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Inspiring Texts Honoring Women’s History Month

Women’s History Month honors women’s contributions in American history. We celebrate to remind ourselves of the accomplishments of women throughout the years and their significant impact on our culture and society. It is a chance to reflect on the trailblazing women who lead the way for change. Read some of the most empowering and ardent texts written by the many remarkable women in history.

Excerpt: We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie 

We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls, ‘You can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful but not too successful, otherwise you will threaten the man. If you are the breadwinner in your relationship with a man, pretend that you are not, especially in public, otherwise you will emasculate him.’

But what if we question the premise itself? Why should a woman’s success be a threat to a man? What if we decide to simply dispose of that word – and I don’t know if there is an English word I dislike more than this – emasculation.

A Nigerian acquaintance once asked me if I was worried that men would be intimidated by me.

I was not worried at all – it had not even occurred to me to be worried, because a man who would be intimidated by me is exactly the kind of man I would have no interest in.

Still, I was struck by this. Because I am female, I’m expected to aspire to marriage. I am expected to make my life choices always keeping in mind that marriage is the most important. Marriage can be a good thing, a source of joy, love and mutual support. But why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage, yet we don’t teach boys to do the same?

I know a Nigerian woman who decided to sell her house because she didn’t want to intimidate a man who might want to marry her.

I know an unmarried woman in Nigeria who, when she goes to conferences, wears a wedding ring because she wants her colleagues to – according to her – ‘give her respect’.

The sadness in this is that a wedding ring will indeed automatically make her seem worthy of respect, while not wearing a wedding ring would make her easily dismissible – and this is in a modern workplace.

I know young women who are under so much pressure – from family, from friends, even from work – to get married that they are pushed to make terrible choices.

Our society teaches a woman at a certain age who is unmarried to see it as a deep personal failure. While a man at a certain age who is unmarried has not quite come around to making his pick.

It is easy to say, ‘But women can just say no to all this.’ But the reality is more difficult, more complex. We are all social beings. We internalize ideas from our socialization.

Even the language we use illustrates this. The language of marriage is often a language of ownership, not a language of partnership.

We use the word respect for something a woman shows a man, but not often for something a man shows a woman.

Both men and women will say, ‘I did it for peace in my marriage.’

When men say it, it is usually about something they should not be doing anyway. Something they say to their friends in a fondly exasperated way, something that ultimately proves to them their masculinity – ‘Oh, my wife said I can’t go to clubs every night, so now, for peace in my marriage, I go only on weekends.’

When women say ‘I did it for peace in my marriage,’ it is usually because they have given up a job, a career goal, a dream.

We teach females that in relationships, compromise is what a woman is more likely to do.

We raise girls to see each other as competitors – not for jobs or accomplishments, which in my opinion can be a good thing, but for the attention of men…

We teach girls shame. Close your legs. Cover yourself. We make them feel as though by being born female, they are already guilty of something. And so girls grow up to be women who cannot say they have desire. Who silence themselves. Who cannot say what they truly think. Who have turned pretence into an art form…

The problem with gender is that it prescribes how we should be rather than recognizing how we are. Imagine how much happier we would be, how much freer to be our true individual selves, if we didn’t have the weight of gender expectations.

Boys and girls are undeniably different biologically, but socialization exaggerates the differences, and then starts a self-fulfilling process. Take cooking, for example. Today, women in general are more likely to do housework than men – cooking and cleaning. But why is that? Is it because women are born with a cooking gene or because over the years they have been socialized to see cooking as their role? I was going to say that perhaps women are born with a cooking gene until I remembered that the majority of famous cooks in the world – who are given the fancy title of ‘chef’ – are men.

I used to look at my grandmother, a brilliant woman, and wonder what she would have been if she’d had the same opportunities as men during her youth. Today, there are more opportunities for women than there were during my grandmother’s time, because of changes in policy and law, which are very important.

But what matters even more is our attitude, our mindset.

What if, in raising children, we focus on ability instead of gender? What if we focus on interest instead of gender?

I know a family who has a son and a daughter, a year apart in age, both brilliant at school. When the boy is hungry, the parents say to the girl, ‘Go and cook Indomie noodles for your brother.’ The girl doesn’t like to cook Indomie noodles, but she is a girl and she has to. What if the parents, from the beginning, taught both children to cook them? Cooking, by the way, is a useful and practical life skill for a boy to have. I’ve never thought it made much sense to leave such a crucial thing – the ability to nourish oneself – in the hands of others.

I am trying to unlearn many lessons of gender I internalized while growing up. But I sometimes still feel vulnerable in the face of gender expectations.

Ain’t I a Woman by Sojourner Truth 

Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that ‘twixt the negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what’s all this here talking about?

That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain’t I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain’t I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man – when I could get it – and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain’t I a woman?

Then they talk about this thing in the head; what’s this they call it? [member of audience whispers, “intellect”] That’s it, honey. What’s that got to do with women’s rights or negroes’ rights? If my cup won’t hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn’t you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?

Then that little man in black there, he says women can’t have as much rights as men, ’cause Christ wasn’t a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.

If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back , and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.

Obliged to you for hearing me, and now old Sojourner ain’t got nothing more to say. 

Excerpt: Pro Femina by Carolyn Kizer

ONE

While men have politely debated free will, we have howled for it,   
Howl still, pacing the centuries, tragedy heroines.
Some who sat quietly in the corner with their embroidery
Were Defarges, stabbing the wool with the names of their ancient   
Oppressors, who ruled by the divine right of the male—
I’m impatient of interruptions! I’m aware there were millions   
Of mutes for every Saint Joan or sainted Jane Austen,
Who, vague-eyed and acquiescent, worshiped God as a man.   
I’m not concerned with those cabbageheads, not truly feminine   
But neutered by labor. I mean real women, like you and like me.

THREE

I suppose they reacted from an earlier womanly modesty   
When too many girls were scabs to their stricken sisterhood,   
Impugning our sex to stay in good with the men,
Commencing their insecure bluster. How they must have swaggered   
When women themselves endorsed their own inferiority!   
Vestals, vassals, and vessels, rolled into several,
They took notes in rolling syllabics, in careful journals,   
Aiming to please a posterity that despises them.
But we’ll always have traitors who swear that a woman surrenders   
Her Supreme Function, by equating Art with aggression   
And failure with Femininity. Still, it’s just as unfair
To equate Art with Femininity, like a prettily packaged commodity   
When we are the custodians of the world’s best-kept secret:   
Merely the private lives of one-half of humanity.

Poem about My Rights by June Jordan

Even tonight and I need to take a walk and clear
my head about this poem about why I can’t
go out without changing my clothes my shoes
my body posture my gender identity my age
my status as a woman alone in the evening/
alone on the streets/alone not being the point/
the point being that I can’t do what I want
to do with my own body because I am the wrong
sex the wrong age the wrong skin and
suppose it was not here in the city but down on the beach/
or far into the woods and I wanted to go
there by myself thinking about God/or thinking
about children or thinking about the world/all of it
disclosed by the stars and the silence:
I could not go and I could not think and I could not
stay there
alone
as I need to be
alone because I can’t do what I want to do with my own
body and
who in the hell set things up
like this
and in France they say if the guy penetrates
but does not ejaculate then he did not rape me
and if after stabbing him if after screams if
after begging the bastard and if even after smashing
a hammer to his head if even after that if he
and his buddies fuck me after that
then I consented and there was
no rape because finally you understand finally
they fucked me over because I was wrong I was
wrong again to be me being me where I was/wrong
to be who I am
which is exactly like South Africa
penetrating into Namibia penetrating into
Angola and does that mean I mean how do you know if
Pretoria ejaculates what will the evidence look like the
proof of the monster jackboot ejaculation on Blackland
and if
after Namibia and if after Angola and if after Zimbabwe
and if after all of my kinsmen and women resist even to
self-immolation of the villages and if after that
we lose nevertheless what will the big boys say will they
claim my consent:
Do You Follow Me: We are the wrong people of
the wrong skin on the wrong continent and what
in the hell is everybody being reasonable about
and according to the Times this week
back in 1966 the C.I.A. decided that they had this problem
and the problem was a man named Nkrumah so they
killed him and before that it was Patrice Lumumba
and before that it was my father on the campus
of my Ivy League school and my father afraid
to walk into the cafeteria because he said he
was wrong the wrong age the wrong skin the wrong
gender identity and he was paying my tuition and
before that
it was my father saying I was wrong saying that
I should have been a boy because he wanted one/a
boy and that I should have been lighter skinned and
that I should have had straighter hair and that
I should not be so boy crazy but instead I should
just be one/a boy and before that         
it was my mother pleading plastic surgery for
my nose and braces for my teeth and telling me
to let the books loose to let them loose in other
words
I am very familiar with the problems of the C.I.A.
and the problems of South Africa and the problems
of Exxon Corporation and the problems of white
America in general and the problems of the teachers
and the preachers and the F.B.I. and the social
workers and my particular Mom and Dad/I am very
familiar with the problems because the problems
turn out to be
me
I am the history of rape
I am the history of the rejection of who I am
I am the history of the terrorized incarceration of
myself
I am the history of battery assault and limitless
armies against whatever I want to do with my mind
and my body and my soul and
whether it’s about walking out at night
or whether it’s about the love that I feel or
whether it’s about the sanctity of my vagina or
the sanctity of my national boundaries
or the sanctity of my leaders or the sanctity
of each and every desire
that I know from my personal and idiosyncratic
and indisputably single and singular heart
I have been raped
be-
cause I have been wrong the wrong sex the wrong age
the wrong skin the wrong nose the wrong hair the
wrong need the wrong dream the wrong geographic
the wrong sartorial I
I have been the meaning of rape
I have been the problem everyone seeks to
eliminate by forced
penetration with or without the evidence of slime and/
but let this be unmistakable this poem
is not consent I do not consent
to my mother to my father to the teachers to
the F.B.I. to South Africa to Bedford-Stuy
to Park Avenue to American Airlines to the hardon
idlers on the corners to the sneaky creeps in
cars
I am not wrong: Wrong is not my name
My name is my own my own my own
and I can’t tell you who the hell set things up like this
but I can tell you that from now on my resistance
my simple and daily and nightly self-determination
may very well cost you your life

The Applicant by Sylvia Path

First, are you our sort of a person?
Do you wear
A glass eye, false teeth or a crutch,
A brace or a hook,
Rubber breasts or a rubber crotch,

Stitches to show something’s missing? No, no? Then
How can we give you a thing?
Stop crying.
Open your hand.
Empty? Empty. Here is a hand

To fill it and willing
To bring teacups and roll away headaches
And do whatever you tell it.
Will you marry it?
It is guaranteed

To thumb shut your eyes at the end
And dissolve of sorrow.
We make new stock from the salt.
I notice you are stark naked.
How about this suit——

Black and stiff, but not a bad fit.
Will you marry it?
It is waterproof, shatterproof, proof
Against fire and bombs through the roof.
Believe me, they’ll bury you in it.

Now your head, excuse me, is empty.
I have the ticket for that.
Come here, sweetie, out of the closet.
Well, what do you think of that?
Naked as paper to start

But in twenty-five years she’ll be silver,
In fifty, gold.
A living doll, everywhere you look.
It can sew, it can cook,
It can talk, talk, talk.

It works, there is nothing wrong with it.
You have a hole, it’s a poultice.
You have an eye, it’s an image.
My boy, it’s your last resort.
Will you marry it, marry it, marry it.

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Everything You Need To Know About Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)

What is a UTI?

urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection caused by microbes such as bacteria that cause inflammation and infection in any part of your urinary system. It commonly occurs in the bladder and urethra, but if left untreated, the bacteria can climb to the ureters and kidneys and this becomes life-threatening. Although upper tract UTIs are rarer than lower tract UTIs, they’re also usually more severe.

See the source image

Who gets a UTI?

UTIs are very common, affecting 150 million people per year globally. One in five women will have at least one UTI in their lifetime. Women get UTIs up to 30 times more often than men do. Also, as many as 4 in 10 women who get a UTI will get at least one more within six months.

Women get UTIs more often because a woman’s urethra (the tube from the bladder to where the urine comes out of the body) is shorter than a man’s. This makes it easier for bacteria to get into the bladder. A woman’s urethral opening is also closer to both the vagina and the anus, the main source of germs such as Escherichia coli (E. coli) that cause UTIs. 90% of UTIs are caused by a bacteria called E. coli, which is commonly found in the gastrointestinal tract. 

You may be at greater risk for a UTI if you:

  • Are sexually active. Sexual activity can move germs that cause UTIs from other areas, such as the vagina, to the urethra.
  • Use a diaphragm for birth control or use spermicides (creams that kill sperm) with a diaphragm or with condoms. Spermicides can kill good bacteria that protect you from UTIs.
  • Are pregnant. Pregnancy hormones can change the bacteria in the urinary tract, making UTIs more likely. Also, many pregnant women have trouble completely emptying the bladder, because the uterus (womb) with the developing baby sits on top of the bladder during pregnancy. Leftover urine with bacteria in it can cause a UTI.
  • Have gone through menopause. After menopause, loss of the hormone estrogen causes vaginal tissue to become thin and dry. This can make it easier for harmful bacteria to grow and cause a UTI.
  • Have diabetes, which can lower your immune (defense) system and cause nerve damage that makes it hard to completely empty your bladder
  • Have any condition, like a kidney stone, that may block the flow of urine between your kidneys and bladder

Causes

Urinary tract infections typically occur when bacteria enter the urinary tract through the urethra and begin to multiply in the bladder. Although the urinary system is designed to keep out such microscopic invaders, these defenses sometimes fail. When that happens, bacteria may take hold and grow into a full-blown infection in the urinary tract.

  • Infection of the bladder (cystitis). This type of UTI is usually caused by Escherichia coli (E. coli), a type of bacteria commonly found in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. However, sometimes other bacteria are responsible. Sexual intercourse may lead to cystitis, but you don’t have to be sexually active to develop it. All women are at risk of cystitis because of their anatomy — specifically, the short distance from the urethra to the anus and the urethral opening to the bladder.
  • Infection of the urethra (urethritis). This type of UTI can occur when GI bacteria spread from the anus to the urethra. Also, because the female urethra is close to the vagina, sexually transmitted infections, such as herpes, gonorrhea, chlamydia and mycoplasma, can cause urethritis.

Signs & Symptoms

  • Pain or burning when urinating
  • An urge to urinate often, but not much comes out when you go
  • Pressure in your lower abdomen
  • Urine that smells bad or looks milky or cloudy
  • Blood in the urine. This is more common in younger women. If you see blood in your urine, tell a doctor or nurse right away.
  • Feeling tired, shaky, confused, or weak. This is more common in older women.
  • Having a fever, which may mean the infection has reached your kidneys.

Diagnosis & Treatment

To find out whether you have a UTI, your doctor or nurse will test a clean sample of your urine. This means you will first wipe your genital area with a special wipe. Then you will collect your urine in midstream in a cup. Your doctor or nurse may then test your urine for bacteria to see whether you have a UTI, which can take a few days.

UTIs are treated with antibiotics prescribed by your doctor. You may feel better in one or two days. Make sure to finish taking all of the antibiotics as prescribed, even if you feel better after a day or two.

What can happen if a UTI is not treated?

If treated right away, a UTI is not likely to damage your urinary tract. But if your UTI is not treated, the infection can spread to the kidneys and other parts of your body. The most common symptoms of kidney infection are fever and pain in the back where the kidneys are located. Antibiotics can also treat kidney infections.

When treated promptly and properly, lower urinary tract infections rarely lead to complications. But left untreated, a urinary tract infection can have serious consequences. Sometimes the infection can get in the bloodstream. This is rare but life-threatening.

Complications of a UTI may include:

  • Recurrent infections, especially in women who experience two or more UTIs in a six-month period or four or more within a year.
  • Permanent kidney damage from an acute or chronic kidney infection (pyelonephritis) due to an untreated UTI.
  • Increased risk in pregnant women of delivering low birth weight or premature infants.
  • Sepsis, a potentially life-threatening complication of an infection, especially if the infection works its way up your urinary tract to your kidneys.

Prevention

You can take these steps to reduce your risk of urinary tract infections:

  • Drink plenty of liquids, especially water. Drinking water helps dilute your urine and ensures that you’ll urinate more frequently — allowing bacteria to be flushed from your urinary tract before an infection can begin.
  • Urinate when you need to. Don’t go without urinating for longer than three or four hours. The longer urine stays in the bladder, the more time bacteria have to grow.
  • Drink cranberry juice. Although studies are not conclusive that cranberry juice prevents UTIs, it is likely not harmful.
  • Wipe from front to back. Doing so after urinating and after a bowel movement helps prevent bacteria in the anal region from spreading to the vagina and urethra.
  • Empty your bladder soon after intercourse. Also, drink a full glass of water to help flush bacteria.
  • Avoid potentially irritating feminine products. Using deodorant sprays or other feminine products, such as douches and powders, in the genital area can irritate the urethra.
  • Change your birth control method. Diaphragms, or unlubricated or spermicide-treated condoms, can all contribute to bacterial growth.

References

Everything you need to know about urinary tract infections (UTI). UTI Stings. (n.d.). Retrieved December 5, 2021, from https://utistings.com/blogs/news/urinary-tract-infections-uti.

Lights, V. (2021, October 14). Urinary tract infection: Symptoms, diagnosis & treatment. Healthline. Retrieved December 5, 2021, from https://www.healthline.com/health/urinary-tract-infection-adults#risks-for-women.

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2021, April 23). Urinary tract infection (UTI). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved December 5, 2021, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/urinary-tract-infection/symptoms-causes/syc-20353447.

Top 10 things to know about urinary tract infections. National Kidney Foundation. (2014, August 12). Retrieved December 5, 2021, from https://www.kidney.org/transplantation/transaction/TC/winter11/TCwinter11_UTI#:~:text=%20Top%2010%20Things%20to%20Know%20About%20Urinary,also%20include%20diabetics%20and%20men%20with…%20More%20.

Urinary tract infections. Urinary tract infections | Office on Women’s Health. (n.d.). Retrieved December 5, 2021, from https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/urinary-tract-infections.

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Hormonal Acne: What is it Exactly?

By: Adelina Pavlyuk

Many women struggle with acne– typically hormonal acne is seen during puberty and its associated hormonal changes and even in women after puberty aging from 20 to 50 years old. 

You may ask, What is Hormonal Acne and What Causes It? 

Hormonal acne is an imbalance in hormones, where the hormonal levels fluctuate. When the androgen, estrogen, progesterone, or testosterone hormone levels rise, break outs begin to appear. The effect of this fluctuation causes oil glands under the skin to grow which is what leads to breakouts due to the changes in sebum production and skin cell activity. With the accompanied inflammation, colonies of bacteria begin to form in the hair follicles. Typically, fluctuation of hormones happens during menstrual cycles, menopause, pregnancy, thyroid issues, or PCOS. 

*Hormonal acne can range from blackheads, whiteheads, pustules, and cysts. The acne usually appears in the T-zone, and can often times be painful.

What Other Factors Influence Acne?

  • Antibiotics 
  • Medications
  • Mental Health Triggers Such as Depression or Anxiety
  • Certain Foods
  • Stress

Why it is Okay 

Many people get breakouts, at any age and any time and it is very common. Studies and statistics show that about 50% of the women population ages 20-29 deal with acne and even 25% of women aged 40-49 deal with it as well. All forms of acne can be distressing and can impact one’s self esteem, but it is treatable and should not take over your life. 

Treatment

There are many ways to treat acne some ways can include:

  • Oral Contraceptives
  • Accutane
  • Topical Retinoids
  • Cleansers 
  • Your Diet
  • Spironolactone

When Should You Address a Dermatologist?

If you are concerned, it is best to see a dermatologist when your acne is bothering you such as having accompanied burning, itching, or pain. Visiting a specialist can have them evaluate what type of acne you have and the best treatments to provide for you to eliminate it. 

Resources:

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/313084#what-is-hormonal-acne

https://www.cwcashburn.com/6-ways-to-fight-hormonal-imbalance-acne/

https://www.ndtv.com/health/sudden-acne-breakout-causes-and-tips-for-prevention-2100213

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Staying Safe: A Guide On How To Be Safe With Alcohol

Image from @Studentbeans on instagram

Making mindful decisions when it comes to alcohol can be trickier than it looks, and staying safe is crucial. Over the decades drink spiking has sadly become more prevalent.

What is Drink Spiking?

Drink spiking is when a person adds a drug, known as a “date rape drug”, to another person’s drink without their knowledge or consent. The main reason in today’s society for drink spiking is the intention of sexually assaulting a victim or stealing their personal belongings. Other times it can be done to embarrass a victim. Date rape drugs that are often used include Ketamine, Rohypnol, and GHB.

Symptoms of Drink Spiking

When a victim’s drink has been spiked a variety of symptoms can occur based on what drug they were spiked with and how their body could react to it. Symptoms usually kick in within 30 minutes and can last up to 7 hours of digestion. When date rape drugs mix with alcohol they create a severe anesthetic result, making the symptoms more severe. The symptoms of drink spiking can often be confused with the effects of consuming alcohol, making it even harder to distinguish when a victim has been spiked.

Symptoms include:

  • Loss of balance
  • Slurring words
  • Nausea
  • Blurred vision/trouble seeing
  • Disoriented and confused
  • Blackouts/memory loss
  • Unconsciousness
  • Temporary loss of body sensation 
  • Drowsiness or light-headedness
  • Hallucinations
  • Difficulty concentrating or speaking
  • Difficulty with being able to move

How to tell if a drink has been spiked before consumption

  • Foggy appearance to the drink
  • Excessive bubbles
  • Sinking ice
  • Change in color

How to help a friend who you think has been spiked

  • Stay with them and keep talking to them
  • Tell a member of the bar staff
  • Call an ambulance and report to the police

How to prevent a drink from being spiked

  • Always have the drink covered
  • Never leave a drink unattended
  • Do not accept a drink from a stranger
  • Lookout and be cautious if there are visible alters to your drink
  • Do not share a drink with others

Resources:

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The Effect Of COVID-19 On Suicidal Ideation From Increasing Mental Health Illnesses

Special Issue: Suicide Prevention Month

Studies in the US stipulate that over 90% of suicide victims have a psychiatric disorder according to Dr. Sher (2020). With the majority of suicide victims having psychiatric conditions, numerous findings have elucidated that the COVID-19 pandemic is associated with the rising suicide rates in the United States.  For instance, the COVID-19 pandemic is associated with stress-related psychiatric conditions including anxiety, fear, depression, isolation, and chronic stress as a result of the recent toll on mental health during 2020, eliciting the overwhelming transition to life through the course of the coronavirus pandemic. These result in suicidal tendencies perceptible from ideation. Mayo Clinic (2020) cements the idea that suicidal thoughts are the result of feeling that one can’t cope or recover when faced with an overwhelming life situation. Millions have lost their jobs, homes, and family members thus increasing stress. Depression alone is a major risk factor for suicide, accounting for up to 60% of suicide deaths. (Sher, 2020). Two effects of the COVID-19 pandemic that result in mental health illnesses and conditions are the US unemployment rates as a result of economic uncertainty, and social isolation from quarantine social distancing regulations. The impact contributes to long-term effects on the mental health of Americans. Ultimately, one can postulate that the increasing mental health illnesses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have resulted in suicidal ideation to increase in the US.

A significant effect of the coronavirus pandemic are the factors leading up to mental health conditions, consequently changing people’s lifestyles. The economic uncertainty during the coronavirus pandemic has been associated with stress-related disorders and suicide. Suicide mortality peaked because of unemployment during the Great Depression’s recessionary years. In fact, 2020 has been proven to be the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, where the U.S. unemployment rate rose to 14.7%, putting over 20.5 million people out of work in April (Bartash, 2020). This has proved to be the most rapid labor market decline in history. After delving deeper into the article by United States financial and business news broadcaster,  Market Watch, one can deduce that economic downfalls have been associated with mental health disorders and suicides because an increase in the unemployment rate has been associated with higher prevalence of depression and suicidal deaths primarily because of the financial hardships and  job insecurities.  Marla Frezza, a New York City-based bartender asserts, “I’ve been dialing unemployment […] since March 15th. I’m in tears some days when I’m at 100 dials to unemployment and on hold for six hours and then they hang up on you” (Hess, 2020). The author espouses that the increasing severity of rising unemployment rates takes a toll on peoples’ mental health, endangering the lives of millions of Americans. This notion is advanced in another study by illustrating that the depression rate for those who have been unemployed for 27 weeks or more is 18%, nearly one in five. The study further adduces that unemployed Americans are more than twice as likely as those with full-time jobs to be treated for depression (Rosen, 2014). The impact of this is that depression accounts for more than half of all suicides, therefore the coronavirus pandemic directly links to the increase of mental health illnesses, contributing to suicidal ideation.

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in social isolation which has increased due to quarantine and social distancing. Efforts to reduce the spread of coronavirus has increased the prevalence of social isolation and loneliness as a result of stay-at-home orders, which have contributed to depression and anxiety disorder. The author accentuates this idea by providing preliminary research within the first month of COVID-19, delineating that loneliness increased by 20% to 30% and emotional distress tripled. This posits that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused widespread health effects subsequent to social isolation and loneliness. Furthermore, the CDC delineates that symptoms of anxiety and depressive disorder increased in the United States by 31% from April-June of 2019 to 2020. The data shows that the prevalence of symptoms for anxiety disorder was nearly 3 times and the prevalence of depressive disorder was nearly 4 times that of 2019. Studies also showed that twice as many respondents of the survey reported serious consideration of suicide over the past 30 days than they did in 2018 (CDC, 2020). As a result of the chaos during the COVID-19 pandemic, suicidal ideation has severely worsened and increased because of the stress, fear, anxiety, and depression that has increasingly taken a toll on people’s lives. This is further proven as the COVID-19 pandemic caused a 47% influx of calls made to suicide hotlines in the US (Krafcik, 2020). Thus, psychiatric conditions including anxiety and depression that have arisen as a result of isolation are associated with suicidal behavior.

Coronavirus and Social Distancing: Take Steps to Counter the Loneliness -  The New York Times

As a result of the distressing effects caused by the lifestyle changes amidst the coronavirus pandemic, there has been a prevalence of psychiatric conditions contributing to the rise of suicidal ideation. This has proven to lead to many long-term mental health repercussions including psychological effects from those who have already overcome the coronavirus, and a surge in panic and anxiety as a result of fear caused by the uncertainty of the severe virus. Martha Barrera from Orange County, New York got the coronavirus and then overcame it. She now experiences night terrors and lays awake between 3 AM and 7 AM, worried that she might stop breathing. She further expresses, “I have never felt so alone or scared” (Miller, 2020). This stipulates that patients who have encountered COVID-19 experience social isolation and fear or survival, which increases the severity and number of mental health illnesses, reflecting that COVID-19 results in long-term psychological effects. Healthcare workers are another example as they are at higher risks of developing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD rates have reportedly ranged from 10% to 20%, with even up to 30% among Intensive Care Unit staff (Carmassi et al., 2020). To postulate, health care workers tend to be at higher risk for PTSD because of the highly stressful work environment and situations they are exposed to such as frequently witnessing death and trauma. Furthermore, the International Journal of Medicine found that a 49-year old head of the Emergency Department in a New York City hospital died by committing suicide after telling her family about the tremendous suffering and death she witnessed while taking care of coronavirus patients. (Sher, 2020). This information illuminates the idea that those who have encountered the coronavirus are likely to suffer from long-term repercussions (e.g., PTSD). The other long-term mental health effect caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is panic and anxiety as a result from fears of uncertainty. Renée El-Gabalawy, a clinical psychologist, explained that panic will be higher among people who have not encountered the coronavirus since any bodily change will cause fear and be viewed as threatening (Miller 2020). For example, the fear of potentially having the coronavirus because of mutual, common symptoms such as respiratory illnesses and fever will cause panic, increasing the likeliness and frequency of mental health episodes. Intensified mental health illnesses, including long-term conditions, can result in suicidal ideation since stress, anxiety, and depression are all linked to suicidal tendencies.

 The long term impact of coronavirus on people is that they will experience mental health illnesses, even after the virus is over. The severity of mental health illnesses makes it imperative that in order to cope with the effects of COVID-19, mental health conditions should be regularly monitored. If left undealt, the prevalence of suicidal ideation may increase because of increasing symptoms such as panic, anxiety, stress, and depression. Increasing psychological conditions from the COVID-19 pandemic include effects of unemployment rates and social isolation, which have all been linked to suicidal ideation. Moreover, stress relating to the COVID-19 pandemic causes long-term PTSD, which increases the likeliness of suicidal ideation and other severe health illnesses linked to suicidal tendencies. All in all, the coronavirus pandemic has intensified mental health illnesses, causing suicidal ideation in the US to increase. 

References

Sher, L. (2020). The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on suicide rates. QJM: An International Journal of Medicine, 113(10), 707-712. https://doi.org/10.1093/qjmed/hcaa202 

Mayo Clinic. (2020, August 6). COVID-19 and the risk of suicide. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/in-depth/covid-19-suicide-risk/art-20490350 

Bartash, J. (2020, May 8). Coronavirus costs the U.S. 20.5 million jobs in April as unemployment soars to 14.7%. Market Watch. https://www.marketwatch.com/story/coronavirus-costs-the-us-205-million-jobs-in-april-unemployment-soars-to-147-2020-05-08#:~:text=The%20numbers%3A%20The%20coronavirus%20pandemic,crisis%20in%20almost%20a%20century 

Hess, A. (2020, April 22). Fired over text, 800 calls to unemployment: What it’s like losing your job in the coronavirus pandemic. CNBC. https://www.cnbc.com/2020/04/22/what-its-like-being-unemployed-because-of-coronavirus.html 

Rosen, R.J. (2014, June 9). The Mental-Health Consequences of Unemployment. The Atlantic. https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/06/the-mental-health-consequences-of-unemployment/372449/

Holt-Lunstad, J. (2020, June 22). The Double Pandemic Of Social Isolation And COVID-19: Cross Sector Policy Must Address Both. Health Affairs. https://www.healthaffairs.org/do/10.1377/hblog20200609.53823

Barger, L.K., Christensen, A., Czeisler, C.A., Czeisler, M.E.,  Facer-Childs, E.R.,

Howard, M.E., Lane, R.I., Njai, R., Petrosky, E., Rajaratnam, S.M.W., Robbins, R., Weaver, M.D., Wiley, J.F. (2020). Mental Health, Substance Use, and Suicidal Ideation During the COVID-19 Pandemic-United States, June 24-30, 2020. CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 69(32), 1049-1057. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6932a1.htm 

Krafcik, M. (2020, July 17). Calls to suicide hotlines rise during COVID-19 pandemic. CW7 Michigan. http://cw7michigan.com/news/local/calls-to-suicide-hotlines-rise-during-covid-19-pandemic 

Miller, A.M. (2020, April 23). Coronavirus patients are suffering from anxiety and panic attacks. Experts worry the psychological effects could linger. Business Insider. https://www.businessinsider.com/coronavirus-patients-and-survivors-suffer-from-panic-attacks-anxiety-2020-4  Bertelloni, C.A., Bui, E., Carmassi, C., Cordone, Annalisa., Dell’Osso, L., Dell’Oste, V., Foghi, C., (2020). PTSD symptoms in healthcare workers facing the three coronavirus outbreaks: What can we expect after the COVID-19 pandemic. NCBI. https://dx.doi.org/10.1016%2Fj.psychres.2020.113312

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What is Infertility, and how is it caused?

Throughout the world, many women sadly tend to run into issues regarding fertility. Let alone in the United States about 10% of women *roughly 6.1 million* have issues specifically regarding the process of pregnancy.

But what is infertility?

Infertility can be described as the process of not being able to get pregnant after a year of trying. Infertility does not only apply to women but also applies to men. Over 1/3 of all infertility cases are due to men’s problems. Furthermore, in some cases women can get pregnant but are unable to carry out a full pregnancy can be infertile.

What are the causes of infertility?

Infertility can be caused by a broad spectrum of reasons. Some main reasons include:

  • Ovulatory Dysfunction: In order for a women to convict, an egg has to release from the ovary during ovulation. In the cases that a menstrual cycle is inconsistent, irregular, or does not ovulate at all, ovulation can be affected.
  • Uterine Problems: A fertilized embryo has to implant in the womb (endometrium) in order to grow. Abnormal uterine anatomy, fibroids, and polyps can affect this process and make it more difficult to occur.
  • Tubal Factor: When an egg has been released during the menstrual cycle, it has to be picked up by the fibril end of the Fallopian tube to then be transported down to meet the sperm. Thus creating fertilization in the tube. Past scarring or infections can affect the tubes and their potency, thus creating issues when it is time for the tubes to safely transport the egg and fertilized embryo.
  • Endometriosis: Endometriosis occurs when there is a presence of tissue on the outside the uterus. This tissue can cause scar tissue and lot’s of pain. As a result in a higher risk of infertility.
  • Age: Typically at around the age of 35 for women fertility decreases due to the lower quality and quantity of eggs.
  • PCOS: Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) can ultimately lead to infertility. This is because with PCOS menstrual cycles can become irregular or missed, causing the inability of fertility.

As infertility is prevalent in the United States, it is important to know if either partner is at risk or susceptible to infertility. An easy step to take precaution would be to make sure would be to make an appointment with your OB/GYN.

By: Olivia Katsura

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What Is The Menstrual Cycle? How Is It Important?

Overview

The woman’s menstrual cycle lasts anywhere from 27 to 31 days. Each month during the years between puberty and menopause, a woman’s body goes through a number of physical and hormonal changes in preparation for a possible pregnancy. This is the menstrual cycle.

During the duration of each menstrual cycle, eggs develop from the ovaries and the lining of the uterus thickens. If pregnancy does not occur, then the uterus will shed during what’s known as the period. Once the period is over, the cycle starts again. 

A woman’s menstrual cycle is divided into four phases:

  1. menstrual phase
  2. follicular phase
  3. ovulation phase
  4. luteal phase

The duration of each phase is different and can vary woman to woman.

The Menstrual Phase 

This is the first phase of the menstrual cycle and occurs when the mature egg from the last cycle isn’t fertilized. Because pregnancy has not occurred, levels of estrogen and progesterone are low, causing hormonal imbalances and other symptoms such as tender breasts, mood swings, and cramps. The thickened lining of your uterus (which would support the child during pregnancy) is no longer needed, so it sheds and exits through the cervix. During your period, a combination of blood, mucus, and tissue can be released through your vagina. Periods can last anywhere from 3 to 7 days, the duration varying in woman to woman.

Follicular phase

The follicular phase overlaps with the duration of your period as it starts on the first day you bleed. The phase ends when you start ovulation. It begins when a signal is sent to your pituitary gland to release follicle-stimulating hormones (FSH). This hormone stimulates your ovaries to produce around 5 to 20 small sacs called follicles, each containing an immature egg.

Normally, only the “fittest” egg will mature, but very rarely, there will be two. The rest of the follicles will be reabsorbed. The maturing follicle will then off a signal for estrogen, eventually causing the thickening of the lining of the uterus. This creates a safe and ideal environment for an embryo to grow. The average follicular phase lasts for about 16 days and can range from 11 to 27 days.

Ovulation phase

Ovulation is when a woman’s ovary releases an egg that has been matured. The egg will travel down the fallopian tube and towards the uterus. Next, it will wait to be fertilized by sperm. Rising estrogen levels during the follicular phase triggers the pituitary gland, which then releases the luteinizing hormone (LH). This is what triggers the start of ovulation. Contrary to popular belief that a woman can get pregnant anytime, the ovulation phase is actually the only time during a woman’s menstrual cycle in which one can get pregnant. 

Ovulation occurs right in the middle of a woman’s menstrual cycle and lasts about a day, the egg will die if it isn’t fertilized. 

Luteal phase

Once the follicle releases the egg, it will transform into changes into the corpus luteum (a mass of cells that forms in an ovary and is responsible for the production of the hormone progesterone during the phase of early pregnancy). The rise in hormones maintains the ideal thickness of the uterine lining in preparation for a fertilized egg.

If pregnancy does occur, then the production of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) will begin. This hormone will help maintain the thickness of the uterine lining and the structure of the corpus luteum.

If pregnancy does not occur, then the corpus luteum will shrink away and be resorbed by the body. This leads to decreased levels of estrogen and progesterone, which triggers the beginning of the period. The uterine lining will begin to shed shortly. Many experience symptoms such as:

  • Food cravings
  • Bloating
  • Headaches
  • Weight gain 
  • Mood changes

The luteal phase lasts for 11 to 17 days. The average length is 14 days.

End

Various factors can lead to a change in your regular cycle, such as:

  • Birth control
  • Pregnancy
  • Eating disorders
  • Stress

It is most important to remember that every woman’s cycle is different and that every woman should be making monthly visits to their health care provider.

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What is the OB/GYN? More Importantly, Why You Should Go

As us people with uterus’ start to mature and go through puberty it is important that we start to plan our first visit to the Gynecologist. A Gyno is a doctor who specializes in the biological functions of the reproductive system including … menstruation, menopause, and childbearing. Usually, you want to start seeing a Gynecologist when you are in the early stages of puberty (13-15yrs approx.) or when you become sexually active, whichever comes first. If puberty comes first, then your very first visit won’t cover much other than an overview of what to expect in growth and menstruation. Therefore if sexual activity comes first, your doctor should cover basic information, prevention, and treatment at the VERY LEAST. You are trusting them with your body and they should give you all the tools to stay safe and healthy. 

*virginity is a social construct, a gynecologist can’t tell if you have had sexual intercourse before*

An OB is a doctor who specializes solely in pre, during and post-natal care. They take care of all your pregnancy and family planning needs. Generally, you begin to see an OB when you want to get pregnant and all throughout your pregnancy. Most OBs are also Gynecologists, which is why you most often hear “OB/GYN” because these two specialties sort of go hand-in-hand. 

Some questions or concerns you might want to go in for might include… 

  • Birth Control
  • STD/STI Screening
  • Pap Smears
  • Pelvic Exams
  • Ultrasounds 
  • Abnormal Discharge or odor to the Vulva and/or Vagina
  • Cysts in the bikini area
  • Any questions or doubts you may have about your general health

Above all, you should always be 100% honest with your gyno. They are there to help you, not judge you. The more you give the more you will get out of your appointment. If for whatever reason you don’t feel comfortable with the doctor assigned you can always request another or go to a different establishment. In other words, it is important that you stand up and advocate for yourself. Don’t let them push you to do anything you don’t want to do, you come first.  

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10 Powerful Women Who Have Changed History

In honor of this month being women’s history month, we are here today to admire all the women before us in history. These women were just some who have contributed to powerful change in history. From politics to science, it’s a chance to reflect on the trailblazing women who directed the way for change.

  1. Ada Lovelace (1815-1852)

Through her work on the analytical engine, the world’s first digital computer, with a store, a processor, a memory, a sub-routing function, and all other essentials that are necessary for a modern digital computer. Ada Lovelace was best known for being the first computer programmer.

2. Florence Nightingale (1820-1910)

Best known as “The Lady with the Lamp”, Florence Nightingale, was a British nurse, statistician, and social reformer. She had constantly pushed for reform of the British-military health care system. Florence Nightingale is remembered as the founder of modern nursing and is also credited as one of the creators of the first versions of the pie chart.

3. Emmeline Pankhurst (1858-1928)

One of the most well known and influential women who pushed for the women’s suffrage movement in the United Kingdom, Emmeline Pankhurst, had founded Women’s Social and Political Union. She was imprisoned countless times due to her efforts. Regardless, Emmeline Pankhurst’s movement, the Women’s Social and Political Union, had granted British women the same voting rights as men.

4. Marie Curie (1867-1934)

(Original Caption) Madame Curie (1867-1934), noted physical chemist, poses in her Paris laboratory. Undated photograph.

A female Nobelist, Polish-born French physicist, Marie Curie, became the first women to ever win a Noble prize, receive the award in physics. In 1911, she had also become the prime winner of the Nobel Prize for chemistry. She is constantly remembered for all of the impressive work she has done for the world of science; such being her discovery of radium and polonium, and contributions to finding treatments for cancer.

5. Margaret Sanger (1879-1966)

Margaret Sanger, who was a women’s rights activist and nurse, had founded the first ever American birth control clinic in October of 1916. Sanger’s clinic at the time was illegal because contraceptives and information regarding them was not allowed under the Comstock Laws. Her clinic was raided by police later in the month, causing all the goods at the clinic as well as the staff to be arrested. Margaret Sanger did not give up there, as she persisted to keep her clinic open, but yet again it was raided twice more by police. A few years later in 1921, Sanger had formed the first American Birth Control League, which was recognized nation wide. The American Birth Control League was renamed later on and is now know was Planned Parenthood.

6. Elisa Leonida Zamfirescu (1887-1973)

One of the first women ever to receive a degree in engineering, born in Romania, Elisa Leonida Zamfirescu, had also become the worlds first female chemical engineer. While Elisa Leonida Zamfirescu had been dedicating hard work in laboratories, she had also participated in a field of studies discovering new resources of shale, natural gas, coal, chromium, bauxite, and copper. She is remembered as being a passionate engineer who worked long hours from day to night.

7. Amelia Earhart (1897-1937)

Amelia Earhart was the first woman to successfully fly solo through the Atlantic Ocean on an airplane in 1928. After the first trip across the Atlantic Ocean, which was over 20 hours long, she had won countless awards, published a best-selling book about her flight, and became an editor at Cosmopolitan magazine. In 1937, Earhart had attempted to be the first pilot around the world. She had successfully flew through Miami, Africa, Brazil, India, and Australia. Sadly, when Amelia Earhart had left New Guinea to U.S. territory, the plane had disappeared; and no trace of Amelia Earhart was ever found again.

8. Rosa Parks (1913-2005)

One of the most influential activists, Rosa Parks, was an African American civil rights activists who refused to give up her seat for a white man on a bus; she had revitalized the issue for racial equality. This was known around the world as the 1955-1956 Montgomery Bus Boycott in Alabama. Parks was arrested on December 1st, 1995. She is still remembered as the mother of the civil rights movement, and for all her courage regarding the systematic issue of racial inequality.

9. Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1933-2020)

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a well known women’s rights activist and the second female justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. In 1970, Ruth Bader Ginsburg had co-founded The Women’s Rights Law Reporter, which was the first journal ever to focus primarily on gender equality issues. In 1963, she was accepted for a job position as a professor at Rutgers University Law School. Years later in 1972, she began teaching in Columbia and became the first female professor at Columbia to earn a Tenure. She will be remembered as an ardent defender of justice, a activist for gender equality, and one of the most hard-working woman that the world of woman’s history has seen.

10. Valentina Tereshkova (1937-Present)

Valentina Tereshkova, a Soviet Cosmonaut, became the first and youngest woman to travel alone into space on June 16, 1963, abroad Vostok 6. After 71 hours and 48 orbits in space, she made history when returning to earth, by having spent more time in space than all U.S. astronauts combined to that date.

By: Olivia Katsura

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The Roots Of Feminism: A Powerful Fight For Equality

International Women's Day: 5 feminists on the future of feminism - Vox

What is feminism?

Feminism is the advocacy for the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes. Although feminism may seem relatively new, people have been advocating for women’s rights on the basis of equality among the sexes for about 300 years. Feminism has revolutionized the idea of equality over time. It’s ideologies revolve around respecting women’s identities, experiences, knowledge, and strengths by empowering all and ensuring that women have the same opportunities as men, with hopes of eliminating gender barriers.

What are the origins of feminism?

The modern feminist movement occurred as a result of the political and social changes throughout centuries. Although there are initiatives that sparked feminist ideas much before, one of the most notable instances in history was the publication of the “Vindication of the Rights of Women” by Mary Wollstonecraft in 1792. This argued for women’s rights to equal education. This was one of the first texts of the modern feminist movement and became a guide to the feminist movement years to follow.

First-Wave Feminism (19th century-mid 20th century)

What did it want?

  • Women’s suffrage
  • Allow married women to inherit property and obtain legal identity, independent from their husbands
  • Right to stand in elections
  • End employment-sex discrimination

What did it achieve?

  • Women’s right to vote
  • Property rights act
  • Freedom to stand in elections (despite their gender or marital status)
  • Broad sex discrimination legislation

Second-Wave Feminism (1960s/1970s)

What did it want?

  • Increased representation for women in the workforce
  • Equal pay
  • Maternity rights
  • End employment- gender discrimination
  • Legal/available abortion and contraception
  • Elimination of sexual objectification

What did it achieve?

  • Abortion legalization acts
  • Equal pay acts
  • Employment protection arts
  • Criminalization of marital rape
  • Recognition of domestic abuse

Third-Wave Feminism (1990s/2010s)

What did it want?

  • Increased number of women in positions of power
  • Focus on individualism and intersectionality
  • Trans rights
  • Workplace equality
  • Access to birth control and abortion

What did it achieve?

  • Refined ideas about gender, beauty, sexuality, and other issues
  • Brought attention to workplace sexual harassment
  • Violence Against Women Act

Fourth-Wave Feminism (2012-Present)

  • Focuses on sexual harassment, body shaming, and rape culture, among other issues with the use of internet tools
  • Uses print, news, and social media planforms to speak against abusers of power in seeking for the empowerment of women wanting justice against sexual assault and harassment

There is also a continuous fight for equality in the aforementioned areas as the past waves of feminism have evolved but not fully eliminated societal issues for women.