive tract.

In beginning my search for a health center, I started with Google.  I did a basic search for women’s health clinics in my area.  When I found a few that looked interesting, I also took my search over to, to check out the reviews.  Hearing what other patients are saying about their quality of care and bedside manner is an excellent tool in making your decision.

Private facilities with sliding scales are a great choice for those of us with little cash to spare, but a desire to remain on top of our health.  Many women’s clinics around the country provide specialized services and empowerment to those in need.  Here in Chicago, for instance, there is the Chicago Women’s Health Center.  This organization provides treatment on a sliding scale, with the lowest appointment fee being just $20, which is the cost of the lab work! The clinic focuses on educating women (including LGBT women) on how to  holistically take care of their bodies.  The health education aspect, along with the self-empowerment focus is what keeps many people who even HAVE insurance coming back to CWHC for years.  Check out the clinics in your area, and be sure to look for reviews and testimonials.  Find out what the fees are for the uninsured or if there are special programs to help you.

Fertility Note: Fertility awareness is taught on-site, which really stood out to me because most people seem to think that if you can’t afford to have a baby right now, you shouldn’t be planning for one, which I find to be a load of crap.

Speaking of special programs, investigate your state!  I found that here in Illinois, there is a Healthy Women card, that I was COMPLETELY unaware of back in the day when I was first uninsured (someone needs to step their publicity game up).  The “Pink Card”, as its called, provides every eligible woman in the state with coverage for reproductive health needs.  This includes yearly pap exams, testing, and basically any other issue that can be narrowed down to general gynecology, even tubal ligations for women over 21. The card is accepted at some doctors offices here, so it could be that some women are able to continue with the doctors they know!   There are different programs for Moms and Babies, and women with larger families or incomes, but this card is valid for the reproductive needs of women like me.  Investigate the programs that your state may have, because just like finding this out proved to me, some government agencies you’ll never know about until you look. (I found similar programs in Texas, Oregon, and Maryland to name a few)

Fertility Note: My favorite line from their website is this:

  • Patient education and counseling about women’s health, family planning and how to plan for a healthy pregnancy if and when you want to have a baby.

Illinois Healthy Women Card

Planned Parenthood remains a crowd favorite for many contraceptive choices, but it is important to note that they do provide gynecological exams and checkups as well.  The cost of many of these services depends on the location, so don’t hesitate to call them and inquire.  Planned Parenthood is a clean and trusted environment where women(and men), have gone for years.  Though I still cringe at the amount of reproductive health clinics that cleave solely to preventative medicine, I have to say that PP is greatly instrumental in keeping thousands of bodies safe and healthy for decades.

Fertility Note: While as I said, Planned Parenthood does seem to lean more towards contraception and abortion, according to their website, they are able to provide information on fertility services in your area if you ask during your appointment.  SO ASK.

Lastly, check out your County hospitals, community health centers and health departments.  These fall to the bottom of my list primarily because of the over-crowding and the enormous wait times,(or maybe that’s just here in Chicago), but I have to say that sometimes these hospitals have some of the best doctors.  They may take all day to get to you, because of the amount of other more serious cases, but when they do, they are going to leave no stone unturned. Do NOT let them intimidate you.  I experienced a colposcopy in one of the most unattractive and un-updated exam rooms, but I was also sure when I left that everything had been investigated.  The comfort of knowing I was healthy, far surpassed the discomfort of that dim, small room.  The health centers in your area may be much different than the ones I have experienced, but either way you owe it to yourself to at least visit and see what its about. You may find yourself pleasantly surprised.  To find the community health centers near you, visit the websites of your county, city or village.  The fastest way though, is to visit the US Department of Health and Human Services website and enter your zip code into the Clinic Locator.

With any place that you decide you’re most comfortable, do not leave out your fertility plans!  Even when I was down on my very worst luck, without two pennies to rub together, and in need of someone to please prescribe ANYTHING to slow or stop my periods, I did not leave out the fact that childbearing was something I was planning for.  The usual treatment option for PCOS related symptoms and irregular periods, is birth control pills.   I made sure to note my future plans because I did not want any prescriptions or treatments that would stall my process when I was able to move forward.  Whatever your situation, I hope you (and I) find health service alternatives that meet our goals and expectations, while allowing us to become healthy carriers for the lives we seek.  Not being able to afford building your family is NOT the same as not being able to afford PLANNING your family.

What I believe

I believe that we do our daughters a disservice by NOT making it plain that pregnancy is not something that comes easy for EVERYONE.

I believe that it is a problem that most organizations that say they are for Reproductive Justice and Black Women are referring to CONTRAception and not CONception.

I believe that infertility should NOT be a taboo, as current statistics state that: 

  • 6,000,000 women deal with infertility
  • 2,000,000 married couples are infertile

I believe that we as a culture should do more to try and reduce the amount of teenage pregnancies that exist and bring some much needed support to the vast amount of African-American adults struggling with infertility/miscarriage/prematurity.

I believe African-Americans should receive MORE information and support regarding Foster Care, Adoption, and Assisted Reproductive Technology.

I believe that others should believe these things too.

Don’t you?

There are times when the progress of this organization and blog distract me from my own battle.
I’m grateful for that.
But just in case you haven’t heard me rant in a while…I have to say,…this thing sucks.
Which is precisely what fuels me in raising the war cry about it.
With that many people affected by this condition…not ONE of us should be lonely.  Not by a long-shot.


A "Got to Do Better" Moment.

Somewhere, somebody is drinking Moscato, listening to “I Invented Sex”, and getting knocked up.
What’s not beautiful?
They’re probably about 17 years old.

What the hell, colored folk?
I remember a time when grown-folk music was more than just the title of someone’s album.  Grown folk music was meant for…well,…grown folk.  Now, I guess all bets are off.  And you know whose fault it is?  OURS.
I wasn’t planning on doing a “Valentine’s Day”, post, but as I went on a little therapeutic shower curtain shopping spree today, (Don’t judge me, my husband was at work), I stopped into Burlington Coat Factory to raid the housewares section.  As I was walking in, a young mother of two was on her way out.  Behind her, the two boys, ages about 13 and 8 were trailing.  Nothing suspicious or out of order there.  But then, as they neared the door, I heard the younger one singing to himself,
“I am on a 24 hour, Champagne Diet…”

Now, I like Drake as much as the next radio victim, but for real mom, your eight year old is singing about drinking liquor for 24 hours and that’s cool?  That’s in style this season?  Get the frick outta here!

It gave me pause.

Do we not hear what our kids are listening to, or are we so busy listening to it ourselves, that we just don’t care?

But beyond that…my issue is that we have more power over our generational curses than we give ourselves credit for.
Our youth are far too sexually aware of themselves.  This is not to say that folk weren’t having babies when I was in high school, or even when my MOTHER was in school.  What I am saying is that the script has flipped so damn much that our kids are feeling like outsiders when they DON’T have sex, or when they DON’T want to be as try-sexual as everyone else.  What is wrong with this picture?

This is what I believe mainstream America is seeing from our community:

29 year old mother of 10.

Meanwhile, this is what ELSE is going on,

A couple Praying for a strong relationship
I would love it if we could go back to making some things for kids to aspire to become.  Like, for instance…um,…adults!  If they are already singing, acting, dressing, and behaving like grownups, that is our fault.  Babies shouldn’t be singing about making babies.  Babies shouldn’t be out on Valentine’s dates on a Sunday night without anyone knowing what time they’re coming in.  BABIES, should be nurtured and loved and GROOMED into adults.
It’s 12:55am.  Do you know where your teen is?

I know what you’re thinking.  Damn, Mrs.Tiye, all that from a kid singing a song?
All this from not only that kid, but the chick I ALSO saw who was every bit of 16, wearing see-through leggings and a too-short tee…IN CHICAGO, in 18 degree weather.    That’s cute?  That’s hot this season?
Are folk SCARED to parent?  How you let your BABY out the house in that?

All this comes from watching younger sisters of my community brandishing their war-torn love stories all over Facebook.  Seriously babe?  Six weeks of you telling the WORLD how flucked up dude is all over the net, but then you got hugged up pictures on there today because someone’s random status message said post a pic of you and your boo for Valentine’s week?


We gotta do better folk.  We gotta do better because these little girls are trying to be the “I Got this”, women that their mothers had to become. They don’t know or CARE, that their mothers had no choice, it looks good on the outside and they have NO understanding of what was going on behind the scenes.  And these little boys are trying to be the daddy’s that they saw their daddy’s and uncles being; dropping kids all over the place without sending a dime or instilling ANY wisdom.  They don’t know how to help the girls because they’ve only seen their mothers “do it all”, so in their minds, they shouldn’t HAVE to help.  “If my momma took care of me and my brothers/sisters without my daddy help, or with only a welfare check, why the hell you always asking ME for money”.

They got the game allll twisted and what are we doing about it?  Nothing.  Walking ahead while they are listening to Nicki Minaj and Usher tell them that its cool to send your girl out scouting for a girl to have a threesome with.  And from all the glamorization of sex, and the overindulgence of false “independence”, we end up with kids who have kids, who will ALSO not know how to do anything but Fake it till they make it.

I know this post is all over the place.  I know that.  But I’m so damn sick of us producing fruit that is overripe and falling to the ground.  We have got to tend this tree.

Wow! Why didn’t I think of that?

Damaged Sperm Healed By More Sex
( — For men with fertility problems, some doctors are prescribing a very conventional way to have a baby: more sex.
In a study of 118 Australian men with damaged sperm, doctors found that having sex every day for a week significantly reduced the amount of DNA damage in their patients’ sperm. Previous studies have linked better sperm quality to higher pregnancy rates.

The research was announced Tuesday at a meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Amsterdam.
Dr. David Greening of Sydney IVF, a private fertility clinic in Australia, and colleagues looked at 118 men who had damaged sperm. Greening and colleagues told the men to have sex every day for a week. After seven days, the doctors found that in 81 percent of the men, there was a 12 percent decrease in the amount of damaged sperm.

Many fertility experts suggest men abstain from sex before their partners have in-vitro fertilization, to try to elevate their sperm counts.
Sperm quality can also be improved if men don’t smoke, drink moderately, exercise, or get more antioxidants.

Since concluding the study, Greening says he now instructs all couples seeking fertility advice to start by having more sex. “Some of the older men look a little concerned,” he said. “But the younger ones seem quite happy about it.”
Experts think sex helps reduce the DNA damage in sperm by getting it out of the body quickly; if sperm is in the body for too long, it has a higher chance of getting damaged.

Some experts said that while Greening’s research is promising, it doesn’t prove that daily sex for men with fertility problems will actually produce more babies.
Greening said he and his colleagues are still analyzing the study data to determine how many women got pregnant.

“Looking at sperm DNA is just one part of the puzzle,” said Bill Ledger, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Sheffield, who was not connected to the research. “Maybe this will improve pregnancy rates, but we still need to do more studies.”

Ledger said instructing couples with infertility problems to have more sex could stress their relationship. “This may add even more anxiety and do more harm than good,” he said. He said couples shouldn’t feel pressured to adjust their sex lives just for the sake of having a baby.

Greening said the study’s findings were ultimately very intuitive. “If you want to have a baby, our advice is to do it often.”
By De’Laney Rowland, BDO Staff Writer