Mythbusting with Bedsider: Just the Facts about Sex and Birth Control

When it comes to the wonderful world of sexual health, there are tons of myths—and considering that many people get their sex info from friends and Google searches, it’s not surprising. With so much misinformation out there, we think it’s important to set the record straight. Here are the facts behind some of the most common birth control and sexual health myths.

Birth control facts: Emergency contraception, IUDs, and risky business

What’s your plan B? There’s a lot of confusion about how emergency contraception (EC, a.k.a. Plan B, a.k.a. “the morning after pill”) works and whether it causes abortion. The EC pill works because of a type of hormone called levonorgestrel, which delays ovulation. If a woman is already pregnant or has already ovulated, it won’t have any effect. That’s why it’s so important to take it as soon after a risky incident as possible! (BTW, did you know that the copper IUD is actually the most effective form of EC available?) (more…)

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April 2014 Man of Month: Lawrence Swiader

Swiader_Headshot_2013I’m honored to be the Disruptive Women in Health Care Man of the Month. The award has caused me to ponder what it means to be disruptive in the field of sexual and reproductive health. As a father of a soon-to-be disruptive woman—now 12 years old—my answer has been to commit to a life-long and open discussion of sexuality with her. As a leader of the Bedsider birth control support network, my answer has been similar: let’s talk about sex and recognize it as healthy, fun, and at the center of why we use birth control in the first place. (more…)

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Ask The Doctor: Bedsider and DW Check in With Dr. Colleen Krajewski

Despite increased access to resources, the majority of births in America are unplanned. This week DW partnered with Bedsider, an online birth control support network for women 18-29, to cover the complicated and very personal issue of reproductive health.

To kick off this series, DW along with Bedsider, interviewed Dr. Colleen Krajewski, contributor to Bedsider and  Assistant Professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh Magee-Women’s Hospital, about her work in the area and a few tips for reproductive health.  

  (more…)

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Don’t Forget to Keep Your Eye on Congress

DWFeedburnerApril has been a month of fantastic political achievements. Enrollment for health care insurance has grown to an unprecedented 8 million consumers and President Obama signed two executive orders to increase wage equality between the sexes. While Congress will be in recess until April 28th, that doesn’t mean that you should stop paying attention to the action on the ground.  Here is a quick roundup of proposed bills that you need to follow.

Bills Introduced:

Child Care/Education

H.R. 4481—-Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ)/Education and the Workforce (4/10/14)—A bill to amend the Head Start Act to authorize block grants to states for prekindergarten education. (more…)

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Patients Are Actually Customers…Who Knew?

I was finally getting to my giant pile of reading this week when I saw an article in Health Care Information Week that included the following sentence:

As consumer satisfaction begins to have a bigger impact on the bottom line, more hospitals are hiring a chief patient experience officer (CXO) to treat patients like valued customers.

Maybe it’s me, as a born and bred marketing person, but that seems like the weirdest concept in the world. In layman’s terms it basically means this: Hospitals are waking up to the fact that patients are actually their customers (go figure) and failure to notice this fact will reduce their revenue. Another fact: it wasn’t until CMS decided to penalize hospitals for poor patient satisfaction by docking their reimbursement by up to 2 percent that hospitals started to get religion on this topic. (more…)

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She Sued NYC and Won

Photo by Graeme Mitchell

I remember one time in high school during the big homecoming game, a bunch of my male classmates painted (the much worshiped) orange and black school colors on their chest, proudly baring them in the 30 degree chill. Even last summer there were hundreds of men on the beach of all ages and weight sizes, naked from the waist up walking proudly. In fact, at no time in my recent memory have I associated the appearance of a bare male chest with anything inappropriate.Yet, for most of us, the thought of a woman freely baring her breasts in public is something incredibly taboo.

You may have heard of the “topless paparazzo” Holly Van Voast or her alter-ego, Holly Van Toast. Last year, Van Voast was arrested and institutionalized multiple times as a result of exposing her bare breasts in high-traffic areas of New York City, including Grand Central, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the Staten Island Ferry, and several film premieres. This is despite the fact that no law exists in New York barring a woman from showing her bare breasts publicly- in fact, it is perfectly legal.

Now, a year later after the dust has settled a bit, we sat down with Van Voast, an artist not an activist, to discuss her motivation, what she learned about body image and the perception of beauty, and what she is up to now. (more…)

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Everybody Has Plans ‘Til They Get Punched in the Mouth’

http://www.cfah.org/images/authors/carolyn%20thomas.jpgWhen Edward Davies of the British Medical Journal attended the recent Lown Institute conference in Boston, he was reminded of some unlikely wisdom from boxer Mike Tyson. In the run-up to a big fight, Iron Mike was being bombarded with media questions about how he intended to deal with his latest challenger. Did he have a strategy in place to cope with their plans? The boxer’s response was simple: “Everybody has plans ’til they get punched in the mouth.”

In boxing terms, as Davies wrote in the BMJ, this is completely literal, sound advice, but as a figurative metaphor for life, it’s not bad, either: “Listening to a patient panel here at the Lown Institute conference, I was reminded that this is a worldview that doctors might do well to remember.”

Most patients diagnosed with a life-altering diagnosis can readily identify with what that metaphorical punch in the mouth feels like. And no matter how competent, how smart, how resourceful we may think we are before a catastrophic health crisis strikes, many of us may suddenly feel incompetent, ignorant and helpless when thrust inexplicably into the stress of such formidable reality. This may feel like being momentarily powerless for some or like a sucker-punch that knocks the wind right out of us for others. (more…)

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It’s Time to Think Differently. Have You Prepared a Health Care Budget?

Terri Prof Headshot 0412Have changes in health care hit your pocketbook yet?  In addition to a high deductible insurance plan, are you using a Health Savings Account (HSA) for the first time?

If you’ve gotten new health insurance, a different deductible level due to the monthly premium cost, or if you’ve been taking your chances without any health care coverage at all, you may be in for a big surprise.  Do you know how much your overall health care will cost you and your family this year?  Are deductibles, premiums, maximum out-of-pockets amounts and co-pays clear to you?  If not, you have some planning to do.  You’re going to need to lay out a health care budget so that you know what you can afford.  You may also need to start thinking differently and proactively. (more…)

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How to Make the Most of Your Doctor Visit

jessie-gruman picI recently wrote about how common it is for those who work in and deliver health care – physicians, nurses, clinics and hospitals – to overestimate our knowledge about our bodies, our illnesses and how the health care system works. This overestimation of our familiarity happens with even the most seemingly simple and straightforward aspects of care, such as: Who is the nurse practitioner? Where is Dr. X’s office? When is “soon”? Why are you recommending this test?

To help people find good health care and make the most of it, CFAH has created a library of Be a Prepared Patient tips and resources including two videos. The two-minute video below shares tips for How to Make the Most of Your Doctor Visit by explaining how to effectively describe your symptoms in four key steps. Being prepared with this information will allow you and your doctor to discuss the best treatment for you, including next steps. (more…)

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What’s Hobby Lobby’s Real Agenda?

Displaying blogphoto.jpgIt has recently come to light that Hobby Lobby, currently embroiled in a legal debate over the federal mandate requiring employers to provide insurance coverage for contraceptives, has significant investments in companies that produce the very contraceptives they’ve objected to in their lawsuit, leading many to claim that the lawsuit is hypocritical.  David Green, CEO and founder of the Oklahoma-based for-profit corporation claimed, that by ” being required to make a choice between sacrificing our faith or paying millions of dollars in fines, we essentially must choose which poison pill to swallow…We simply cannot abandon our religious beliefs to comply with this mandate.” Hobby Lobby claims that mandate forces the company’s owners to violate their religious beliefs or face heavy consequences including penalties, fines, and lawsuits. (more…)

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Improving Reproductive Health

Women aren’t fertile every day of the menstrual cycle. In reality, women are only fertile for a period of about 8 days per cycle, and it’s simple to pinpoint this fertile phase. I’ve encountered many people who can’t define ovulation and don’t know the role played by cervical fluid (or cervical mucus) in reproduction. But it’s not their fault. This isn’t something we were taught in sex ed. It wasn’t long ago that I was one of these people, and I now find myself on a mission to stop this trend.

When the female body is seen as mysterious and unpredictable, we end up missing an incredible opportunity to empower women. This lack of education about the female reproductive system leads many women to view our bodies as the enemy–something that we must constantly battle in order to remain in control. This mindset is a huge problem, especially since the female reproductive system, in most cases, is actually quite predictable. If we instead prioritize this type of education, I believe that we would set in motion a surge of powerful social changes. (more…)

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Finding the Words: Gender Affirmation and Language

UnknownThis article will be a little more personal than my previous articles. I want to share a bit about myself, my identity and what it means to me to be seen and affirmed.

Monday, March 31, was the International Transgender Day of Visibility, but I was just as invisible as any other day. You see, I’m not out on the job. I haven’t told my co-workers or my students that I’m genderqueer. They don’t know my preferred pronouns and they default to feminine pronouns based on who they perceive me to be. It hurts and I hate it.

I probably could come out. I know the laws in Illinois and I’m protected under anti-discrimination laws. My co-workers are pretty decent people, they might understand, right? I may never know. All I know is the tightness in my chest and stomach when I think about having “the talk” with them. I feel nauseous and anxious like I need to hide or curl up in a ball. I also feel dishonest and a bit deceitful. Fear keeps me silent and holds (more…)


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Disruptive Stories to Watch

DWFeedburnerHappy Friday Disruptors ! Sometimes  important news and moving stories  are best conveyed through video. Check out our favorite videos from the past week including: a woman’s quest to raise money to fight her child’s debilitating disease; a campaign  that shows how makeup can actually empower women; and a woman ensuring that people in her home town get fresh water. What are some of your favorite videos from the week?

(more…)

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Why Grandparents Matter

Displaying MOACGrands2.jpgAs the Baby Boomer generation begins to leave the workforce they’ll begin to face the enchantment of retired life.  So what’s next?  The awesome task of being full time grandparents of course!

My children are fortunate enough to have three grandparents and 5 great-grandparents alive and well.  We’ve worked hard to ensure that they have a special relationship with each one.  They’ve spent time living with their paternal grandmother and often Skype, G chat and FaceTime with their maternal grandmother and grandfather.  It’s really great to watch them interact physically and electronically with these people because it teaches them two basic concepts that are sometimes missing in our society:

Old people aren’t scary

Love and respect everyone (more…)


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The Dilemma of Canceled Insurance Policies

Trudy-Lieberman -- biggerBy now it’s hardly a secret that insurance companies have canceled the policies of millions of Americans whose old coverage did not comply with new benefit requirements of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). That is, the policies that did not offer coverage for services like maternity care, mental health treatment, physical therapy and hospital outpatient surgery that ACA supporters believed were essential for good, comprehensive health insurance.

Since last fall, backlash against what was intended to be a good consumer protection measure has been fired up by TV and news stories telling tales of woe from people whose policies were canceled. Those who lost their policies complained about having to buy maternity coverage, for instance, when having a baby would never be in their future. As I explained in a previous post, they did not understand that the law also called for some cross-subsidization among policyholders to keep premiums reasonably affordable for everyone. All insurance products include some degree of this kind of risk-sharing across an insured group. (more…)

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