Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Update Your IUD Info, Get Reviews From the Hive

The two main reasons women won't consider an IUD (an implanted plastic or copper coil in your uterus to prevent pregnancy) are bad reputation (Don't those things make you sterile or give you infections?) and not knowing anybody who has one so you can't get a trusted girlfriend's opinion the way you can with birth control pills.

But things are changing in the IUD world.  Wired Magazine's fact and interview-packed article in the August 2011 issue lays out, with simple words and big pictures, the history of almost all the IUDs ever on the market, what the problems were, or weren't, including what's available now.

Implantable devices are back in the game after being shelved  for a generation, and they are on your TV screen (Mirena) and in your doctor's office.  The original comeback was targeted only at women who had already had children, but that's changing too, thanks to researcher and ob-gyn Laura MacIsaac, who took on the huge job of educating doctors about ParaGard, another new IUD entry.

Ob-gyn Eve Espey took the next step to making IUDs a first choice for young women instead of an option only for mothers.  Wired writer Jennifer Couzin-Frankel shares the personal story behind her efforts:
Her freshman year at Harvard, Espey got pregnant accidentally and dropped out. In 1979, right after giving birth to a baby boy whom she would raise alone, she had a copper IUD inserted. She subsequently finished college and medical school, and when her son was 12 they moved to a rural area of New Mexico, where she worked at the Gallup Indian Medical Center. At the time, the county had one of the highest teen-pregnancy rates in the US. It became clear to Espey that short-term methods like the pill just weren’t doing the job for her patients. They required too much consistent effort on a woman’s part. “There’s such a huge gap between perfect and typical use,” she says.
So Espey started the ball rolling to expand official approval of the new generation of IUDs with her passion and her research with teens. In 2005 IUDs were approved as a first-line choice for teenagers.

Now there's another milestone for IUDs and contraception in general: (From Slate.com)
Earlier this month, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that it was classifying contraceptives (among a whole slate of women's health services) as preventative care, meaning that under the Affordable Care Act, insurers must provide these services without a co-pay starting in 2013. You wouldn't necessarily know it from the news coverage of the announcement — much of which focused on how the pill would now be free — but this has the potential to remake American women's relationship with birth control in profound ways. Although it may go without saying, lowering (or removing) the cost of something typically increases demand for it.  [bold by WNL]
Read the rest of the article for an in-depth analysis of the relationship between birth control in all forms and cost, all the way back to your mother's diaphragm.  Fascinating stuff!

The Slate article makes an important point that, along with cost, knowing somebody you trust who is using a certain form of birth control is a big factor affecting what you might choose for yourself.  We are hivers, after all, socially connected and motivated before anything else, and the internet is our connection to the wisdom of the hive.  Here are three terrific sources where you can just lurk or jump in and ask any question about birth control, including IUDs.  You won't be disappointed - you'll hear real stories from your new online girlfriends to help you make up your mind.
  • Top of my list is a subreddit (social community) called 2XChromosomes.  Lurk or join, it's free and you can make up any name you want to be able to ask a question.  There are tons of BC questions there to peruse, lots of personal stories, good and bad.  You'll hear it all on Reddit.
  • Berkeley Parents Network has so much hive input you might be overwhelmed, but they do sort it out into more specific topics, so you don't have to read through the whole thing to address your concerns.

WNL:  Birth control is the best gift we give to ourselves and now it looks like cost may no longer be a barrier in just a few years.  Go for it!

    Saturday, August 20, 2011

    Asian Women Refusing Marriage - The Effects of Saying "No" are Far-Reaching

    These  two articles from The Economist are both long and excellent, with lots of graphs and in-depth reporting, so I won't keep you from reading them by writing a wordy post.

    The first article is more of an over view of what's going on with half the world's women.  The second one is more in-depth, exploring all the possibilities, and, an especially nice touch, refusing to consider Asia as a uniform giant, instead recognizing there are several different traditional patterns of marriage, multiple attitudes towards women's education, contraception use, and women's roles as the baseline.  
    The decline of Asian marriage 
    Asia's lonely hearts Women are rejecting marriage in Asia. 
    The social implications are serious
    Asian governments have long taken the view that the superiority of their family life was one of their big advantages over the West. That confidence is no longer warranted. They need to wake up to the huge social changes happening in their countries and think about how to cope with the consequences.
    The flight from marriage
    Asians are marrying later, and less, than in the past. This has profound implications for women, traditional family life and Asian politics

    WNL:  These huge changes in women's attaitudes and actions will affect those of us outside Asia as well.  I hope you will take the time to get acquainted with the New Asian Woman.

    Monday, August 8, 2011

    Dog Helps Rape Victim Testify

    Rosie and her handler
    The NYT this morning has an article on Rosie, the first judicially approved courtroom dog in New York, reporting that her presence next to a 15-year-old girl who had to testify her father raped and impregnated her made all the difference to the girl, who after the conviction was read, said she was "most grateful to Rosie, above all". For the rest of the story, including use of support dogs in other states, and defense challenges to their use, look here.

    Friday, August 5, 2011

    Warren Jeffs' Sexual Assault Convictions - Behind the Headlines

    Yesterday FLDS Prophet Warren Jeffs was convicted by a Texas jury of 2 counts of sexual assault of underage girls.  Its been quite a ride for Jeffs since his 2006 highway stop arrest when he was on the FBI's Most Wanted List.  WNL has collected a couple of sources if you'd like to know more details beyond the conviction headline.

    • A guest post by true crime author Cathy Scott writing for Forbeswoman blog has additional details and background, (now paywall protected) including copies of these sad wedding photos of Jeffs and his 12-year-old "comfort wife", pictures which remind me of nothing so much as junior high father-daughter event photos.

    • The day before the verdict, Anderson Cooper interviewed Arizona investigative reporter Michael Watkiss and reporter Gary Tuchman, who attended the trial.  Both had some excellent on the scene observations which they shared in this CNN News video.  An audiotape, recorded by Jeffs himself, of his sexual initiation of his little child bride, in front of a cadre of FLDS witnesses, had just been played for the jury and those in the courtroom.
    • WSJ's Law Blog asks the question "Would Jeffs Have Fared Better With a Lawyer at his Side?"  Jeffs started out with lawyers aplenty, but fired them all, representing himself at the end.  The article looks at conviction statistics for those who go it alone versus those defendants with lawyers, finding there is surprisingly little difference between the two groups.  
    "Texas prosecutors look to be ready to lay out not only Jeffs' polygamous and underage marriages, but 22 years of misdeeds, including the whole of his 8-year-plus leadership of the FLDS Church.
    That includes, according to Nate Carlisle's great story today in the Salt Lake City Tribune: "breaking up 300 families by re-assigning wives and children, and taking property; expelling young men from FLDS to have more girls for himself and his inner circle; having 'contempt for the law of man;' creating refuges to hide women from law enforcement; and evading law enforcement himself.""