I'm on the verge of adulthood, womanhood, self-discovery, creativity, and sometimes a whole lot of emotions! Feel free to follow my journey!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Abortion FACTS

After watching "12th and Maine" today and seeing all of the pamphlets given out by the pro-life clinic, I wanted to know the real facts. People tend to talk about abortion in very abstract terms, especially pro-choicers. We are more invested in the circumstances surrounding the abortion, the reasons women may need to have abortions, etc., because our argument is CHOICE. So here are some facts about what actually happens if someone makes this difficult choice.

First of all, as someone who is pro-choice, I do NOT believe in abortion as a birth control method. I think that as a choice, abortion should be a last resort and people need to be as proactive as possible about their sexual health. Although I ranted about different contraception methods in one of my other posts, they are very effective when used correctly and using contraception is the responsible thing to do.

Also, if you've had unprotected sex recently (i.e. within the last 5 days), there are other options. The "morning after pill,"(technically, emergency contraception) which is sort of like a "super pill," lots of hormones to stop implantation. Also, if it's been less than 5 days since you had unprotected sex you can also have an emergency IUD implanted, which also can prevent implantation. Many people still consider this abortion, but it is much less invasive and hey, you can't make everyone happy.

  • Medical Abortion - also known as chemical abortion, is the use of certain medicines, usually taken in several steps over a period of 2 weeks to terminate a pregnancy. The medications soften the cervix, stop the growth of the placenta and/or encourage contractions. Medical abortion can only be done during the first 9 weeks of pregnancy, causes moderate to heavy bleeding (similar, I'm assuming, as if you had a natural miscarriage) and has a slightly higher risk of infection (1 in 100,000 can lead to death). It also usually requires a few visits and a medical followup.

Surgical Abortion - There are 3 kinds. *WARNING* -- sort of graphic. However, I got them from WebMD, so they are factual.

  • Manual Vacuum Aspiration - uses a tube attached to a syringe to draw the fetus out of the uterus. It can be used from 5 to 12 weeks after the last menstrual period.
  • Machine Vacuum Aspiration - uses a tube attached to an electric pump to draw the fetus out of the uterus as the above. It can be used during the same time period (5 to 12 weeks after last period).
  • D&E - uses a combination of vaccum aspiration, forceps and dilation and cutterage (D&C is what you get when you have a miscarriage after 12 weeks, btw, because you can get a severe infection otherwise).  It can be used from 12 to 24 weeks, requires one visit and usually a sedative and local anesthesia. It has less of a risk of infection and is 99% effective.

There are complications with these procedure, as with any.

  • Normal symptoms include irregular bleeding (for up to 3 weeks), cramping (for up to 2 weeks) and what they call an "emotional reaction," (which can include sadness, anger, guilt, regret, relief, or a range of depression symptoms. The website warns that prolonged symptoms of depression need to be talked about with a professional). 
  • Also, they warn about heavy bleeding, clotting, severe pelvic pain, fever etc. because these can be signs of complications. However, less than 1% of patients experience serious complications afterwards.

I believe that anyone who is sexually active should have the facts, for if they ever need to make this difficult choice. They need to have as much information as possible about contraception and methods of pregnancy termination. For instance, WebMD recommends sexually active women to have emergency contraception or a prescription for it on hand at all times.

So many of the young women who went to the "Pregnancy Health Clinic" seemed to have no idea about abortion (or birth control for that matter...I hate to judge, but I wanted to give the girl who was having her 2nd abortion in a year a pack of Trojans and a prescription for the Pill...) and got all kinds of wrong or exaggerated information from the women at the clinic.

They also got lied to about how far along they were in their pregnancy. Knowing about their bodies and menstrual cycles would be helpful here. I think that the best way to prevent all this headache and heartache is prevention. Access to and information about sex, contraception, abortion and reproductive health is the best way for people to make informed sexual choices, whether or not they are choices other people necessarily agree with.

P.S. I got all my information for this blog post from here and the links below.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Impostor Alert!

My best friend and I are your classic girl duo - both feminist, both perfectionists, both hard working, both (unfortunately) suffering from our own personal demons at times, both with lots of goals and lots to talk about on those rare occasions we can talk on the phone or see each other (she goes to school in Virginia, we usually consider ourselves lucky if we can see each other three times in one year).

Our conversations are never dull. One topic, I've been meaning to write about for months. It's called Impostor Syndrome.

According to this article, people with Impostor Syndrome are "unable to internalize their accomplishments." They often shrug away success as dumb luck, good timing, work, personality OR immediately start thinking of the task ahead instead of enjoying or congratulating themselves for their success. They constantly feel that those around them are smarter, better, more able then them and that they will eventually get "found out" as a fraud.

Say you got an A on a midterm in a difficult class. Instead of being excited about it, you think, "Well, I only got this grade because I studied so much, not because I'm actually good at the subject," "Well, the test wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. If it had been on all the information I'd never have done as well," "Well so-and-so got an A on this test and didn't even have to study. He/she is so much smarter than I am," or "Well it's a good thing I did well on this test, because I'm definitely going to fail the midterm...and this is a sequential class, so I have no idea how I'm going to do next semester...maybe this degree is too difficult for me."

I know SO many women who suffer from different severities of impostor syndrome. Going to college for music is a breeding ground for all kinds of perfectionist insecurities. Everyone is always trying to be a little bit better, do a little bit more, work a little bit harder. As a vocalist you should be in choir...and do the opera...and opera workshop...and a summer program in Italy...and sing in masterclasses...etc, etc.

My best friend is a classic example. She's a math major and double minor in art history and the Classics at a competitive college. She has a 4.0 GPA, 3 part time jobs, is involved in a service fraternity and heads multiple clubs, runs marathons...and still feels like she's never good enough!

On a positive note, impostor syndrome often makes women compete harder for their goals. It's what made me audition 4 times for the performance degree when I could have easily gotten a music education degree and not have gone through all the headache of the past 4 years. It's what makes another friend of mine stay up late making sure she has the perfect lesson plans for student teaching.

Impostor syndrome is perfectionism on steroids. Perfectionism is saying, "I need to be perfect." while impostor syndrome is, "I need to be perfect to hide the fact that I'm actually a failure." Impostor syndrome can be at the root of all kinds of mental health issues - depression/anxiety and eating disorders especially. The funny thing is that when you have depression, it's even more difficult to be wonder woman...

I only wish that we could get off the treadmill of our culture-on-overdrive. Stop talking to ourselves in a nastier voice than we would EVER let anyone else speak to us. Stop looking into the future and trying to be thinner, smarter, better, richer, more popular, more successful and actually start ENJOYING the lives we have RIGHT NOW.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Birth Control

Maybe it's just because I've been feeling like complete crap emotionally since Saturday, but I've been extremely frustrated about the current state of birth control. Let me know if you think I'm being ridiculous - my patience threshold is at an all-time low.

Let me start by saying I'm really happy that women have all these different forms of birth control to help them prevent pregnancy. We live in an age where pregnancy is not an all-consuming fear about having sex like it was even 50 or 60 years ago. Honestly, if it weren't for barrier and hormonal methods of contraception, I probably wouldn't be having sex right now. I don't want to see ANY strollers in my immediate (i.e. AT LEAST 5 years) future.

However, here's my dilemma. All methods of contraception seem to have some major downsides. Condoms can be a little bit of a hassle "in the moment," you need to store them correctly (not in your wallet like you see in the movies) and they can break. Hormonal methods (The Pill, the patch, the ring, the shot, IUD's) have 99% effectiveness if they're used correctly, which is awesome. But each have their own set of downsides.

1. All these hormonal methods are completely dependent on the woman. Men have absolutely no part in preventing pregnancy. This can be a good thing if you don't have a steady partner at the moment and don't want to rely on someone else's judgement, but it's not really fair. It perpetrates the idea that pregnancy is "the girl's problem." Uhm...hello! It takes 2 people to get someone pregnant!

2. All of these methods involve putting synthetic hormones in your body to essentially stop its natural cycle. I'm not coming at this from a religious or moral standpoint, but it makes me uncomfortable to be on the pill and have my body essentially being controlled by medication. Then again, I don't like to take Advil if I don't absolutely have to...so maybe I'm crazy.

3. All of these hormonal methods have to be very strictly followed. You have to take your Pill at the exact same time every day, or change your ring or patch at the same time every week/month. If you don't you're at risk of ovulating and blowing the whole thing.

4. The Patch is not invasive, but because of that, it has 60% more hormones in it than a normal low-dose pill (and for the record, "low dose" is labeled at 30 mcg. per day, when there are actually pills out there that are only 20 mcg per day - so that's double!). That amount of synthetic hormones in me just makes me uncomfortable and has a great deal more possible side effects.

5. For the NuvaRing , it's just sort of sitting there, hanging out inside your vagina. I've never tried it but I'd really like to hear feedback - Can you really not feel it during sex? It just weirds me out. Again, I'm probably being a big baby.

6. Other methods that are not time sensitive are very invasive. Depo Provera (the shot) is an injection every 3 months (some people don't mind needles but I have yet to meet someone that truly enjoys them). And IUD  sits in your uterus -it is painful to have put in and has a risk of falling out, which is extremely painful. Implanon is a rod that is implanted in your arm for 3 years. None of theses things are horrible torture devices by any means, but they all just seem very invasive to me.

So, I ask you, if you're comfortable answering:

  • What form of contraception do you use? 
  • Do you have any qualms with what you use or are you really happy with it?
  •  Do you ever have scares or have to use backup methods? 
  • Have you tried methods that haven't worked well for you?
  • Guys, if there was a birth control for men, would you take it?