Fertility Deva

May 232017
 

Exciting news! I was invited to participate in Joanna Shakti’s Love Library Giveaway to share information about HPV and how to protect yourself from the virus. The giveaway is live May 23rd thru June 11. Register today for your free pass…

 

 

Join Katherine Woodward Thomas, Arielle Ford, Marni Battista, Evan Marc Katz, Michaela Boehm, Caroline Muir, Destin Gerek, Carol Allen, David Steele, Amy Jo Goddard, and many more and get the best resources for dating, mating and relating.

 

Jan 192017
 

Herbal Allies for Healthy Cycling

 

Join me as I interview wise woman and herbalist Susun Weed on how to use herbs to balance your cycle and influence your fertility.


Learn more about using herbs the Wise Woman Way to…

 

Balance the menstrual cycle

 

Ease cramps and other symptoms

 

Balance cycle conditions such as endometriosis, irregular periods, heavy menstrual bleeding and more

 

Discover which herbs to use to increase fertility

 

Learn which herbs can be used to decrease fertility

 

Plus lots more!

 

 

Jul 042016
 

Since today is Independence Day, I wanted to bring up another piece of financial independence. I recently watched a short video in a piece by the Huffington Post that really put this into perspective.

 

The #1 reason women don’t leave an abusive relationship is because their abuser has control of all of the money. It is terrifying to flee a relationship with nothing and even more so when children are involved.

 

Even in healthy relationships, many stay-at-home moms find themselves without a credit history and it can be difficult to obtain credit without a co-signer.

 

Financial independence is important.

 

If you find yourself in this situation or have a young adult in the household who will need to develop their own credit history, here are some tips on how to begin.

  • Get a secured credit card from your bank or Capitol One.
  • Gas cards, department store cards, college credit cards can be easier to obtain and are a great way to get started. Just stop by your local gas station and pick up an application.
  • Obtain a small loan with a co-signer.
  • Get a secured loan (with collateral) such as a car loan.
  • Student loans can also help establish credit.

 

The most important things to remember are:

  1. Pay your bill on time
  2. Don’t spend more than you can pay off.
  3. If you do carry a balance, keep your balance low; maxed credit cards hurt your credit score

 

Having a high credit score opens many doors so it’s worth it to cultivate good credit.

 

Should you worry about your partner’s credit score? If you might be doing things like buying a house together, then yes, you should be concerned. Take steps to improve it now.

 

It’s important for women to develop good credit and to be educated on how to nurture your credit score. If you’re credit could be better, check out this site on how to improve your credit scores and establish a good credit history.

 

If you have found yourself in this situation, I’d love to hear from you.

 

Much Love,
Robin

Jun 282016
 

I’ve been reflecting how reproductive empowerment and financial empowerment go hand and hand.

 

I had a great conversation recently with a mother of a 13 year old boy who had confided in her that he didn’t think he wanted to have children.

 

What great opportunity for mom to have the “how-to avoid pregnancy” types of conversations with him so that he can make choices that will keep him child-free until he decides differently.

 

For a parent who wants their child to succeed, to do better, to go further in life…. teaching them how to avoid conception until they are ready to start a family is perhaps the greatest gift of all.

 

The #1 reason for girls dropping out of school is pregnancy. Studies have shown that young women under the age of 24 who have children are less likely to finish college and take on average, an additional 20 years to obtain their degree. Those who do eventually complete college usually obtain their degrees from community college and will compete with younger graduates from the universities for the same job opportunities. The end result is reduced overall lifetime earning potential.

 

Here’s a really great article that details this further, if you have the time I highly recommend it. The impact of unintended pregnancy on young women (and men) is really quite profound and far reaching.

That’s why this reproductive education piece is so important.  If young women are taught to understand their body and cycle so that they can enjoy their sexuality without accidentally becoming pregnant before they are ready to settle down and start a family it’s a huge advantage.

 

I look at it this way; if not getting pregnant is REALLY important to someone, then not only can they use contraception but if they know that they are ovulating RIGHT NOW, they can choose other forms of pleasure that don’t involve penetration.

 

By giving young adults knowledge on how to successfully manage their fertility you can empower them to make choices that are in alignment with what they want for themselves.

 

Knowing what you want is really important….

 

Surprisingly, knowing what you want is another BIG piece that people sometimes don’t give a lot of thought or consideration. Especially when thinking about what they want over the long term.

 

Kids who have plans for the future are more likely to succeed and less likely to make choices that will damage those prospects.

 

As a role model for the young people in your circle, you can demonstrate how to make decisions based on what’s important to you and show them how to accomplish goals by achieving your own.

 

If you’ve been stuck in the same old routine for a while and haven’t given much thought about your goals lately, then I’d like to invite you to join me in my upcoming course. It’s going to be a lot of fun.

 

I know TIME is a huge factor for many and that’s why I can’t wait to share a super fun exercise that will help you use your time more efficiently and free up time for the things most important to you.

 

You can create the things you want in your life, and you can do it faster than you think.

 

What’s next for you? What do you really want?

 

Sign up today and take the first step to creating more fun, freedom, joy and ease in your life!

 

Much Love,
Robin

Jun 232016
 

I’d like to share something I’ve been working on with you

 

But first, let me tell you a little about how the seeds for this project got planted.

 

I took a class a few months ago called Focus. It was about time management, goal setting and planning.

 

NOT terribly sexy topics…

 

Apparently, I was ripe and READY for this information because it felt like I was taking the next step on something I had already started.

 

They gave me a goal setting exercise to do when I got home, but when I tried to do it,  I felt blocked.

 

I realized I felt blocked was because I needed to review, take stock, get clear on what I actually wanted. 

 

THEN I could honestly set realistic goals that were important to me.

 

I started creating worksheets to help me evaluate life and one thing led to another and suddenly I had a workbook to help me figure things out.

 

As I worked through the pages of my workbook, I had many AH!! moments as things became clear.

 

Upon completed the exercises in the workbook…

  • I felt organized
  • My vision of the Big Picture was much clearer
  • I know what I need to do to create those things in my life
  • It doesn’t feel overwhelming
  • I have a step by step action plan
  • I feel excited and inspired (most important)

 

It was really amazing to put everything into perspective, deeply contemplate what I really want to create in my life and then formulate a plan to manifest it.

 

What about you?

  • Do you have dreams and goals on hold for years?
  • Are you unsure what your best path forward is right now?
  • Do you feel overwhelmed?
  • Do you worry about making the wrong choices?
  • Do you have things on your bucket list that you want to do?
  • How do you want to transform your relationships?

 

Me too! This is why I decided I needed a plan to figure this entire situation out. I’m not getting any younger and there are things I want to accomplish!

 

I’m on FIRE about this!

 

Knowing what you want and making choices that are in alignment with those desires is ESSENTIAL to creating the LIFE you want.

 

So here’s the deal…..

 

Now that I have this SUPER COOL workbook, I need to test it out and get some feedback. Eventually it will become part of my larger 6 month program, but for now, I’m offering it as a four week course.

 

I wanted to share it with you… because I quickly realized how valuable going through these exercises would be for my clients.

 

I want you to feel the way I feel….
Empowered, EXCITED, Focused and Inspired!!

 

So, I’m offering this course for the special price of $97.

 

I’m looking for people who are ready to Seize the Moment! to be part of my beta tester group.

 

So let me ask you….

 

Are you READY to create a realistic action plan for creating the things you want in your life?

 

If you’re answer is YES, then….

 

Join me for a fun and informative course that’s all about you and what you want for your life – which includes your family.

 

I would love to go through this step-by-step with you so that you can get crystal clear on what you want.

 

Because I want you to feel just as excited as I do when you put your action plan in motion!

 

–>>> Join melet’s do this together!  Your dreams are waiting!

 

Much Love,
Robin

Sep 102014
 

Sterilization – The Conscious Choice To End Fertility

 

To finish up our series on modern contraceptive options, I want to talk about sterilization, since it is one of the most widely used options among mature women who have had children.

The various methods of sterilization are meant to permanently render you sterile. These methods are not appropriate for teens or women who may want to have children.

Doctors will often refuse to sterilize young women for fear that she might change her mind in the future and wish to have children. The younger a woman is when she gets sterilized, the more likely she will be to have regrets in the future regarding her decision. While it is possible to reverse some of these procedures, doing so is costly and doesn’t guarantee success.

So with that in mind, let’s start with the options available for women, including a look at the latest non-surgical methods of sterilization for women. Then we’ll finish up with a look at what’s available for men.

Tubal Ligation


Approximately half of the 10.3 million American women who use tubal ligation to prevent pregnancy had the procedure done immediately after delivering a baby. It’s an extremely effective method of preventing pregnancy. However, if a pregnancy should occur after the procedure (very rare), there’s a much greater risk of it being an ectopic pregnancy.

An ectopic pregnancy occurs when the egg implants outside the uterus, either in the abdominal cavity or most often, in the fallopian tube. When the embryo grows too large for the slender fallopian tube, it can rupture and cause fatal hemorrhaging. If an ectopic pregnancy is suspected it should be addressed immediately with the help of your physician, local clinic or emergency room.

There are many ways to “get your tubes tied”. They include tying, clamping, cutting, cutting and tying, burning (cauterization), and physically removing sections of the fallopian tube. Tubal ligation costs somewhere between $1500 and $6000 and according to Planned Parenthood you may be able to use your health insurance to help cover the costs. It may also pay to shop around; different facilities may have different costs for the procedure. Just be sure to find a good surgeon, as they are cutting you open after all!

Essure®


Essure is a non-surgical method of sterilization for women that has been available since 2002. It doesn’t contain hormones and there is no scar left behind after placement. You can have it done in the doctor’s office and go home right after.

They insert the device into the fallopian tube by entering the uterus through the cervix, much like when placing an IUD. Essure is a small coiled spring that will remain in your fallopian tube as scar tissue forms around it.

Essure works by causing irritation and inflammation in the fallopian tubes, provoking an immune response. Scar tissue forms around the device, blocking the fallopian tube so sperm can’t reach the egg. After ovulation, the egg remains trapped on the ovary side of the fallopian tube and can’t reach the sperm.

It takes time for the scar tissue to form so an alternative method of contraception is used for the following three months until you receive the “OK” from your doctor.

When you return for your follow-up appointment they’ll conduct a test to ensure the device successfully caused the blockage of your fallopian tubes. The test consists of injecting contrast dye into the uterine cavity through the cervix and using a special x-ray for confirmation.

If for some reason pregnancy should occur with Essure in place, it’s likely to be an ectopic pregnancy due to all the scarring in the fallopian tube. As previously mentioned this is a life-threatening emergency that must be addressed right away.

The cost to have Essure inserted is around $2000. If you have health insurance, this option may be available to you at no cost under your contraceptive health benefits.

One thing to know about this method of sterilization is that the device contains nickel. You’ll want to make sure nickel isn’t a problem for you before Essure is inserted. There can be unexpected consequences too: some women have reported chronic pelvic pain after Essure was inserted.

One of the issues with Essure is that if it’s not working out, once the scar tissue has formed you can’t remove the device. The only way to get rid of it would be a hysterectomy, which means removing your uterus.

In rare cases, the device can migrate from where it’s supposed to be into the abdominal cavity. This is a medical emergency and requires surgery to locate and retrieve.

Adiana Permanent Contraception


Adiana is the newest method of sterilization available for women, introduced to the public in 2009. It uses a two step approach: first the fallopian tube is damaged by using radiofrequency waves to create a small and precise thermal injury. Then a tiny plug about the size of a piece of rice is inserted through the cervix into the injured area. As the injury heals, the tissue grows into the special silicone matrix and seals off the fallopian tube, preventing future pregnancies. This particular method of sterilization may take as long as 6 months to become fully effective. The FDA requires a hysterosalpingography (HSG), with contrast dye to be preformed afterwards. This is the medical term for the special x-ray test I mentioned earlier and would be translated as followed: hyster– refers to the uterus; salping– refers to the fallopian tube; and –graphy refers to the record or recording that will be made while the test is performed. This test is required to make certain the fallopian tubes are blocked.

Vasectomy


Men really only get three choices when it comes to preventing pregnancy. The first is to use a condom, the second to practice withdrawal, and the third is permanent sterilization by vasectomy.

Have you ever wondered about the word vasectomy? It’s a medical term. Vas– refers to the vas deferens, a tube through which the sperm travels when ejaculation occurs. –ectomy means that part of the body is removed surgically. So vasectomy means that a portion of the vas deferens is surgically removed to prevent sperm from leaving the testicles. This causes permanent sterility.

As far as the actual surgery goes, it’s just a tiny incision or a small puncture wound made through the skin of the scrotum. The methods used for vasectomy are similar in many ways to tubal ligation. The vas deferens may be cut and cauterized or a portion may be removed.

After the vasectomy, a man can go home right away but needs to use an alternative form of birth control until a semen analysis comes back showing no sperm.

Vasectomies can range in cost from $300 to $1000 and sometimes will be covered under health insurance policies.

Considering Sterilization?


Deciding to get sterilized is a big decision. It’s not reversible, (at least not easily or cheaply) and there is no guarantee of success if you try to get it reversed.

In the past, the cost of sterilization has been prohibitive for many who would choose this option. With the introduction of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), these procedures may be covered under your birth control benefits, if you have health insurance.

Some people worry about possible consequences when forcing the body to retain sperm, while others have concerns about disrupting energetic meridians of the body by severing fallopian tubes or vas deferens. Others worry about arterial blood flow to the ovaries being damaged during tubal ligation or unforeseen problems from surgery. Some may feel uncomfortable with the idea of a foreign object in the body, as with Essure and Adiana, and worry about possible unexpected long-term consequences such as chronic pelvic pain.

Only you can decide what is best for you. I encourage my clients to learn about all the options and do their own research and ask lots of questions so that they can make an informed decision about what is best for them.

If you’re baby-making years are behind you, sterilization can be a great solution for worry free sex (don’t forget about STDs).

Sterilization Not For You?


For those of us who are young, who still want children, or who choose not to get sterilized for any number of reasons, fortunately, we have many options to choose from.

Over the last few blog posts we’ve been talking about the different types of modern birth control available, and by now, you know the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Coming up next time we’re going to cover one of my favorite topics – what to do if you are sick of condoms or worried about relying on withdrawal and you’d like a better option.

Aug 192014
 

Emergency Contraception – An Important Tool for Contraceptive Emergencies.

What do you do if a condom breaks or your diaphragm slips? What if you get swept away in the heat of the moment and forget to use your birth control?

Post-coital contraceptives are often referred to as the morning-after-pill, and have been around for a long time. Here in the U.S., medications have been used to prevent pregnancy after having unprotected sex since the 1970’s. Over the years these medications have evolved, becoming more effective and safe enough to be sold over the counter in many countries. In the U.S., anyone can purchase them online or in a drugstore without a prescription.

I recently read an article which reported that even though emergency contraceptives are available without a prescription, they’re not being used as much as they could be. Part of the reason behind this is because people don’t know that much about them. So, I would like to make sure you are aware of this important tool, how it’s used and how to acquire it.

There are two main categories of emergency contraceptives: oral medications and the copper IUD. Let’s start with the copper IUD since we were just talking about IUDs last week.

The Copper-T IUD (ParaGard) as Emergency Contraception

There are two different types of IUDs available in the U.S., but only ParaGard, also known as the Copper IUD has the ability to inhibit implantation and as such can be used to prevent pregnancy up until the fertilized egg has implanted on the uterine wall.

This is why the copper IUD can be used as an emergency contraception. The doctor will say that it can be used up until 5 days after you’ve potentially been exposed to sperm.

The truth is, in some cases it can actually be used up to 10 days after exposure to sperm, depending on where you are in your cycle. In my program, I teach my clients how to pinpoint ovulation, so that they know EXACTLY what to do based on where they are in their cycle.

One of the benefits of this particular method of emergency contraception is the long term contraceptive protection it offers without disrupting your cycle. If you have health insurance, getting an IUD is covered under your contraceptive services benefit, unless you work for places like Hobby Lobby or Eden Foods (yes, that’s the one you see in the health food store).

Emergency Contraceptive Pills (ECPs)

There are a couple of different options available for emergency contraceptive pills but we’ll limit today’s conversation to the most common over the counter version, commonly known as “Plan B”. Currently, there are several different brand names available.

The hormone used in Plan B is called Levonorgestrel. You may remember this hormone from my previous post on IUDs, it’s considered to be a very safe form of synthetic progesterone. Research says medications like Plan B made with Levonorgestrel are safe for women who have had breast cancer, cardiovascular issues, stroke, migraines, etc. One of the reasons it’s considered so safe is because there is no estrogen present, and it’s the synthetic estrogen which tends to create problems.

Plan B and similar brands, come in tablet form and you can purchase them from drug stores, many grocery stores and online.

I’m of the opinion that it’s a good idea to have emergency contraceptives on hand, so that if you ever need it you don’t have to go out searching for it. For those who wish to avoid pregnancy, the sooner you are able to use it, the better your chances are to avoid becoming pregnant.

Plan-BLevonorgestrel works by delaying ovulation, so if you haven’t ovulated yet, you’re probably going to be OK. If, however, has ovulation already happened, then the drug isn’t going to help – although the copper IUD is still an option as long as the egg hasn’t implanted in the uterus yet.

You can see where being able to pinpoint ovulation becomes a really important skill.

Because emergency contraceptive pills are hormonal and postpone ovulation, they do disrupt your normal cycle. If you use them and you haven’t ovulated yet, it’s likely that your period will be late. Because ovulation has been delayed, menstruation arrives later than you’d expect it to. It’s important to understand this because a lot of women experience anxiety when their period doesn’t show up as expected.

It can take up to a month or two for your cycle to get back to normal, so be extra careful and be sure to use protection. Emergency contraceptive pills are not a reliable way to prevent pregnancy (20-30% failure rate) so you won’t want be relying on them unless there’s an emergency. Prevention is always the best way to go.

An Important Tool

Emergency contraceptives are an important tool to know about. If you have teenagers, you can help them be prepared by having the conversations about sexual situations they may find themselves in. You can also help them be prepared by making condoms and other methods of contraception available. You may consider keeping both condoms and emergency contraception around the house “just in case”.

Coming up in my next blog post, we’ll finish out the last of the modern contraception options in The Truth about Birth Control Series with a look at sterilization, including one non-surgical method which you may not have heard about. Then we’ll dive into some of my favorite topics including fertility awareness and herbs.

Aug 042014
 

IUDs – Still the Black Sheep of the Contraceptive Family?

Is it really true that IUDs are being recommended for teenagers? This might come as a surprise, but yes, it is true. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) believe that IUDs are a great option for teenagers, especially because teens are at such high risk for unintended pregnancy, all the way through age 25. So 10 years of highly effective long-term contraceptive protection has significant benefits for young women. They also believe that IUDs should be a first choice for woman of all reproductive ages.

If IUDs are so great then why aren’t they used more often in the US? It’s a great question with a multifaceted answer.

The IUD, aka the intrauterine device, currently has over 150 million users worldwide, but isn’t used here in the US as much because of a couple of reasons. A bad reputation along with being expensive along with drug companies and doctors remembering the sting of lawsuits and were reluctant to promote or recommend IUDs.

wiki_dalkonshieldThe IUD was set to become the next greatest thing to birth control pills, but it got a bad rap in the 1970’s due to the poorly tested and heavily marketed IUD called the Dalkon Shield. It really burst the bubble on IUDs in general. I mean just look at this thing, it looks scary and dangerous…..

The main problem with this device was the string. It essentially rolled out the red carpet for bacteria leading straight into the uterus. The result was infection, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease is a serious infection of the uterus and fallopian tubes which can quickly turn life threatening. It causes scarring in the fallopian tubes leading to an increased risk of ectopic pregnancy, difficulty conceiving and infertility.

Many women died from infections resulting from using the Dalkon Shield, and the company hid information, used research that was known to be flawed and bias. I mean if you know the string is defective…. Replace it… Hello? Yet another example of corporate greed putting their bottom line over the safety and well-being of the women they serve. It’s stupid, really.

A Popular Method Worldwide

Fortunately, today’s IUDs are much safer and it’s one of the most common forms of contraception used all over the world. They are widely used in many parts of Europe and about 41% of women using contraceptives in China, use an IUD.

They are also popular in Mexico, and other countries where contraceptives can be difficult to obtain or where male partners don’t agree to use contraceptives.

Research has shown that IUDs are one of the most effective methods of contraception available, providing long-term protection that you don’t have to think about at least until it’s time to take it out 5 or 10 years later, depending on the type you are using.

failurerates

It is considered almost as effective as the most effective method of hormonal birth control, Norplant, which is imbedded under the skin in the arm.

Today, here in the US, we have three types of IUDs available. The copper IUD which is also called ParaGard, and the hormonal IUDs, Mirena and Skyla.

ParaGard – The Copper T-380 IUD

One of the great things about the copper IUD is that you continue to cycle as normal and it’s your natural cycle. This IUD has no effect on your hormones, so you can use this method while learning fertility awareness and feel confident about your level of protection.

Another advantage is a rapid return to fertility if you’d like to have a baby, because the copper IUD does not mess with your cycle as soon as the IUD is removed you can get pregnant right away.

Or for women coasting towards menopause, it can be a nice way to finish out the last of your fertile years with a high degree of protection should your cycle start to get funky.

In recent years, research has demonstrated that IUDs are safe for women who have not had children, including young women and teens. The copper IUD has also been shown to have no effect on weight gain, libido or mood.

They don’t increase the risk of infection or miscarriage and recommendations were made suggesting this method should be considered as a first line option along with other hormonal contraceptives for teens in particular because of the high rate of effectiveness and no chance for user error.

The copper IUD provides contraceptive protection for up to 12 years, and probably longer but there is concern that the strings may become prone to breaking during removal when it has been left in place too long.

ParaGard has the potential to make bleeding heavier during the first few months after insertion, but many women report no change in blood flow. I’ve even heard reports of cramps lessening after the insertion of an IUD. All this is contrary to what you might be told when getting an IUD, so really, it just goes to show that we are all individuals and often you just have to try it and see how your body responds.

Things to know about the Copper T IUD, research has shown:

  • Safe for women of all ages, including teens and women who have never been pregnant
  • Does not increase the risk of infertility or miscarriage after removal
  • The most common reason for removal is heavy bleeding and painful periods.
  • Research shows it does not increase copper levels in the body, but some women report being sensitive
  • Copper acts like a spermicide, killing sperm and making the endometrium unfriendly
  • If fertilization does occur, it also interferes with implantation (can be used as emergency contraception for this reason)
  • If an egg should get fertilized and implant, the pregnancy will continue.
  • Doesn’t interfere with breastfeeding and can be placed immediately after giving birth, however I wouldn’t recommend it because doing so may cause an increased risk of uterine perforation and the IUD may migrate out of the uterus requiring surgery to find. I think it’s better to wait until the uterus has returned to normal size and you’ve had some time to heal. Some people have them inserted on the 6 week check up but you might want to wait longer than that, your body has been through a lot.

Hormonal IUDs – Mirena and Skyla:

miudMirena offers many of the same benefits as the copper IUD with a couple of key differences. First, these IUDs contain synthetic progesterone and disrupt your natural cycle. Many women experience changes in bleeding, including spotting, lighter periods or you may stop ovulating and menstruating all together.

Hormonal IUDs also do not last as long as the copper IUD, Mirena is only good for 5 years and Skyla, a smaller version of Mirena, is good for three.

Things to know about hormonal IUDs:

  • Works by thickening cervical mucus to prevent sperm from entering the uterus
  • Decreases sperm’s ability to penetrate the egg
  • May inhibit ovulation, prevent menstruation or cause irregular periods
  • May increase the risk of ovarian cysts, even in those with no prior history
  • May increase risk of complications should pregnancy occur, ectopic pregnancies occur about half the time with hormonal IUDs
  • Decreases endometrial development thus causing lighter menses (making it more difficult for a fertilized egg to implant if ovulation should occur) and may be used to treat heavy menstrual bleeding and endometriosis for this reason.
  • Users may experience typical side effects associated with hormonal contraceptives such as weight gain, mood changes, hair loss, hair growth in undesirable places, headaches, migraine headaches, decreased libido, etc.
  • Research has demonstrated that progestin only contraceptives are safer than those combined with estrogen. Studies suggest that women who are using Mirena are not at greater risk stroke, high blood pressure or any other cardiovascular event.
  • Fertility returns in about 3 months after the device is removed, within one year 8 out of 10 women who want to become pregnant conceive.
  • There is some controversy as to whether it is OK for nursing mothers to use a hormonal IUD, some research has found small amounts of the hormones are transmitted in breast milk and infants may be more vulnerable to respiratory and eye infections. No long-term studies have been conducted to determine infant safety. The FDA doesn’t recommend hormonal contraceptives as a first choice for breastfeeding moms.

Things to know about IUDs in general:

  • Over 150 women worldwide use IUDs, it’s the most popular form of long-term reversible contraception
  • Less than 1 in 100 women become pregnant in the first year of use
  • Only increases the risk of uterine infection if inserted without proper sterile techniques or if chlamydia or gonorrhea (STDs) are present
  • Increases the risk of miscarriage only if pregnancy occurs while the IUD is in place, and can cause complications such as an increased the risk of severe infection, toxemia and death
  • Doesn’t increase the risk of birth defects, however the hormonal IUDs may cause problems if left in place (not recommended) for the duration of the pregnancy due to hormonal exposure
  • The skill of the practitioner inserting the IUD may play a role in risk of expulsion and uterine perforation, best to go to someone who has plenty of experience.

 

Why Learn Fertility Awareness when Using an IUD?

Even though IUDs are extremely effective at preventing pregnancy, in fact, it’s one of the most effective options available, pregnancy can and does happen even with an IUD and because there is an object in the uterus it complicates things. Pregnancy with an IUD in place increases the risk of having problems like septic miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy. These events are very rare, and if pregnancy were to occur, the IUD can often be safely removed (still a risk for miscarriage) by a skilled practitioner and the pregnancy continue as normal if that’s your choice.

I just read a blog this morning in Salon, where her copper IUD failed. Women who chose an IUD are looking for reliable long-term protection. Having it fail can feel pretty frustrating. But there are things you can do to make sure you don’t end up in this situation. I can teach you how to bring the risk of 1 in 100 down to 1 in a million. It’s not hard to do and can be easily incorporated into your lifestyle so that it just becomes something that you know.

I’m Curious: What are Your Thoughts on IUDs?

I’m curious and I’d love to have you post your comments below on your initial reaction when you think about getting an IUD? Or if you have a daughter, the thought of her using one. Is the reliability it offers worth the small risk of problems?

I wonder because the IUD is widely used elsewhere in the world, yet few women use them here in the US and I’m curious to know your thoughts. I’ve found women often seem to have strong opinions one way or the other.

I have some ideas on why the IUD isn’t used a whole lot here in the US, and one significant factor has historically been cost. It costs around $700-$800 to get an IUD and while cheaper in the long run than other types of birth control, it’s often difficult to come up with that kind of cash and make the choice to invest in birth control.

Maybe you’ve heard, times have changed and for those who have health insurance… and don’t work for places like Hobby Lobby and Eden Foods…. There’s good news! An IUD is included in the benefits of your health care plan, if you want one, you can use your “well-woman” visit and get your pap and screen for STDs and talk to your health care provider to see if an IUD is a good option for you. You can get all of this done at no cost to you thanks to ObamaCare. I personally think that’s awesome! The more options available to choose from the better, because no one method works for everyone.

Leave your comments below!
Warmly,
Robin

P.S. For more info:

Everything you wanted to know about the copper IUD: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2971735/

Jul 152014
 

Seriously? She Got Arrested Over a Diaphragm???

 

The diaphragm has actually been around for a really long time. In the 1940’s they were prescribed regularly for contraception and was the best woman controlled option available. Advertisements touted them as being discrete so that the male partner wouldn’t know it was there, many men at the time didn’t approve. It gave women a new level of control over their fertility.

Diaphragms have actually been around longer than this; they were more like cervical barriers and were sometimes called “womb veils”. They’ve actually been around for almost as long as condoms and were made from things like oiled paper disks, algae and seaweed, beeswax, rubber, wool, pepper, silver, seeds, tree roots, fruits, vegetables, sponges in silk nets with strings. Whatever they could find to cover the cervix or in some cases plug the entrance to the womb.

 

Diaphragms Have an Interesting History in the US


MargaretSangerMargaret Sanger was a woman dedicated to empowering women; she was an early American birth control activist, nurse and sex educator. She opened the first birth control clinic is the US in 1916 which led her getting arrested for telling women about birth control.

You might wonder why she got arrested for talking about birth control, especially since she’s a nurse. Well, you see back then we weren’t allowed to talk about birth control because birth control was considered obscene and was prohibited by the 1873 federal Comstock Law. She became determined to do something because as a nurse tending to working class immigrant women, she was often on the front lines of the aftermath of a self-induced abortion or “back alley” abortions. Margaret came to believe that the only way for true social change would take place would be to challenge governmental censorship of practices of “family limitation”.

Margaret decided to take action and force the issue, the only way to change laws is to go through the system as cumbersome as it may be. So this is what she set out to do. It started with a newsletter called The Rebel Woman promoting birth control, a phrase she popularized and said that a woman should be “the absolute mistress of her own body”. Her goal with the newsletter was to instigate a legal challenge to the federal anti-obscenity laws, her goal to provoke a response succeeded. The postal service only delivered two of the seven volumes of her newsletter. She was arrested and indicted in 1914 and she jumped bail and went to Canada and from there to England.

As she fled the country, her associated initiated step two of her plan, releasing another publication called Family Limitation, this publication, even more radical than the first was designed to really take a stick to the hornets’ nest!

While in Europe, Margaret was introduced to the diaphragm and got really excited because she saw this as a superior contraceptive method to the suppositories and douches that American women were relying on to prevent pregnancy. The device was not available in the US and so she sent some back home, even though she was breaking the law and with the help of her second husband she smuggled large quantities into the US from Europe for distribution.

In 1932, Margaret arranged for a package of diaphragms sent from Japan and when it was confiscated by the post office it opened the door which allowed her to challenge the laws preventing women from getting information and access to birth control. Her success in court was a huge win for women all over America, opening the door to having more control over their bodies and fertility.

 

What is a Diaphragm Anyway?


ppdiaphragmThe diaphragm hasn’t changed too much over the years; it has a spring in the rim to hold the shape of the device and allow flexibility for insertion. The dome is usually made from latex but other materials are sometimes available. It fits behind the pubic bone and extends back to cover the cervix. The dome is a reservoir for spermicide. I don’t know about you, but I’m not all that crazy about bathing my cervix in spermicide for eight hours after sexual activity.

When learning fertility awareness methods, I don’t encourage my clients to use this method because it can hide fertility signals. Should my clients decide that they want to use the diaphragm, I also teach them about natural alternatives to spermicide which they can use instead so that they can avoid putting chemicals in their most sensitive areas.

What you need to know about Diaphragms:

  • Can be inserted several hours prior to intercourse and thus doesn’t interfere with spontaneity.
  • Can remain in place for up to 24 hours
  • Recommended to leave in 8 hours after intercourse
  • Needs to be used with spermicide
  • No protection against sexually transmitted diseases like HIV
  • Needs to be fitted by a physician

 

The Cervical Cap


cervicalcapsThe cervical cap has had a spotty history here in the US; it has been used more extensively in England and other European countries. The FDA inhibited the availability of the cervical caps for many years, allowing only one of the three available to European women to be sold in the US. The one they allowed is the second to the right; it only fits a particular shape of cervix. If your cervix was a different shape you wouldn’t be able to use it.

ppcervicalcap

Today, the only cervical cap that is available in the US is the Fem Cap. It’s still used with spermicide and is more effective for women who have never given birth vaginally. It’s much easier to remove than previous versions and it has a slightly higher failure rate than the diaphragm.

 

Perfect Use vs. Typical Use


Something else that is important to know about barrier methods is their effectiveness is very dependent on you. With this in mind, most contraceptive failure rates are calculated two ways. First, when they’re used perfectly every time with no mistakes ever, meaning the method was used consistently and correctly every time. Second is a “typical use” rate in which they take into account the errors that people make when using the method, when they blow off using their birth control, etc. These types of behaviors increase the chances the method will fail.

Barrier Contraceptive Method: Perfect use: Typical use:
Condom (male) 98% 82%
Diaphragm with spermicide 94% 88%
Condom (Female) 95% 79%
Fem Cap (never given birth) n/a 86%
Fem Cap (post-vaginal birth) n/a 71%
Birth Control Pill (for comparison) 99.7% 91%

 

So you can see that someone who uses a condom perfectly every time would have a more reliable method than someone on birth control pills who sometimes forgets to take their pill.

 

Spermicides


Even less effective is using spermicide by itself. There are things like Contraceptive Vaginal Film, spermicidal jelly inserted with an applicator; these methods should only be used by women who would be OK with getting pregnant. They reduce the risk of pregnancy by about 70%.

 

Is the Diaphragm or Cervical Cap Appropriate for Teens?


My main concern with diaphragms and cervical caps is that they’re a “thing” that you have to carry around with you in order to have it with you and you also need to bring spermicide. I remember as a teenager experimenting with sex, there usually wasn’t a nightstand to keep my birth control supplies in, nor a bathroom close by to “get ready”, and so my concern would be that it wouldn’t be used consistently, which is also one of the reasons that MDs so heavily favor hormonal contraception for teens. In general, these are not ideal methods for teens, but it’s important to know about them and if your daughter really wants to try this as a method we can help make sure she’s not caught unprepared.

 

Final thoughts….


Barrier methods are powerful tools for women who don’t want to use hormones and would like to avoid getting pregnant but fortunately not the only tools available because people get sick of using them. Join me next week as we dive into one of the most popular and effective contraceptives in the world but under-utilized in the US. Stay tuned for more!

Jul 102014
 

Rant warning….Don’t get me started on hormonal birth control… oh! And the drug companies… let me tell you what!

There’s no denying that hormonal contraception has given women a level of control over their fertility that we’ve never experienced before. Today, hormonal contraceptive options include the Patch (sticks to your skin), Implants (are implanted in your arm under the skin), injectable contraceptives (like Depo Provera), Mirana (hormonal IUD), the Vaginal Ring, and of course, the good old Pill.

A few years ago I took a course for health care providers to aid them in recommending birth control. I took it because I wanted to learn about the newer birth control methods. I remember reading about the NuvaRing, they made it sound so great, a lower dose of localized hormones (implying it’s not circulating around your body). You wear it for three weeks and take it out for a week to bleed. The best thing is no more daily pill taking.

It was the dawn of a new age as far as the drug companies were concerned and they’ve made millions as a result. They made over $623 million globally in 2012 alone on the NuvaRing. It sounds like a very successful product and indeed it is, but what you might not know is how hard the NuvaRing’s creator lobbied the FDA to get the warning about Venous Thromboembolism (VTE) removed from the warning label.

Not long after that class, I came across an article which told the stories of a couple of young women, classmates who hadn’t been in touch for a while. The first, Erika died of a massive, double pulmonary embolism as a direct result of NuvaRing and less than a year later, her friend Megan Henry was diagnosed with her lungs full of blood clots. Her doctor told her that if she wasn’t an Olympic athlete she would probably be dead and then told her that her Olympic hopes were over . This could have just as easily been your friend or mine.

health-birth-control-ringIt really pisses me off that drug companies withhold information and it’s not until numerous women have been harmed does it finally come out through investigation that they knew it could cause these problems all along and have been downplaying the risk.

While these events might be rare, they are life threatening. There’s no way to determine your risk when it’s striking down healthy young women. It doesn’t feel very rare to the young children who have lost their moms or to the mothers who have lost their daughters all because they used the vaginal ring to prevent pregnancy.

Is it worth the risk of dying from a blood clot, stroke, brain hemorrhage or heart attack to prevent getting pregnant? Women who use the NuvaRing are at higher risk for these types of events than birth control pill users. It’s also true that women who become pregnant face these same risks and more. You have to evaluate the risk and decide what feels best for you.

Outside of the US, a Danish study looked at 1.6 million women and found women who use the vaginal ring have a 6.5% greater chance of venous thromboembolism (VTE), ie. blood clots than women who don’t use hormonal birth control, this study was in direct conflict with Merck’s research. As a result of the Danish study many of the warning labels were changed in countries like Canada and in Europe but minor changes were made in the US. It’s taken many years to get the VTE warnings on the label here in the US.

What we currently know is that the newer types of synthetic progesterone are more dangerous than the older types that were used. We’ve also learned that buried deep in the research data that NuvaRing’s creator submitted to the FDA is reference to high spikes of estrogen levels which are related to NuvaRing use. These spikes in estrogen levels also put women at increased risk for blood clots and strokes. We’ve also learned that drug companies will actively lobby the FDA to not put valid warnings on the label because it makes the product look bad.

The moral of this story? You can’t trust drug companies and you can’t trust the FDA to keep you safe and the information medical professionals receive is incomplete and it can take years, decades even for information to make its way through the system. Do you really want to put these artificial hormones in your body?

Drug companies are worried about making money and keeping their share holders happy. They conspire to hide the truth so that they can win FDA approval and make their millions and billions.

What you need to know about the NuvaRing:

  • It contains both synthetic estrogen and progesterone (3rd & 4th generation hormones have greater risk for VTE (blood clots))
  • Side effects can be serious and even fatal
  • Synthetic hormones are absorbed directly into the blood stream
  • It prevents a normal natural menstrual cycle
  • Bleeding is due to hormone withdrawal not a true period
  • It works by suppressing ovulation
  • It’s very easy and convenient to use
  • Fertility returns immediately after discontinuation

 

Birth Control Pills, a Life Saver for Many

health-birth-control-pillThe Pill as it is often called is truly a life saver for many women. The symptoms associated with their cycles are unbearable and the pill makes life livable when “Aunt Flo” comes a calling. It can mean the difference between being “taken out” for a few days while your period does it thing and being able to live a normal life.

I know my opinion might be a little controversial but I would like to propose that doctors are by the act of prescribing birth control medications for these problems are actually sweeping your health concerns under the rug. I do realize that the options they have available are limited and that they’re offering the best solution they know and women who are desperate for a solution are immensely grateful for the relief birth control pills can provide.

There is no such thing as a magic pill that will fix the problem and suppressing an issue doesn’t make it go away it just pushes it deeper into the body over the long term. For women who desire a family in the future this can be especially problematic.

I encourage my clients to get an accurate diagnosis, because I believe knowledge is power. Once you know what the problem is, you can figure out how you want to address it. I often make herbal and nutritional suggestions to my clients to help them even out their cycles and tame the “Period Monster” and for clients who want a baby someday, addressing these issues early makes getting pregnant later much easier and less stressful.

I was just reading an article the other day that was touting how today’s birth control is safer and doesn’t have many of the side effects that previous versions had and I wondered if this was really true so I dug a little deeper to see what women are saying and I’m not convinced. One big complaint is hair loss, weight gain still seems to be a problem even though the drug companies say the new pills are less likely to do that, mood swings, headaches and more are still being reported so it really doesn’t seem like much has changed, now granted, everyone is an individual and is affected in different ways.

But another troubling concern is that the newer generations of artificial hormones like the types used in Yaz/Yasmin and in the NuvaRing are turning out to be more dangerous than previous types of artificial hormones. Drug companies are consistently withholding or burying important information about health risks in 1000’s of pages of documents they drop off for the FDA to sift through. They used third world women to test the very first birth control pills on and as a result the hormone levels were lowered significantly before they were presented to US women. They routinely take advantage of those who can’t defend themselves and it’s not right!

Young beautiful woman drinking tea at homeI think it’s pretty safe to say that drug companies are looking out for their bottom line and getting these drugs to market is earning them 100’s of millions of dollars a year off just one drug. When people get hurt or die as a result of these medications and drug companies are held accountable, it’s usually just a minor inconvenience for them and the payouts to those they’ve harmed is just a drop in the bucket to the 100’s millions of dollars each drug brings in every year.

So how do we protect ourselves from all of this? The obvious answer is not to use hormonal contraceptives, but it’s more complicated than that. Most women use hormonal birth control at some point in their lives and this is because we don’t know what else to do and the other options seem less than desirable.

There’s one thing that we can say about hormonal contraception is that it does its job well; it is a very effective method of contraception. Too bad it totally cuts us off from our natural cycle and kills the sex drive!

Birth Control and Your Nutritional Status

Over the years there has been controversy about whether or not women who take birth control pills should supplement with a multi-vitamin. Research from the 80’s discovered that birth control pills depleted certain key nutrients: Vitamin B2, B6, B12, Folic Acid, Vitamin C and Zinc and raised Vitamin A, Iron and Copper levels in women. As you may know maternal Folic Acid levels are essential for a healthy baby so they were concerned since no method of birth control is 100%.

The official conclusion in the research was that as long as women are taking in a varied healthy diet there is no need for additional supplementation. Today, drug companies say that because the newer contraceptives contain lower doses of hormones, the research from 30+ years ago no longer applies. It’s not surprising they’re not volunteering to do any new studies.

Coincidence or Connection?

Would you be interested to know that women who use birth control pills have an increased risk for gum disease? Did you know that bleeding gums is a shared symptom in deficiencies of Vitamin B6 and Vitamin C.

Birth control pill use has also been linked to an increased risk of cervical dysplasia (caused by the sexually transmitted Human Papilloma Virus). Nutritional deficiencies are one of the risk factors for cervical dysplasia. Research has shown that women who are diagnosed with cervical dysplasia tend to have low folic acid levels and they benefit from supplementation of Vitamin C, Beta Carotene, Folic Acid, B complex and Vitamin E.

Birth control pills may increase the risk for breast cancer and cervical cancer while reducing the risk for endometrial and ovarian cancers.

Things to know about Birth Control Pills:

  • They need to be used consistently in order to be effective
  • Some of the newer types of hormones increase the risk for serious and even fatal side effects
  • You may want to consider a high quality food based multi-vitamin
  • Made of both synthetic estrogen and progesterone
  • All hormonal contraceptive have side effects
  • There is a progesterone only version (mini pill) but this isn’t as effective as the combined pill
  • Return to fertility is usually rapid, but not always especially if there were problems beforehand

Should teenage girls use hormonal birth control?

Teenage Girl Relaxing On Beach It’s an excellent question and many factors to consider. The clear benefit is its reliability, however things that are of concern is the tendency to forgo condom use by pill users putting them at risk for STDs and the suppression of the normal natural menstrual cycle is also a big one.

I used the pill between the ages of 15 and 20 and I was fine. I didn’t experience any negative short term effects and no long term ones that I know of. In retrospect, I am grateful for the protection it provided. I also remember choosing not to use a condom because I was on the pill. Over the years, I’ve had problems with bleeding gums, gingivitis and cervical dysplasia; can I attribute them to birth control pill use? No, but interesting is it not?

I propose giving girls all the facts including the risks, now that we know some of the newer synthetic hormones increase the risk for serious, life threatening blood clots in otherwise healthy, non-smoking women along with all of the other options and let them decide for themselves. I also encourage all girls to become familiar with their own natural menstrual cycle.

My clients learn how to avoid getting pregnant without the use of hormones and are able to teach their girls how to do the same. We’re breaking the dependence modern women have on hormonal birth control to avoid pregnancy by educating women about their cycles.

Implants: Norplant and Implanton (Progesterone only)

These are progesterone only hormonal contraceptives. Implanton is the second generation and contains material that allows them to find it on an x-ray if it gets lost. It is placed under the skin on the inside of the upper portion of your arm where it will release synthetic progesterone for the next three years. This method is considered the best, highest level of protection you can get from hormonal contraceptives, mostly because there is no chance for human error assuming you get it replaced in three years.

Things to know about the Implants:

  • Contains synthetic progesterone, so that those who cannot use estrogen may use this contraceptive.
  • It requires a doctor for implantation and removal; it can be removed at any time.
  • It contains the same kind of synthetic progesterone that increases risk for stroke, VTE and other adverse events.
  • You may experience spotting or intermittent bleeding
  • You might end up on birth control pills to control the spotting and bleeding.
  • You may not see your period for months at a time, even years. Some women may appreciate this.

Injectable contraceptives (Depo Provera):

Injectable contraceptives have to be administered every three months to remain effective. This is a progesterone only contraceptive. You’re unlikely to menstruate while using Depo Provera, but you may spot and some women find themselves on birth control pills in order to control side effects from this method. If you don’t like it, you have to wait for it to wear off and fertility can be slow to return.

The Patch:

Can be less effective for heavier women and is made from the newer generations of synthetic hormones and bears the same risks for VTE and cardiovascular events. The patch is worn every day on your skin, it can be placed where most won’t see it.

Coming off hormonal birth control:

Just a few quick tips for when you’ve decided to give up hormonal birth control. First, decide on your new method of contraception. In a pinch, condoms are good to help with the transition. If you’re going to be doing natural birth control methods, I encourage you to work with someone to make sure you receive good training and to help you avoid making mistakes while learning.

If you enjoy herbal teas, consider oatstraw or nettle leaf to help nourish your body. Other herbs can be utilized but I tend to tailor those based on my client’s needs.

Final thoughts….

So it’s great all the advancement that we’ve had in the world of hormonal birth control, some of the methods are very convenient and seem like the magical answer but at an increased risk to health and wellbeing. It seems that in the long run, most women prefer not to put artificial hormones into their bodies. Are you one of these women? Not sure what your next step is? There’s good news, because there is another way! Stay tuned because you’ll be learning about alternative solutions in the upcoming weeks.

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