Indiana made headlines recently becoming the first state to vote on abortion legislation since Roe v. Wade was overturned in June. Many conservative states already had legislation, or “trigger laws” in place in the event Roe would be overturned, but Indiana is the first state to call a special session specifically to discuss reproductive rights for the state. 

What was the federal ruling on abortion?

Roe v. Wade overturned the federal right to abortion on June 24, leaving abortion legislation up to individual states. Before Roe was overturned, abortion was legal in Indiana up to 22 weeks gestation. Once Roe was overturned, Indiana lawmakers called a special session in which they determined a near-total ban on abortion in Indiana. It should be noted that the majority of Hoosiers, nearly 78%, are against these harsh bans.

What does the new abortion ruling in Indiana look like?

The special session lasted two weeks. The proposed abortion ban went through several iterations before determining that all abortion is illegal in the state of Indiana except in cases of rape, incest, fatal fetal anomalies, and when the life of the pregnant person is in danger. In cases of these exceptions, however, the abortion can only be performed up to 10 weeks gestation.

Earlier cases of this bill proposed a ban with these exceptions, saying that people 15 and under who fit the category of these exceptions had 12 weeks to seek an abortion, while people 16 and older only had 8. This earlier version also said that rape and incest survivors had to obtain an affidavit proving they had been harmed before receiving this medical care. That version was changed when the bill reached the House, however, leaving the 10-week exception, and no need for an affidavit. 

The final bill, known as SB1, despite being extremely restrictive, left the majority of Republicans wanting a stricter bill with absolutely no exceptions for rape or incest, no matter the age of the victim. No Democrats voted in favor of SB1.

What is the punishment for breaking this bill?

The bill also moved to terminate the licensing of abortion clinics in the state. Survivors of rape or incest, or pregnant people whose life is in danger must now seek an abortion before 10 weeks at either a hospital or outpatient surgery center. Practitioners who perform an illegal abortion can be charged with a Class 5 Felony, earning 1-6 years in prison, or up to a $10,000 fine. The person seeking the abortion would have any penalties, however. The bill goes into effect on September 15.

What are the expectations for this ruling?

Although the Republican lawmakers who voted for SB1 to pass all said this is a pro-life choice that will help women and babies, this bill will harm many people. The decision and reasoning behind seeking an abortion are incredibly nuanced and individual, something a single bill as restrictive as this cannot take into account. This bill says that if a child is abused and becomes pregnant, they only have 10 weeks to seek an abortion. Most people do not know they are pregnant until five or six weeks, and for others, it takes longer. If the pregnant person has irregular periods, for example, it can take longer to know you are pregnant. Or if you are a child who is being abused and doesn’t understand the gravity of the situation or how reproduction works, it could take longer to know you are pregnant. 

This law could potentially force a child who has been a victim of abuse to carry a child. If the child is young enough, their body likely would not be able to carry a pregnancy to full term, so being pregnant would put their life at risk. Could they still legally get an abortion in Indiana if they realize they are pregnant after 10 weeks even though staying pregnant and giving birth would likely kill them? It’s unclear at this point. 

Are there any exceptions?

The language in the bill making exceptions for when the life of the pregnant person is at risk is far too vague to allow abortion providers to act quickly in a life-threatening situation. Who decides when the pregnant person’s life is at risk? How close to death do they need to be “at risk” enough? Is the pregnant person’s mental health considered a factor? What if they experience suicidal ideation while pregnant? Is that “at risk” enough to seek a legal abortion in our state?

For example, the only way to treat an ectopic pregnancy is abortion, otherwise, the pregnant person will hemorrhage and die. This is a time-sensitive issue. What if someone shows up to the hospital, already bleeding, and has to wait for my doctor to call their lawyer to make sure them providing life-saving medical care is okay if it’s past the 10-week window? Indiana’s maternal mortality rate is the third highest in the country. It is alarming and dangerous that this restrictive bill lives in a state with such a high maternal mortality rate.

Can you travel to another state for an abortion?

Some people might question why abortion needs to be legal in a red state if it is legal in other places. Couldn’t a pregnant person travel outside the state to receive medical care if needed? Technically yes, but most people do not have the resources for that. In the example I mentioned above, a lot of the time, abortion can be extremely time-sensitive life-saving medical care. Someone would need medical attention immediately if there is an infection or hemorrhaging at risk. 

Most people do not have the expendable income to take time off work and travel to another state for a medical procedure. If the person seeking abortion already has children at home, it is unlikely that they can take time off work, pay for childcare, drive their car or take a bus across state lines, pay for a hotel room, and have the procedure, then make their way home. Because of these barriers, it is very likely that unsafe abortions will happen. You cannot outlaw abortion, you can only outlaw safe abortions. 

Reproductive rights affect everyone

Although this law is incredibly restrictive and does indeed affect all people with the capacity to get pregnant, it will disproportionally affect low-income people. The reality is, that reproductive rights affect everyone. Whether you have the capacity to get pregnant or not, reproductive rights affect your access to birth control and medical care. This law will likely have a ripple effect, affecting people’s healthcare, and affecting corporations’ involvement in Indiana. Indianapolis is known for hosting a lot of conferences, and people are predicting an adverse effect on Indiana’s economy. People predict that it will be hard to recruit businesses and corporations to invest in Indiana when reproductive healthcare here is unsafe. 

This bill goes into effect on September 15. Until then, abortions are still safe and legal in Indiana.

With the overturning of Roe v. Wade, leaving the legality of abortions up to the individual states, a lot of people have been saying that people with penises should step up and get vasectomies to help prevent unwanted pregnancy. Vasectomies are extremely effective at preventing pregnancy, and can sometimes be reversed, however, there is no guarantee that reversal will work. Let’s get the facts straight.

What is a vasectomy?

A vasectomy is a surgical procedure that prevents sperm from being in your semen, which prevents pregnancy. During a vasectomy, your doctor will cut or block the tubes in your scrotum that carry sperm, known as the vas deferens. This makes it so that no sperm makes its way to your semen, so when you ejaculate, the semen is free of sperm so pregnancy is not possible. There are two types of vasectomies: the incision method and the no-scalpel method. Both are quick and easy, and you usually will go home the same day. Vasectomies are nearly 100% effective at preventing pregnancy.

What changes after a vasectomy?

Because the vas deferens (the tubes that carry sperm to your semen) are blocked off, sperm cells instead stay in the body, rather than leaving through ejaculate. You’ll still have the same amount of semen after the vasectomy as you did before, and your experience of orgasm, as well as the taste of your semen, will remain the same. It does take about three months for the semen to be free of sperm, so if you have unprotected sex before those three months are up, it is still possible to get pregnant, as the sperm is still getting cleared out of the body. Use a backup method of birth control like a condom during this three-month window.

Most vasectomies are reversible, but not all

Because this is a surgical procedure, there is zero possibility for user error, making it one of the most effective forms of birth control. Although there has been a lot of talk about how vasectomies are reversible, that is not always the case. The type of vasectomy you get determines if it would even be possible to surgically reverse, and if it is possible, it is expensive and there is no guarantee you would be fertile again. Whether or not it can be reversed also depends on how long ago you received the surgery, and on whether or not your body has developed antibodies to your sperm. It’s possible that your immune system would try and attack your sperm after the reversal because it has become unfamiliar with it. In short, if you are getting a vasectomy purely with the intention to reverse it, don’t. There are too many risk factors that do not guarantee your fertility will come back.

Vasectomies as birth control

Vasectomies are designed to be permanent, so it is best to only get them if you know you do not want to produce biological children, or if you are done having biological children. If you think you or your partner would be a good candidate for this procedure, talk to your doctor. It is very fast, safe and super effective at preventing pregnancy.

If you are just wanting temporary and reversible birth control, unfortunately, there aren’t many options for men other than condoms until a male contraceptive pill becomes a reality. Hormonal birth control, IUDs, vagina condoms, and the ring are all options for female birth control that is 100% reversible. Talk to your doctor if you’d like to learn more.

What are fibroids you ask? Uterine fibroids are noncancerous tumors that grow in and around the walls of the uterus. An astonishing number of people get fibroids by the age of 50—80% of black women and 70% of white women, with large variation amongst other races. Unfortunately, the specifics for this large discrepancy between races is unknown, likely because research on women’s health is greatly underfunded, but I digress.

How do fibroids develop?

Fibroids develop during child-rearing age, affecting women as they enter their 30s and 40s, then dissipate after menopause once hormone levels decrease. Fibroids vary in size, some being only a few millimeters, while others can grow to the size of a watermelon. Because of this large range in size, each person with fibroids likely experiences different severity of symptoms. Someone with smaller fibroids might not even know they have them, having little to no symptoms, while someone with multiple or large fibroids could experience a range of pretty intense symptoms. These symptoms unfortunately are very similar to that of PMS, PMDD, or anything related to menstruation and reproduction. 

What are the symptoms of fibroids?

Symptoms include heavy bleeding, feeling full, an enlarged lower abdomen, pain during sex, low back pain, frequent urination, complications during pregnancy and labor, and reproductive problems such as infertility. Because these symptoms are so similar to things we might regularly experience during our menstrual cycle, a lot of people will have fibroids and not even know it. Menstrual pain is often dismissed by the person experiencing it, or even worse, by doctors. We are often told it’s just our period and that we should just accept the discomfort because it’s no big deal. You know your body best – if something doesn’t feel right or if you are experiencing any of these symptoms, go see your doctor.

What are the risk factors?

Although the exact cause of fibroids is unknown, there are a few factors that put some people at higher risk. As I mentioned before, age plays a role in when fibroids might pop up. If you will get fibroids, they will be most common during your 30s and 40s when you are in the throes of your reproductive age. Family history plays a role as well. If you have a family history of fibroids, you are more likely to have them yourself. If someone’s mother had fibroids, they are three times more likely to experience it themselves. As I mentioned before as well, black women are more likely to develop fibroids than women of any other race. Unfortunately, the research is not here to explain exactly why, doctors have just noticed this as a pattern. People that are overweight are also at a higher risk for developing fibroids, being two or three times more likely than the average. People who eat a lot of red meat and ham also have a slightly higher risk of developing fibroids, and finally, a lack of vitamin D can put you at higher risk of developing them as well. 

What are the types of fibroids?

There are four types of fibroids, and the type and size determine the type of treatment needed, if any. Submucosal fibroids are the least common type of fibroids. These grow inside the uterus in the space where a baby would grow during pregnancy. This type causes heavy bleeding when present. Intramural fibroids grow inside the muscular wall of the uterus, embedding themselves in the sides of the womb. This type causes heavy bleeding or pressure on the abdomen. Subserosal fibroids are outside of the uterus but are connected to the outside wall of the uterus. Pedunculated fibroids are also less common and grow on the outside of the uterus along a thin stem keeping the tissue connected.

How are fibroids diagnosed?

Fibroids are diagnosed during a pelvic exam, so make sure you are seeing your gynecologist regularly! Even if you don’t have any symptoms, you should see your gynie regularly, every 1-3 years, depending on your age and family history. Once fibroids are diagnosed, the treatment depends on the type of fibroids you have, as well as how large they are. The size of fibroids can gradually change depending on hormone levels in your body at any given time. When you are pregnant, for example, your hormone levels are higher, so fibroids might grow. During menopause, hormone levels drastically drop, so fibroids will shrink or even disappear. If you are having mild or no symptoms, your doctor may just recommend monitoring your fibroids over time, and not taking any action for treatment just yet. If you are experiencing severe symptoms or develop anemia from bleeding too much, intense pain, or experience fertility issues, treatment is recommended. 

How can fibroids be treated?

Oral medication is often a treatment for fibroids, and works for mild cases. Iron supplements, birth control pills, and gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists can all help manage symptoms. Birth control pills help by decreasing heavy bleeding and menstrual cramping. GnRH agonists is a medication taken through nasal spray or injections that shrinks your fibroids. It only temporarily shrinks them, so it must be taken regularly. A new medication called Elagolix has been approved to be used for up to two years to relieve serious symptoms, but after 24 months, it can cause bone thinning, so it can only be used for this specific amount of time. 

In some cases, surgery is the best treatment option. A myomectomy is a surgery where the fibroids are removed without harming the uterus, maintaining the ability to get pregnant if that is important to you. If you do not plan on getting pregnant, or if your fibroids have caused infertility issues, a hysterectomy is another option. A hysterectomy is a surgery that removes part or all of your uterus. 

Because fibroids are so common but rarely talked about, the month of July is dedicated to educating people about them. Organizations like The White Dress Project also exist to bring people together to find a sense of community and offer a chance to educate other people about fibroids. If you are in pain, experiencing any of the symptoms I mentioned, or think you might have fibroids, contact your doctor. You do not need to live with this pain. There is treatment, and you can still get pregnant and have a healthy and pleasurable sex life with fibroids. Talk to your doctor and check out organizations like The White Dress Project to learn more.

It’s 2022 — it’s about darn time we had some hormonal birth control for men! Sure, condoms are a great option for birth control because they are non-invasive, cheap and accessible, reversible, and one of the only types of contraception that protects against STDs, but we need more options. It doesn’t seem fair that people with uteruses have the burden of taking hormonal birth control to prevent pregnancy when it also takes sperm to cause someone to get pregnant. Clinical trials for developing male contraceptive pills have been in the works for years, but a recent study makes this seem even more promising. 

Initial trials with the drugs DMAU and 11-beta MNTDC both seem promising. These drugs work similar to how hormonal birth control pills for women work – they suppress sex hormones to make you less fertile while you are taking them. Both of these drugs have similar properties to androgens, which are male sex hormones. They also are similar to progesterone, which is also a male sex hormone. Female birth control pills work by producing synthetic estrogen and progestin, which is a synthetic form of progesterone. Male birth control pills strive to do the same. 

How would male contraceptive pills work?

The goal of the male birth control pill isn’t to suppress fertility so much that men produce zero sperm when they ejaculate, but rather, the goal is to decrease the number of sperm in each ejaculation while on the pill. An ejaculation with fewer than 1 million sperm in it would create a similar effect to how female hormonal birth control works. 

What do recent studies show?

During the study, a group of men were given placebo pills, while another group was given either two pills or four pills per day for 28 days. The men’s testosterone levels were measured throughout the process, indicating if the sperm count was in fact being limited. During the trial, there were no adverse side effects, and the testosterone levels decreased as the doctors wanted. Because the half-life of sperm is about three months, men wanting to take either of these hormonal birth control pills would need to be on the pill for three months before it would be at its highest efficacy. This is very similar to female hormonal birth control, as most pills require you to be on them for one month before they are at full efficacy. 

More research is required, as this was just the first phase of these trials. Researchers hope to extend the length of time men are taking these pills to see if that changes the efficacy at all. This is great news, and a great step forward to providing more options for birth control and family planning, especially with the overturn of Roe v. Wade. 

How would we use male contraceptive pills?

Assuming the future trials are effective and hormonal birth control for men becomes a reality in the future, I would still recommend using two forms of birth control to prevent pregnancy. If I was in a monogamous relationship with a man who was on the pill, I would trust he was taking it as needed for preventing pregnancy, but I would not blindly trust that someone I was casually seeing was necessarily diligent in taking it. Similar to not trusting that someone will definitely have condoms if you go home with them at the end of a date. 

Having hormonal birth control available for men would be a game changer and would allow men to be active participants in their own family planning. It would also relieve some of the burden from women being the only ones ensuring they don’t get pregnant. Here’s to hoping the next phase of clinical trials is successful.

You may have heard about the monkeypox virus outbreak, and if you’re anything like me, you immediately became concerned, worrying we’re on the brink of another global pandemic. Fear not, dear reader, because monkeypox, while contagious and currently going around, is not fatal or even nearly as contagious as smallpox.

Monkeypox is a virus that is part of the smallpox family, but it has milder symptoms and is far less contagious than smallpox. It is also very rarely fatal.

What are the symptoms of monkeypox?

Symptoms of monkeypox include fever, headache, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills, fatigue, and finally, a rash with pimple- or blister-like bumps that is red and itchy. It can appear anywhere on the body, including the face, inside of the mouth, hands, feet, chest, genitals and anus.

How is monkeypox spread?

Monkeypox is spread from close skin-to-skin contact with someone who is infected with the virus. The virus is spread through direct contact with someone’s rash, scabs, or body fluids. It’s not yet clear if monkeypox can be spread through semen or vaginal fluids, so it isn’t yet considered a sexually transmitted disease, even though it is spread through close contact. It can also be spread through respiratory secretions from face-to-face contact or during physical intimacy such as kissing, cuddling, or sex. 

You could also possibly get the virus by touching clothing that has been on the rash of the infected person. Pregnant people can also spread it to their fetus through the placenta or during birth. You can also get monkeypox from an animal that is infected. Monkeypox can spread from the onset of the rash, all the way through the end of symptoms. 

What is it like to have monkeypox?

People infected with monkeypox are sick typically for 2-4 weeks. It is best to isolate while you’re infected since it spreads through skin-to-skin contact. You can visit your doctor to get an official diagnosis and perhaps get topical treatment such as ointment for the discomfort and itching. To get diagnosed, visit your doctor where you’ll receive an examination where they will ask you questions about your health history, look at the rash, and either take a sample of the tissue or perform a blood test. Usually, symptoms are mild enough that no further treatment is necessary other than ointments and physically isolating so you don’t spread it.

There has been an outbreak of monkeypox in the United States this summer, so the CDC has been monitoring it. The U.S. usually doesn’t experience outbreaks of this particular virus. Since the symptoms have been so mild, the CDC recommends isolating until you are better, but in some cases, they will administer a monkeypox vaccine.

If you know someone who is currently infected with monkeypox, keep your physical distance from them until they are better. Wash your hands often. If you begin experiencing symptoms with a rash that looks like monkeypox, contact your doctor immediately, even if you don’t know if you’ve been in contact with someone who has monkeypox. Although the U.S. is experiencing an outbreak, the good news is it is mild in most cases and will clear up on its own with time. Stay isolated and use topical ointments to treat your symptoms until you are healed.

On May 2, reported that an initial draft majority opinion from the Supreme Court had been leaked. This draft opinion stated that the Supreme Court will vote to overturn Roe V. Wade. This is a draft, meaning this overturn has not happened yet, but it is very likely, almost certain, that it will a few months from now when it is finalized by the Court. 

What is Roe v. Wade?

Roe v. Wade is a 1973 case that federally legalized abortion in the United States. Overturning Roe v. Wade would make abortion illegal federally, meaning that it would be up to each individual state to determine its own abortion laws. This is incredibly alarming for reproductive health, as well as the safety and health of people with uteruses. 

Experts are concerned for many reasons, based on the logic in the draft. The arguments the draft uses with its case to overturn Roe deal with a person’s right to choose. This same logic could potentially be used to overturn same-sex marriage, as well as interracial marriage in the future, although, at this point, that is just speculation.

Where have we seen this before?

Over the last several years, we have seen states enact incredibly strict abortion laws, such as the law in Missouri attempting to make it illegal to seek an abortion to treat an ectopic pregnancy (the only treatment for this type of pregnancy), as well as harsh laws in Texas and other conservative states making it illegal for someone to seek an abortion after only six weeks. Many people don’t even know they are pregnant after six weeks, and abortion is safe anytime within the first trimester, which is much longer than six weeks. If or when this draft passes, what does this mean for reproductive health?

How could this change reproductive rights?

This proposed overturning of Roe is troubling for many reasons. Many people and lawmakers that oppose abortion and seek to enact strict laws making seeking an abortion difficult identify as “pro-life.” If someone has an ectopic pregnancy, a non-viable pregnancy when the fetus grows outside of the uterus, the only treatment is an abortion. If the pregnant person does not abort the non-viable fetal tissue, it will rupture and they will most likely die. If someone is raped or a victim of incest, I would argue an abortion would be life-saving for the victim. Both of these examples directly contrast the pro-life argument. 

Why is this a matter of safety?

Before Roe, people were still having abortions, they were just incredibly unsafe. Women would use coat hangers or other sharp objects to try and puncture the cervix and abort on their own. Oftentimes these women would hemorrhage and die. Roe guarantees access to safe and legal abortions where women could make the choice, for whatever reason, to safely end a pregnancy without threatening their health. In fact, in the United States, abortion is safer than giving birth. Overturning Roe would threaten that. 

What could it mean if Roe is overturned?

With the federal law being overturned, it would be up to each individual state to make its own abortion laws. This likely means that conservative states would make abortion illegal or enforce strict laws about when someone can have an abortion, while more liberal states would stay legal. I am of course speculating, as this hasn’t gone into effect yet. If someone in a red state wanted to seek a legal abortion, they could potentially receive one if they traveled to a blue state. 

This might sound like a minor inconvenience, but it is not. In order to travel to another state for this procedure, you’d need to be able to take time off work, have access to a car, as well as money to pay for a hotel room in this other state. If you already have children, you need money to pay for childcare, or money to have a large enough hotel room so they can come with you. What if your job doesn’t give you time off, or taking a day off and traveling to another state means having to choose between making your rent payment or being forced to give birth? Privileged, wealthy women will still be able to access abortion once this goes into effect, but there are so many women who will not have that privilege. 

Could this affect contraception access?

I also worry that this will cause other laws not based on science regulating women’s reproductive health to go into effect. Louisiana is speculating about criminalizing IUDs and Plan B as part of their new abortion bill changing the state’s legal definition of human life. IUDs and Plan B, as well as every other type of birth control and emergency contraceptives, do not abort an already fertilized egg or fetus. These contraceptives prevent fertilization and implantation in the uterus from ever happening, meaning they prevent pregnancy. Period. Contraceptives are literally not abortion, however, conservative male lawmakers don’t seem to care about science. 

Having varying opinions on whether or not you as an individual would have an abortion is your right. You know what is best for you and your body. Male politicians who will never have the experience of being pregnant should not have a say in creating laws that force pregnancy and birth. The right to choose what we do with our bodies is just that – a right. Reproductive rights affect everyone, whether you have the capacity to get pregnant or not. If you have sex with people that can get pregnant, this draft affects you too. Overturning Roe v. Wade will not stop abortions. It will only stop safe abortions. This will kill women. Comprehensive sex education, as well as access to free or low-cost contraceptives, will stop abortions.

Here is the full Politico article outlining the specific arguments the Supreme Court used in its draft. If you have questions about abortion or reproductive health care, ask your doctor or visit Planned Parenthood. Those are both great resources for reproductive healthcare, even if you just have questions.

Warning: This article defines sexual assault and discusses examples of sexual assault.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. According to RAINN (the largest anti-sexual violence organization in the nation), sexual assault refers to “sexual contact or behavior that occurs without explicit consent of the victim.” This can include anything from unwanted touching to being forced to perform sexual acts on someone else, to rape. No matter the definition or act of sexual violence, it is never the victim’s fault. 

How common is sexual assault?

Every 68 seconds, someone is sexually assaulted in the United States. Despite this violence being so terribly common, only 25 out of every 1,000 rapists end up in prison for their crime. Because this violence is unfortunately so common, Sexual Assault Awareness Month is important to draw attention to conversations around consent, supporting survivors, as well as how to report an assault. Sexual violence is an umbrella term that encapsulates all forms of sexual assault and abuse. 

What constitutes sexual assault?

The exact definition of what legally constitutes sexual assault varies from state to state. Sexual violence includes sexual assault, intimate partner violence, incest, date rape, and child abuse. Other forms of sexual violence also include sexual harassment, stalking, coercion, revenge porn, plus several others. provides an immense amount of resources for survivors of sexual violence. They have statistics, examples, a free hotline, as well as other resources available for free. 

Sexual assault can be a big topic, and it can be hard to know what you as an individual can do to help. You can be informed about consent and practice it with all of your sexual partners, you can be an active bystander and intervene if you see something that doesn’t seem right, and you can be there for people in your life who disclose surviving abuse. 

What is consent?

Consent is when someone freely and completely agrees to something another person has proposed. In order to fully consent, the person consenting cannot be under the influence of any drugs or alcohol, they should not be coerced, and there should be no pressure whatsoever. The person is freely choosing on their own accord. Consent exists in everyday life and obviously in sexual relationships as well. 

Consent is ongoing and can change at any time, meaning just because you’ve had sex with someone before does not mean you have to have sex with them again. You are allowed to change your mind at any moment during a sexual encounter, and you are allowed to communicate that to your partner. The legal definition of consent varies from state to state, and horrifically, Indiana does not have a legal definition of consent., which makes persecuting sexual assault crimes much harder than it should be.

How can you help prevent sexual assault?

Be an active bystander by intervening if you are out and observe something that seems unsafe or not quite right. Step in when you see something not quite right. RAINN has a wonderful page on what you can do as a bystander if you notice something escalating that seems dangerous. They use the acronym CARE to provide a guide for bystander intervention. Create a distraction, Ask directly, Refer to an authority, and Enlist others. If your intuition leads you to believe the dynamic between two people seems alarming or unsafe, trust that. Create a distraction such as interjecting yourself in the conversation, then when you have a moment with the person you are concerned about, ask them directly if they are safe. Ask if they know this person who keeps talking to them. Ask who they came with. Interjecting as a bystander can be scary, and you might even think, “Oh it’s nothing, I’m just overreacting.” It is much better to overreact than to let something slide that doesn’t seem right. 

Be a source of support and love for survivors in your life. If a friend or loved one discloses they are a survivor of abuse, respond by saying something like, “Thank you for trusting me with this information. I love you. I’m here for you however you need me.” Ensure that they continue to feel safe sharing things with you by being supporting and showing you understand that sharing this information is a big deal. RAINN also has a wonderfully thorough page on its website with examples of how to respond in a supportive way if a loved one shares this information with you. 

We should be talking about sexual assault prevention every month of the year, but having April as a reminder is a good place to start. If you are experiencing or have experienced assault, call the RAINN hotline at 800-656-4673. It’s free and confidential. They also have a live chat feature on their website. Check out the rest of the site for more tools, examples, and information on support. You are not alone, and it is not your fault.

Infection and death rates for the Covid-19 pandemic have been steadily decreasing over the last few months, which is a relief to say the least. Mask mandates are being lifted, and people are more and more comfortable returning back to large gatherings and reintegrating into society. With the intensity of the pandemic slowing down, it might be easy to think that means vaccinations and booster shots are no longer necessary, but quite the opposite is true. 

How are vaccinations helping?

Vaccinations and booster shots are precisely why mask mandates have been lifted and infection rates are slowly declining. As coronavirus continues to exist in our society, it can be hard to know when to get boosted. How many boosters do you need? If I’m vaccinated, isn’t that enough? Don’t worry, dear reader. I’ve got the info for you. 

If you have not received your Covid-19 vaccine yet, I highly encourage you to do so. If you have questions or concerns, contact your doctor or pharmacist, and they can assist you. Once you do receive your vaccine, it’s time to think about your booster shot. The Covid-19 vaccine is given in one or two doses, depending on the kind of vaccine you receive. When to get your booster depends on the kind of vaccine you received, and when you received it.

What is the booster shot?

A booster shot is given as one dose, and it helps boost your immunity to coronavirus. Similar to how we get a flu shot every year to help protect us against the flu, booster doses help provide continuing protection against Covid-19. It is worth noting, however, that just because you are vaccinated and boosted, that does not mean you will never get coronavirus. The vaccine and booster ensure that if you do catch Covid-19, you will get less sick, and you will not require hospitalization due to the virus. Similar to how receiving the flu vaccine does not guarantee you won’t get the flu.

Getting the Pfizer vaccine

The Pfizer vaccine is available for everyone 12 years and older. It is given in two doses. The first dose is administered by your pharmacist or doctor, then the second dose is given about 4 weeks after the first dose. Anyone of any age is eligible for their first booster shot five months after they’ve received their full dose of the Pfizer vaccine. If you’re 18 years old or older, your booster shot can be either Pfizer or Moderna, as long as you receive the mRNA vaccine booster. If you are 12-17 years old, your booster shot must also be Pfizer. If you are 50 years old or older, you are eligible for a second booster dose at least four months after your first booster. For people under the age of 50, no word has been given yet on when they are eligible for a second booster.

Similar to the initial vaccine, the booster shot comes with some side effects. In my experience, my booster shot side effects felt like a less intense version of how I felt with my vaccine. I had a headache and body chills, as well as fatigue for a day, then I was back to normal.

Moderna vaccine details

The Moderna vaccine is available for everyone 18 years and older. Similar to the Pfizer vaccine, it is also given in two doses. The first dose is given, then the second is given about 4 weeks after the first. Everyone 18 and older is eligible for their first booster shot five months after their second dose of the vaccine. If your initial shot was Moderna, you can receive Pfizer or Moderna as your booster, as long as the booster shot is also an mRNA vaccine. Similar to Pfizer, adults 50 years old and older are eligible for their second booster at least four months after their first. 

The one-time Johnson & Johnson

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is available for everyone 18 years old or older and is given in one dose. You’re eligible for your booster shot at least two months after receiving your J&J vaccine. It’s recommended to receive either the Pfizer or Moderna booster for your booster dose. If you received the J&J vaccine for your vaccine and your first booster, you’re eligible for a second booster at least four months after your first, regardless of age. If you received Pfizer or Moderna as your first booster and you’re over the age of 50, you are eligible for your second booster at least four months after that first booster. 

How do you set up a booster shot?

When you’re ready to schedule your booster shot, you can contact your doctor if you have any questions or concerns, but you can schedule just as you did for your vaccine. I received both doses of my Moderna vaccine at my local pharmacy, so I received my booster shot at that same pharmacy as well. You can schedule your booster elsewhere if you’d like, depending on availability, but for peace of mind and ease, I used the same pharmacy for all three. You can schedule your appointment online with any local pharmacy. In the surrounding area, CVS, Walgreens, Meijer,  and Kroger all have doses available and easy online scheduling. Some pharmacies even have walk-in appointments available, depending on how many vaccines they have at a given moment. 

I imagine that as the months go on, more people will be eligible for their second booster shots. I also imagine that we’ll likely have to get our booster shot regularly, similar to how we get our flu shot regularly as well. Remember, just because you are vaccinated and boosted, that does not mean you will never get coronavirus, but it does drastically decrease the severity of the infection, as well as drastically decreases the chance of hospitalization or death. If we want to keep seeing mask mandates lifting and people safely gathering, we need to protect ourselves and our neighbors by receiving the vaccine and available booster doses. 

If you have any questions or concerns or are even unsure if you want to get your booster, call your doctor. If you have received your booster and know anyone who is wary, talk to them about your experience, and encourage them to protect their health and the health of those around them. 

Additional information can be found on the CDC website. 

A great thing about the internet is how quickly we can find new information, and how we are easily able to share information with others. An equally not-so-great thing about the internet is that anyone can share anything as if it’s fact and a bunch of people can see it. Recently I’ve seen a lot of stuff online and on social media about using boric acid suppositories to balance your vaginal pH and treat vaginal infections. Although I think sharing knowledge about vaginal health is super important and is a conversation that should happen more often, telling people on the internet to put medicine inside their vagina without consulting their doctor is not a good idea. 

What are boric acid suppositories?

Boric acid is a weak acid that has traditionally been used as an antiseptic to treat cuts and burns. Because it is acidic, it can also be used to help maintain a healthy vaginal pH. Your vagina has a natural pH balance between 3.8 and 4.5 and is naturally acidic. This pH can be thrown off pretty easily, however. Your menstrual cycle, a new sexual partner, unprotected sex, condoms, and scented soap or laundry detergent can all throw off your vaginal pH. Most of the time, our vaginas are able to adjust back to homeostasis, but if things get thrown off too much, that’s when an infection occurs. 

Boric acid suppositories can be used to treat yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis, and trichomoniasis (an STD). Yeast infections are usually treated with antifungal medication that can be taken orally or inserted into the vagina. Bacterial vaginosis or BV is usually treated with an oral antibiotic. Trichomoniasis is also treated with an oral antibiotic. Basically, boric acid suppositories have worked for some people as additional or alternative treatments for these infections, however, the evidence is not strong enough to say that this is a great treatment for anyone. 

When to ask your doctor about treatment

If you have lingering symptoms of a vaginal infection even after your initial treatment plan has been executed, ask your doctor before using boric acid suppositories! Putting a foreign substance into your vagina can be risky, so it is imperative you consult with your doctor to make sure it is safe for you to do so. Boric acid is available over the counter, whereas these other treatment options are not, so I assume that’s why it has gained popularity online. If your body responds positively to the suppositories, it can help alleviate symptoms of your infection and restore your pH. Side effects include burning at the vaginal opening, watery discharge, and redness around the labia and vagina. You cannot use boric acid suppositories if you are pregnant, as it is fatal for the fetus. It will also irritate any tears or wounds in the skin around or in the vagina. Finally, boric acid should never be ingested orally, as it is poisonous. 

If you want to try boric acid suppositories as an over-the-counter treatment for yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis, or trichomoniasis, please, please consult your doctor first. Do not put any medication into your vagina without talking it through with your doctor.

On March 10, 2022, Missouri state representative Brian Seitz proposed a bill that would make it illegal for women to have an abortion to treat an ectopic pregnancy. The only way to treat an ectopic pregnancy is to abort the fetus. If it is left untreated, the woman carrying the fetus could die. 

What is an ectopic pregnancy?

An ectopic pregnancy is when a fertilized egg implants somewhere outside of the uterus where it is supposed to grow. Most commonly, ectopic pregnancies occur in the fallopian tubes where the eggs are carried to the ovaries and uterus, but the fertilized egg can also incorrectly implant in the abdominal cavity or cervix. The fertilized egg will not survive in this kind of pregnancy, and if left untreated, the ectopic pregnancy can rupture, causing bleeding that is life-threatening to the mother. 

If someone is diagnosed with an ectopic pregnancy, it can be treated through an injection of a medicine that will dissolve the tissue of the egg. If there are other complications or the pregnancy was farther along, the tissue must be removed through a laparoscopic procedure. Both of these treatments are technically abortions, as they remove the tissue from the mother’s body. There is absolutely no way this tissue can grow into a child, and if it is left in the mother’s body, it will lead to a rupture and potentially kill the mother. There are literally no other options for treating this type of pregnancy, as it is not viable and is life-threatening.

What is the ectopic pregnancy abortion bill?

Despite all of this information, Mr. Seitz proposed HB 2810, making it a class A felony if a woman has an abortion after 10 weeks, or if she has an abortion to treat ectopic pregnancy. In Missouri, the jail time for class A felonies ranges from 10 to 30 years. Mr. Seitz’s proposed bill would literally kill any woman that had an ectopic pregnancy and resulting complications. 

When he presented the bill and was told that it is impossible to treat an ectopic pregnancy any other way, Seitz replied saying, “They don’t have the hospital machinery to tell if this is an ectopic pregnancy. They might just think it’s a normal pregnancy, and they want to abort that child. I would like to see that sort of unlawful activity stopped.” This is untrue. Ectopic pregnancies are diagnosed via ultrasound and blood tests. After receiving further pushback, Seitz claims that his bill was misrepresented. 

Making decisions about women’s health

Since this proposed bill is based on no medical facts and would quite literally harm the person who is pregnant, it is unlikely it will pass. It is still terrifying and incredibly frustrating that a bill like this can be proposed in the first place. Politicians should not make decisions about women’s health, especially male politicians who very clearly have no idea what they are talking about or know how the female reproductive system works. Medical decisions should be left up to the person being treated and their doctor. 

For a politician that claims to be pro-life, this bill is quite literally the opposite. It is dangerous for the woman with an ectopic pregnancy, and it is baffling that Seitz doubled down on his ignorance when questioned about the bill, proving he truly has no clue what he is talking about, nor has he considered the repercussions of this harmful and deadly bill.