Friday, May 29, 2009

Your Non-Repro Health News

Happy Friday! As the week winds down, here are a few not-quite-repro-health-related stories of note:

  • "Helloooo, this is Dr. Maya Angelou calling. Tell me something: Would you deny your son or your daughter the ecstasy of finding someone to love?" These are some robo-calls I actually wish I was getting.

  • I personally have always been a horrible speller. But that doesn't stop me from loving the story about this thirteen year-old girl winning the spelling bee.

  • There's a great roundup of Judge Sotomayor's Opinions over at RH Reality Check.

  • And finally, most of you must have heard the sad news that the CA Supreme Courtupheld Proposition 8. Below is a small collection of some of the protests that happened all over the country as a result.

So tell me all. What will you be up to this weekend?

Protesters gather in the castro district in San Francisco. Via Capt' Tim..

Protest in Dupont Circle, DC. Photo via M Hoek.

Protest in Atlanta, GA. Photo via Melissa Terry.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

I'm in Love with This New H&M Campaign

Cheap-chic retailer H&M has collaborated with Designers Against AIDS to launch the second annual Fashion Against AIDS collection, with twenty five percent of the sales prices going to HIV/AIDS awareness projects.

Cyndi Lauper (pictured), Yoko Ono, Dita Von Teese, N.E.R.D., Moby, and Katy Perry are among the stars who're collaborating on the effort; personally, I'm most in love with their safe sex message.

Check out more images from the collection here.

We Have A Reader Diary!

Anyone who isn't reading the great reproductive health news site RH Reality Check already should hop on over there. They are the best resource out there for the latest news and opinion from reproductive health sources all over the world.

But, if you really needed another reason to visit the site, well we've got one. Come visit us! Yes, that's right: this week PPNYC will be starting on a new Reader Diary discussing many of the same questions we raise here -- only in greater detail. So come check us out!

Photo thanks to Cecilia Levy.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The problem with labels

Two weeks ago Ross Douthat wrote a piece about Obama's approach to the so-called culture wars. Well today, Planned Parenthood of New York City has a letter in the New York Times in response.

The best part is where Joan Malin says:

When we let politics get in the way of providing the best medical care possible for America’s women and families, everyone loses.

When women are no longer able to make the best medical decision for themselves, their families and their situations, both sides — right and left — suffer.

This isn’t about “choice”; it’s about respecting and affirming a woman’s decision no matter what it may be.

It’s time to stop making women and their families casualties of an ideological war.

Personally this letter really resonated with me. I've gotten so frustrated, especially over the past eight years, as I've watched what I consider to be the most intimate and personal decision I'll make in my life -- whether and when to have a baby -- become some abstract political rallying cry. Of course these issues are so important, but as each "side" in this argument has gotten more and more heated, I've felt more and more alienated. Shouldn't our priority ultimately be the health and safety of women, men and families, regardless of a political philosophy? And shouldn't doctors and women be the ones making intimate and personal medical decisions, instead of having them debated, poked and prodded at on a national political stage?

But I'm curious -- what do you think? Do you agree with the letter? Disagree with it? Have you gotten at all frustrated with the national debate?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Summer Love: Are We As Seasonal As The Rest of the Animal Kingdom?

A friend sent me this post over at Glamour magazine today, and it got me thinking. With the unofficial kickoff to summer upon us, how *do* you feel about summer romance? Animals definitely have seasonal mating periods, and hormones may rule women's attraction levels throughout the month, but do us humans ever have our romances dictated by the season?

Unfortunately I've got nothing to offer you but speculation since, aside from one study done about fifteen years ago, I haven't been able to find any credible evidence tying human sexuality to various seasons.

I do intend to keep looking, but in the meantime, I'd love to hear how you feel! Is there one season that gets you more than the rest? Summer? Spring, with the flowers in bloom? Winter with cold weather and fireplaces? I personally love fall, both because it's got some of the nicest weather in New York, and it's my birthday season.

Plus, I can't help but share this video. Enjoy, and have a good holiday!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Have a good weekend!

I'm not sure how it is for everyone else around the country, but here in New York it really is starting to feel like Summer. So I thought I'd share this great picture of two Dragonflies -- just a reminder that yes, even insects have to think about reproductive health too. So tell me, what do you have planned this weekend? Anything fun for Memorial Day? Will you be enjoying the weather outside? Or taking a trip? Have fun!

(photo via Dadida)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

When did you first learn about sex?

I consider myself lucky. When I was three my mom had just become pregnant with my little sister. Of course what toddler isn't going to want to know what's growing in mommy's tummy and exactly how it got there? So I asked – and she answered, whipping out her vintage copy of "Our Bodies Ourselves" and all. Over the years, we kept having versions of this conversation, whether it was me asking what a term I'd heard on TV meant (the "blow job" conversation was a classic) or asking about different forms of birth control. That doesn't mean I always felt comfortable telling my mom everything, but it did mean that I a) knew the facts and b) knew where to go to get answers if I needed them from somewhere other than mom.

So when I saw this video of Planned Parenthood's Haydee Morales and her daughter talking about sex it made my heart warm. Haydee is the Vice President of Education at Planned Parenthood of New York City, and Haydee's daughter is 11. Their conversation is touching, and proof that yes, a parent can have a good, open conversation about sex with their kids. And sometimes it's that conversation that makes a world of difference.

So what about you all? Could you talk to your parents about sex? Are they the ones who told you the facts, or did you find out from friends/peers/older siblings? And how much of what you thought you "knew" ended up being myths?

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Midwest Teen Sex Show Goes PrimeTime!

I've posted many times about my love for the Midwest Teen Sex Show. I mean it's hilarious sketch comedy that' teaches better sex ed that most U.S. schools do – where can you go wrong?

So that's why when I saw that the MTSS was going to take a break from their regular podcasts I was sad. Until…

I found out that it was because the show had been picked up by Comedy Central!

Yes, that's right. The video sex ed troupe that used a hot dog and cup of chocolate and peanut butter to teach about anal sex will now be on national cable.

Check out MTSS's other great videos, including ones on The Older Boyfriend, Syphilis and Vaginas.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Does this study make you want to practice withdawal?

So how many of you have seen this study about withdrawal? It comes from the Guttmacher Institute, which for those of you who don't know, is definitely one of the leading research bodies on sexual and reproductive health, and compares pregnancy rates for couples using withdrawal for birth control versus those using the male condom. And it found that the rates were almost the same!

But does that mean we'll all run out and start relying on withdrawal as a method of birth control?

I know I definitely wouldn't feel comfortable depending on the old "pull out" method to make sure I wouldn't get pregnant -- it just seems like there are too many things that could go wrong. Plus, I have mixed feelings about promoting it as a method. On the one hand, I know as well as anyone that hormonal birth control isn't for everyone. On the other hand, withdrawal is risky, and leaves a lot of room for human error. Plus, it in no way protects against STDs! But what do you think?

PS - how to find the best birth control for you; the top ten contraception myths; and trusting a boyfriend to take the male birth control pill.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Michelle Obama & Elmo Encourage You to Stay Healthy

Make this your smile of the week. (Via.

Top Ten Contraceptive Myths

Good morning everyone!

No matter how well-informed our parents were, or how many times we had that "birds and the bees" conversation with our parents, each and every one of us grew up thinking something crazy about sex and the way babies were made. I remember my best friend Baron insisting that babies came out your belly button when we were in the third grade, and I unfortunately believed until I was 20 that women could only take the "morning after pill" once in their lives, and if they took it again it would kill them (not true my dears, as it's simply a high dose of birth control hormones it has no more harmful side effects than birth control).

So that's why I was so pleased to see this piece in the UK's Mirror about the top ten contraceptive myths:

1 You can't get pregnant if the man hasn't ejaculated
2 You can only get pregnant mid-cycle
3 You can't get pregnant if you're breastfeeding
4 The morning-after pill has to be used the next day
5 Hormonal contraceptives can reduce fertility
6 You need a break from the Pill or patch
7 The Pill makes you fat
8 The implant moves around the body
9 Only mums can use an IUS or IUD
10 Two condoms are safer than one

But I'm curious about all of you. What misinformation did you grow up believeing? And when did you learn that it wasn't true?

Friday, May 8, 2009

The never ending question of the best form of protection

The first time I went on the pill, it was the high estrogen type that came in a thick pink packet. It made me feel like I had PMS all the time, I got moody, and it killed my sex drive. Since then I've tried low-estrogen, progesterone-only, a diaphragm, condoms, and lots of things in between. A few friends of mine started using an IUD and love it. Another friend of mine got hormonal shots and they made her clinically depressed. My younger sister once tried the sponge. The truth is when it comes to contraception, everyone has a story to tell, and there's no one simple option.

Which is why I was excited to see Planned Parenthood's new My Method – a quiz that helps you figure out what form of birth control & protection might be best for you based on cost, frequency, whether you want to take hormones and whether you even need birth control or just prevention against STIs. And who knew -- for me, it recommended I look into an IUD, cervical cap or diaphragm!

But I'm still curious. What do you all use? And does it differ when you're in a committed relationship versus non? For partners who don't have to worry about pregnancy, what do you use? And how often? Do you use more than one method? Which method has worked best for you, and which have you been dying to try?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Goodbye Abstinence Only Funding!

Just a quick link, but check it out! Obama has effectively removed almost all the national funding for abstinence-only education. Definitely the best way to celebrate national teen pregnancy prevention month that I've heard so far.

Why does this prevention message seem so half-hearted?

Yes, yes, I've seen it -- Bristol Palin talking about preventing teen pregnancy on the Today Show, Good Morning America and every national network that covered the Candie Foundation Town Hall meeting in NYC.

It's definitely a relief to see a national conversation about our disproportionately high teen pregnancy rate, especially one that's focused on prevention. But why are we spending so much time talking about why teen pregnancy is bad and almost no time talking about how to not get pregnant? What kind of message are we sending to kids when we admonish them for making the 'wrong' decisions but then give them no tools to make the 'right' ones? Or when the only 'prevention' method you employ is to talk about how hard it is to be a teenage mother? Doesn't that assume teenagers become pregnant only because they want to?

PS - I love Emily Douglas' piece at RH Reality Check on how shame is an ineffective method of birth control. And check out Planned Parenthood's new web site that actually does feature practical information on how to prevent pregnancy!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

So how would you market the "male pill" to men?

You may remember, a few weeks ago we were all excited about the possibility of a male contraceptive pill, even while we were wondering whether or not we'd trust the men in our lives to take them.

Well the BBC is reporting that scientists are close to perfecting a testosterone shot that would act as birth control as well -- easier to remember than a daily pill, and a great option should all the trials prove successful.

The only problem? The BBC has been calling the shots "contraceptive jabs."

I don't know about you, but calling something a "jab" is probably the best way to make it sound unappealing. Still, I got to wondering how they will market the final product to men. Sarah Haskins did a great piece on birth control companies coining the the concept of "period control" instead of contraception, but what's the male equivalent?

Will they jut be brave and go with a straight up contraception message? Will theytalk about paternity or one-night stands? What would appeal to the men you know?

Friday, May 1, 2009

Latest Sarah Haskins!

Check out the latest Sarah Haskins video, and have a good weekend! What are you up to?