Contraception- to ignore it or tackle it…that is the question!

Its one of those issues that confront women at one time of their lives or another. It just wont go away! Atleast not while sex continues 😉

Many ignore it at their peril. Others barely tolerate it as a necessary evil.

Where do you stand?

Consider my discussion with Amina below (name changed to protect patient’s confidentiality).

Amina looked at me, her eyes filled with tears.

“I need your help, doctor, I’m pregnant again.” She paused as though the fact still amazed her, as if she was hearing the news for the first time.

I waited patiently as she fought with her emotions. When she started to speak again, the words tumbled out of her in a rush.

“It’s my fifth pregnancy, doctor… we had planned to stop… we really can’t afford another baby… I don’t have a job and my husband’s company is making people redundant so we are not sure of his job either…”

She grabbed the tissue I held out to her and dashed it to her eyes.

“I feel terrible. I had an abortion just four months ago.

“It’s… We… I just can’t have another baby.” The tears overflowed again.

When the storm had calmed, I gently enquired what contraception she was using.

“We use condoms… Sometimes.”

“At other times?”

Silence.

And then: “Nothing,” she confessed.

“I just didn’t think it would happen again so soon, doctor.”

The statistics speak for themselves!

Consider the fact that in 2012, in England and Wales, 49% of black women having an abortion had a previous abortion. This is well above the national recurrent abortion average of 36%.

Black women are ignoring contraception with resulting serious consequences. Unplanned pregnancies, soaring abortion rates, HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis and other sexually transmitted infections continue to rule the day.

We must stop and take stock of where we are, Black sisters. Together let’s explore our issues and begin to make changes that will bear fruit.

understanng contraception

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Copper Coil wins!

The result of our poll on contraceptives is out! Thanks to all who participated. You can view the poll here.

The result is given below in a chart. The contraceptive pills, patch, vaginal ring, contraceptive injection, withdrawal method, natural methods (like checking cervical mucus), caps and diaphragms got no votes at all! Suprise, suprise!

contraception, sexual wellbeing network

Sexual Wellbeing Network: Contraception Poll.

Enjoy this cartoon drawn for us by caricaturist Rick Coleman 🙂                                                                                                                                                            

copper coil, sexual wellbeing network

Sexual Wellbeing Network: copper coil cartoon.

                  

So you the readers voted the copper coil as your fav contraception.

See a picture of the coil in my hand below. Many people are suprised at how small it really is. They usually had a mental picture of a large motor coil in their head or a climbing rope 😀

Courtesy the private collection of Roy Winkelman

Courtesy the private collection of Roy Winkelman

But the coil is really quite small.

copper coil, sexual wellbeing network

Sexual wellbeing network: copper coil

So the next question is:

What do you like about the copper coil? What makes it your contraception of choice? If you didnt vote for it, what puts you off the copper coil? What makes you go, ‘Arrgh..noo!’ when the doctor suggests a copper coil? What method do YOU like/use and what makes it your own favourite? Are you surprised at the methods that got no vote?

Thanks again to all who voted! Watch out for our next poll!

Find us on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/healthysextoday

Condoms – do they fail or do you? (4)

”No, it’s okay. I will buy some,” Amina said.

”Just keep a straight face when you get to the shop counter with the condoms,” said Baako.

Amina glared at him.

”Just kidding! I will buy some as well,” he said.

”Good! Like I have said in the past, there are other more effective methods of contraception but if this is your choice, then that’s alright. Hopefully if you stick to using condoms every time you have sex and remembering our discussion on how to use them correctly, no pregnancy will result.”

”I seriously hope not!’ Amina exclaimed ”I am definitely not having a third abortion.” Her voice broke.
There was an awkward silence in the room.

”Some people who have had an abortion find it hard to move on. Some keep blaming themselves or others. It can have an emotional toll.’ I paused and watched as Amina nodded, not raising her face.

Sexual Wellbeing Network

”Talking to an experienced counsellor can help you come to terms with the past so you can move on and embrace the future. Would you like to speak to a counsellor about your experiences?”

”I think so,” Amina said quietly.

In a rare display of empathy which I didn’t realise he had in him, Baako reached out and took Amina’s hand.

If you are struggling with guilt concerning an abortion, please seek counselling today! You need to forgive yourself and move on. Our past experiences should not be allowed to destroy our future joys. But please take steps to ensure the past does not repeat itself.

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 :))

Female Condoms: Greatest Invention since sliced bread?

An article on the BBC News website yesterday caught my eye. It was titled ”The return of the Female Condom.”

Some interesting pictures of female condoms on the site have been included here. I can feel some of our ladies cringing at the look of these objects 😀

Sexualwellbeingnetwork, BBC News.

sexualwellbeingnetwork, BBC News

They don’t look very sexy, these objects. But if they do the job, who cares?

Sexualwellbeingnetwork. BBC News.

Sexual wellbeing network. BBC News.

You can read all about them here

Sexual wellbeing network. BBC News.

Sexual wellbeing network. BBC News.

With women constituting 60% of people living with HIV in Sub-Sahara Africa, drastic measures are needed and that may have to include female condoms, no matter how ugly they look.

Of course our men can save us the trouble by simply using male condoms…..

On a lighter note, the rings found at the outer end of some female condoms have now turned into fashion assessories with some women using the rings as bangles!! I hope they wash them first…ew!

What is your Favourite Contraception?

What contraception do you like? Which contraception comes ‘Highly Recommended’ by you? Take our latest poll and find out if others agree with you. You can add your reason for recommending the contraception in the comment section if you like. If we have missed out a contraception available in your country, please let us know in the comment section and it will be added to the poll. Thanks for participating.

Sexual Wellbeing Network

Sexual Wellbeing Network

Female Condoms: Greatest Invention since sliced bread?

An article on the BBC News website yesterday caught my eye. It was titled ”The return of the Female Condom.”

Some interesting pictures of female condoms on the site have been included here. I can feel some of our ladies cringing at the look of these objects 😀

Sexualwellbeingnetwork, BBC News.

sexualwellbeingnetwork, BBC News

They don’t look very sexy, these objects. But if they do the job, who cares?

Sexualwellbeingnetwork. BBC News.

Sexual wellbeing network. BBC News.

You can read all about them here

Sexual wellbeing network. BBC News.

Sexual wellbeing network. BBC News.

With women constituting 60% of people living with HIV in Sub-Sahara Africa, drastic measures are needed and that may have to include female condoms, no matter how ugly they look.

Of course our men can save us the trouble by simply using male condoms…..

On a lighter note, the rings found at the outer end of some female condoms have now turned into fashion assessories with some women using the rings as bangles!! I hope they wash them first…ew!

Condoms – do they fail? Or do you? (1)

So Baako decided they would give condoms another try even though Amina wanted to try something else.

If you haven’t met Amina, you can find out about her here and here

“Condoms are very effective at preventing pregnancy. If used correctly, only two women out of 100 will get pregnant in one year.

So were we just one of the unlucky two that condoms failed?” asked Amina.

It depends on how you were using it.

How else? You just put it on and use it, isn’t it? Baako said.

It needs to be put on before any contact between the penis and the vagina. This is because any fluid leaking out of the penis may contain sperm and cause a pregnancy.

I see… Baako and Amina looked at each other knowingly.

You need to handle the condom carefully as it can easily be damaged by sharp finger nails or jewellery and any leaks lead to a higher risk of pregnancy.

You should never re-use a condom and don’t forget to check the expiry date.

Do they expire? Baako was surprised.

Yes they do and expired condoms may not be very effective.”

And after intercourse?

Hold the condom firmly in place while pulling out slowly and carefully so you do not spill any semen.

To be honest, I feel a lot of friction when he uses condoms and its not comfortable, Amina said.

What do you feel about using lubricating gel?

Lubricating gel? What’s that? They clearly hadn’t heard of it.

1. Bearing all of the above in mind, just how effective do you think condoms are in the heat of passion???

2. Did you know that condoms have a ‘use by’ date?

3. Who taught you how to use condoms effectively? Yourself or someone else? Who do you think would be the best person to teach safe condom use?

Sterilisation? That’s castration, right??

Last week we found out that Amina and her husband decided to go for an abortion. The last post can be read here https://adaezeifezulike.wordpress.com/2013/10/06/its-my-wifes-fault/

In the UK, the organisation that regulates doctors (called the General Medical Council or GMC for short) recognises that some doctors may have a conscientious objection to some procedures, such as abortion. The GMC’s guidance is clear: whatever a doctor’s beliefs may be, the doctor MUST signpost patients to where they can get the help they require. So even if the doctor has conscientious objections, they have to send you to someone who will help you. This must be done without delay and in a non-judgemental manner.
So I directed Amina to colleagues who ensured that she got what she wanted.

She was back with her husband, Baako, to see me the following week. This time, she was determined that the issue of contraception must be sorted.

“I’m never ever going to have another abortion. I think two is enough!”

positive steps

“Okay. So what do you want to use?”

“Well…” She shuffled her feet as she thought it over.

“I’m not going to be sterilised,” her husband cut in, “so forget that.”

Amina looked at him angrily. “What’s the matter with you? What are you afraid of? We’ve got the number of children we want, why don’t you get sterilised?”

“Why should I be the one to be sterilised?” He shot back.

I decided it was time to make a suggestion. “Perhaps you can tell me what you are worried about and we can talk about it.”

“Look doctor, this is what makes a man a man! I cannot go and be castrated like a dog or a bull: I am a man!”

“Okay,” I said, trying not to smile. I saw Amina roll her eyes in exasperation.

“Any other concerns?”

“Besides, it’s just these Oyibo people that introduced all these things. How would a man open his mouth and tell his kinsmen that he is sterilised? How would that sound, doctor? How would that sound?”

“I see. Anything else?”
“Are these not enough reasons, doctor? And besides…”
“Yes, go on…”

“Yes!” Amina chipped in. “Tell the doctor, tell her!”
“What if…”
“He is afraid that the children and I may die.”

“I don’t mean it like that! Shut up woman! But doctor, you know what I mean… supposing something happens to my wife and children, what will happen to me then, eh? Does it mean I will not then have the capacity to impregnate a woman again?”

“I hear all your concerns and will take them one by one. Let’s start with the first one.’
“You said that this is what makes a man, a man… Well, I think there is more to a man than being able to impregnate a woman. I guess you are worried about your erection and being able to make love to your wife. I want to reassure you that sterilisation does not affect that ability at all. When you are sterilised, your tubes are tied but the penis is not affected and you should still have a strong erection and achieve penetration with your wife. Do you understand?”

“Are you sure, doctor? You know you people say one thing and then do another thing.”

“I assure you that your normal erection and sexual drive is not affected when you are sterilised. In fact some women enjoy sex more because they are not worrying about getting pregnant.”
“Okay, if you say so.”

“Your other concern was about what people will say. Yes, it’s still a foreign concept and not one that everyone understands or agrees with. So it might be best to keep it to yourself. You don’t have to tell anybody what goes on in your bedroom. It’s not their business, is it?”
“No.”

“Besides, something foreign doesn’t have to be evil. Remember that Mary Slessor came and stopped the killing of twins in black communities. It was a foreign concept among our people who felt that twins were evil. But we know now that she was right. So sterilisation is foreign to our culture but that does not mean it is wrong.”

“Okay. What of my third concern?”
“Well, you wondered what may happen if your wife and children should die.”

“What if you die, eh? Why must it be the children and I who die?” Amina interjected.

“Well, I understand your concern,” I answered Baako, “and again, this fear is rooted in our culture. In the past, we had many children because many of them died from diseases and poor living conditions. We had twelve, sixteen and even twenty children and in the end perhaps five survived. But now, things have improved. So if you follow that same mentality and have ten children, you may find that ten of them survive. So one shouldn’t have many children out of fear that some of them might not survive. It doesn’t work like that anymore. Does that answer your question?”

“Yes, okay. I will think about it but I still prefer condoms…”

“Eh… but condoms failed us,” said Amina.

“Whose fault is that?”

“Perhaps we should talk about condoms just to balance things up and see why they failed?” I asked.

My discussion with them concerning condoms and how to use them correctly and consistently will follow soon. Please stay tuned and dont forget to tell your friends (and foes!) about the blog 😉

Remember to send in your comments in the comment section just below this post. Our contraception poll will be closing soon. If you haven’t participated, you can still do so here https://adaezeifezulike.wordpress.com/2013/10/01/lets-know-what-you-think/

So what are your own thoughts about sterilization? Have you or your husband been sterilized? How did it go? Do you regret your decision? Or is it the best thing that has happened to you? What will it take for you to be sterilized?

Please tell us….we are desperate to know 😀