Sexual Health Month
Sexual health can come in various forms, whether it is physical, mental, or emotional. During Sexual Health Month, we love offering tips and advice while encouraging our services. Sexual Health Month is an excellent time to reassess your sexual health and make some positive changes.
For your physical, sexual health, make sure you are using condoms to protect yourself from STIs. While condoms can also help prevent pregnancy, we suggest having a more permanent option in place for your birth control. At A Step Ahead, we prioritize giving women access to long-term reversible contraception. We also cover the“Well Women” testing, which includes: STI testing, pregnancy testing, insertion of the device, and a follow-up visit. We also provide free transportation to and from partnering clinic providers. These are all critical components to physical and sexual health, making sure you are protected from pregnancy and STIs.
For your mental, sexual health, you must be practicing safe sex with a partner who cares about your well-being. Suppose you are experiencing anxiety, depression, or any other abnormality to your mental well-being. In that case, it is crucial to assess if that comes from a toxic relationship with a sexual partner. Getting help from a professional can be crucial in keeping your mental health in tip-top shape.
For your emotional, sexual health, it is essential to understand your emotions and how they correspond with your sexual activity. Understanding your feelings for a sexual partner and making sure you are emotionally healthy is vital to lead a healthy lifestyle. Improving your emotional health can be improving your sexual health. If you feel safe and protected, then your emotions are more likely to be positive and productive.
Celebrate Sexual Health Month with our team at A Step Ahead East Tennessee, and utilize our resources if you are in need. At A Step Ahead East Tennessee, LARC birth control methods are the only methods we offer coverage for due to their high effectiveness rates, the little maintenance they require, and the health benefits they provide. Contact us today or visit our website for more information on how we can help you get the birth control you need at this time.
A Step Ahead Foundation of East Tennessee would like to take a moment to thank the East Tennessee Foundation for providing Neighbor to Neighbor Disaster Relief Funds. Their contribution provided critical support to our call center and facilitated our ability to offer education, resource connection, and financial assistance to women in need during the COVID-19 pandemic. Over 90% of the clients we served in 2020 reported losing their job and health insurance this year which made them feel especially concerned about becoming unintentionally pregnant. Clients have felt deeply relieved by our services and appreciate the guidance and thorough care of our call center staff. We appreciate the East Tennessee Foundation's support of our essential work in providing financial security and autonomy to women throughout our region.
Women’s Equality Day
Women in America and around the world have come a long way in the last century. This year celebrates the centennial for the 19th amendment, which gave women the right to vote. It seems crazy in 2020 to imagine women not having the right to vote since women demand equality in all whims of life. Women’s Equality Day is celebrated every August 26th and commemorates the passage of women’s suffrage in the U.S. In fact, Congress designated August 26th as Women’s Equality Day in 1971.
In the early 19th century, American women began organizing political groups to demand rights and representation. By the early 1900s, several countries, including Finland and the U.K., had legalized voting for women as the female movement took over the world. The 19th amendment was first introduced to the Constitution in 1878, but it took some convincing from thousands of women to persuade Congress into signing the bill. The deciding vote for the 19th amendment was made by a Tennessee man, Harry T. Burn, whose mother’s plea to support the movement changed history forever. He switched his vote at the last minute. Mothers really do know best!
If you’re a woman and reading this, we encourage you to celebrate this holiday by registering to vote! Women fought for decades to win the right to vote. Please do your part and honor these women and the sacrifices they made by registering to vote for this big election year. Another way to celebrate is to support women-owned companies. Lastly, make sure to thank all of the strong women in your life. A mother, a grandmother, a sister, a friend - take some time to thank them for all that they do for others.
At A Step Ahead East Tennessee, we are pro-women and fight for women to be equal every day! We prioritize women’s health and will always continue to do so. We offer free long-acting reversible contraceptives to women who cannot afford birth control. We even provide free rides to doctor’s appointments. If you would like to get involved or if you would like to request services from A Step Ahead, visit our website for more information.
Women begin using tampons around middle school and continue using menstrual products for, on average, 40 years of their life. That is … a long time. Also, that is a lot of tampons being bought and used - if you are a tampon user. Most girls choose the brands that their mothers keep in the house, or the commercials they see on TV. Now that we are in the age of influencers and Instagram ads, organic tampons have been promoted everywhere. From podcasts to social media, organic tampons are being advertised everywhere you look. So, if women have been using non-organic tampons for years, what are the benefits of switching over and leaving our loyalty to our favorite tampon brands? Here are some of the benefits of using organic tampons.
Keep those toxins out of your body.
It has been proven that conventional tampons may contain a host of toxicants, such as glyphosate, that might be used on non-organic cotton plants, various types of bleaches, pesticides, and synthetic materials. One word comes to mind when I think of that entering my body, and it’s “EW!” The numerous chemicals within tampons can become systemic, meaning they can circulate throughout the body. With organic tampons, it is 100 percent organic cotton, so you do not need to worry about chemicals that you can’t even pronounce entering your body.
Help the environment.
Since cotton is a natural fiber, it is compostable, unlike synthetic fibers used in non-organic tampons. If you are into composting, you can compost your organic tampons. Also, when shopping for organic tampons, you should look for biodegradable applicators. Between 100% cotton tampons to a biodegradable applicator, you are helping the environment during your time of the month.
Unscented and Sensitive.
Most organic tampons do not contain fragrance, which is great because it can prevent irritation. Unlabeled materials may be inflammatory to women with endometriosis, and the pH balance in the vagina can be disrupted, which can cause yeast infections.
Doctors have explained that the vagina is a thin, mucous membrane and absorbs toxins and chemicals more quickly than your outer skin. It is so important that we take care of all parts of our body, especially while menstruating. Luckily, organic tampons are not more expensive than regular tampons, thus making the switch is not taxing at all. If you have any questions about your cycle, contact the team at A Step Ahead East Tennessee, and we will answer all questions.
Shark Week. Carrie. Code Red. Girl Flu. And if you're a fan of Game of Thrones, you might refer to it as the Red Wedding. All of these sneaky nicknames women have created for their period week have one thing in common: flat out pain. There is some validation to these nicknames since women typically experience cramping, bloating, back pain, food cravings, headaches, and need I go on? This week is famous for being miserable for women, but why not take it and use it as an excuse to treat yourself and make it all about self-care? Sometimes it can be tough to set aside time to really stop and take care of yourself. That is precisely why your period week should be when you stop, slow down, and honestly give your body the love it deserves. We gathered some tips and tricks to turn your period week into a total self-care moment.
Instead of wine, opt for herbal tea.
After a long day, it is easy to grab some chilled wine, pour a glass, and turn on Netflix to unwind. Despite being a wine lover, you can admit that alcohol does not always make you feel the best, and there is no need to worsen your period symptoms by getting wine drunk on the couch. A total self-care moment is swapping the rosé out for an herbal tea. There are many great teas to choose from that will make your stomach not bloat as much, for instance, ginger or peppermint tea. Many health benefits come from herbal tea, which is a natural remedy for bloating, digestion, nausea, and cramping.
Turn on the heating pad AND Netflix.
There is nothing like laying in bed after a long day and turning on Netflix. Let's take it up a notch and add a heating pad to the mix. Sometimes lying on a heating pad is the ultimate self-care move. Even if you don't have back pain during your period, it is very relaxing and promotes heat therapy. Heat therapy boosts circulation, which then allows nutrients and oxygens to travel to joints and muscles. This, combined with Netflix, is an unstoppable duo.
Go crazy on the chocolate.
Experts say that chocolate contains magnesium, which can help alleviate cramps and increase energy. So they are basically saying chocolate cures cramps. Experts also say chocolate contains endorphins, which is the "happy hormone." So they are basically saying chocolate cures mood swings. All jokes aside, it is fascinating that there is some scientific evidence of health benefits in chocolate, and us girls will take full advantage of that during our period week. Go eat all the chocolate you want this week because you deserve it. The experts say so.
Give yoga a try.
As necessary as it is to get rest and give your body a break on your period, it is also essential to get a little bit of exercise. Yoga is the perfect middle of giving your body a workout, but one that is not a high-intensity exercise. Stretching and putting your mind at ease is hugely beneficial. Yoga is known to ease stress, bloating, and cramps, as well!
Try getting to bed an hour earlier.
It is normal to feel fatigued when you have your period. It is just another symptom that comes with menstruation. An ultimate act of self-care is allowing yourself to get a healthy amount of sleep. It is so easy to stay up all night on Instagram or watching TV, but if you make yourself power off the devices and focus on your sleep, you are sure to feel the benefits when you wake up.
We see it all the time on social media that it is important to practice self-care, but finding time in our busy schedules makes it hard. For women, our period week is the perfect time to unwind and give our bodies the rest and love it deserves. Being mindful of loving your body during the week when it is easy to hate it will bring more benefits than you can imagine.
National Women’s Health Week
Did you know that National Women’s Health Week is May 10th through May 16th? This is the 20th year that this national week has been recognized as an official week honoring women’s health. Take a look at some ways you can recognize or celebrate National Women’s Health Week this year.
At A Step Ahead East Tennessee, we prioritize women’s health above all. We offer free long-acting reversible contraceptives to women who cannot afford birth control. We even offer free rides to doctor’s appointments. If you would like to get involved or if you would like to request services from A Step Ahead, visit our website for more information.
Graduate First Program
At A Step Ahead, we value the quality of life of young women all across the world. We want women to be able to reach their full potential without any setbacks of an unplanned pregnancy. We think that women deserve the opportunity to have access to effective and long-acting birth control, even if they can’t afford it or don’t have insurance. In today’s world, having a successful future is significantly correlated with getting a college degree, and the statistics are staggering when we look at dropouts due to unplanned pregnancy. So, here is what we are doing.
The Graduate First Program is a program designed to educate, empower, and support young women in college. Here are some staggering statistics on college pregnancy:
We know that stepping up and speaking out can change these statistics for the better. That is why we offer free long-acting reversible contraceptives to women who are not financially capable of getting it themselves. These methods include IUDs and implants. With these methods, women don’t have to remember to manage their birth control daily, and this leads to much lower rates of college pregnancy. Many unplanned pregnancies in women who are on birth control happen because they simply forget to take their pill or change their patch.
If you are interested in implementing this program at your school or university, please contact us. We would love to give you more information and provide your students with the resources they need to be responsible and successful.
National Women’s History Month has been celebrated in the month of March since 1987 to celebrate and honor women in our country’s past, present, and future. Since women’s suffrage in 1920, women have been taking major steps in society to reach the level of respect and equality they deserve. It is somewhat disheartening that it has been an entire century since women earned the right to vote, and women still struggle to receive equal pay and many still experience some degree of sexism each and every day. In order to support and encourage the gradual, but significant, progress women have made over the last century, we celebrate women and their history in the month of March.
Here is a quick rundown of major steps women have taken since earning the right to vote in 1920. In 1932, Amelia Earhart flew across the Atlantic Ocean without stopping, by herself. Earhart was the first woman to do this, and only the second pilot ever to do so. In 1955, Rosa Parks did not give up her seat to a white man who demanded her to do so. This, in turn, sparked the civil rights movement, and within just one year, segregation was deemed illegal within the city bus system. In 1960, the FDA approved the first mass-produced birth control pill available to women across the world. Margaret Sanger and Katherine McCormick are to credit for this huge step in women’s health and women’s rights. In 1981, Sandra Day O’Connor was the first woman appointed to the United States Supreme Court. She was sworn in by President Ronald Reagan. In 1983, Sally Ride became the first woman from the United States to go to outer space. In 2007, Nancy Pelosi was named the first-ever female speaker of the house, and she still holds the title today. Finally, in 2016, Hillary Clinton became the first female candidate in any major political party to win in the presidential primary election.
Women have overcome so much, but as you can see, there are some very recent dates in this historical rundown. We have more work to do, we have more “firsts” to claim, and we have more norms to fight. The future for women is bright because women are strong and persistent fighters. Women deserve the right to make decisions for themselves and their own bodies, even if there are financial issues present. That is why at A Step Ahead East Tennessee, we offer birth control to women who do not have the funds or the proper insurance to afford it. We also offer rides to and from appointments, so women who don’t own a working vehicle can still get the medication they deserve. Learn more about our services on our website and find out how you can help in the fight for every woman to be the best she can be.
Practicing “safe sex” by using birth control only protects you from becoming pregnant. Birth control methods, such as IUDs or the implant, do not protect you from the risk of getting STDs. Therefore, it is important to add precautions beyond the realm of birth control to protect your body from contracting an STD. We have listed out 5 facts about STDs that are very important and not talked about enough.
STD Can Be More Common and Harmful for Women
It is the simple anatomical structure that makes women more susceptible to getting STDs and men more likely to transfer them. Also, STDs can have more detrimental effects on women versus men. Some STDs, if gone untreated, can cause severe inflammation and sometimes even infertility for women. Also, if a woman contracted syphilis or herpes while pregnant, these diseases could be deadly to the infant.
You Can Contract an STD Without Having Intercourse
STDs can easily, and are actually often, transmitted through oral sex since sexually transmitted infections are carried in semen and vaginal fluids. It is very important to take precautions before engaging in oral sex.
There is Not a Cure For All STDs
Unfortunately, not all STDs can be cured. They can, however, be treated. It is important to get tested regularly for STDs because an early diagnosis and early treatment can significantly lessen the severity of the STD’s effects on your health.
Not All STDs are Painful or Visible
Many times, STDs are present without any warning signs. Since all STDs don’t show evident symptoms, you should go to a gynecologist for a pap smear annually.
Condoms Don’t Prevent STDs 100% of the Time
It is a wise idea to use condoms to lower the chances of contracting an STD, but condoms are not a guarantee preventative of STDs. Essentially, you can never be fully protected from contracting an STD from a person who has one, but you should take all preventative measures to protect your health.
At A Step Ahead East Tennessee, we are dedicated to educating and helping women who need birth control resources but cannot afford them due to circumstance, lack of insurance, or financial need. Visit our website to learn more information about our services. If you would like to support A Step Ahead East Tennessee by volunteering or donating, visit the “Get Involved” tab on our website.
how larc's work
There have been many discrepances in the past between the technicalities of birth control and abortion to not address the definitive differences. Abortion is fundamentally defined as the termination of a pregnancy, whereas contraception is defined as methods used to prevent pregnancy from occurring. With that being said, let us dive deeper into how contraception is vastly different from abortion.
Nexplanon is an implant that is inserted just under the skin on the bicep area. This implant releases hormones so that ovulation does not occur, meaning that the ovary does not release any eggs into the uterus. Therefore, the sperm cannot reach the egg for fertilization to occur. Put into other words, Nexplanon does not allow for the two sex cells to merge to begin forming a fetus, so there is no interruption or termination of a pregnancy.
Liletta, Kyleena, and Skyla are all types of hormonal IUDs. These act similarly to the implant since they release hormones that prevent the ovaries from releasing eggs during what would typically be the ovulation period. The main difference is that a hormonal IUD is a “T” shaped device placed in the uterus instead of the small bar placed in the arm. Again, since the egg is not released, no fertilization starts or ends - it is simply prevented.
Non-Hormonal IUDs, such as Paragard, do not release hormones, so ovulation still occurs. However, this method still does not allow the egg and sperm to meet because this IUD is covered in copper which acts as a spermicide. This type of IUD kills the sperm before it can reach the egg. Even though there are no hormones involved in this method, the act of a spermicide prevents pregnancy, meaning there is no chance of terminating a pregnancy.
Birth control prevents pregnancy - it does not end it. In simple terms, you cannot terminate what does not exist. This is just a brief overview of an abundance of research that has been conducted on this topic. We hope this explanation has brought light to the truth about this common misconception. If you have more questions on this topic or think that we can help you in any other way, please feel free to reach out to us. We’d love to help you however we can.
Sign up for our newsletter to keep up with our happenings!