When Surviving Cancer Gets In The Way Of Your Sex Life

The closer Robert “Tripp” Moore got to his new girlfriend, the more he knew he had to end things.

Moore, now 26, had started seeing an elementary school teacher he described as a “really good and nice person” casually last summer. But when things started to get physical, she started to have some questions. She asked him why he never seemed to respond physically when they were intimate ― why she could never feel anything “down there.” Moore, not willing to tell her the truth, dismissed his impotence as a consequence of too much coffee.

Eventually, and before they had sex, he told her he was too young for a relationship and needed to “explore.”

“I would’ve done anything to have stayed with her, but I was too anxious about what would happen if we tried to have sex and I couldn’t get it up,” he recalled.

Moore is a testicular cancer survivor who had chemotherapy and one testicle removed. Immediately after treatment, he struggled to get erections.   

“It’s bad enough to have cancer, but then to survive it and not be able to have a normal sex life makes it even tougher on a person,” he said.

For most cancer patients — Moore included — survival is the No. 1 goal during treatment. But as cancer treatments continue to improve, the population of survivors is growing larger. An estimated 5 percent of the U.S. population, or 15.5 million people, survived cancer in 2016, and that number is estimated to grow to more than 20 million people by 2026. 

As survivors are living longer, there’s a growing need to address the unique and often lifelong health issues they face as a result of treatment. That includes addressing sexual dysfunction.

It’s bad enough to have cancer, but then to survive it and not be able to have a normal sex life makes it even tougher on a person. Cancer survivor Robert Moore

Studies show that an estimated 30 to 100 percent of women experience sexual dysfunction of some kind immediately after receiving cancer treatment, while less than 25 percent of men who’ve had some kind of pelvic cancer can achieve the erections they had before cancer ― even among those who had excellent erections before treatment and were under 65 years old.

For teens and young adults who survive cancer, this is especially pressing. Older survivors may already be paired up with a partner or have a lifetime of sexual exploration to draw from, but young adults can struggle with telling potential new partners about their medical history ― especially if it’s tied to present-day sexual dysfunction.

Therapists who work with these young survivors have to walk a fine line between basic sex education and making space for the patient’s own sexual expression to unfurl naturally, said Aleece Fosnight, a physician assistant and sexual health counselor at Transylvania Regional Hospital in North Carolina.

“When it comes to adolescents or people in their 20s that haven’t been as sexually experienced, it’s still a little controversial,” she said. “Do you give them Viagra? Do you give them Cialis? Do you give them a vibrator? Especially under the age of 18, how much do you push?”

Research on how surviving cancer affects younger survivors’ sex and relationships paints a complex picture of what it’s like to be simultaneously grateful to be alive and anxious about defining sexuality with a changed body.

In the most recent study on the matter, which surveyed more than 800 young cancer survivors in Denmark, more than 400 respondents said that cancer changed their perception of their bodies for the worse, while 45 percent said they felt less attractive. Cancer reduced the desire for sex in 31 percent of respondents, while 24 percent said they had no desire to flirt, date or be in a relationship.

Treatment-related physical impediments to sex, like vaginal dryness, difficulty having an orgasm or maintaining an erection, put these young adults at particular risk for these psychological problems.

American researchers have found similar rates of sexual dissatisfaction and poor self-esteem, said Christian Graugaard, who led the Danish study. For instance, a 2017 study in the U.S. found that 49 percent of teen and young adult survivors said that cancer negatively affected their sexual function a year after diagnosis, and 70 percent of those respondents said the same thing two years after diagnosis.

Graugaard’s study hinted at one way to mitigate the sexual dysfunction and related fallout that cancer treatments cause: encouraging open conversation between patients and health professionals. People who spoke to health care providers about their sexual problems during follow-up consultations were significantly more likely to express a desire to flirt, date, have a partner or have sex after cancer. Seven sex therapists HuffPost spoke to also said that doctors could prepare patients for the sexual fallout before their cancer treatment starts.

This link between open dialogue and better sex ― something so simple and common-sense ― makes Graugaard’s final finding all the more dismaying: While 80 percent of respondents said they needed to discuss these issues with a health care provider, 62 percent said their doctors did not broach the topic or did so only in a limited fashion.

“Sadly, I am also quite sure that the failure of health-providers to address these important life dimensions is trans-national,” Graugaard told HuffPost in an email. “We know this from adult patients, and I have no reason to believe that doctors and nurses in adolescent oncology are any better at talking about sensitive stuff. Neither in Scandinavia nor in the US.” 

A 2017 study in the U.S. found that 49 percent of teen and young adult survivors said that cancer negatively affected their sexual function a year after diagnosis.

To address these issues, comprehensive cancer centers are beginning to incorporate clinics specifically dedicated to survivors’ sexual issues. Because the discipline is relatively new, these programs can take many different forms ― some are headed by gynecologists or urologists, some by psychiatrists or other experts. There is now some kind of aftercare program specifically addressing sexual function at places like the University of Chicago, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, the University of Wisconsin and Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York.

“There’s a wave across the country now to create these programs,” said Jeanne Carter, head of the female sexual medicine and women’s health program at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. “I think people feel it’s a very important survivorship concern, and I know that there are many programs across the institutions that are trying to help cancer patients as they are coping with the changes to their body.”

While more cancer centers are getting the message, Dr. Thomas Schwaab of Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center said there was only so much a doctor could do to prepare patients for sexual side effects.

“I will cover side effects with the patient, but the patient really is focused on, ‘I want to get rid of my cancer and have my cancer treated,’” he said. “But then six months later, when the cancer has successfully been treated, the patient all of sudden realizes that there was a significant impact on quality of life.”

That’s where survivorship clinics play a role, said Schwaab. Once patients feel safe and can begin to mentally process what the future looks like, they can get care for things like sexual side effects or new health concerns that arise after treatment. As a cancer doctor, Schwaab calls such clinics or survivorship treatments a “must-have,” but says they are still relatively new and can be an afterthought in some clinics.

Indeed, Moore says his urologist did warn him that erectile dysfunction could be a side effect of cancer treatment, but he wasn’t in a place to process it at the time because his choice was either treatment or death. After treatment, Moore said it took him six months to work up the courage to approach his doctor about his erectile dysfunction. He was prescribed a pill to get erections as his nerves continued to heal, and Moore said the confidence boost that came from achieving erections again helped him begin a new relationship ― one in which he was completely honest about his potential sexual challenges.

“Everyone knows sex isn’t everything, but it’s still an important part of a relationship,” Moore said. “I’m so thankful that I was born in the time I was — first of all for the chemo, and second of all for the medicine ― [specifically] Viagra.”

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/when-surviving-cancer-gets-in-the-way-of-your-sex-life_us_5ace3b4ae4b0648767760e6d

Museum of Banned Objects imagines a dystopian future without contraception

A new exhibition in New York collaborated with Planned Parenthood to display contraceptives as artifacts, creating a reality to avoid another possible reality

In the Gallery at the Ace Hotel in New York sits eight items, ranging from Plan B to a contraceptive sponge, in glass vitrines. Beside them are placards referring to these items in the past tense, as though they are artifacts from a bygone era. Levonorgestrel was a hormonal medication used to prevent pregnancy, reads the placard next to a box of Plan B, referred to by its medical name. A few years prior to its ban, landmark legislation had passed to allow people of any age to buy Levonorgestrel without a prescription.

As part of a month-long exhibition called the Museum of Banned Objects, these items are meant to suggest a dystopian future in which contraceptive and reproductive health products are prohibited, forcing viewers to reckon with the possibility of an expansive rollback of reproductive rights.

Conceived of by Ellie Sachs and Matt Starr, a pair of New York-based artists, in tandem with Planned Parenthood, the exhibition takes objects like Truvada and oral contraceptives and presents them in isolation, amplifying a sense of stigma and scarcity. A box of spermicide, for instance, the vaginal contraceptive film first used in ancient Egypt, appears worn and tattered, the words on the label slightly obscured by rust. Next to a latex condom, the description reads: Right before their ban, about four to six million condoms a years were sold in the United States.

A latex condom on display at the Museum of Banned Objects. Photograph: Zack Roif

The two were inspired by the ways dystopian worlds as presented in television and film, like those of The Handmaids Tale, were beginning to resemble reality, as well as initiatives that encourage abstinence training rather than safe-sex education and cuts to government programs like Medicaid.

News items played a part in motivating the exhibition, too, like a Washington Post report from late 2017 detailing a list of words including vulnerable, diversity, transgender and science-based supposedly banned by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While it was later clarified that career CDC officials discouraged employees from using those words in budget requests to stave off cuts to funding by a Trump administration averse to Obama-era programs and public health initiatives, Sachs and Starr nevertheless found the story pretty telling.

We wanted to create a reality to avoid another possible reality, Starr explains. Art helps us take abstract ideas that were constantly reading and talking about and visualize them into something that can help us understand the real severity of things now.

Sachs adds: Were interested in providing a glimpse into a dystopian reality as a forewarning. Sometimes you have to completely reframe an idea for it to stick or take hold.

When the artists conceived of the idea for the exhibition, they contacted Caren Spruch, director of arts and entertainment engagement at Planned Parenthood Federation of America. By collaborating with a nonprofit that provides reproductive healthcare to over 2.5 million patients per year, and whose federal funding has been under threat as recently as last years Obamacare repeal bill, the project conveys a greater sense of urgency. Instead of it just being an imagined future, Sachs explains, it reminds the viewer that this is actually already happening in some capacity, albeit on a smaller scale.

Boxes of Plan B, an oral contraceptive and Truvada on display at the Museum of Banned Objects. Photograph: Zack Roif

Art can drive social change and help shape a world that is fairer and more just by powering awareness, defiance, resistance and change, says Spruch. We appreciate Sachs and Starrs work to use their passion and creativity to resist and bring attention to protecting access to birth control for everyone.

The exhibition is of a piece with the themes present in Starr and Sachs work: the two host a monthly curated dinner series at Whole Foods, where guests discuss contemporary politics. At one dinner in late 2017, the topic du jourwas nuclear tensions between the US and North Korea. Last year the pair also remade the classic film Annie Hall, this time entirely with a cast of senior citizens. Sachs, who directs and acts in theatre productions at maximum-security prisons, recently spearheaded a production of On the Waterfront at the Sing Sing correctional facility in Ossining, New York.

When asked about the power of social justice art and the choice to look at reproductive rights through the lens of a dystopian future, Sachs invokes the famous Gore Vidal quote: We are the United States of Amnesia, we learn nothing because we remember nothing.

America has a strange relationship with past, present and future, she adds. Things repeat themselves but manifest with slightly different calibrations. By placing these objects in cases they suddenly become more precious and important.

  • The Museum of Banned Objects will be on exhibition at the Gallery at Ace Hotel New York through the month of April.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2018/apr/03/museum-of-banned-objects-imagining-future-without-contraception-planned-parenthood

Disturbing Discovery Made In Medieval Woman’s Coffin

In a 1,300-year-old grave lies the skeletal remains of a young woman with a hole in her head and a fetus between her thighs. All signs point to a normal, proper burial – she’s face up in a brick grave – and it initially had researchers stumped. Now, eight years after finding the remains in Bologna, Italy, scientists believe they have a bizarre explanation.

The woman was between 25 and 35 when she died, according to scientists at the University of Ferrara and the University of Bologna. Using the length of the fetus’ femur, researchers estimate the fetus was around 38 weeks, which means the woman was close to her full 40-week term when they died.

The fetus appears to have been partially emerged from the woman’s vaginal cavity much like we see in a live natural birth, but the head and torso of the fetus were found between the thighs while its legs were still in her pelvic cavity. While it looks as if the pregnant corpse had given birth, researchers say this is consistent with a phenomenon called post-mortem fetal extrusion, or “coffin birth”.

The rare event occurs when a dead fetus is expulsed from a pregnant woman’s body after her and her unborn child’s deaths. It’s thought that gases generated during the body’s decomposition caused the fetus to emerge – even rupture – through the vaginal walls.

The hole in her head has an equally rational – albeit gruesome – explanation. Drilled in the center of the woman’s skull, it was probably from a medieval medical treatment called trepanation used to treat a variety of ailments. Dating back thousands of years, the technique was thought to relieve pressure in the skull. The hole was likely caused by a circular cutting tool. Three parallel horizontal grooves are similar to those observed in other cases, say the researchers. The bone showed signs of healing, indicating she could have been alive for at least a week afterwards.

A small linear cut above the hole could have been where surgeons peeled the skin back in preparation for drilling. World Neurology.

Unfortunately, it was probably this procedure that was meant to save her life that ultimately caused her death. Because trepanation was once used to treat hypertension, it was probably meant to treat a hypertensive pregnancy disorder like preeclampsia

“Some of the most common manifestations of this disease are high fever, convulsions, consistent frontal and occipital cephalalgia, high intracranial pressure, cerebral hemorrhage. All these symptoms, from prehistory to the 20th century, used to be treated with trepanation,” say the authors in their study, published in World Neurosurgery.

In spite of the intervention – or perhaps because of it – the woman did not survive and died with the fetus still in her womb.

Coffin birth is rare, particularly in modern times where modern embalming practices remove bodily fluids and insert chemicals to prevent decomposition. World Neurology.


Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/plants-and-animals/disturbing-discovery-made-in-medieval-womans-coffin/

Actual things you can do to address the orgasm gap in your own bedroom

Image: vicky leta / mashable

Your sexual partner just jubilantly crossed the finish line, but you’re still running a race with no end in sight. It’s frustrating. And, for an alarming number of heterosexual women, it’s the infuriating reality of sex. Metaphors aside, we’re talking about the gender orgasm gap—the disparity between men and women’s sexual satisfaction, and a struggle that many of us know all too well. 

64 percent of men have an orgasm during sex, but only 34 percent of women can say the same, according to the Durex Global Sex Survey which surveyed nearly 30K adults worldwide. Women who identify as heterosexual are the demographic that have the fewest orgasms, according to a study by Indiana University. That same research also revealed something that many women are already fully aware of: penetrative sex alone simply doesn’t cut it for most women. And, that women need oral sex and clitoral stimulation if they’re going to stand any chance of coming. 

“If you faked, you gave them wrong information, and then they think things get you off that might not.”

The reasons for the orgasm gap are multi-faceted, and some of them will take a long time to remedy. Sex education that fails to teach sexual pleasure has been cited as one reason for the gap. A study from University of Wisconsin-Madison found a third of university-age women can’t identify their clitoris in an anatomy test. Communication, or a lack thereof, is one of the biggest obstacles in bridging the orgasm gap, according to the Durex Global Sex Survey. Over a third of people feel they can’t tell their sexual partner what they like. And, others say the reason behind the gender orgasm gap is the cultural prioritisation of the male orgasm.

We might not be able to change these things overnight, but there are a few things we can do. Mashable asked gynaecologists, sex therapists, sex educators, and orgasm equality activists what heterosexual sex partners can do to bridge the orgasm gap in their own bedroom. Here are the pearls of wisdom they imparted that will hopefully bring us all a little closer to that oh-so-coveted finish line.

Don’t fake it 

Heather Corinna—founder of Scarleteen, a sex and relationships education site for young people—warns against faking your orgasm, which can cause a miscommunication between you and your sexual partner. “Orgasm tells a partner whatever you did together can gets you off. So, they’re often going to try and repeat those things to get that result again,” says Corinna. “If you faked, you gave them wrong information, and then they think things get you off that might not, or even most definitely DO not.”

Masturbate together

Angela Skurtu— sex therapist and cohost of the About Sex podcast—says couples should masturbate together so they can see see “how each person touches themselves.” “Women masturbate very differently than men do and we can teach each other,” says Skurtu. “You can also make this a competition—whoever finishes first wins something.”

Build arousal slowly 

“Slow down,” says Sophie Holloway, founder of Ladies Come First, a campaign promoting pleasure based sex education. “No touching the vagina until you are really really really turned on,” says Holloway. “Your labia should be plump and erect just like the penis when you are aroused.” She recommends staying in foreplay for as long as possible to build arousal slowly and to achieve what she calls a “lady boner.” When it comes to pressure, Holloway says partners should start out “touching the clitoris with the same pressure as you would your eyelid” before applying more pressure. 

‘Stay in’ 

Claire Kim, program manager at sex education site OMGYES, says in hetero penetrative sex, “in and out friction” is what’s pleasurable for the man, but this action isn’t conductive to the level of clitoral stimulation women need. “What’s often much more pleasurable for the woman is his penis staying inside,” says Kim. “So that the clitoris stays in contact with the area above the penis, and the top of the penis stays in contact with the inside roots of the clitoral cluster, which go around the urethra and up the vaginal canal.”

Think about what gets you off alone

We know what makes us come when we’re going solo. The obstacle usually arises when we bring another person into the equation. Corinna recommends examining “what floats your boat solo” and then “bringing it to your crew.” “Whatever that is, bring as much of it into sex with partners as you can,” she says. “Whether that’s bringing the fantasies in your head, showing them how to do what you like with your own hands meshed with theirs, or doing it yourself during sex (or both!), using porn you like together.” Gynaecologist and sex counsellor Dr. Terri Vanderlinde recommends that women practice “alone, comfortably” with fingers or vibrators to learn “her body and how it works.”

Image: Getty Images/PhotoAlto

Treat this as a learning curve

PSA men: this is gonna take some time. Holloway says men need to know that “until they have the map to their partner’s pleasure” it’s going to be a “voyage of discovery.” “This takes time, and patience, and love, and respect, and placing their partners pleasure and orgasm as their primary goal is a big part of it,” she says.  Partners should listen and learn their partner’s pleasure signals, and be receptive when your partner tells you when something’s not working for them. 

Get on top

When it comes to positions for penetrative sex, all experts interviewed by Mashable were in agreement: getting on top will help get you off. Dr. Vandelinde says being on top provides open access for clitoral stimulation, which most women need in order to orgasm. It also gives the woman “the freedom to have more control of the movements” so you can get into a rhythm that feels good, according to Holloway. Online sex therapist and host of Foreplay Radio podcast Laurie Watson says “woman on top at a 45 degree angle gives the penis the most contact with the G-spot, and is a good position that she can reach her clitoris.”

Experiment with positions

Getting on top isn’t the be all and end all, though. Vanderlinde says doggy style can be a good position for clitoral stimulation. “Anything that can give direct stimulation to the clitoris works,” says Vanderlinde. Watson recommends lying on your back, hooking your legs around your partner’s elbows with your pelvis rocked up. “To climax during intercourse I suggest a position where their partner or themselves can simultaneously touch their clitoris,” says Watson. 

As Corinna points out, women have “incredibly diverse bodies, and even more diverse sexualities.” She says orgasm can occur with “any kind of sexual activity” and each person over time will find what works for their own bodies. “There are going to be certain positions, angles or other specifics that work best for them. But what those are is so varied, that’s something we all have to find out by experimenting,” she says. 

Talk about sex outside the bedroom

Corinna says it’s actually really hard to talk about what you like and don’t like during sex. “It’s just such a high-stakes situation, and people, especially women, are often so worried about how what they say will be perceived,” says Corinna. She suggests building communication about sex when you’re not having sex. “Start by doing more talking about sex when you’re not actually engaging in sex. That can help build trust and comfort and practice that makes doing it during easier,” says Corinna. 

Tell your partner when something feels good

We know that faking your orgasm will give your partner the wrong message about what’s working for you. If you feel comfortable doing so, Corinna says you should “voice it when things do feel good” and “show them what you like when you can.” “Don’t be afraid to ask a partner to keep doing what they are doing when you’re into it, or to adjust when something isn’t doing it for you,” she says. “Be explicit and clear and open.”

Add toys to the equation 

If you use a vibrator on your own, then it’s worth considering using it when you’re having sex with your partner. “If someone enjoy sex toys alone, why wouldn’t they bring them into sex together at least sometimes? The idea that toys are just for people alone is silly,” says Corinna. 

If you want to add toys to the equation during penetrative sex, Vanderlinde recommends using a “cock ring with a vibrator” which will afford “hands free stimulation” as well as vibrators that can fit between your and your partner’s bodies. “Or simply wait ’til he finishes and then he can stimulate her to multiple orgasms,” says Vanderlinde. 

Plan to give oral 

Sex therapist Deborah Fox says that the “majority” of women won’t come from intercourse alone and that’s simply down to biology. The clitoris is full of nerve endings, while only the outer third of the vagina tends to have responsive nerves,” says Fox. 

If the man comes during intercourse, his next move should be to find a way to make his partner come. Skurtu says if the man comes during intercourse, he should plan to perform oral sex afterwards. “If a person finishes first, the next person can perform oral on the first or use a vibrator and/or fingers,” she says.

Don’t fret

Try not to get stressed if you don’t come. Vanderlinde says there are sometimes other things at play that could be standing in the way of reaching orgasm. “There can be interfering medical diagnoses, medications, pain, low desire, hormones, partner issues, prior abuse, trust issues, stresses, worries, depression, that have a major effect on a woman’s ability to have an orgasm,” she says. In these situations, consider seeking advice from a medical professional or trained sex counsellor. 

Go forth, explore. And most importantly, have fun. 

Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/03/21/orgasm-gap-tips/

Period tracker apps’ obsession with pink is a problem

It's time to draw some blood.
Image: Getty Images/CSA Images RF

My period is a dark, viscous, murderous red. Yet tech companies keep selling me products to control it, all cast in that mellow-cool shade of my generation: millennial pink.

I’m frequently served ads for period tracker apps and other forms of reproductive health monitoring and pregnancy management on social media. And I’ve noticed among the subtly cute icons, the minimalist san-serif fonts, and clean lines, a beige-pink palette that looks nothing like what comes out of me once a month.

Tech companies: Please stop marketing my vagina to me in a color that reeks of stale marketing meetings, approachability, and tranquility. I’m not afraid of my period, and your app can’t tame it.

I was reminded of this cliché color scheme with the release of Fitbit’s new smartwatch, the Versa. It will feature, for the first time, a menstrual-cycle tracker. 

Starting this spring, women can enable the feature during setup. Period days will show up in the Versa’s calendar tracker in a chic light pink. The blue days are fertile ovulation days. Baby blue.

Pink is for periods, blue is for baby-making.

Image: Fitbit

For what it’s worth, Fitbit also incorporates other shades of pink: a fat, hot pink droplet indicates days of heavy flow, a few hot pink circles mean spotting.

The functionality itself provides more than just a calendar. There are also options to track fluids, and other symptoms some women may get, like headaches and cramps. Plus, Versa users can access educational and editorial content about women’s health or join women’s health-oriented communities.  

Aside from whether or not you buy into any period app’s general value proposition — that “tracking” one’s period helps you have safer sex, pregnancy wise; or that mentally and physically preparing for your period by putting it in a calendar somehow makes your life better? — there’s something else, um, fishy, going on.

The gateway to all this reproductive knowledge is painted in millennial pink. 

Does this palette — Pantone’s 2016 color of the year — look familiar to a certain period vs. ovulation calendar?

Millennial pink, also called “Tumblr pink,” is the muted pink hue that’s dominated runways, interior design, home goods, and book and magazine covers galore. It’s not just one color of pink, it’s a spectrum of matte pinks and beiges that have a somewhat subdued vibe. The Cut aptly describes millennial pink as running the gamut “from salmon mousse to gravlax.” 

If you’ve seen it, you know it. And it often comes with a side of hot pink or orange-y red, or is complimented with a tranquil blue-gray or a vibrant green. Pantone’s Laurie Pressman, vice president of the Pantone Color Institute, says it has to have a tinge of orange to it, too.

Put our clocks forward and dreaming of #grapefruitweather ⏰😴

A post shared by THINX (@shethinx) on

Many publications have opined about the prevalence of this color and its supporting characters: what it means, why we like it, why it just won’t go away. In an exhaustive timeline of millennial pink from its origins to its hegemony, The Cut notes that what makes millennial pink so appealing is its nod to femininity, with a dose of ironic distance; or, as they call it, “ambivalent girliness.” 

“With Millennial Pink, gone is the girly-girl baggage; now it’s androgynous,” writes The Cut.

Pantone points to the sense of calm millennial pink conveys. It writes in its 2016 color of the year announcement: 

As consumers seek mindfulness and well-being as an antidote to modern day stresses, welcoming colors that psychologically fulfill our yearning for reassurance and security are becoming more prominent. Joined together, Rose Quartz and Serenity demonstrate an inherent balance between a warmer embracing rose tone and the cooler tranquil blue, reflecting connection and wellness as well as a soothing sense of order and peace.

Unsurprisingly, these sorts of pinks also connote youthfulness.

“The grouping of pinks that fall under the Millennial Pink umbrella are engaging,” Pressman told Mashable over email. “Playful and innocent, they carry with them a suggestion of a sweet taste or scent. They have a lightness, romantic sensibility and this attitude of carefree youthfulness.” 

This is the color — the de-feminized signifier of youthful nostalgia and order over chaos — that period trackers and women’s health apps choose for the design and marketing of their product. It represents more than just a use of a popular color; coded into these design choices is a sense of bridling.

And, it’s everywhere.

I first noticed the not-so-bright-pink in an advertisement to freeze my eggs. The multiple shades of pink weren’t the only thing I found problematic about the ad, but it was what got my attention.

I also noticed it in ads served to me for rhythm method period tracking and vaginal bacterial analysis.

But the period app is where 20-somethings’ favorite pinks really rules the day. The top three menstrual tracker apps in the Apple app store use it in their branding. There is even a tracker app called Pink Pad whose use of pink runs the salmon spectrum from mousse to smoked. In addition to the actual UI of Pink Pad, their social media branding features funny and inspirational quotes on a background of, you guessed it, light pink.

Image: pinkpad in the app store

Image: eve. in the app store

You know what’s missing from most of these ads? Red. Rusty or scarlet, nearly black or a waterier apple color, red is almost entirely absent from the UI and marketing materials of period tracking and women’s health apps and tech services. Maybe it’s too on the nose. Maybe it’s off-putting, sexy, powerful, or scary. In any case, the color of blood is not the color of period apps.

Red’s absence in place of the loaded millennial pink is disappointingly predictable. It doubles down on the association of periods with death, injury, and fear.

“The main reason designers and marketers of women’s health product would want to avoid the color red is because of its association with blood,” Pressman said. “Red can also signify danger, evil and anger, probably not the feelings one wants to engender when trying to promote health.”

But red’s exclusion in place of the much friendlier pink is a bit ironic, and more than a little problematic. 

If pink signifies restrained girliness and order, the prospect of a period tracker app, especially one branded in pink, belies a misunderstanding of periods. 

Now, I do not love my period. It is mostly just an inconvenient fact of life. But during my period, I’m nicer to myself, without feelings of guilt and debilitation. That’s because periods help women understand ourselves; they don’t work against us (although it may feel that way sometimes). So an app, colored to convey a sense of control, that purports to master one of the powerful biological markers of being a woman, misses the role that periods actually play in women’s lives.

Plus, using a color associated with “youthfulness” to market a product that monetizes the period — the traditional marker of the end of childhood and the beginning of sexual maturity — denies, shushes even, the full-fledged womanhood that a period represents.  

Both through apps and their marketing, the tech industry’s approach to women’s health is to turn an internal rhythm into a digital record, to transform a bright and messy reality into a clean and muted one. Millennial pink represents more than just an aesthetic choice: It’s prudish, and infantilizing.  

Period trackers may be helpful to some women. But to the companies making and marketing these apps, please, don’t elide this aspect of womanhood by painting it with a trendy, approachable color that turns femininity into ironic girlishness, a period of bodily and emotional rawness into tempered calm. You might be afraid of our periods. But we’re not. 

Let it flow.

Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/03/14/millennial-pink-period-apps/

Jarryd Hayne denies US rape allegation, saying woman ‘consented to all actions’

NRL player says willing woman followed him out of a bar and used his phone to order an Uber in 2015

NRL player Jarryd Hayne has formally denied raping a woman in the United States in 2015, saying she consented to all actions that took place.

In a civil suit filed in California in December, a young woman claimed Hayne took her back to his San Jose home and raped her when she was drunk. He was playing gridiron for the San Francisco 49ers at the time.

The womans lawyer, John Clune, said that at the time she was so intoxicated she was unable to consent to sexual intercourse.

However, Hayne, who starts the season with the Parramatta Eels this weekend, said the woman followed him out of a bar on the night of the alleged incident and used his phone to order an Uber back to where he was staying.

The woman said she was a virgin when attacked and she subsequently suffered vaginal pain for months before going to a hospital emergency department in April 2016.

In defence documents filed to the County of Santa Clara court in March, Hayne denied the woman was injured at all and that she willingly engaged in sexual interaction that did not include sexual intercourse.

Haynes lawyers also said the claims for punitive damages were unconstitutional.

They have called for the complaint to be dismissed and for the court to order Hayne be awarded costs including legal fees.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2018/mar/08/jarryd-hayne-denies-us-allegation-saying-woman-consented-to-all-actions

Michael Fassbender Domestic Violence Allegations From ‘Afraid’ Ex-Girlfriend Resurface!

Care to explain, Michael Fassbender?

On Friday, the actor’s domestic abuse allegations have resurfaced after DailyMail.com published March 2010 Los Angeles court papers where ex-girlfriend Sunawin Andrews sought a protective order against the X-Men star.

According to the documents, the model details two incidents in 2009 where he allegedly got physical.

Related: Michael & Alicia Had Instant “Chemistry” When They First Met

In November 2009, the now-40-year-old allegedly drunkenly dragged Andrews with a car because her ex-boyfriend said hello to them at dinner.

She recalls:

“Michael was driving my car dangerously fast and screaming at me. I begged him to stop the car in fear of an accident or for my children who were home asleep… As we got closer to my house I put my car in stop. Got out walked around the car to pull key from ignition. Michael drove of[f] dragging me along from the car… He stopped after he realized I could not walk and got out of car. He picked me up and put me in car as my friends pulled up behind us. They stayed the night to help calm things.”

The mother says the incident left her with vaginal bleeding, a twisted left ankle, blown out left knee cap, bursted ovarian cyst, and a hospital bill totaling $24K.

In July 2009, Fassbender allegedly threw Andrews “over a chair” after she woke him up. The alleged incident — which she says left her with a broken nose — happened after the thespian received an award, presumably at a film and music festival in Ischia, Italy.

Andrews filed for a protective order against Fassbender on March 12, 2010, asking that he stay at least 100 yards away from her and her family.

She reveals in the petition:

“I am still recovering from my injuries and am afraid for my safety.”

Although the court granted Andrews a temporary protective order, she ultimately withdrew her request on April 6, 2010, one day before a scheduled hearing.

She currently lives in Los Angeles and works with an animal protection organization.

As we reported, Fassbender married actress Alicia Vikander in October 2017.

[Image via Sean Thorton/WENN.]

Read more: http://perezhilton.com/2018-02-16-michael-fassbender-sunawin-andrews-alicia-vikander-domestic-abuse-claims

The Shocking Abuse Allegations Against Michael Fassbender

As Hollywoods leading men fall prey to the reckoning over sexual misconduct, certain A-listers have managed to sidestep scrutiny.

But Twitter never forgets.

While the media gushes over Michael Fassbenders secret Ibiza nuptials with Alicia Vikander and their new home in Lisbon, dark #MeToo-style allegations from the actors past have been relegated to social media.

In her MarchVogue cover, Tomb Raider actress Vikander referenced her domestic bliss with Fassbender, telling the magazine, I feel Im more happy and content than Ive ever been.

Yet the newlywed Fassbender was a no-show at the 2018 Golden Globes ceremony. While other alleged abusers walked the red carpet in all black, triggering social media backlash over their perceived hypocrisy, Fassbender appears to have simply opted out. Vikander, who was a presenter at the ceremony, arrived, posed for photos, and did E! interviews alone. In keeping with the Times Up initiative, Vikander wore black.

Fassbender may have avoided the Golden Globes and a flurry of think pieces, but allegations of domestic abuse have silently trailed him in recent years.

The domestic abuse allegedly occurred in 2010, just two years before Fassbender made his X-Men debut as Magneto and gave an award-winning performance in the critically acclaimed Shame. A 2012 Hollywood Reporter article, Fassbender on Fire, chronicled the German-Irish actors meteoric rise, noting that, while the projects started pouring in from top-flight directors around 2009, it wasnt until 2011 that Fassbender had his real introduction to fame. The 2012 profile continued, One of the most gifted actors today, the star of Shame, A Dangerous Method and the upcoming Prometheus has the industry in awe.

A 2016 Guardian profile goes one step further, positing that Fassbenders career has been characterized entirely by personal and professional success. Twice nominated for an Oscar, the 39-year-old stars in three new films between now and January alone, one of which he also produced, Fassbenders interviewer raved. And all this with barely a misstep (he opted not even to watch the 2010 flop Jonah Hex), nor gossip column indiscretion. It is about as flawless a movie star career as would be possible to perfect.

He was sleeping in urine. I woke him and he began to be violent and threw me over a chair, breaking my nose.
Sunawin Andrews on Michael Fassbender

In the age of the internet, it seems entirely too bold to publicly declare any human being to be indiscretion-free, let alone Michael Fassbender. It only takes a simple Google search to find the TMZ bulletin that vividly chronicled Fassbenders alleged abuse. While the 2010 report landed right before Fassbenders mainstream success, it came after Inglourious Basterdsand was promptly ignored and seemingly forgotten by journalists, A-list directors, and Hollywood executives alike.

Fassbender has never commented on the accusations from his former girlfriend Sunawin Leasi Andrews, then a 36-year-old aspiring model and actress.

Nearly a decade later, its hard to pinpoint a single way in which these allegations negatively affected Fassbenders career, or even find a single profile of the actor that mentions them. Fassbender, who has wrestled with the misogyny and violence of some of his troubled characters in print, has seemingly never been asked to comment on his own past.

The closest thing to an official comment comes courtesy of Fassbenders parents. His mother, Adele, told the Daily Mail, Anyone who knows Michael at all knows that its a complete fabrication. The actors father, Josef, told The Irish Sun that, I dont know where she is getting this story from, Michael is the most gentle man you could ever meet.

But a petition filed in court by Andrews and obtained by The Daily Beast tells a different story: one where Fassbender, on separate occasions, was alleged to have dragged her alongside a car and broke her nose.

Reached by phone, Andrews declined to comment on the story and referred a Daily Beast reporter to her court filings.

Youve got the paperwork. What more is there to say? she said.

Fassbenders representative did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

According to court filings, Andrews filed for a restraining order against Fassbender in Los Angeles County in March 2010, requesting the actor stay at least 100 yards away from her, and her then-18-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son.

She also sought attorneys fees, nearly $24,000 to pay her medical bills (allegedly arising from injuries she suffered at Fassbenders hands), and requested Fassbender enroll in a 52-week batterer intervention program.

In her petition, she listed the date of most recent abuse as Nov. 18, 2009. But in her narrative of the encounter, she wrote that she visited a hospital on Nov. 29. (Her medical bills, submitted in the filings, note a Nov. 29 date of service. Its unclear whether Nov. 18 was a clerical error on her part, or if she sought medical attention 11 days later.)

One disturbing episode allegedly occurred when Fassbender, Andrews, and two friends dined at a restaurant. According to Andrews, Fassbender became enraged when one of her ex-boyfriends approached their table to say hello.

Michael was drinking and became angry, Andrews wrote, adding that, when it was time to leave, her worried friends followed them home. Michael was driving my car dangerously fast and screaming at me. I begged him to stop the car in fear of an accident or for my children who were home asleep, Andrews continued. As we got closer to my house I put my car in stop. Got out walked around the car to pull key from ignition. Michael drove of[f] dragging me along from the car.

Andrews claimed that Fassbender stopped after he realized I could not walk and got out of car. He picked me up and put me in car as my friends pulled up behind us. They stayed the night to help calm things. She woke on Nov. 29 in a deep sweat and pain with vaginal bleeding, her petition states. I went to the hospital and had a twisted left ankle, blown out left knee cap and a bursted ovarian cyst, Andrews continued. Lots of internal bleeding.

One former friend at dinner that night, who didnt want to be named and declined comment, said she didnt witness the alleged car-dragging incident.

I was with her that night. I know that they had a fight but I didnt witness anything he did to her, the onetime pal said when reached by phone, adding, When we got to the house, they were not fighting anymore.

Andrews detailed a second alleged incident at a film festival in July 2009. While she doesnt name the event, Andrews was most likely referring to the Ischia Global Film & Music Fest 2009 in Ischia, Italy.

The actress claimed in her petition that Fassbender attacked her after a night of boozing at a festival ceremony, court papers reveal.

Andrews alleged she went to bed but Fassbender continued partying until the wee hours before returning to their hotel. He entered the room with a friend at about 5 a.m. drunk and they tried to get into bed with me, Andrews noted in her petition, adding that she checked into another room, apparently to catch some sleep away from them.

The next morning, Andrews returned to wake Fassbender for a panel. According to the schedule of events for the 2009 festival, Fassbender was slated to appear at a 10 a.m. Movie Educational Seminar on Thursday, July 16the morning after an 11 p.m. Dinner Party with Award Ceremony to follow.

Fassbender was allegedly a mess when Andrews found him.

He was sleeping in urine, she wrote in her court filing. I woke him and he began to be violent and threw me over a chair, breaking my nose.

According to the court record, a judge granted a temporary restraining order that called for Fassbender to move out of the couples Bel Air home, which she said was leased in her name. The court made the ruling based on Andrews claims that Fassbender was currently out of the country and therefore not living there, records show.

Michael is currently shooting films and is to return to the USA in the next weeks, Andrews wrote in the petition. I currently live alone with my two children where this is his only US address. I am still recovering from my injuries and am afraid for my safety. I pay all bills and lived there before him.

Of course, Fassbender isnt the first actor not to be derailed by allegations of domestic abuse. The entertainment industry is riddled with accused and even admitted abusers. Still, perhaps because he was just on the cusp of fame, Fassbenders case made surprisingly few waves. Aside from a short TMZ piece, there was a 2010 article in the Irish Mail on Sunday digging into Fassbenders accuser.

After hailing Fassbenders streak of high-profile roles, the article wasted no time impugning Andrews credibility.

The Irish Mail declared that Fassbenders status as Irelands hottest young star was placed in jeopardy by Andrews string of lurid allegations.

Leasi, a model, claimed that the Killarney man attacked her in a drunken rage after a film festival, breaking her nose and causing her to fear for her two young children, the article stated.

The report went on to attack Andrews, smearing details of her seedy past across the page.

However the Irish Mail on Sunday can reveal that the woman who is threatening the 32-year-old Irishmans reputation and, indeed, his very livelihood, is herself a woman with a troubled and somewhat seedy past. The model has had a string of lovers including an internet porn baron and a married man; she has children by different fathers, her first as an 18-year-old; and her early years were spent posing for erotic lesbian pictures.

The unabashedly victim-shaming article concluded, Nor was it the only instance of domestic violence in Miss Andrewss chequered past. Indeed, much of her history seems to suggest that, either she suffers from a persecution complexor else she genuinely brings out the worst in men.

When contacted again by The Daily Beast, Andrews said the negative reports were inaccurate and that shed been targeted by a smear campaign. She was a swimsuit and lingerie model and film and TV actress, but never did X-rated work, she said.

According to one 2009 report, Andrews and Fassbender met when she visited her ex, producer Lawrence Bender, on the set of Inglourious Basterds in Germany. A 2006 article in the Seattle Weekly offered more details on the past that the Mail on Sunday alluded to.

In 2005, Andrews reportedly obtained a one-year restraining order against her then-boyfriend, Seth Warshavsky, otherwise known as the Bill Gates of porn. Andrews, who was 25 at the time, claimed [Warshavsky] choked her during a limousine ride in Las Vegas last fall and has physically attacked her in front of her 6-year-old child. According to court documents, Andrews accused Warshavsky of stalking her home and threatening to have my babys father killed. While Warshavsky insisted that the civil action was just a frivolous restraining order in an attempt to extort money, and is in the process of being dropped, the order was renewed for another year, according to the Seattle Weekly.

After domestic abuse allegations against Fassbender first broke, the Daily Mail asked, Now, after an Affair with a Former Porn Model and Accusations of Domestic Violence, Has It All Gone Wrong? The paper quoted a senior movie industry figure as saying that, Make no mistake, this has been noted at the highest level.

Nobody knows the full facts of the case but it seems extremely out of character, the source added. Sure, he likes to have a drink now and again, but he is fundamentally a gentle guy. If he has a weakness, it is women.

Fassbenders camp called Andrews restraining order into question because she filed it while the actor was filming in the U.K. When asked to comment on Andrews restraining order, his surprised father responded, Michael has been in England for the last six months. I dont know how anything like that could have happened.

Filming on Jane Eyre took place in the U.K. from March 2010 through May 2010. Andrews filed a request for dismissal on April 5, 2010one day before a scheduled hearing on the matter.

At the time, the New York Daily News cited sources who claimed that, Andrews still wants Fassbender, who has been filming in England, to keep his distance. But she feared her complaint could get the Irish-German star barred from returning to America. One friend told the News, She doesnt want to hurt his career. The insider also claimed Andrews didnt want to damage Inglourious Basterds as an Oscars contender, as the films producer, Lawrence Bender, is the father of one of her children.

Court papers reveal that TMZ had requested a judges permission to livestream the April 6 hearing for Andrews protective order. Whether the court granted the outlets request is unknown.

The temporary restraining order expired when Andrews withdrew her petition the day before the hearing for a permanent protective order, records show. Court papers do not indicate why Andrews canceled her request.

In 2012, Fassbender and Andrews had a brief, well-publicized reunion after the Golden Globes. The former couple was spotted together at The Writers Room in Los Angeles, and Andrews was seen leaving the actors hotel the next day.

It was the last tabloid sighting of the former couple.

The Establishment picked the domestic violence allegations back up in 2016, questioning whether Fassbenders race gave him a free pass.

The author, Becca Rose, noted Andrews 2012 reunion with Fassbender and the withdrawal of the restraining order complicates the story. But she said its the medias job to look deeper into the disturbing allegations.

Andrews never publicly recanted her claims. Meanwhile, Fassbender has catapulted to success without having to answer to the allegations or suffer any significant consequences, The Establishment piece notes.

Leasi Andrews gets a mention on his Wikipedia page, but only as an ex, the article states. To find anything on the abuse allegations, you have to hunt for it. It is, for all intents and purposes, like it never happened.

On Fassbenders current Wikipedia page, the actors personal life begins with a mention of ex Nicole Beharie in 2012, and ends with the actors recent marriage to Alicia Vikander.

Andrews has been completely erased.

Brandy Zadrozny contributed research to this article.

Read more: https://www.thedailybeast.com/the-shocking-abuse-allegations-against-michael-fassbender

Painful Sex Is Often The First Sign Of A Serious Condition For Women. But Most Doctors Dismiss It.

The first time Mary H. realized something was wrong with her body was the first time she had sex. She was 22, living in New Jersey, and with the high school boyfriend she had been dating since she was 16 years old. During their first intercourse, she felt a sharp pain at the entrance of her vagina that was so intense that they didn’t complete the act. She continued to feel the pain during subsequent attempts.

Over the years, she tried to bring up the pain with different health care providers, but was rebuffed. They advised her to drink some wine, relax, and watch movies. One clinic suggested her boyfriend may be coercing her into having rough sex. Another clinician said it could have something to do with her anxiety disorder.

After eight years, the pain was so bad that on the rare occasions that she and her now-husband would have sex, Mary would end up crying in the shower afterward. After every climax, she said that cramping was so intense that it felt as if someone had moved her organs around inside her body.  

“I felt like I was being a bad wife. I felt like I wasn’t a woman,” Mary recalled. “What was I doing wrong?”

For women like Mary who experience chronic, debilitating pain during sex, there can be few places to turn for help. If doctors learn about female sexual symptoms at all during medical school or residency, they are advised to prescribe ways to “relax” patients, like drinking alcohol. But sexual dysfunction symptoms are more common among people with chronic ailments like diabetes, psoriasis, depression or cardiovascular disease, and they can also be one of the first signs that something may be seriously wrong with a woman’s reproductive organs. When a doctor dismisses a woman’s concerns about sexual dysfunction, he or she could miss an opportunity to diagnose diseases where sexual dysfunction may be their first or only symptom.

‘It’s all in your head’

The definition of female sexual dysfunction is slippery because it depends on an individual woman’s own perspective on her symptoms. For instance, female sexual dysfunction is an umbrella term that covers symptoms like pain during sex, low libido, and difficulty with arousal or orgasm. But if a woman experiences these things and is not distressed about them, or if she is satisfied with the quality of her sex life, then she doesn’t have female sexual dysfunction. Women can also experience seasons of female sexual dysfunction that come and go, depending on other factors in her life like postpartum recovery, serious illness or the beginning of menopause.

That may be why it’s so difficult to measure how common female sexual dysfunction is in the U.S. One nationally representative survey from 1999 estimates that 43 percent of American women ages 18 to 59 experience sexual dysfunction, on the basis that they said they had experienced, for a period of several months or more, a lack of interest in sex, inability to have an orgasm, pain during sex, lack of pleasure during sex, anxiety before sex or an inability to self-lubricate in the past 12 months. But this number doesn’t reveal whether any of these symptoms caused women distress, or whether some of these issues could be related to the woman’s sex partner.

Doctors in medical school and residency are typically not trained to approach sexual concerns this way, said Dr. Leah Millheiser, founder of the Female Sexual Medicine program at Stanford Hospital.

“As a resident, I learned that it’s all in a woman’s head,” Millheiser said. “She should go home and drink a glass of wine.”

As a consequence, women like Mary are not treated for serious medical problems, and can go from doctor to doctor feeling dismissed about issues that are having severe effects on their health, self-esteem and relationships.

Dr. Lauren Streicher, founder of the Center for Sexual Medicine and Menopause at the Northwestern Memorial Hospital, said that she is often the fourth or fifth doctor a woman has seen for a sexual health symptom. And while the causes of sexual dysfunction can be complex, they can also be symptoms of screenable diseases like thyroid problems, endometriosis or ovarian cancer — all things that can cause lack of libido or pain during sex and shouldn’t require multiple doctors’ visits to find.

Streicher recalled a recent patient, a young woman whose problems were so severe that she hadn’t been able to consummate her new marriage. She’d visited 14 other doctors about the pain she experienced during intercourse and was being pushed toward talk therapy as a solution.

But once Streicher performed a simple physical examination, she discovered an obvious explanation for the woman’s problems: a vaginal septum, a rare condition in which a wall of flesh divides the vagina into two chambers. Every time she had tried to have sex, her partner’s penis was crashing into the septum, causing her intense pain.

Streicher was able to fix the problem with a simple surgery, but said she still referred the patient to talk therapy because the length of time it had taken to get the correct diagnosis had strained her relationship with her husband.

Like Streicher’s patient, some women may have a singular medical cause for their sexual symptoms. However, it’s most likely that a complex mix of factors — both psychological and physical — could be contributing to sexual dysfunction. Additionally, one sexual concern could snowball into several other problems.

That’s why an integrative approach to this issue is so crucial, said Millheiser. It’s her job to “triage” a patient’s symptoms, getting to the root of when the problem started, exploring factors in her life and relationship that may be contributing to the dysfunction, while also doing full physical workups to look for potential medical reasons for sexual symptoms.

“You can’t discount a sexual concern as ‘just psychological,’ because then a woman might become upset or offended,” she said. “She doesn’t want to be told this is all in her head.”

For most women, comprehensive care is out of reach

There are no accredited fellowships that allow doctors to specialize in sexual health for either men or women, but this hasn’t stopped a handful of doctors from crafting their own training programs and opening medical practices in academic centers. Their goal: to take women at their word about sexual symptoms, which sometimes involves approaching problems as potential medical conditions.

After cobbling together their own training on female sexual health, they take a multidisciplinary medical approach to female sexuality instead of simply shunting patients off to talk therapy.

Centers that approach female sexual dysfunction from this perspective are rare, but growing. In addition to Streicher’s program at Northwestern and Millheiser’s at Stanford, academic medical centers at UCLA, UCSF, Indiana University Bloomington, Loyola University in Chicago, the University of Kansas, Boston Medical Center and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center approach female sexual health in a multidisciplinary way. But Streicher said that most American women don’t have access to this kind of comprehensive treatment for sexual health.

“For the overwhelming majority of women, it’s a very specialized thing,” Streicher said. “It doesn’t exist.” 

Making up for lost time

By 2015, Mary was 29 and living in Maryland with her husband. She had seen three different doctors and even a reiki healer for the pain she experienced during sex. Her menstrual cramps were also getting worse, to the point that she was falling over from the pain or vomiting during her period.

The one day, a friend of hers who was teaching a class on human sexuality came across a small blurb in her textbook on endometriosis, a condition in which the uterine lining that usually grows inside the uterus begins to grow outside the organ, rooting itself onto ovaries, fallopian tubes, the colon, and other surfaces in the pelvic region. Then, during a woman’s menstrual cycle, the lining begins to shed, causing severe cramping and pain.

She passed the blurb on to Mary, who immediately started doing more research on the disease. Armed with a list of endometriosis symptoms she had — including painful intercourse — she went to a new OB/GYN doctor who congratulated Mary on diagnosing herself.

“She said, ‘You should do this for a living, I can’t believe you figured it out,’” Mary recalled.

After the initial clinical diagnosis, Mary went on to have laparoscopic surgery to confirm the presence of endometriosis and to remove the lining from other parts of her body. The surgeon told her he removed endometriosis from 80 percent of her pelvic region, as it was affecting her bladder, appendix, ovaries, pelvic wall and the area near her rectum. The lining had also created an endometrioma, or large cyst, on Mary’s right ovary, pinning it to her pelvic wall.

That wasn’t the end of her story. Because she had been enduring pelvic pain for so long, she had developed vaginismus, an involuntary clamping down of the pelvic floor muscles that made penetration difficult or painful. After the surgery, it took another eight months of pelvic floor therapy to help her ease back into sex with her husband. By then, she was 30 years old.

“It was kind of like losing my virginity all over again, but in a much better way,” she said. “Now I see what all the fuss is about.”

Stories like Mary’s are exactly what Millheiser hopes to avoid with her approach. While she isn’t Mary’s doctor, listening to some of the facts of her case align with other patients she has seen. Millheiser said there’s no doubt that “years and years of painful intercourse” would go on to cause more problems down the road. Specifically, that vaginismus is a very common result of untreated endometriosis.

″Vaginismus is an involuntary contraction of the pelvic floor muscles, often as a result of fear of pain,” Millheiser said. “Her body was protecting her from pain.”

Mary still lives with a small measure of pain — something she describes as “completely tolerable,” and avoids sex on days when she might have to do something else that might cause her pain to spike, like a long car ride that can jostle her body. But she cries thinking about the years of pain that affected her relationship with her husband.  

“Now that I am sexually active, there’s an added layer of guilt, where [I think], ‘Wow, if he rejected me nearly as many times as I did then, I would be crushed,’” she said. 

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/painful-sex-is-often-the-first-sign-of-a-serious-condition-for-women_us_5a73b103e4b01ce33eb13c3d

Opinion | Nassars Abuses Stigmatize A Legitimate Medical Treatment

The heartbreaking testimonies of Larry Nassar’s victims have gripped the country for the past two weeks. Once a national women’s team doctor for USA Gymnastics and a highly regarded physician at Michigan State University, Nassar is now entering the final days of his sentencing hearing after more than 150 young women ― many of them current or former gymnasts ― accused him of sexual assault and abuse dating as far back as 1997.

Nassar molested his patients by performing internal vaginal and anal “treatments” that he insisted were medically necessary. As a doctor of physical therapy who specializes in women’s and pelvic health and who coached gymnastics for eight years, I find this case particularly disturbing. And I would not be doing my duty to champion women’s health if I did not speak up to set the record straight about pelvic physical therapy.

What Nassar did to these young women is absolutely atrocious and should not be confused with genuine pelvic physical therapy, which, when performed appropriately and correctly by a highly trained specialist, can have a positive impact on a woman’s quality of life, especially regarding maternal and sexual health.

Pelvic physical therapy is used to treat a variety of medical problems, including bowel and bladder leakage and chronic pelvic pain. In my own practice, young women unable to have sexual intercourse for many years due to excruciating pain were completely pain-free after pelvic PT. A young grandmother was finally able to wear white pants while out shopping because pelvic physical therapy fixed her bowel leakage problem. A pregnant mother was finally able to pick up her toddler again without experiencing severe low back pain.  

It is my duty to women like these to ensure Nassar’s abuse does not, in addition to all the other damage it has done, prevent others from getting the care they need. It is critically important for women’s health professionals to ensure the horror of the Nassar case does not feed public fear and misconceptions about pelvic PT or stop women who need health care from walking through our doors.

Women’s health and pelvic health physical therapists who are part of the Section on Women’s Health (a component of the American Physical Therapy Association) undergo ongoing specialized education and training in the treatment of abdominal and pelvic issues. The pelvic health conditions these physical therapists treat include urinary incontinence (any involuntary leakage of urine); urgency or frequency of urination; bowel incontinence (any involuntary leakage of stool or gas); sexual dysfunction and painful vaginal penetration (including the inability to have an orgasm, pain with sexual activities and post-coital pain); abdominal and pelvic pain (including low back pain); pregnancy and postpartum issues; constipation; fibromyalgia; and pediatric pelvic health (bed-wetting, constipation and urinary or bowel incontinence).

Nassar’s victims have described an environment antithetical to standard pelvic physical therapy practices.

In short, there are hundreds of thousands of people, many of them women and girls, whose lives can be immeasurably improved by pelvic physical therapy. It would pile unfairness on top of injustice if the actions of one abusive doctor discouraged others from seeking the treatment they need.

The pelvic floor muscles are a significant area of emphasis in pelvic health physical therapy, and they play an important role in continence control, sexual appreciation, core stability and organ support. Pelvic floor dysfunction, or PFD, is a continually underserved area of the medical field. Research suggests pelvic floor dysfunction affects about 23.7 percent of women in the U.S., and PFDs often coexist with history of trauma and abuse. Furthermore, children who have experienced sexual abuse are at a significantly higher risk for post-traumatic stress, anxiety, depression, suicide, substance abuse and eating disorders, which can also contribute to ― and magnify ― pelvic floor dysfunction in adulthood. Patients often live with tremendous shame and pain, and do not seek help due to the stigma surrounding pelvic floor dysfunction and pelvic PT. As physical therapists, we strive to eliminate these obstacles through education, advocacy and intervention.

Nassar’s victims have described an environment antithetical to standard pelvic physical therapy practices. There was no chaperone, parent or guardian in the room during his “treatments.” He didn’t use gloves, and one athlete said she was under the influence of a sleeping pill during a “treatment” session. In many cases, Nassar performed intra-vaginal “exams” on athletes whose injuries had nothing to do with the victim’s pelvic area.

As the world learns of this man’s appalling actions, it’s important to clarify what one should expect from genuine pelvic physical therapy treatment.

A pelvic PT exam is not the kind of exam performed in a gynecologist’s office. There are no stirrups or speculum. The setting is much more comfortable and the exam much less invasive. A pelvic physical therapist will often use internal vaginal and rectal examination and treatment techniques ― all of which are evidence-based ― to help assess and correct a woman’s pelvic dysfunction. Clinics emphasize comfort and privacy, and we spend significant time getting to know our patients and their medical history.

Most importantly, any pelvic examination and treatment is performed only after thorough patient education, and only with the complete understanding and full consent of that patient. Therapists use gloves and other universal precautions during all exam and treatment procedures. The patient is always in control during pelvic physical therapy and can end the session at any time if they become uncomfortable. Internal exams are almost never performed on a minor, except in rare instances where the patient is older, sexually active or previously had internal examination from another medical practitioner. In these cases, a parent or guardian is always present to give additional consent for treatment.

For women with pelvic floor disorders, it is difficult enough to battle the stigma, shame and guilt often associated with these conditions. The Nassar case risks making it less likely that women who need pelvic physical therapy will seek it out. Those of us who care for and care about the health of women and girls must not allow predators like Nassar to further victimize women by making them fear the very interventions that can improve and enrich their lives.

Lora “Lori” Mize is a board-certified women’s health physical therapist specializing in abdominal and pelvic health. She is an assistant professor of physical therapy at Lynchburg College in Virginia and incoming vice president of the Section on Women’s Health.

This piece is part of HuffPost’s brand-new Opinion section. For more information on how to pitch us an idea, go here.

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/opinion-mize-pelvic-therapy_us_5a67f62ae4b0e5630074aa9b