What has smoking got to do with my Sexual Health?

SmokingFrom today, 1st April 2015, there will be no more smoking on all hospital grounds across Scotland.

This is a welcome development. The annual cost to NHS Scotland of treating smoking related diseases is estimated to be more than £409 million.

Smoking affects almost all areas of health including sexual health.

Here are some ways that smoking affects sexual health of women.

Contraception

Smoking limits your options for contraception. Older ladies who smoke should not use combined hormone methods of contraception (the pill, the patch, and the vaginal ring) as they will be at increased risk of having a  stroke or a heart attack than those who don’t smoke.

The Menstrual Cycle

Smokers who experience prolonged, painful and irregular periods may notice less pain and irregularity when they quit smoking.

Menopause

Smokers tend to have early menopause. Early menopause can in turn predispose a person to some conditions such as Osteoporosis (bones that are weak and prone to breaking).

CANCERS

Smoking cigarettes increases the risk of developing cervical and vulval cancer.

SEXUAL PLEASURE

It is thought that since smoking hardens blood vessels around the clitoris and vagina, it can reduce pleasure from sexual intercourse.

Fertility

The chances of getting pregnant are reduced by up to 40 percent each menstrual cycle in smokers, and the longer a woman smokes, the longer it will take for her to get pregnant. Stopping smoking increases the chances of getting pregnant.

Pregnancy

A woman who smokes may be at increased risk for ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage. Women who smoke are more likely to have low birth-weight babies who are less healthy and have an increased risk of death. Stillbirth or the death of the newborn during the first four weeks of life is also more common among women who smoke while pregnant. Having a spouse who smokes is a health risk due to  second hand smoke.

So keep healthy, don’t smoke and enjoy a sexier you!

See your doctor  or pharmacist if you need help with quitting smoking.

~Adaeze Ifezulike, UK Sexual Health Professional of the Year 2015 Finalist.


Register for the 2015 Afrocaribbean Health events here

 

My phone can diagnose HIV but how do I get the drugs?

HIV, Smart phone, Dongle, Sexual wellbeingA device attached to your phone could soon be used to diagnose HIV in 15 minutes! This exciting new device could help the poorest people across the world to take control of their own health.

Uses only a finger prick of blood.
Cost only $34 to manufacture.
Small enough to fit into one hand
Does not rely on laboratory facilities.

Gets its energy supply from the phone so can be used in remote places

I applaud the makers for their new device called ‘Dongle.

Being able to find out if you have caught something quickly reduces the risk of spreading it to other people.

HIV, Dongle, Sexual wellbeing, HIV test

 

 

So it is an exciting development in the fight against HIV, particularly in African countries where mother to child transmission of HIV (amongst other routes) remains a major concern with over 2 million children infected with HIV while in the womb, during birth, or by being breastfed.

The next step is for the antiretroviral medications (used to treat HIV) to be so readily available in developing countries as well.

Otherwise, what is the point of fast, easy and cheap diagnosis if there isn’t corresponding available and cheap medication to treat those diagnosed with HIV in poor communities?


Dr Adaeze Ifezulike is a Family Physician/GP based in Aberdeen. She is a Finalist at the UK Sexual Health Awards 2015 and for her book ‘Understanding Contraception: A guide for black ladies’ she has been nominated ‘Author of the Year’ at the Women4Africa Awards.

 

Afrocaribbean Health Events -2015 Dates

Afrocaribbean Health, HIV, Fountain of love church, Health friendly
Its here again!!
The popular afrocaribbean health events will hold in Aberdeen on the following dates in 2015:

25th April 2015 RCCG Fountain of Love, 31 Palmerston road, AB11 5QP.
23rd May 2015 Garthdee
20th June 2015 Cove

Venues will be communicated shortly.

Please save the dates and be a part of these healthy lifestyle events.

Overall feedback on our most recent event in October 2014 was very positive with 82% of attendees rating the presentations as ‘exceeding’ their expectations and 90% rating the Screenings (HIV, Hepatitis B and C, Blood pressure, blood sugar and other tests) offered as ‘very useful’.

Please contact afrocaribbeanhealth@gmail.com with any enquiries or if you would like to be involved with the events.
Twitter: @afrocaribhealth

Afrocaribbean Health and Wellness Team: Improving health in the black community.

Afrocaribbean Health, HIV, Fountain of love church, Health friendly

The Parliamentary Ethnicity and Health report of 2007 shows that Black and minority ethnic (BME) groups generally have worse health than the overall population. For instance, it reports that there is up to 7 times higher rates of new diagnosis of psychosis among Black Caribbean people than among the White British. Health Survey for England 2004 reports a prevalence of Hypertension of more than 38% in Black Carribean males compared to the general population prevalence of 31%.The prevalence of doctor-diagnosed Diabetes amongst Africans and Caribbean men above 55 years combined is 15% compared to the general population prevalence of 4.3%.HIV prevalence for black Africans in the UK is 37 per 1000 population, compared to 1.5 per 1000 of the rest of the population and people from African communities are more likely to test and be diagnosed later than other groups. These are a few instances of the dismal health statistics available about the afrocaribbean ethnic group.

Why is this the case?

There are many reasons given for this picture. These include distrust and unfamiliarity with the way the health sector works, language barriers, stress related to poverty, immigration issues, unemployment, poor housing amongst other factors. Poverty may mean that many eat unhealthy but cheap food which then adversely affects their health. Stigma from society and media can limit access to health services.

What can be done?

The Afrocaribbean Health and Wellness Team (AHWT) has taken the bull by the horn to try and address these areas of health inequality. This unique group is made up of health professionals, members of the voluntary sector and other people with the following objectives:

  • To raise awareness of health related issues affecting the Afro-Caribbean communities in Scotland.

  • To empower Afro-Caribbeans to make informed choices about their health.

  • To inform Afro- Caribbeans about health support services and agencies available in the community.

To be able to bridge the health inequality, we found it necessary to liaise with Faith group leaders as worship is an integral aspect of the afrocaribbean community. It is the belief of the AHWT that for health interventions to make an impact within any group, strategies must align to the beliefs and practices of that group.AIDS and Mobility Europe recommends that policy, prevention, treatment and care for migrants should include ”targeted, culturally appropriate services and communication with migrant communities.”

 

What we did:

We carried out a health survey at the Fountain of Love church, Aberdeen to ascertain what health issues the members of the Faith group wanted to learn more about. A total of 212 people participated in the survey 59% of whom were females. 88% were members of the church, the rest had been visiting on the day of the survey. 58% of those who participated in the survey were in the 30-40 years age range.

Based on the result of the survey, a health event took place on the 25th of October at the Fountain of Love church hall. Health professionals were invited from within and outside the Afrocaribbean community to educate and inform attendees on different health topics. Topics covered included Mental Health, Cardiovascular Health, Sexual Health, Men’s Health, Getting to know your NHS and Weight Management. Speakers on the day were Dr Matthew Jack, Dr Winifred Eboh, Dr Petrus Elofuke, Dr Adaeze Ifezulike, Dr Fumen Gamba and Mr Katai Kasengele. Good interactive participation was helped by small group workshops on the various topics which were anchored by the speakers and others including Dr Jenny Bryden, Mrs Tabeth Timba-Emmanuel, Mrs Ubong Usua, Mrs Lolade Ogunrinboye and Mrs Yetunde Odebiyi.

 

More than 40 people opted for confidential testing for blood borne viruses like HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C while a further 60 had their blood sugar, Blood pressure, Fat content and Body Mass Index (BMI) measured. The testing booths were manned by Public health staff from the NHS (Penny Gillies and Helen Corrigan) and Roselie Emmanuel.

 The Atmosphere:

Sexual wellbeing network, Adaeze Ifezulike, Roselie Emmanuel, Chris Gbenle, Dupe Omotosho, Katai Kasengele, Jenny Bryden, Ubong Usua,It was fantastic as people felt at home unlike they would in a hospital environment. Their questions were answered. Food was provided by the church and visible participation by church leaders headed by Pastor Dr Chris Gbenle helped to foster trust and engagement with attendees.

The event ended with a ”HEALTH FRIENDLY’ Certificate issued to the church.

Evaluation of event:

Participants were asked to anonymously evaluate the event with a series of questions, some of which are included here:

How could the event be improved? Some answers included ”I would want to hear more about stress management, high blood pressure and mental health”, ”Create more awareness of the programme” and ”Do such programs at least every two months.”

What did you  like best about the event? ”The workshops and the screening”, ”The package was excellent” and ”All the sessions.”

What have you gained as a result of attending this event?

”A lot, I now know my weight, BMI and sugar blood test,” ”Information on weight management,” ”That its not only when you are not feeling well that you should seek advice” and ”Intensive education and awareness about HIV and other illnesses.”

What might you do differently as a result of this event?

”Change my eating and drinking habits”, ”Watch my weight,” ”Monitor my health,” ”Change diet, become more active and less lonely” and ”Eat better.”

90% of the evaluation forms handed back rated the organisation of the event as Excellent or Good.

Members of the Afrocaribbean Health and Wellness team include Dr Winifred Eboh, Dr Matthew Jack, Mrs Ubong Usua, Mrs Lolade Ogunrinboye, Mrs Tabeth Timba-Emmanuel, Mr Katai Kasengele and Dr Adaeze Ifezulike.

If you would like to know more about the afrocaribbean health events and how your organisation can achieve ‘HEALTH FRIENDLY’ status, please contact Dr Adaeze Ifezulike on info@sexualwellbeingnetwork.com

10 Top Sexual Health Checks to do before the wedding night.

Sexual Wellbeing Network I love weddings, they are so exciting! I always see it as a new beginning for the people involved. It’s an opportunity to celebrate a great life together. It’s a chance to have an amazing adventure with your friend (hopefully you are marrying a friend!)

However before you get to the wedding night, there are 10 sexual health checks you need to do. These are really important and can help to make sexual intimacy a bed of roses for you rather than cause unlimited problems. 1. Forget your past experiences! I cannot emphasise this enough. Whether you’ve had sex in the past or not, this is a new start! It’s time to forget your past and reach out for the future. The past experiences, especially the negative ones, can have the power to destroy the new heaven ahead of you. So it’s really important to forget the past and determine to enjoy the glorious sweetness ahead of you. You may have had nasty experiences like rape in the past. Well it’s time to dust yourself down and determine that that won’t destroy your future. You need to decide that from now on, you are going to have an excellent sexual life. You may have shared sexual intimacy with people who didn’t value you, who were just interested in what was in it for themselves. Forget them! Do not let your past experiences mar the beauty of what is to come. Sexual intimacy can be beautiful and satisfying but the last thing you need is a head and heart full of bad memories. So if you have had nasty experiences in the past, leave them there. Your marriage is a new beginning. It can be difficult to do this and some people may find they require counselling. In this case, get some counselling before you go into marriage. Go and speak to a trained counsellor and get help with facing up to your past experiences. They do not need to have a hold over you anymore. I strongly encourage young people to avoid sexual intimacy till they are married, if possible. I know this message is not for everyone but for those who would listen, it’s really best to avoid unnecessary baggage. The last thing you want is to be making love with your spouse and be thinking ‘he doesn’t quite measure up to Jide or Samson’. Ladies, you don’t want your spouse thinking, ‘she doesn’t quite do it like Elizabeth Taylor or the girl down at the store.’ It’s best you discover each other as you are and go from there. That way, sexual intimacy can be like a treasure chest.You are discovering each other without the added complication of previous experiences.

But if you’ve had previous experiences, then try to put them aside and enjoy what you have before you. A lot of dissatisfaction in marriage stems from current spouses not living up to what one may have experienced in the past. 2. Talk about contraception. This is very important. Many people go into marriage without ever discussing contraception yet somewhere in their mind, they know they are not ready for a baby. I’ve seen couples who were planning to go overseas to further their education. They do not factor in how having a baby at that time can cause problems. There are childcare challenges if you are having to attend lectures or meet thesis deadlines. If you need one year or two to do your Masters programme or whatever it is you want to do, then mutually agree with your partner on what you want to do about childbearing. Perhaps you may agree to use contraception for the next year until you finish your study or set up your business or whatever it is. Then you can be better prepared for the challenges of having a baby. It’s better to be ready than have the baby and find that you are running helter-skelter. You cannot finish your studies, you cannot take care of your baby… You feel frustrated just because you did not stop to plan. If you don’t plan, you have planned to fail!

All contraceptions are reversible apart from sterilization so there is no reason not to choose one if you wish to delay child bearing for a while. And there are a number to choose from. If one doesn’t suit you, go on to another one till you find one that suits.

3. Do a HIV test. HIV is so common among the black population that many organisations and churches that conduct marriages now strongly encourage their members to have a HIV test before the occasion. This is good practice and I strongly encourage it. No one wants to break up your relationship! It’s better to know and get treatment rather than going into a relationship when you are HIV positive, infecting your partner and, worse still, passing the infection onto a new-born baby.

So do a HIV test. Tell your partner ”I’ve done a HIV test and I would like you to do one too, please.” That way, you both know where you stand. If either of you is positive, well, then you know! There is a solution and help out there. So do a HIV test before you get married. Better still, do it before the two of you get intimate. See where you both stand!

While you are at it, why not check for other STDs (sexually transmitted infections) like chlamydia and gonorrhoea. This is especially important if you have engaged in casual sex in the past. It often just requires a cotton wool swab for samples from your vagina or a simple urine sample for men. The good news is that many of these infections can be treated easily with antibiotics.

Untreated chlamydia can lead to miscarriage, constant pelvic pain and even infertility. So do an STD check before sexual intimacy.

4. Check for Hepatitis B and C. These infections are a big threat to our health. They often go hand in hand with HIV and are common in Africans. The African Collaborative Hepatitis Network states that ”Viral hepatitis remains a major global health threat that desperately needs increased public awareness.” You can find out about their work here. It is estimated that 15% of Africans have Hepatitis B compared with 1% of Americans.

It can be transmitted from unscreened blood transfusions, injecting drugs, sexual intercourse and from mother to child during childbirth. Many children who get it from their mothers become chronic carriers of hepatitis and this can cause liver problems such as liver cancer in later life. So this is an important test to do. In most hospitals, the same blood sample is used to test both hepatitis and HIV.

If one partner is positive, the other partner can be vaccinated against hepatitis and this reduces the risk of catching it from each other. There is treatment for Hepatitis C which has a cure rate of about 80%. There is also treatment which can be taken for Hepatitis B and these can slow down the progression of the infection so that it should not cause liver damage.

5. Sort out any outstanding women’s health issues. A very important one is Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). This barbaric practice which is prevalent in many Black Communities can cause a lot of sexual problems. The amazing work being done by FORWARD (Foundation for Women’s Health Research and Development) in stopping this horrible practice is highly laudable. You can read all about FORWARD here. For those who are not familiar with this, some cultures believe that to reduce sexual immorality among women, they need to have certain parts of their genitals cut off usually when the girl child is about eight years old. Unfortunately, there can be immediate complications such as bleeding and infections as these practices are often done in unsanitary conditions. There is often no analgesia or anaesthetic administered during the procedure, causing untold distress to these young girls. But more importantly, terrible scarring around the vagina can follow and lead to difficulty during sexual intercourse and childbirth. In extreme cases, the scarring can completely cover the private parts so that menstrual blood cannot come out.

If you have ever had this procedure, please see a doctor to be examined as some of the damage may be amenable to surgical repair. The FORWARD website gives a lot of information and advice on this condition. On a lighter note, if your period is predictable, you may want to plan ahead and ensure that your wedding night doesn’t find you ‘raining red’. I don’t think the groom will be very pleased!

6. Expect to get involved. Good quality sexual intimacy requires the involvement of both parties! Don’t approach sex with the attitude of ‘what’s in it for me?’ Ladies: don’t just lie in bed while the groom huffs and puffs. Have you ever tried to till concrete? How much more easy to sow on yielding soil. Be involved! Move your hips. Dance with the rhythm. Don’t be shy to say where you would like to be touched. Don’t be afraid to reach and feel – you belong to each other now. You are his Juliet and he is your Romeo. So go for it. Let the bellows blast fully and you will enjoy glorious sexual intimacy.

7. Get some lubricant from any pharmacy. Small detail but could make a whole lot of difference. The excitement of finally being free to explore each other can lead to a rush – yet the best sex is a marathon rather than a sprint. If the lady is still a bit dry when the groom dives in, it can be quite painful for her. You don’t want to start with a painful experience. So lubricate liberally as required. Taking some time to touch each other, kissing, petting and speaking loving words before the actual penetration can ensure that the vagina becomes naturally lubricated. But if this doesn’t happen, the lubricant can come in very handy.

8. Be clean! Cleanliness is very important in sexual intimacy. There is nothing as off-putting as smelly armpits or dirty hair at the time of intercourse. Ladies: especially make sure the area between your legs is shaved – it doesn’t have to be clean shaven but at least let the hairs not be so long that the man doesn’t even know where to put his penis or give you the pleasure you need. Shave and keep clean so that when it’s time, the feast is ready. Shave your armpits, wash your hair. If you use extensions or wear wigs, pack these neatly in a hair net: you wouldn’t want bits to fall off during the act and scare the groom out of his wits thinking he has decapitated you!

Make it a habit to shower before sexual intimacy and this way, every part of your body becomes available for the mutual feast. This applies to men also! Get some nice perfume!

9. Get as fit as you can! Are you overweight? Do you regularly find an excuse not to exercise? Make some changes! Physical fitness greatly enhances sexual enjoyment. What sort of food do you eat? This can affect your energy levels. Try to eat more fruits and vegetables as they are packed full of lovely nutrients that can energise your sex drive. If you take regular medications, speak with your doctor and ensure they do not affect your sex drive. Some medications like anti-depressants and some drugs for treating hypertension can affect your sex drive. Your doctor might be able to switch you to something else so get a medication check.

10. Have fun! Enjoy yourself. Do you know that sex has a lot of health benefits? It reduces blood pressure, de-stresses you, helps you have a good sleep, makes you feel younger, improves your immune system, releases hormones that can counteract anxiety/depression and can foster closeness with your spouse. How cool is that!

So make up your mind to have fun. You can do it, nobody else can create your sexual heaven but you. You have to determine in your heart and mind to make it happen, that you are going to be part of the activity and not just lie there like a log of wood. Be an active participant.

Remember, this is your own love story. You are his Juliet and he is your Romeo. This is your moment, give it all you can. Let it be a beautiful symphony you both can enjoy and that way, sexual intimacy can give amazing joys you could only have dreamt of.

Now you have the 10 top sexual health checks to do, feel free to add yours in the comment section below 😀 Click here to like us on facebook and invite your friends too. Thanks :))