Summer 2022 is here, baby! Hot summer days! Warm summer nights! Mosquito bites! Outdoor concerts! Weekends spent by the pool! Sweating every time you step outside! Summer in Indiana is a wonderful time to get outdoors, soak up the sun, and have some fun. Whether you’re spending time outside or indoors behind your work desk, wearing sunscreen is a must every day this summer.

Most types of skin cancer are caused by ultraviolet, or UV, rays. These rays come from the sun and tanning beds. Direct sun exposure obviously exposes your skin to UV rays, but UV rays are getting to your skin even on a cloudy day. UV rays can also affect the skin through windows, reflect off water, and shine through your windshield while you’re driving. Because of this, experts recommend wearing an SPF 15 sunscreen every day, no matter the time of year or if you’re spending time outside. 

What does SPF mean in sunscreen?

Sun protective factor, or SPF, helps shield your skin from UV rays by either blocking and scattering the rays before they are absorbed into your skin, or by absorbing the rays before they can damage your skin. The number associated with the SPF (15, 30, 45, etc.) indicates how long it would take the skin to become irritated from the sun without the SPF. For example, SPF 15 means that with this protection, it takes 15 times longer for the sun’s rays to damage your skin. Score!

How often should I reapply?

Everyone regardless of skin type or color should wear sunscreen, except babies under six months. One ounce of sunscreen should be used to cover your whole body and should be applied 30 minutes before sun exposure, with reapplication of that same amount roughly every two hours. Your amount of sun exposure, the intensity of the sun where you live, and even your skin type can help determine what level of SPF is good for you.

What type of sunscreen should I use?

I have extremely fair, sensitive skin. Even in Indiana, SPF 30 isn’t strong enough for little ole me. I need SPF 45 or higher, and if I’m in direct sun, I need to reapply more like every hour. Experts recommend SPF 30 or higher if you’re in direct sunlight, and they recommend reapplying immediately after sweating or being in the water. 

Ideally, use a sunscreen that is “broad-spectrum,” or protects against UVA and UVB rays. UVB rays cause sunburn, while UVA rays cause tanning and premature aging to the skin (like wrinkling) as a result of sun exposure. 

How else can I get sun protection?

Wearing sunscreen sometimes isn’t enough if you are exposed to the sun for long periods of time, or somewhere where the sun is incredibly strong. You can wear hats to protect your scalp from the sun, as it is a little tricky to rub sunscreen into your hair and scalp. Sunglasses help protect your eyes and a portion of your face from the sun’s rays, while wearing layers of clothing to cover the skin can also help. When in doubt, seek shade. If the skin is red and irritated despite diligent sunscreen use, find a nice shady spot and let your skin rest for a bit. 

There are even sunscreens for different activities and parts of your body. There are sunscreens specifically for your face that are less oily and can be worn under makeup, and there are also sweatproof sunscreens that are great for being active.

Even if you’re staying indoors this summer, be sure to load up on the sunscreen to keep your skin protected and feeling good.

It’s 2022 and there are so many ways we can identify our sexuality and attraction toward others. Hooray! The Kinsey Scale, invented all the way back in 1948, helps people read examples of sexual attraction and identify what feels best for them. Although the Kinsey Scale was a great invention in sexual research and health, it does not accommodate all sexual identities. Asexuality, for example, isn’t on the scale, and is often forgotten about and misunderstood in the conversation about sexual attraction.

What is asexuality?

Asexuality describes a sexual orientation in which someone is not sexually attracted to anyone of any gender. Asexuality deals with sexual desire and is different than celibacy or consciously choosing to not have sex for a period of time. Asexual people do not feel an inherent sexual desire or attraction towards others. People that do feel sexual attraction are allosexual. 

As with any identity or sexual orientation, asexuality exists on a spectrum. Think of asexuality as an umbrella term with other identities underneath it. Some asexual people identify as “Grey-A” or someone that feels their attraction and desire is somewhere in between asexual and allosexual. There are also demisexuals, or people who need to feel a strong emotional bond with someone before ever feeling any sexual attraction. 

What are different types of asexuality?

Just because someone is asexual or ace, that does not mean they don’t want to find love or a relationship. Ace people still can feel romantic attraction towards others, and some ace people do have sex with their partners. Just like allosexual people, people choose to have sex for many reasons: to feel close to someone, to express their love, for fun, maybe we’re bored, to have an orgasm, etc. Asexual people can choose to have sex with their partner as a way to express romantic attraction, or as a way to care for their partner. There are some sex-repulsed asexual people, but that is another identity under our asexuality umbrella. 

How does attraction work?

I love reading and learning about asexuality because it makes me think of all the wonderful ways we can be attracted to someone. There is sexual attraction of course, but also romantic attraction. How does romantic attraction feel different than sexual attraction? There is intellectual attraction. Aesthetic attraction or simply recognizing that someone looks good. Platonic attraction. Emotional attraction. It’s so exciting to think about! Within yourself and your attraction, you can examine how all of these different factors help you feel sexual attraction. Which attraction comes first?

Someone that is asexual can still identify with types of romantic attraction as well, although, under our ace umbrella, there are some people who are aromantic or don’t experience romantic attraction. You can be aromantic and still allosexual, however. Someone could feel sexual desire or urges, but choose to fulfill those urges on their own or outside of a romantic relationship. A full list exploring different types of romantic attractions can be found here.

If you are questioning your sexuality or attraction, there are many resources online. Go to your local Planned Parenthood and have an information session with an educator there. Find forums online. If you are a student, find the LGBTQ organization or center on campus and find like-minded people to talk to. Asexuality and sexual orientation are beautiful, exciting things to explore.

The female reproductive system is a complex, beautiful thing. Most female sex organs are located inside the body and have many parts working together for you to menstruate and be able to carry and give birth to a baby if you choose. With so many systems working together, things sometimes don’t develop properly, as is the case with MRKH.

How does MRKH work?

Mayer-Rokitansky-Kuster-Hauser syndrome, or MRKH, is a rare disorder affecting about 1 in every 4,500 people assigned female at birth. MRKH causes the vagina and uterus to be underdeveloped, while external sex characteristics are present. MRKH varies from person to person, but commonly the vaginal canal won’t fully develop, resulting in a particularly shallow vagina, and the uterus and cervix will not fully develop or be present at all. Healthy ovaries are often still present in people with MRKH, however, as well as fully developed secondary sex characteristics such as pubic hair and breast tissue. 

How does MRKH affect someone?

There are two types of MRKH. Type 1 includes an underdeveloped uterus and vagina, keeping other organs around these areas healthy and functional. Type 2 can affect the kidneys, causing complications or kidney failure altogether.

Since someone with MRKH doesn’t have a uterus or cervix, they won’t ever have a menstrual cycle. MRKH is often diagnosed during puberty because of a lack of a menstrual cycle during someone’s teenage years or when other markers of puberty are present. Pain or difficulty during vaginal sex is also a way to help diagnose MRKH. Since the vagina is underdeveloped, it is often very painful for something to be inserted. MRKH will be officially diagnosed by a doctor after doing several tests, of course, but these are common indicators. 

What is the cause of MRKH?

The cause of MRKH isn’t completely known, although it is clear it’s a result of an underdeveloped Mullerian duct. The Mullerian duct helps develop the uterus, fallopian tubes, cervix, and upper portion of the vagina. The cause of problems with this duct is unknown, and MRKH does not appear to be inherited. The rarity of this condition also makes it hard to pin down a cause. 

Can someone with MRKH have a child?

Since a uterus does not develop if you have MRKH, carrying a child without medical intervention is not an option. If someone with MRKH does want to have a baby, though, there are alternatives. Since the ovaries can still be healthy, using a surrogate with your fertilized egg is an option. Some successful uterus transplants have also occurred, although this is a newer and less common procedure. This procedure takes the uterus of a deceased donor and transplants it into the patient needing a healthy uterus. As of 2019, only two babies in the nation have been born from successful uterus transplants. Although this is a newer option, it is very promising for treatment. 

How does someone with MRKH have sex?

If someone with MRKH doesn’t want to have a baby but wants to treat pain with penetration, they can use dilators to slowly stretch their existing vaginal tissue over time. Dilators are wand-like tools that you slowly put into the vagina, increasing the size of the dilator over time to slowly stretch the vaginal tissue. Dilators are also a great tool for treating pain with penetration for people that don’t have MRKH. Some people will also undergo vaginoplasty surgery, where the vaginal tissue is reconstructed by a doctor. Medical treatment isn’t necessary though if you are able to find other ways to enjoy pleasure and sexuality without vaginal penetration. MRKH does not need to be surgically treated, it is of course, up to the patient.

Although people with MRKH don’t menstruate, sometimes they might still feel menstruation symptoms. They can seek treatment for this as well. It is totally possible to live a healthy, fulfilled life and even reproduce safely with MRKH. 

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.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Hooray! Mental health relates to our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. We feel our mental health through the way we think, feel, and act, as well as how we handle stress and relate to others. Everyone at every age and stage of their life has mental health. Similar to how you have to maintain your physical health, mental health should be actively worked on as well. You eat fruits and vegetables and move your body for your physical health to feel good, and you should give that same care to your mental health as well. Here are some ways you can work to maintain your mental health.

1. Therapy

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again—everyone can benefit from therapy! You don’t have to wait for trauma or tragedy to happen before seeking out therapy. And when you do seek out therapy, it does not mean you’re broken or “crazy.” I like to think of therapy as a mental health check-up or physical for your brain. There are all different types of therapy, including online therapy, art therapy, talk therapy, or EMDR. If you’re interested in therapy, ask your primary care physician for a recommendation, go to your school’s counseling center if you’re a student, or look for therapists in your area on

2. Movement

Moving your body is not only good for your physical being, but it’s great for your mind. Light exercise or movement can help improve your mental health or offer a respite from anxious thoughts. Go for a 30-minute walk. Take a yoga class. Dance around your apartment. Getting out of your head and present in your body is great for clearing the mind and getting your heart rate up.

3. Nutrition

Food is like medicine. If you are feeding yourself fresh foods like fruits and vegetables, you’ll likely feel good mentally as well. Of course, comfort foods to help soothe us in times of distress are helpful and sometimes essential, but eating food that is healthy for your body can also help clear the mind. I notice that if I only eat bread, sugar, or junk food without any vegetables for a few days, I feel tired and slow. You can of course consult your doctor for more specific information on what foods might help lift your mood specifically, but overall incorporating fruits and veggies into your diet will help with your mental health as well.

4. Meditation

Meditation and breathwork are proven to help regulate your nervous system and calm the mind. Meditation apps (my favorite is Headspace) offer guided meditations for an affordable price, but you can also look up guided meditations on YouTube for free. If you’re just getting started with meditation, I would recommend starting with guided ones, as the facilitator walks you through the various breathing techniques. 

Without getting fully into guided meditations, simple breathing techniques throughout the day can also help ground you and regulate the nervous system. A box breath or four-part breath is commonly used to calm an anxious mind. To begin, imagine a box or rectangle in your mind’s eye. Starting at the bottom left corner of the box, inhale for four breaths, moving up to the top left-hand corner. Exhale for four breaths, moving across the box to the top right-hand corner. Inhale for four, moving down to the bottom right corner. Exhale for four, moving back to where you started. Repeat as many times as you need.

5. Reach out to a friend

Talking with friends and loved ones about our lives and our struggles is really good for our mental health. It reminds us that we’re not alone and that we have people that care about us.

If you are struggling with your mental health, there are resources available. You can visit the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI), or call the national suicide prevention hotline (800-273-8255) in a time of need. If you are struggling with your mental health, you are not alone. Reach out.

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. 

I first learned about doulas and midwives when I watched the documentary The Business of Being Born. This documentary follows expecting parents and gives information on hospital births and home births, comparing and contrasting the two. If you’ve never heard of either of these roles, it can be easy to conflate the two. Although doulas and midwives can work together to facilitate an at-home or hospital birth, they play slightly different roles in the birthing process.

What is a midwife? 

Midwives are certified medical professionals who receive training that enables them to perform gynecological exams, prenatal care, family planning consultations, and delivering a baby. Essentially, anything that a gynecologist would do, a midwife can be certified and trained to do as well. Some midwives are even certified nurses as well. The main difference between a midwife and a traditional labor and delivery doctor is that midwives strive to facilitate “natural” or unmedicated births as much as possible, as long as conditions are safe. Because of this, midwives often are used for at-home births, although they could also deliver in a less traditional hospital setting as well. 

When hiring a midwife, it’s common for many expecting parents to also consult with their doctor and have a backup birthing plan for the hospital if there are complications with the home birth. It’s also important to note, between the midwife’s training and your doctor’s training, if there are any complications prior to birth that indicate an at-home, unmedicated birth would be dangerous, the midwife will assist you and your doctor at a hospital. 

What is a doula? 

Midwives assist with all of the medical support during pregnancy and labor, while doulas facilitate all of the emotional support during pregnancy, labor, and sometimes after labor as well. Doulas are trained in nonmedical techniques to assist during pregnancy and labor such as massage, meditation, alternate labor positions, and breathing techniques to assist during birth. Doulas can also advocate for you during birth, communicating your birth plan and desires to your doctor or midwife to ensure you get the birthing experience you want. 

For example, if you are experiencing a great deal of pain during labor, and your doctor dismisses the severity of the issue, your doula is there to advocate for you to ensure you get the care you need. Doulas can also help during the postpartum period as well, assisting with learning to breastfeed and helping you manage any hormonal changes, anxieties, or depression you might feel. 

Working with both doulas and midwives

Some people work with both a midwife and a doula, while others use a doula with their doctor, or just a midwife. Whatever option provides the most support and comfort during pregnancy and childbirth is the way to go. The training for midwives and doulas is quite different, as midwives have medical training, and doulas are trained for emotional and physical support. 

Hiring a doula or midwife to assist in your pregnancy, labor, and postpartum experience may relieve stress and provide immense support for you and your partner or family during the process.

If you spend any time on the Internet, you’ve probably seen various posts and articles on social media about “self-care.” Pictures of people at the spa, in some complicated yoga pose, or sipping a drink with an umbrella in it on the beach often accompany these posts.

What is self-care?

According to, self-care is “any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health.” Common examples of self-care are things like exercising, eating well, or meditating. 

With all of the hubbub around this concept and Instagram posts of people soaking in a bubble bath with a flute of champagne, you might be thinking “that doesn’t seem relaxing” or “I don’t have the money or time for that!” So if you’re seeing articles and pictures of people practicing self-care in a way that seems unmanageable or stressful for you, don’t fret! The most important thing about self-care is that it feels good to you. Self-care can look different for everyone, and that’s okay.

What are some examples of self-care?

For example, the popular and ever-growing trend of baby goat, cat, or puppy yoga might be cute and fun for some, but it sounds awful to me. I love yoga, but I don’t want any little animals scurrying around me and jumping on my back while I’m trying to relax. No thanks.

Self-care can be something as simple as taking two minutes in the morning to put some gel in your hair. Or taking the time to floss to keep your gums healthy. Self-care is all about making intentional time to care for yourself in any way you can.

Practicing self-care in daily life

Self-care can be incorporated into your day-to-day life in simple ways. Whether that is making your lunch the night before so you feel less rushed in the morning before work, or turning on your favorite album and applying a face mask. It could be going for a walk, cooking your favorite meal, or grocery shopping during the least busy time of day to avoid stressing out. Self-care is a way to look out for yourself so you feel better and have a chance to recharge. 

Outside of your day-to-day life, grand gestures of self-care are great, too like taking a vacation or finally buying that fancy moisturizer you’ve been saving up for. You’re taking time to set yourself up for success and to feel good, and that’s what it’s all about.

Some of my favorite self-care

My all-time favorite thing to do for self-care is watching reality television. I love turning my brain off, cozying up on the couch, and letting the cast of Vanderpump Rules or the Real Housewives entertain me for 45 minutes. I also enjoy having a morning and nighttime routine to help me prepare for the day and then wind down once it’s done. I love walks and spending time people-watching and reading in coffee shops.

There’s no one right way to practice self-care, but there are wrong ways. If you doing things you think people are “supposed” to do as part of a self-care routine, but it actually feels unproductive or even stressful to you, cut it out! Do what feels good, restorative, and manageable for you.

So brew yourself a cup of tea, turn on The Real Housewives of New York, and relax! Or go for a run, or rock climb, or meditate, or do yoga with some goats. Do what feels right and be gentle with yourself.

March is Endometriosis Awareness Month. Endometriosis is a condition when the tissue lining the inside of the uterus that is usually shed during menstruation, grows outside of the uterus. Oftentimes endometriosis can be treated with hormonal birth control or surgery to remove excess uterine tissue. In some extreme cases, however, a hysterectomy is performed to treat severe symptoms of endometriosis.

What is a hysterectomy?

A hysterectomy is a surgical procedure where the uterus is removed. A hysterectomy can be done to treat uterine fibroids, a uterine prolapse where part of the uterus slides into the vagina, endometriosis as mentioned above, chronic pelvic pain, abnormal vaginal bleeding, adenomyosis (a thickening of the uterus), or uterine, ovarian or cervical cancer

What are the different types of hysterectomies?

Depending on the reason for the hysterectomy, different parts of the reproductive organs will be removed. In a supracervical hysterectomy, the upper part of the uterus is removed. A total hysterectomy removes the whole uterus and the cervix. A radical hysterectomy removes the entire uterus, the cervix, the surrounding tissue, and the top part of the vaginal canal. A radical hysterectomy is less common than the other types and is used only when cancer is being treated and removed.  

Either an open hysterectomy or a minimally invasive hysterectomy will be performed. The type of hysterectomy performed depends on the surgeon doing it, and also the reason for the surgery, as well as the patient’s overall health. There are differences in healing time, as well as how invasive the surgery is, so it is important that the type of surgery best serves the patient and their condition. An open or abdominal hysterectomy is most common and includes an incision being made across the patient’s belly. The uterus is removed through this five- to seven-inch incision. Because the patient has to be surgically cut open, they often spend a few days in the hospital afterward for recovery. There will also be a visible scar on the patient’s belly as they heal. 

What is a vaginal hysterectomy?

A minimally invasive hysterectomy has a few different approaches. One minimally invasive option is a vaginal hysterectomy. This consists of a surgeon making an incision in the vagina and removing the uterus this way. Since the incision would be inside the body, there is no visible scar left behind. A laparoscopic hysterectomy is done using a laparoscope to guide the surgeon as they perform the hysterectomy outside the body. The laparoscope has a camera on the end and is inserted into a small cut made in the belly or belly button. The surgeon is able to remove the uterus by viewing the inside of the body through this camera. Wild!

A laparoscopic-assisted vaginal hysterectomy combines the two options listed above, using the laparoscope to help remove the uterus through an incision in the vagina. Because this procedure is less invasive and doesn’t require as large of an incision, the recovery is a little less intense. A minimally invasive hysterectomy is only a good option depending on the person and severity of the condition, which is why an open hysterectomy is much more common. 

What can you expect from the recovery process?

The recovery process after a hysterectomy is similar to recovery after any major surgery. An open hysterectomy requires about four to six weeks of recovery time. The patient needs to rest, refrain from physical activity, and shouldn’t do any heavy lifting during this time. For a minimally invasive hysterectomy, recovery time is similar but lasts about three to four weeks instead. After the hysterectomy, the patient should feel relief from the symptoms associated with whatever condition prompted the surgery. 

If the ovaries are still in the body after the surgery, the patient shouldn’t experience any hormonal changes. If the ovaries are removed, however, and the patient has not experienced menopause yet, they are now in menopause. The ovaries contain the eggs that are released every month that causes menstruation, so if you no longer have ovaries, you can no longer menstruate, thus entering menopause. Because of this, the patient will likely experience symptoms associated with menopause such as mood swings, hot flashes, change in sex drive, and vaginal dryness. These symptoms can be treated with hormone replacement therapy. If the patient is under the typical age when menopause usually begins (between 45-55), their doctor will very likely have them use hormones so they are better able to navigate these changes. 

No matter the type of hysterectomy, it is recommended to wait to have sex for at least six weeks as the body heals. Some patients might notice their pelvic floor feels weaker after this surgery, which can cause less control over your bladder, as well as loss of sensation during sex. Pelvic floor exercises or even pelvic floor therapy can help with the healing process as well. Kegel exercises are a great option to strengthen the pelvic floor.

Who should consider having a hysterectomy?

A hysterectomy is not taken lightly and is performed to treat uterine fibroids, a uterine prolapse where part of the uterus slides into the vagina, endometriosis as mentioned above, chronic pelvic pain, abnormal vaginal bleeding, adenomyosis (a thickening of the uterus), or uterine, ovarian or cervical cancer. Because the uterus is removed, it is no longer possible to experience pregnancy. Despite that consideration, hysterectomies help treat a variety of serious conditions and can be life-changing in terms of pain relief and cancer removal for those experiencing any of the conditions mentioned above. 

It is important to stay on top of your reproductive health. Women and people with uteruses should visit their gynecologist on a yearly basis, receive scheduled Pap smears, as well as physical exams. If you’re experiencing any severe pain abdominal pain or abnormal bleeding, contact your doctor right away. You should not have to live in severe pain due to your reproductive organs, and this intense pain could be indicative of something much more serious. Because reproductive organs are tucked away inside of us, it is hard to know what is going on without consulting a professional. Looking after your reproductive health is just as important as maintaining your physical health overall.