Fertility Deva

Jul 022014
 

The oldest condom ever found was in an old English castle ruin, it’s believed that soldiers were issued condoms by King Charles I because his army was getting sick and dying due to deadly venereal diseases of the time like gonorrhea and syphilis.

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Before the invention of rubber, condoms were made from a variety of substances, the most common being sheep or pig intestines, and goat bladders. Written and visual references to condoms appear as far back as ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome. It’s said that knowledge of condoms was lost for a time after the fall of the Roman Empire in the 5th century.

The emergence of syphilis in 1494 in Europe signaled dark times, sweeping rapidly through Europe to Asia in just 11 years, known as the “Great Pox” it decimating large portions of the population as it went causing death within just a few short months.

It didn’t take long for physicians to figure out that it was a sexually transmitted infection and in 1564 the man who our fallopian tubes are named after, published a book in which he recommended the use of linen sheaths soaked in a chemical solution and tied with a ribbon to prevent disease transmission. Condoms had been rediscovered!

It wasn’t long before the Church caught onto the condom’s ability to prevent pregnancy and declared them immoral in 1605, which didn’t stop them from being produced, sold and used. Two hundred years later, the first documented use of condoms occurred in America where they continued to gain in popularity in spite of unfavorable government laws and religious objections.

Rubbers Revolutionized


In 1855 the first condom made from rubber was manufactured and the condom industry was transformed. Each rubber was custom-made for the gentleman and only covered the head of his penis. Not surprisingly, they often fell off during use and it wasn’t until condom manufacturers made a one size fits all, full length condom that the problem was solved. Latex condoms were invented soon after.

So, what’s the awful truth about condoms? Like them or not, we need them! They save lives. Condom use became essential when sexually transmitted diseases flared up with life threatening consequences, like in the 1500’s when syphilis destroyed lives and later in the 1980’s when we became aware of the AIDs epidemic. Condoms are perhaps the single most important tool available to both men and women to avoid pregnancy and disease.

Other types of condoms that are not made from latex include:
  • lambskin – feel more natural than latex and polyurethane.
  • polyurethane – thinner and stronger, tend to have a less constricting fit. Transfers heat more efficiently which may help to increase pleasure.
  • polyisoprene.- said to have a soft natural feel that conforms to the skin (Brand: LifeStyles SKYN and Durex Avanti Bare)
  • Female condom – may be inserted in advance, made from nitrile (synthetic rubber). Use with water based lubricant. Can be noisy. Many guys say they like them once the new-ness factor wears off.

 

Sexually Transmitted Diseases in the 21st Century


sti_rates_newLots has changed since the syphilis epidemic in the 1500’s however, the sexually transmitted diseases and viruses are no less problematic than they were centuries ago.

Every year there are almost 20 million new cases of sexually transmitted diseases are diagnosed putting men and women at risk for infertility, disfigurement, cancer and death.

It’s important to be aware that sexually transmitted viruses are common, unpleasant, can be deadly and are for life.

Things to Know about Male Condoms


  • Having dry sex while using a condom increases the risk of breakage and creates an unpleasant experience, adding lubricant improves the situation.
  • Type of lubrication matters, oil based lubes can damage latex and can make condoms ineffective. Note: Vaginal use of certain medications such as miconazole or econazole can damage latex.
  • Condoms must be put on correctly and removed promptly after use to be effective.
  • Condoms that have uneven color, feel brittle, dried out or very sticky are not safe to use. Discard and use a new one. Male condoms are sensitive to heat, light and moisture.
  • Different brands fit differently and have different thicknesses. Experiment to see which brand you and your partner like best.
  • Using two or more condoms at once or combining male and female condoms can increase the risk of them breaking due to friction.
  • Lamb skin condoms do not provide protection from sexually transmitted viruses.
  • Condoms are not 100% protection from sexually transmitted diseases, but they do provide a high degree of protection. It’s the best option we have.

 

Female Condoms


Female-CondomFemale condoms offer many of the same advantages against sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy prevention as male condoms, but they also offer several unique features which may be worth considering.

One major advantage is that they offer better protection from STDs because they cover more outer surface area than male condoms.

For those who are sensitive to latex, female condoms are an excellent alternative; they are made from soft supple plastic. It’s good to know that when used correctly, female condoms are just as effective as male condoms.

 

Things to know about female condoms:


  • They can be inserted up to 8 hours in advance.
  • If the condom makes noise just add some extra lubricant.
  • You may use any type of lubricant including oil based as the integrity of the plastic of the female condom is unaffected.
  • Add extra lubricant to the penis to reduce friction if he experiences irritation.
  • They offer greater protection from skin on skin sexually transmitted viruses than male condoms.
  • Protect against all sexually transmitted infections including HIV.

Some women like the female condom over the male condom because the soft moist material feels more natural than latex male condoms and the outer ring provides some additional clitoral stimulation. The female condom can also be placed up to 8 hours beforehand so that it doesn’t interrupt lovemaking.

Men say they like the female condom because it’s not tight and constricting like male condoms, plus it doesn’t affect his sensitivity. Female condoms also don’t have to be removed immediately after ejaculation. Men also appreciate not having to interrupt lovemaking to put a male condom on the erect penis.

 

The Biggest Reasons Why Condoms Fail


Woman with results to pregnancy testOne of the biggest reasons they fail is because they were not used or were not used the whole time. Condoms can fail for other reasons, like breakage, improper use and incorrect removal after use.

To reduce the risk of breakage, be sure to put the condom on correctly. Male condoms are more likely to tear while female condoms are more likely to slip. Manufacturing defects are pretty rare.

 

Talking to Your Partner about Using Condoms


Depositphotos_3302745_XLIn order for condoms to be an effective method of contraception and disease prevention both partners must agree to consistent use, because without consistency, condoms can’t prevent sexually transmitted disease.

For best results in a new relationship, have these conversations with your partner prior to engaging in sexual activity. How can you get your partner to agree to using condoms every time?

  • Taking a personal stand for yourself and protecting your health is the most powerful. Women who consistently use condoms are:
  • At reduced risk for cervical dysplasia and cervical cancer
  • Less likely to become infertile due to silent STD infection
  • At reduced risk of STDs which can put a future baby at risk, such as herpes or HIV
  • If male condoms aren’t an option or are objectionable, female condoms are an excellent alternative and resolve many of the complaints while providing STD protection. (Or work with me for a more natural solution)
  • Get tested for sexually transmitted diseases and do the blood tests to check for sexually transmitted viruses like Hepatitis, HIV, and Herpes 1 and 2.
  • The very common, sexually transmitted virus HPV puts women at risk for cervical cancer and men at risk for oral, throat and penile cancers. At this time it is not possible to test men for this virus and women under 30 are only tested if the Pap smear is abnormal or if they ask.

What about when you don’t want to use condoms anymore? If you’ve gotten a clean bill of health from the doctor and you don’t want children, you might be wondering what your options are. Many long-term couples start using less reliable methods like timing cycles on a calendar or withdrawal which often leaves one or both partners fearful of unintended consequences. Are you struggling to find a solution? I can help!

 

Talking with your Teen about Using Condoms


Mother and daughterIs your daughter dating an older boy? Did you know that for each year older he is there’s an 11% chance your daughter won’t use condoms with him (3 years = 33% risk). The more sexually experienced he is, the more likely they will have sex. How do you protect your daughter?

Some of the most powerful messages you can give your daughter are:

  • She is in control of her body and she doesn’t have to do anything she doesn’t want to and she can say no at any time.
  • That you are there for her, that even if you’re upset, angry or disappointed with her, that you would move past all those emotions to help her, because she is what is most important to you.
  • You want her to make thoughtful, empowered decisions by helping her to logically think out hypothetical scenarios without being attached to the outcome. Possible scenarios might include:
  • What if he pressured you not to use a condom, what would you say?
  • What if you had sex with a boy and he told everyone at school the next day. What if people were being mean? How would you feel? What would you do and say?
  • What if you caught an STD like herpes and you had to tell a new partner, how would you bring it up?
  • What if you got pregnant, what would you do? What if you and your boyfriend broke up? What if he did/n’t want the baby? What if he was angry? How would you feel?

These conversations can be quite enlightening for you both and help her identify why using a condom is important to her. Practice role-playing so she can gain experience sharing why she wants her partner to use a condom. Why it’s non-negotiable. You’ll help her gain important skills that will keep her safe in the years to come.

 

Ever notice how doctors seem to push hormonal birth control?


Join me next time as we explore The Truth about Hormonal Birth Control, hormones are often pushed on young women. Is it safe? What options are out there? Is hormonal contraception a smart choice? We’ll look at all this and more.

In the meantime, if you are confused about what birth control method is best for you, or are sick of condoms or worried about relying on withdrawal, I would love to chat and learn more about what’s going on for you and see how I can help.

 

Jun 112014
 

I recently sent out an email asking if anyone was dealing with the following issues and invited them to speak with me. I wanted to know if:

  • You’ve had your child/ren and know you don’t want to get pregnant now, but you feel stuck using birth control, because you’re not sure of your other options?
  • You can’t or don’t want to use some of the more common methods of birth control, and you’re sick of using condoms? Or worried about relying withdrawal?
  • You’ve heard about more natural methods of birth control and you’re curious to know if they would be appropriate for you?
  • Or… You’re using hormonal contraception and you’d like to stop putting artificial hormones and chemicals in your body? Or you want to be able to offer your daughter alternatives to hormonal contraception.

I have to say the response was amazing. I opened up 10 spots in my schedule and they were all full in less than 5 hours! I also heard from many more who wanted to talk to me after the spots were full, and it was awesome to know that so many of you want to learn how your bodies work and take your power back.

I love your enthusiasm and your willingness to share with me how you’re feeling, and THAT will help me develop offerings that will empower your girls by empowering YOU.

Here’s some of the things I learned in these interviews:

  • Across the board, everyone was dissatisfied with modern contraceptive offerings and wished for a more natural way of handling things, or for their partner to get a vasectomy.
  • Most women have an underlying fear that they’ll become pregnant at some point even though they’d rather not have any more children. All wished for more natural ways of controlling fertility, a way that didn’t mess with hormones, or require a lot of time.
  • The majority of women I spoke with wanted a more natural way of managing fertility but really had no idea how to make that happen or what it might look like.
  • And, there are even women who chose to avoid being in relationship so that they don’t have to worry about becoming pregnant. Several felt powerless to avoid it.

I listened knowing that my whole life has led up to this moment. You see, it is possible to successfully manage your fertility without the use of hormones or chemicals. I’ve been studying this for years, and I know that I can teach you – in a step by step way – exactly how your body works so that you can have the “fun” without the worry of getting pregnant.

It doesn’t take a lot of time, and soon it will become second nature. I can help you to eliminate that fear in the back of your mind, and let go of stress and anxiety so that you can be more present and in the moment with your partner. Who wants to be worrying about getting pregnant when you’re being intimate with the person you love?

I think the dilemma many women have today is that they don’t know how to avoid pregnancy without the use of hormonal birth control. We’ve lost the knowledge to avoid conception without the use of chemicals.

My mom spaced her children with the pill and put me on it when I became sexually active. She taught me what she knew. I saw this scenario play out in several of the interviews, starting the pill as a teen after become sexually active and remaining on the pill until it’s time for the first baby, and then usually using condoms afterwards but not loving it.

If you’ve had any experience with hormonal birth control you know that it disconnects you from your cycle. You no longer have a normal natural cycle. This is what most of us grew up using.

Most moms don’t want to put their girls on hormonal birth control but don’t know what else to do. But since you’re reading this email right now, I’m assuming you want to give your daughter a different choice.

Over half of the women I interviewed had daughters and many thought the idea of being able to offer their girls an alternative that was empowering and that helped them tune into their cycles would be an amazing gift to offer.

We know that women in ancient times knew of ways to avoid becoming pregnant and they didn’t have any artificial hormones to control their cycles. Unfortunately, much of that wisdom was lost to time but threads of that ancient feminine wisdom remain and together with modern science we are weaving together a new way for women to successfully manage their fertility without the use of hormones and chemicals.

Which brings us back to you, I’m so glad you found me, because together we’re going to change this and empower you to take control of your fertility so that you can feel confident with your ability to avoid conception without having to rely on modern contraceptives or take chances with withdrawal. Plus I’m going to make sure you can teach this to your daughter.

I’m really excited to bring you my next program, you’ll hear more about it very soon. If the number of responses that I got for my interview request is any indication of the scope of this issue, I’m really thrilled that I’m able to provide a natural solution that allows you to live in harmony with your body and cycle while having the confidence you need to feel secure in your ability to avoid conception when it’s your desire to do so.

RobinAnd even more exciting for me because this is my favorite thing to teach, in the meantime, I’ll post some articles around these issues. Stay tuned for more!

Warmly,
Robin

May 222014
 

So why are these conversations so challenging anyway?

Cotton Mather - Cottonus Matherus S. theologieae doctor regia societas Londonensis...Mezzotint by Peter Pelham. Boston 1728.Here’s an over-simplified in-a-nutshell version of why these conversations about sex with your daughter are so challenging and uncomfortable.

In Europe, back in the 1400’s, women were the property of men and it was considered OK for her husband to do things like beat her. She essentially had no rights. Her place in the world was in the home, raising the children. The burning times had begun and it probably wasn’t a good idea to make waves or attract the attention of those who carried the torches since women were primary targets of the Inquisition.

Fast forward a few hundred years to the 1700’s when a group of people immigrated to America to practice their beliefs in the “new world”. They had some pretty conservative views on sex and strong opinions about women who enjoyed sex. A woman’s place was still in the home and she continued to be at risk for death by torture if accused of witchcraft. Sex during this time had become a taboo subject and meant for reproduction, and the idea of a women enjoying sex was offensive to many.

Unfortunately for us, these elements got woven into the fabric of our society and it has taken us a long time to get “equal” rights, which are still not quite equal. As a result of treating sex as a taboo subject, and not speaking candidly about it for hundreds of years, it has become repressed and twisted around upon itself so that it has emerged corrupt in many ways. Maybe this is why our society has the tendency to want to blame a rape victim, and sometimes wants to protect the rapist (or child molester) when their crimes have been revealed. (I’m thinking of some of the college football incidents which have happened fairly recently where the universities conspired to protect players or coaches when they should of been held responsible for their actions.)

I believe this is where our deep sense of embarrassment about our sexuality is coming from; it’s rooted deeply in our cultural psyche. No wonder it’s so challenging to talk about sex! It can be hard to capture what you really want to say and verbalize it in a way your daughter will hear.

It’s important not to put these conversations off because your daughter is receiving messages every day from the media and your input can minimize the damage media is doing.

LandscapeMedia has played an interesting role in our society when it comes to sex. I remember in the 80’s watching VHS movies at home and learning that my period had names like “The Curse” and that I was “on the rag”. I also learned that it was normal for teenagers to keep secrets about sex from mom and that conversations about sex were supposed to be awkward both with my mom and my boyfriend. I learned that sex happened without any real discussion or forethought and getting swept away in the moment was perfectly acceptable and actually expected.

One of the things that shocks me the most these days is the music videos that are on TV. I rarely watch music videos anymore but when I was a teen I watched them whenever possible. In the last one I saw, it etched vividly in my mind. (I admit I was trying to learn what “twerking” was after Miley Cirus was all over the news for her performance.) In the video I found, the pop star, who I won’t name, seemed so casual about her body, like she didn’t even care. She barely had any clothes on and left little to imagination. There was a real sense of detachment and disconnect from her body. The message was that it was fine to use your body to get money, jewels, men or whatever.

Watching the video was a lot like watching soft porn, and these types of videos are giving your daughter (and her boyfriend) a distorted view of women and what sex looks like. They give an unattainable image of the female body, distorting what a normal female body looks like… it’s a full time job to have a body like those dancers on the video.

Speaking of porn, apparently all men have watched it and rumor has it that boys age 11 and up are the highest consumer of internet porn. Have you ever had sex with someone you swear learned their technique from watching porn? It’s pretty awful…. but think about this, where else do we go to learn when no one will talk about it? We feel naughty when we watch, like we’re doing something wrong. Yet, none of our trusted sources of information are teaching us how to pleasure ourselves or to make love. We all want to be good lovers and please our partners. So how do you go from knowing nothing to becoming a good lover?

We are a society full of contradictions and you might wonder how you are supposed to help your daughter make sense of all of this.

Here you are trying to teach your daughter how to have a healthy relationship with others, a healthy relationship with herself, a healthy body image, how to stay safe and so much more, but what you might not realize is that you are up against at least 700 years of conditioning.

You might feel like a trail blazer out there on your own trying to figure this out. Our parents muddled through our sexual education as best they could, often armed with picture books as they sat down to have “the talk”. When I speak to women about the sexual education they received while growing up, most feel like the information they received wasn’t “enough” and many of them want to do things differently with their girls, as I expect you do too.

Looking back on my own experience, even with my mom teaching me everything she knew and the best our school sex education had to offer (Vermont consistently has one of the lowest teen pregnancy rates in the country), I was still woefully ignorant. I had so much to figure out and I made a lot of “mistakes” because I simply didn’t know any better.

As I learned more, I realized that if every girl grew up knowing this information, they wouldn’t have to experience unintended pregnancies or sexually transmitted viruses that I did while growing up.

I wanted to share my wisdom…. gathered from life’s hard knocks, coupled with an insatiable thirst for knowledge as I sought to understand my body and cycle, because I wanted to find a way to live in harmony with my fertility without the use of chemicals or artificial hormones so that I could avoid conception on my terms. In a way that felt in alignment with the more natural lifestyle I was adopting and my desire to leave a smaller footprint on the earth.

The biggest piece that helped me to understand my body and how to navigate my fertility was to learn what I call fertility awareness. It’s what made everything else click. It filled in huge gaps in my sexual education and about what it means to be a woman; it taught me to understand my body and how to use that information to successfully manage my fertility. I finally understood what my hormones were doing and things started making sense. I learned things about my anatomy that were not taught in school and I discovered that sex could be very pleasurable and that I didn’t need a partner to experience this pleasure.

Ultimately, what I realize now, is this is one of the big pieces of information that is missing from our cultural sexual education. After all, what is more empowering to a woman than to be able to avoid conception without relying on artificial hormones or chemicals? Or to learn that she is capable of having an orgasm and even ejaculate! Our bodies are to be enjoyed. It took me a long time to learn all this stuff…. And, I’m still learning. My conversations with Caroline Muir and Dr. Sandy Bevacqua have been very enlightening!

It’s really wonderful that we can tap this knowledge, bring it in, assimilate it and integrate what feels right. Then it becomes part of your body of knowledge, things that you will naturally share with your daughter when the time is right.

Imagine shorten your daughter’s learning curve by making sure you are able to provide her with all the information that you and I didn’t get while we were growing up. This can help you to create an atmosphere in which your daughter feels safe enough to bring you any problem, even the big ones about sex and relationships…. the things research shows she’s most likely to keep secret from you.

So can you do? Good question. The first step to empowering your daughter is empowering yourself through education and experiential learning.

If your daughter is young… around the age of 8 or 9, you have the opportunity to set the stage for the next 10 years. Our society is going to teach your daughter that it’s uncomfortable to come to you about sex; that you won’t understand; and that it’s normal and expected to hide important, life changing activities from your mom.

You have the opportunity to give her the information first before she starts getting it from the media and from kids at school. You get to shape her initial views and impressions of sex. It can be something that is secretive or something that is spoken about easily and freely.

You can break the cycle of shame and secrecy that surrounds talking about sex and teaching your daughter about her body.

Since our society has made talking about sex so weird, it’s important to make sure that your daughter has the skills to talk about sex to her boyfriend and be confident when asking him to use a condom so that she can be safe.

Wouldn’t you want her to play a primary role in how her first sexual encounter plays out rather than letting someone else who knows the script take the lead and have things happen that she wasn’t expecting, didn’t want or didn’t know how to stop? I talk to so many women who have regrets about their first time; I don’t want your daughter to become one of them.

Talking to your daughter about the different things to consider before the first time she has sex is important. The free gift I put together for the telesummit has a lot of those topics covered. Something in particular I have a pretty strong opinion about is condoms. No one likes them, not really, but they’re super important to protect against viruses and pregnancy. Condoms can very difficult for a teenager to get for a number of reasons. Consider making condoms available in the household where they can be replaced should the stash start to run low.

I strongly encourage all girls to know how to put a condom on correctly and to actively seek out the role of putting the condom on if they’re going to have sex. Does this seem a bit forward? Think about it this way, first she’ll know it is put on correctly thus reducing the risk of breakage and second, it becomes part of the conscious choice to have sex and taking responsibility for her health. This way you have given your daughter an important tool and resource that she can use to protect herself. If the boy wants to put it on (he may have been taught to put it on himself for his own protection) then she can participate or watch to make sure it’s being put on correctly and will recognize and be empowered to speak up if it’s not being put on correctly.

portrait of mother with teenage daughterResearch has made it pretty clear that the older girls probably won’t come to you with their concerns about sex unless you’ve been having these conversations all along. So by making these kinds of resources available you increase the chances that she’ll act responsibly. Most teenagers don’t want to get pregnant, but it’s not going to deter them all from experimenting.

Even if you haven’t been having these conversations and your daughter is a bit older, all is not lost. It’s never too late to open the conversation. They say we need to hear something multiple times in order to retain it.

If she’s resistant to talking with you or tells you she already knows, then try presenting the information in other ways, like through stories or real world events or get help and have someone else provide her with information so that she’s getting it from different sources. Find her a couple of “cool aunties” that she can talk to if she doesn’t want to talk to you.

If you’re struggling to find a way to get the message through, here’s a possible avenue in. It seems like girls, in general, are curious to learn more about their bodies. This can be a fantastic doorway into the conversation.

I’ve found that when I teach my clients about their bodies and cycles, I have the opportunity to cover the full range of topics in the conversation so that in the end they’ve learned everything they need to know to successfully manage their fertility naturally without hormones or chemicals and keep themselves safe from things they’d rather not have happen. We talk about relationships, STDs, questions to ask before you sleep with someone and all kinds of things you might not normally think of beforehand.

I want to teach you to do the same so that you can have these conversations organically with your daughter, because once you’ve added this to your experience, the next step comes more easily because mothers naturally share what they learn with their girls.

Once you’ve broken the taboo of talking about sex, the door is wide open to have any conversation.

If you caught Julie Brooks or Rachel Fiske’s interview during the Raising Empowered Daughters Summit, you got to see a perfect example of how you can break through those barriers and create an incredible relationship with your daughter where she WILL come to you when she’s thinking about having sex or having some sort of crisis.

Not to mention, you’ll be able to empower your daughter to protect herself from those who might sexually abuse her. When things happen beyond your control, arming your daughter with the right information can protect her from those who don’t have her best interest at heart and prompt her to seek your support when something does happen. Before it turns into destructive behaviors like cutting, alcohol and drug use, risky behaviors, lashing out, early sexual activity, attempted suicide and worse.

This may not seem like an urgent problem, indeed these conversations are easy to put off until something happens and then it becomes a reaction to a crises and dealing with the aftermath rather than taking a proactive approach to make sure your daughter is adequately educated and equipped to protect herself as situations arise or knows how to get help and support if something happens beyond her control.

Young woman in the parkI know as I learned more about my body through a variety of techniques collectively known as fertility awareness methods, I found myself wishing that my mom had been able to teach me about this stuff. I had a lot of questions with no one to ask. Plus, it would have been nice to learn how to interpret my fertility signs when I didn’t have the pressure of a boyfriend who didn’t like birth control and me not wanting to use hormones. It was a tricky place to be while learning techniques that required training and time to learn.

I know these techniques are not something the majority of us grow up learning and I’d like to change that, it’s a really important skill for young women to have.

I know that if I had someone to talk to, someone to teach me, there’s a good chance I could have avoided the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and the moderate to severe cervical dysplasia it caused, and the unintended pregnancies too….

But then if things had been different I might be doing something else besides sitting here writing to you today! I wouldn’t change the things that have happened to me because I love what I do.

I don’t want you or your daughter to learn this stuff the hard way or by trial and error like I did. It’s not necessary because the information is out there, but it’s scattered and fragmented. I’ve been collecting bits of information for almost 25 years and we’re still pulling the pieces back together. I have SO much to share and if you’d like to tap that fountain of wisdom, I’d love to chat with you and learn more about what’s going on and what you think about all of this.

I think it’s amazing that over 1700 of you signed up for the Raising Empowered Daughters Summit, you said YES to a different vision of how you would like to raise your daughter. Now, imagine that difference you are making in your daughter’s life rippling outward and multiplying. There are 1700 other moms out there making this kind of difference in their girl’s lives too. Some day these girls will be sharing with their friends and daughters too as the ripples continue to expand.

It has been my honor and privilege to share this experience with you all. Let’s have some more fun! There’s just so much to talk about, we’re only just scratched the surface!

Warmly,
Robin

 

May 072014
 

Spring is in the air! May is an amazing month for Women and celebrating fertility and spring. Mother’s day is right around the corner, May 5th was International Midwives Day and today, May 7th is our National Prevent Teen and Unintended Pregnancy Day. Indeed the entire month of May is devoted to raising awareness about teen pregnancy.

I decided to write today because preventing unintended pregnancy is something that I’m very passionate about.

I know what it’s like when your period doesn’t show up when you expect it and suddenly you’re consumed with worry about why that might be and if you’re sexually active, pregnancy is the first thing that comes to mind. It’s VERY stressful. If you’ve ever worried about being pregnant when you didn’t want to be, you know what I mean. It’s a BIG DEAL.

It’s a very lonely place to be. I know firsthand, I talk to girls and women of all ages from all over the world who find their way to a mailing list that offers support to women faced with an unintended pregnancy or who think they might be pregnant.

The young girls are going there for help because they’re too afraid to go to mom for a million of reasons and they’re trying to resolve the situation themselves.

In all my years of talking with sexually active (or nearly so) girls nothing scares them more than the fear of being pregnant, but it doesn’t stop them from having sex or even from having risky sex.

Why not? They lack the knowledge, the communication skills and resources to keep themselves safe. They often don’t have money for condoms (or don’t want mom to find them) or they may not be empowered to enforce its use with their boyfriend, sometimes there are misconceptions about how one gets pregnant or how one can avoid pregnancy.

If they’re lucky it’s just a scare and a good learning experience.

I’m grateful that I’m able to give them a little education before they disappear again into the vast ocean of the internet and hope they take my message to heart to protect themselves better.

I have on many occasions communicated with those who find themselves in the same predicament again. This may because they just don’t have good information or often it’s because they’re in a disempowering relationship. How nice would it be to give your daughter the skills to pick a partner who is going to treat her with respect?

Other times the girls not so lucky and the test is positive. Now there’s a whole new reality to deal with and she has some hard choices to make. One of the hardest is to decide whether or not she is going to tell you what’s going on.

It’s an agonizing decision because she’s afraid of your reaction. She knows you’ll be disappointed, angry and everything in between. She thinks you’re going to think she is a stupid little girl. She knows no matter what you’re going to be upset. Her imagination runs rampant as she imagines you or her father wanting to kill her boyfriend. She might expect to be kicked out of your home and/or disowned.

These are big fears to have to process on your own without the support of your mom.

It breaks my heart when young girls are faced with these difficult choices. Especially when I know this could have been prevented with the right education if she had gotten it in time, I found myself getting frustrated and I began to think about how I might be able to change this.

I became convinced that the best way to make sure girls got this information was to make sure moms were able to deliver a quality sexual education, because schools are limited in what they can provide and many states are doing a poor job or ignoring it completely, like Arizona where I live.

I believe that if we work together we can bring down the teen pregnancy rates and protect your daughter from getting common sexually transmitted viruses like herpes and HPV – the cause of most abnormal pap smears and almost all cervical cancer. If you watched my video from my recent blog post about how teens aren’t really getting the message about sex then you know that most sexually active teens forego using a condom at some point, putting them at risk for viruses and pregnancy.

That’s why I hope by reaching out to moms who want their girls to be empowered to create an amazing life that I will be able to get the information into mom’s hands early enough so that she can make a profound difference in her daughter’s life. Because our sexuality is at the core of our being and impacts every aspect of our life, I want girls to avoid some of life’s harder lessons. We don’t all need to slog through the muck.

I can tell you from personal experience that sexually transmitted viruses are not fun and we can help your daughter avoid painful outbreaks of sores, scary diagnoses and fertility jeopardizing treatments with the right information.

Teen pregnancy affects everyone and will make it more difficult for your daughter to succeed in life. We can help her avoid that too. You can empower her make smart, well thought out decisions that will keep her safe whenever she begins to explore her sexuality.

So that whenever the day comes that she decides to become a mother, it’s because she’s made the conscious choice to call forth life. I think conscious conception is a beautiful thing; a baby conceived in love and welcomed into a home that’s ready and waiting to give the best of what life has to offer… is just incredible. What more could a kid hope for? The experience is likely to be more enjoyable for all.

So I’m grateful that May is a month for celebrating and raising awareness of our ability to conceive and birth. You may have heard of “May Day” (May 1st), a festival where you could dance around the maypole and celebrate fertility. So here’s to conception when it’s appropriate and desired and hurray for the bold women who are called to catch babies delivered into this world.

Midwives provide essential services all over the world. I just donated to the Pachamama Alliance to buy birth kits for midwives out in the jungle. My donation was part of a larger call to donate and collectively we donated over $15k to buy birthing kits for jungle mamas in South America. Yes, you read that right, Fifteen THOUSAND dollars. It’s pretty amazing what you can do with a room full of women, just over 200 amazing incredible women who are looking to make a difference in the world. It felt really good to collectively make that kind of impact. Thanks to my business coach, Sage Lavine for inviting us to contribute to an organization making a difference in the world. If you’re curious to learn about them, they’re an amazing non-profit. http://www.pachamama.org/

Let’s work together to prevent teen pregnancy… unintended pregnancy in women of any age. We can have that kind of impact now and for generations to come.

And on a final note, I want to wish you a happy Mother’s Day.

Happy Mother’s Day! Do something special for yourself. You deserve it!

Much Love!
Robin

Apr 252014
 

Closing the Gap on Mother-Daughter Conversations about Sex

mom and daughterI was curious to know how conversations about sex were going between you and your daughter, so I did a survey after the summit was over that several of you responded to and I found two surveys on the topic.

They interviewed over 2000 mother-daughter pairs who live together and I have to tell you, the results were very eye opening and you probably won’t like what you hear….

I was surprised to learn 2 out of 3 girls admitted they are lying to their moms about sex. Do you know what the worst part is? The risky behaviors the girls are hiding:

  • Most of the girls in the survey said they’ve had sex without a condom at least once.
  • More than half of the girls admitted they didn’t use any birth control at all!
  • Twice as many girls had already had sex than their moms knew about

STDgraphicSex without a condom even once puts your daughter at risk for STDs. Did you know that one in four sexually active teens are diagnosed with an STD and half of sexually active young women have had an STD by age 25?

Some of the most common sexually transmitted diseases can have lifelong consequences. The most commonly diagnosed STD is the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) which causes abnormal changes in the cervix cells putting your daughter at risk for cervical cancer. All of the treatments for cervical dysplasia are unpleasant and may put future fertility at risk.

The next most commonly diagnosed STD is Chlamydia and this can be present without symptoms and is responsible for a large percentage of the cases of infertility today.

The surveys found girls are a lot less comfortable talking to you about sex than you might think. The majority of girls have no intention of coming to you with concerns about sex and made it pretty clear that you’ll be the last to know when they decide to have sex.

Check out the video to learn more about how girls are missing the messages and how it puts your daughter at risk.

 

 

robinHave questions? Need support? Feel like you’ve missed the boat on some of these conversations with your daughter? Let’s chat! I’ve opened up a few spots in my calendar for FREE 30 minute Sex Communication Breakthrough Sessions and I invite you to apply for one today.

We can break through the discomfort together! We can change this. Let’s explore what is possible for you!

Warmly,
Robin

 

 

P.S. Have you caught your daughter lying to you about sex related issues? Or if your daughter is too young, did you hide risky sexual behaviors from your mom? Share your experience by commenting below!

 

Mar 142012
 

Experience Reproductive FreedomI’ve been passionate about sharing information on women’s reproductive health and ways of managing fertility for a long time. My love for fertility and women’s reproductive health stems from personal experience. I believe that all young women should be taught about their bodies, taught to identify the signs of fertility so that they have the tools and skills needed to avoid pregnancy.

The first time I had sex, I had no understanding of how my body worked. I knew women weren’t fertile all the time. I knew when dogs were in heat they also bled and that they could get pregnant during this time. The first time I had sex it was unprotected and I was not bleeding at the time. Luckily, I didn’t get pregnant. I was placed on the pill soon after, on which I stayed until the age of 20.

It turns out I’m not alone in my misunderstanding and ignorance of the basic functions of my body. The Guttmacher Institute reports that 46% of teenage boys and 33% of teenage girls have no formal sex education prior to having sex for the first time. I was one of those teenage girls.

This scenario happens across the world every day more often than we could ever imagine. This is a huge problem! One that is easily remedied with good scientific information! I believe if a woman is able to recognize signs of fertility on any given day, she will be able to determine if unprotected intercourse on that day would likely result in conception occurring. Having this knowledge and level of understanding of our bodies will enable women of child-bearing age to be much more conscious of the choices she is making in regards to contraception.

I want the ideal world where all pregnancies are planned, every child is wanted and abortion is only needed for medical reasons or when birth control fails. We have the tools available to make this a reality all that is missing is the education and subsequent implementation in the general population. I believe that educating our young men and women is a vital step in achieving this goal.

My goal is to bring this information to as many women as possible. I think that basic fertility awareness methods should be taught to pre-teens or as a rite of passage for young women who have just begun bleeding. Understanding our bodies and menstrual cycles is essential information for all women and can be used to avoid or achieve pregnancy when the time is right. Sex education is vital for future health and well being, avoiding viruses like HPV is essential to avoiding cervical dysplasia and cervical cancer.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all mothers knew this information so that they could hand it down to their daughters? I look forward to exploring the realm of women’s mysteries with you all!

Mar 012012
 

So let’s talk a little about puberty. This is where and when a young girl will begin to sexually mature. Her body will go through a series of changes completely out of her control. Numerous bodily systems will be affected and she will emerge on the other side as a sexually mature young woman. This journey begins somewhere around the age of 9 with the initial growth spurt and reaches completion around the age of 15 when she reaches her adult height. Another sign that she has completed puberty is the initiation of the menstrual cycle. It’s an amazing process of transformation that begins in its own time and progress at its own rate. While we know much about the events that occur during puberty, each individual’s experience of puberty is unique and will unfold without a set or defined pattern. While one young woman may be completing puberty at age 15 another may be just beginning her own journey.

Different degrees of sexual maturation at the same age, these girls are all 12.75 years old. © Human Reproductive Biology

The series of events and bodily changes such as growth spurts, breast development, and when she will get her first period happen whenever they are good and ready and without a set order. Everyone has experienced the flood of raging hormones as the body of a child transforms into a young maiden. The same happens for guys too. Hormones too come in their own ebbs and flows, and the symptoms experienced can vary tremendously between young women. Physiological changes in sweat and sebaceous glands can cause distressing changes in body odor and skin complexion including problems like acne and body odor. Pubic hair begins to grow and the internal reproductive structures complete their development. It’s important to realize that there’s a wide variety of normal when it comes to transitioning through puberty. Each girl’s body goes at its own pace.

Menarche is a young woman’s very first period and marks her entrance into womanhood. Many cultures celebrate this joyous coming of age event. In the United States, menstruation is often viewed as a taboo or shameful, something that should be hidden and not discussed. Frequently a girl’s entrance into womanhood is an unmarked event. For the majority of young women this is a hush-hush event. It’s whispered about rather than celebrated. She is initiated with shame and secrecy. Some girls think they are bleeding to death when they get their first period, it is a terrifying experience. Some girls have received their education from TV and have heard stories about “The Curse”. It’s hard to have a positive image of something that happens every month to your body when you’re spoon fed this type of information.  It doesn’t have to be this way. The inner workings of the female body are amazing and wondrous!! I’m excited to explore and expose the mysteries of the female body here on this website!

So let’s talk a little more about menarche, which is the word for a young woman’s very first period. Its origins are Greek, men- means month, and arche  means beginning. Generally speaking, in order to have a period one must ovulate first. Science has documented a set chain of hormonal events leading up to and triggering ovulation leading to menstruation approximately two weeks later.

When a girl begins menstruating, her body is still maturing and there’s some debate in regards to how regularly she may ovulate. There is belief that many of a young girl’s menstrual periods are anovulatory, which means that she didn’t ovulate that cycle and may be repeated for many cycles, just a few or perhaps just occasionally. Again, we can safely say that this is going to vary between individuals and every cycle should be considered fertile. Personally, I believe that ovulation is occurring more often than not when a young woman receives her period. Unfortunately there are documented reports of young girls who are being sexually abused becoming pregnant without ever having a period. This happens because ovulation occurs prior to having a menstrual period. We’ll get into more of this later. It is possible for anovulatory cycles to produce spotting or bleeding similar to a period which can be difficult to identify. More often, when ovulation does not occur, menstruation does not occur or may occur irregularly.

 

References & Resources:

Human Reproductive Biology 3rd Edition. 2006

Feb 242012
 

I’m very excited to be starting this new website! It’s hard to know where to begin and there’s so much to be said…. and I have so much to say! So I’ll just take a deep breath and ramble just a bit to give you an idea of the direction I’m headed with this website/blog. I became actively interested in women’s health soon after high school, right around the time I came to the realization that I really didn’t want to be on birth control pills anymore. That’s when I realized I had no idea how to prevent pregnancy without the pill and I was very concerned about accidentally becoming pregnant. Even though I had some minimal sex education in both graded school and high school, I felt totally ignorant about my body and how to protect myself from pregnancy. This triggered a quest for information, which continues to this day.

Back when I began my search for information in the days before the internet, my primary sources for information were bookstores, coffee shops and the people I might meet there. Every time I would find a new book on this topic I would buy it and devour the information and search for more! As I gathered information, I felt like every woman needed to know this stuff and had a hard time understanding why we were not being taught this information. It was the type of information I wished my mom had been able to tell me about, but I suspect she didn’t know either. We live in these amazing and wonderful bodies yet we seem to know so little about their inner workings. A goal of this website is to change this for as many women as possible worldwide.

Recently I was reading a book by Sheri Winston called Women’s Anatomy of Arousal in which she lamented the limitations of our language as we try to express and define sexuality. I agree and find the same to be true when it comes to defining and exploring our bodies and describing our fertility cycles. Things like sex and menstruation are treated as taboo subjects; it is our challenge to redefine these subjects.

She writes “our culture hasn’t given us a good vocabulary for talking about sex. We have scientific terms, baby talk, euphemisms, and super-charged so-called dirty words like pussy and fuck.” She notes that “as a healer, teacher and writer, I constantly have to navigate the straits of the limitations of our language. It’s not easy to do: the choice is essentially between formal to the point of pomposity (scientific language), vague and silly (baby words and euphemisms), and provocative (the “dirty words”).” She draws from these three choices and other lesser known vocabularies like pulling terms from the ancient Sanskrit language like “yoni” which refers to the female genitalia. I think I’ll follow her lead, although I tend to lean towards the scientific lingo because I think it’s important for young women to learn the language of anatomy and physiology so that we can speak confidently about our bodies. By the way, if you are interested in great sex I highly recommend Sheri’s book.

The female body has the most complex and beautiful dance of hormones which evolves as we cycle over the course our lives. With the initiation of hormonal changes in puberty our cycles continually evolve and are influenced by reproductive and environmental events that transpire during our lives until the hormonal phase of our lives finally fades with the onset of menopause. I look forward to exploring the female body with you all!

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