Check Yourself: Planned Parenthood 101

Over the last year or two there have been several attacks on planned parenthood, both violent and smear campaigns. The words ‘Planned Parenthood’ are pretty hot-button, and people don’t usually like to bring it up in casual conversation. But it’s important to know the facts about Planned Parenthood, and here they are:

In a budget allocation that Planned Parenthood released from the 2013-2014 fiscal year, it should be noted that 42% of the services that were given at clinics were in regards to STD/STI testing and treatment. The next largest allocation of services falls under providing contraception, at 34%. 11% of services were described as ‘other’ women’s health services, which can be classified as a mammogram or pap smear. 9% of services were devoted to cancer screenings and prevention. 1% of services fell under a completely separate ‘other’ category. Have you done the math? That leaves 3% of services provided as abortion services. Right, wrong, or indifferent, Planned Parenthood is not solely an abortion clinic, and appears to be doing everything in their power to educate young people and prevent them from needing an abortion in the first place. Pro-Life vs. Pro-Choice is not something that I’ll be getting into this evening, but it needs to be known that these are the real allocation of services. A whopping 3% of services nation wide were dedicated to abortion. Hundreds of thousands of women received HIV tests and other STD tests. Over 1 million women received emergency contraception, which resulted in over half a million unintended pregnancies being averted. And still, only 3% of services are abortion related.

You don’t have to agree with abortion. But facts are still facts. Planned Parenthood does a whole lot more good than it does harm, and that is evident in the way that they allocate their services. At Planned Parenthood, men can receive a vasectomy. They don’t discriminate, and are rallied around the cause of making parenthood enjoyable for those who choose to parent, and making sure that it comes at the right time for every individual who comes in their doors.

 

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Can I Get You Anything? A Snack? A Condom?

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Mrs. George had the right idea when she barged in on Regina and offered a condom. She just wanted her precious daughter/maybe Satan to protect herself! So, in honor of Regina George’s mother, today we’ll be talking about condoms. It’ll be fun, I promise.

Fun fact about condoms! They are the ONLY method of birth control available on the market today that protects against STIs. They also have a fabulous benefit of preventing pregnancy. In typical use, they have a failure rate of about 18%. With perfect use, they have a failure rate of 2%. If you know how to use them correctly, your chances of getting pregnant or contracting an STI are pretty low. You can check out this handy video from Planned Parenthood on how to appropriately put one on.

 

It’s a pretty simply process that has a lot of benefits! There are also several types of condoms. Condoms with spermicide are lubricated with a chemical that kills sperm when it comes in contact with it. These are great to use for vaginal intercourse, but not so great for oral or anal sex. There are also condoms that come without spermicide. Latex condoms are the most commonly used types of condoms, and are readily available at most drug stores or grocery stores. It’s important to remember that if you’re using a latex condom, you cannot use oil-based lubricants. These might wear down the latex and cause them to break more easily. If you’re allergic to latex, you may want to switch to a female condom in preventing the contraction of an STI. Lambskin and polyurethane condoms work just as well at preventing pregnancy, but aren’t so great at preventing the spread of STIs. Female condoms are less effective at preventing pregnancy, with a 21% failure rate in typical use and a 5% failure rate in perfect use. They work by collecting the sperm and pre-ejaculate in a pouch that a woman inserts into her vagina. There’s more information here. Planned Parenthood’s website is seriously awesome, and their information is very reliable.

Monogamous or not, please please please remember to use a condom! It is the only way to prevent yourself from contracting STI’s, which can cause several health problems down the road if they’re not quickly diagnosed. On that note, get tested while you’re at it! STI’s don’t always have symptoms that accompany them. The only way to know if you have one or not is to get tested. Do it every six months, so you can catch anything that may not show up the first time.

Sorry it’s been a while since my last post! Finals have wreaked havoc upon my life, and I’m now in summer school as well. I’ll post as often as I can, my sex positive babies.

The Basics, Shall We?

You may be here wondering what Sex Positive even means. Well, my friend, let me tell you. Sex Positivity is the exact opposite of the culture that we are currently experiencing in the United States. Sex Positivity is about acceptance of all people’s decisions regarding their bodies, even if you do not agree with them. It’s about understanding that sex is a part of life, and everyone has the right to partake in a sex life that is enjoyable and SAFE. Sex Positivity is about encouraging safe, informed, and consensual sex. If you want to have sex, then please! By all means. Have sex. The sex positive movement is here to encourage you to make good decisions by educating you on STI’s and birth control. We’re here to educate you on what consent looks like. We’re here to inform you, so that you can make the best possible choices for yourself and your partner. Sex Positivity is about liberating your sexuality, and allowing you to embrace it, so that you can express it in ways that are best fit for you.

So, today, I’m wanting to give a basic talk/read/whatever this is, about the way the female reproductive system works. You may have a flashback to the eighth grade. You’ll be okay. I promise. So, here we go.

The Female Reproductive System! What a marvelous thing. There are 5 major components to the female reproductive system. I’ll even add a little diagram.

  1. Ovaries – The ovaries are where a woman’s eggs nest. Get it, nest? I’m hilarious. Anyway, eggs are released from a woman’s ovaries when a young woman hits puberty. The release of an egg is the first signal to your body that it will either have a menstrual cycle, or become pregnant. The egg, also called the ovum, is released from your ovaries and travels down the Fallopian tubes. Don’t ever worry about running out of these little guys and gals, because there are seriously millions of them. According to the Cleveland Clinic, there can be 6-7 MILLION of them just hangin’ around in your ovaries. That’s a ton of eggs, ya’ll. When an egg is unfertilized, a woman’s menstrual cycle will occur.
  2. Fallopian Tubes – Your Fallopian tubes are the tubes that your egg will travel down in hopes of becoming fertilized. Usually, fertilization (the meeting of sperm with an egg) occurs in these tubes before or during the time that a woman will ovulate. Women will usually ovulate about 12-14 days after their last period has occurred, but it varies from woman to woman! Ovulation and menstruation is not a one-size-fits-all kind of thing. If you’re having sex, be careful about the times you have unprotected intercourse. You’re most likely to get pregnant in the first week or so before ovulation and during ovulation, since sperm can live inside the body for 5-7 days. It’s unlikely to become pregnant after ovulation has occurred.
  3. Uterus – The uterus is where a fertilized egg will implant into the uterine wall, resulting in a pregnancy. For implantation to occur, the uterine lining  must be thick enough for the egg to attach. The uterine walls build up in thickness throughout a menstrual cycle, so that a fertilized egg will be better able to attach. For some women, heavy periods can be a result of a really thick uterine lining. If an egg is fertilized and attached, the pregnancy will develop and continue in the uterus. In rare cases, a tubal pregnancy or ectopic pregnancy can occur. A tubal pregnancy is a serious health risk, where the pregnancy develops in a woman’s Fallopian tubes. Ectopic pregnancies are also a serious health risk, and occurs when a pregnancy develops anywhere outside of the uterus. Both of these are extremely rare. These are not health concerns that need to be the first thing a woman jumps to when experiencing pregnancy symptoms.
  4. Cervix – The cervix is a portion of the female reproductive system that doesn’t get much credit for anything. The cervix is the part of a woman’s body that allows for sperm to come through, as well as where menstrual blood is expelled from. Women with IUD’s (Intrauterine Devices) are familiar with finding their cervix. If you want to look for yours, it can usually be found by stretching a finger up about one to two inches into the vagina. It feels like the tip of your nose! Depending on where a woman is at in her menstrual cycle, it can be very low or very high, and the opening may be larger or smaller. The cervix has a layer of mucus, which makes it harder for sperm to fertilize an egg. On birth control, this mucus is thickened, making it even harder for the sperm to find an egg!
  5. Vaginal Canal – The vaginal canal is where sexual intercourse occurs, and (often times) where ejaculation occurs. When a man ejaculates (orgasms and releases semen which contains sperm) into a woman’s vagina, the sperm sets forth on its journey to find the egg. If the sperm can make it through all the natural barriers of a woman’s reproductive system, a pregnancy can occur.

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If you are currently having sex and not using protection, you are putting yourself at risk for contracting an STI or becoming pregnant. There are many ways to protect yourself, including condoms, birth control pills, female condoms, IUDs, and many more methods of birth control that we will cover very soon! At the very least, if you do not want to get pregnant or contract an STI, consider using a condom. The failure rate for condoms with perfect use is 2 out of every 100 women, and typical use is 18 in 100. If you do not know how to put on a condom, grab a banana, some condoms, and practice! Practice makes perfect, and the better you’re able to protect yourself, the less likely you’ll be to become pregnant or contract an STI. Of course, abstinence is the only way to make sure, with 100% accuracy, that you do not become pregnant or contract an STI. However, using protection greatly decreases those chances when used correctly! So, men and women alike, grab your condoms and your new information in regards to the female reproductive system, and get it on.

 

Additional Resources:

http://www.plannedparenthood.org/

http://kidshealth.org/teen/sexual_health/changing_body/female_repro.html

http://www.webmd.com/sex-relationships/guide/your-guide-female-reproductive-system

http://www.innerbody.com/image/repfov.html