Women’s Sexual Health

Recent posts

Assessing Facts About Abortion And Contraception

A new report from the Guttmacher Institute demonstrates that the national abortion rate has dropped recently. Moreover, this drop is not correlated with a decrease in the number of accessible providers. What does this all mean? Will Saletan at Slate discusses the causes and consequences of this phenomenon, arguing that it proves that pro-lifers have it wrong: limiting access to abortion does not actually cause the number of abortions to go down. This is for a couple of reasons: first, overall birth rates are down nationwide (a 9% decrease by some counts), and second, the decline in abortions occurred nationwide, not just in states with overly restrictive laws. Continue Reading →

Where’s The “Pro-Life” Outrage Over Forced Sterilization?

It was recently reported that a number of female inmates in California prisons were sterilized without their consent, and that others were engaged in coercive conversations which could well have led in that direction. With all the “pro-life” (see here for why I prefer the term “anti-abortion” instead) fuss over abortions, I wonder why there isn’t more outcry over this issue? Perhaps it’s a class issue, and female prisoners who tend to come from lower-class backgrounds are seen as less desirable mothers? Whatever the reason, forced sterilization is wrong (oh hi, informed consent!), and it’d be great if the “pro-life” camp could channel some of their seemingly boundless energy into addressing this issue. Continue Reading →

Revisiting “Safe, Legal, And Rare”

The idea that abortions should be “safe, legal, and rare” was articulated by Bill Clinton in the 1990s, and President Obama recently used that same language again, saying: “I think Bill Clinton had the right formulation a couple of decades ago, which is abortion should be safe, legal, and rare…I think it’s something all of us should recognize is a difficult, oftentimes tragic situation that families are wrestling with.” While I like his emphasis on letting families decide what’s right for them in that statement, I also think we should reevaluate the “safe, legal, and rare” language that has become common in the abortion debate. This Feministe article discusses why abortion, like any other medical procedure, should indeed be safe, legal, and rare… but that we, its defenders, should drop the “rare” part of the sentence because it opens us to attacks from the opposition who are essentially saying, “well if you’re so in favor of it, why should it be rare?” The author argues: “Outside of a few truly horrible types of people, few would argue that we need to outlaw balloon angioplasty because we’d all rather people not need it, because ouch and ew. Safe, legal, rare angioplasty is seldom up for debate. Until you talk about abortion. Continue Reading →

The Problem With The Texas Senate Tampon Confiscation

Those following the saga of the anti-abortion laws being passed in Texas likely saw that tampons were being confiscated from those entering the Texas capitol. Without even getting into the strange irony that guns were still allowed inside (because how are tampons more dangerous than guns?!), I’d like to talk a bit about the dissonance between an abstract idea and the concrete reality that follows. The idea here, of course, was to prevent protestors from using tampons as projectiles or launched items within the capitol. The concrete reality of that idea being enforced, however, went beyond implementing that idea and in fact revealed a lack of regard for the consequences for individual women. What if a woman were on her period that day and actually needed a tampon? Continue Reading →

Anti-Abortion* Rhetoric: Where It Fails

*Note: I do not accept the term “pro-life” as a valid or accurate description of those who claim to be against abortion, and hence I use the term “anti-abortion” instead. Read this to find out why. After Wendy Davis’s epic 13-hour filibuster, successfully delaying the Texas senate from voting on an anti-abortion bill that would’ve closed nearly all the state’s abortion clinics (for the time being – sigh), I thought it would be a good idea to examine some of the arguments coming from the anti-abortion side. Sometimes what they argue, and what they’re actually implying, are two quite different things. First, as this Patheos blog post points out, Anyone who makes the “take responsibility [for having had sex]” argument, regardless of whether they also believe abortion involves “murdering babies,” opposes abortion at least in part out of a desire to control women and their sexuality. If abortion is murder, then it doesn’t matter how or why the woman got pregnant, and whether one makes an exemption for rape or incest – and yet those arguments and exemptions are made. If abortion is murder, then why talk about women needing to take responsibility for the choice to have sex? Continue Reading →

Would You Try Vaginal Steaming?

A friend of mine recently asked me my opinion on vaginal steaming. At first I assumed that I mis-heard her. I mean, I’ve heard of facial steaming or steaming vegetables, but vaginal? Turns out, it’s a thing that has been around for some time, especially in Korea. The article explains that vaginal steaming isn’t purely cosmetic and some claim that it can “reduce stress, fight infections, clear hemorrhoids, regulate menstrual cycles and aid infertility, among many other health benefits.” My friend’s gynecologist mentioned it to her while she is undergoing fertility treatments (please note that I’m not suggesting this may or may not work, and this isn’t medical advice; if you are debating giving vaginal steaming a shot, run it past your own doctor). Continue Reading →

Are You Aware Of The Clitoris?

Welcome to International Clitoris Awareness Week! This is the first year that the clitoris has its own week, and is celebrated May 6-12, according to the Huffington Post. While I agree that the clitoris is an amazing body part and deserves more than a little celebration, I had no idea that it had its own week. Clitoraid, an organization that aids survivors of female genital mutilation, came up with the idea and is sponsoring the week. Clitoraid’s spokeswoman Nadine Gary noticed that often talking about clitoris makes people uncomfortable and “whenever something has an ‘awareness day’ it makes it more comfortable to talk about” and I absolutely agree. Continue Reading →

Hymen Handling Tips

In the mood for a cute, upbeat video that discusses how to better understand and care for your (or your intimate partner’s) hymen? Then watch this, and take note of the speaker’s tips on how to ease into sexual activity while taking into account the porous membrane that partially covers the vagina. You can also read Dr. Debby’s advice on how to deal with a hymen that covers more of the vagina and can thus lead to painful sex. Continue Reading →

Is Sex-Based Medicine Helpful or Harmful?

Our society needs categories in able to function (or so it seems). These categories come in handy when we’re collecting data for the Census, but the rest of the time, they tend to do more harm than good. In the United States, many pharmaceutical companies and healthcare professionals use these categories to study human health. It seems like this would make sense, right? Some groups of people are prone to some diseases more than others, so stratifying the data could help to create cures or treatment specific to this group. Continue Reading →

Daily Sexual Violence, In India And America

The rape and murder of Jyothi Singh Pandey in New Delhi brought the world’s attention to the problem of sexual violence in India, with many calling for police reforms as well as culture-wide changes. And it is a culture-wide problem: as this article in The Atlantic demonstrates, there are a host of subtle cultural oppressions, which add up to “ongoing attacks on women, be they decisions to feed them last, marry them as teenagers, skimp on their medical care, or gang rape them on a bus.” But then read this piece, which focuses on the sexual violence American women face. With our rape rates -  there is a reported rape every 6.2 minutes, and one in five women will be raped in her lifetime – we also have an epidemic of ongoing attacks on women. Sexual violence is not an isolated phenomenon, and it’s not something our modernized culture has stamped out: it is systemic oppression. Continue Reading →