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.
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.
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.
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.
Long-acting birth control is sometimes referred to as LARC, which stands for “long-acting reversible contraceptive.” Aside from being extremely effective, these birth control methods have many benefits ranging from convenience to limited side effects. Take a look at the benefits of the specific long-acting birth controls methods we offer.
IUD (Intrauterine Device)
IUDs are small T-shaped devices that are placed in the uterus to prevent fertilization of the eggs. These devices, once inserted, can remain in the uterus for 3 to 10 years, depending on whether it is a hormonal or copper IUD. Therefore, IUDs are extremely low maintenance as you can essentially forget about it once it is inserted. The effectiveness rate of IUDs are over 99%, so you can rest assured knowing you have the utmost protection when choosing one of these devices. These devices have been known to lighten the flow of periods and relieve severe cramps in many women. Plus, if you ever decide you want to try to get pregnant, you can have the device removed at any time, and you regain fertility very quickly.
The contraceptive implants are small devices about the size of a matchstick, that are inserted underneath the skin near the bicep. It releases progestin into the body that prevents the ovaries from releasing eggs. The benefits of this device are very similar to those of the IUD. The implant’s effectiveness rate is over 99%, it can lighten periods and cramps, can easily be removed, and you can regain fertility very quickly. The implant can stay in your arm for up to 3 years, so it is also very low maintenance and manageable.
The Depo-Provera shot is a quarterly injection that prevents pregnancy. The shot is typically administered by a doctor or nurse, but in some cases, the shots can be sent home with you to administer yourself which maximizes its convenience. Many women have reported lighter periods when using the shot. If you decide to try for a baby, you will regain fertility fairly quickly after stopping the shots, but it may take between 9 and 10 months for your body to fully readjust. Since you only have to get the shot 4 times per year, it is also considered a very low maintenance birth control method.
At A Step Ahead East Tennessee, LARC birth controls 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 offer. 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 in your life.
At A Step Ahead, we cover all costs of long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARC) for any woman. Our mission is to maximize women’s potential in society, so we offer amazing resources to help women reach their goals. The LARC methods we cover the costs for are IUDs, Depo-Provera shots, and sub-dermal implants.
Since we are a nonprofit organization, we significantly benefit from volunteers in our community. It is simple to get involved and trust us when we say that you will love the feeling of making such an impact on so many women’s lives. You can find more information about the volunteer opportunities we offer by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or visiting our website and clicking the “Volunteer Sign Up” link under the “Get Involved” tab.
Our entire organization is funded by donors, and they are the only reason so many women’s lives are changed daily. This community is filled with kind people who share the same passion we do, and for that, we are so grateful and proud to represent East Tennessee. If you or your business or organization would like to make a donation to help us carry out our mission, you can do so on our website by clicking the “Donate Now” link under the “Get Involved” tab. You can choose to either make a one-time donation or a recurring donation. Any donation, big or small, means so much to us as we see each donation as changing a woman’s life.
You can also join fundHER by donating $25 a month for 12 months. By choosing to join fundHER, you will be supporting medical services, health provider training, education programs, and transportation for all women who need it. Once you become a donor, you will receive a welcome box, a quarterly progress update, recognition on fundHER platforms, and you could also receive personalized thank you cards from actual patients whose lives changed thanks to your donation.
Our mission is to remove barriers to LARC and provide women a step ahead to maximize their potential in East Tennessee. No matter how you choose to get involved, know that you are helping to change women’s lives for the better.
Katie Heatherly has a passion for connecting women from all walks of life and in all stages of
their journey to A Step Ahead East Tennessee. She is a valuable asset on our Development
Committee. Now a stay-at-home mom, but previously a Surgical First Assist for a Neurosurgical
group, Katie has been heavily involved in making sure our events are a success. Learn more
about Katie below!
My dear friend Robyn Askew introduced me to an A Step Ahead at a meeting in February 2016.
Fundamentally, empowering women appeals to me. For so long, women were not given the
opportunity to see their dreams realized. In 2019, there are still so many women who could
offer so many of their talents, but are unable to because of an unplanned pregnancy.
Our need at ASAFET is great, and in order to meet that demand we need the funding to help
women in need. I would ask people to consider joining fundHer an amazing way to give the gift
of 5 years of birth control to any woman that wants it -for just $25 a month. Someday, I’m
confident that would lead to a headline raving about how ASAFET has served thousands and
thousands of women!
We love being able to share our board member stories to provide a window into our organization and why we all feel passionately about LARC, our patients, and our mission. Without further ado, meet Erica Lyon, CCE, MPH! She’s a published author (The Big Book of Birth), a health educator, and a maternal child health and parenting expert. This multi-hyphenate is our interim president who has been on the board for more than three years now, from the point when A Step Ahead was first getting started in East Tennessee. Given her background in maternal child health, it was a perfect fit. Learn more about Erica and her passion for our mission and vision in her own words.
To date, LARCs are one of the best birth control options to be developed. I am a big believer in equalizing health opportunity and creating equity in life’s playing field. Not every female gets the same chances or support in life and when it comes to carrying the cost of reproduction I have seen too many times in my career how simple timing of a pregnancy, or cost of birth control, or lack of access to healthcare affects newborn and maternal outcomes. Every parent deserves the joy of a supported pregnancy and parenting experience; birth control access is a key to healthy babies and moms. I will always be an advocate for mothers to have what they need because if we take care of mothers, we take care of babies. This means taking care of women before they become mothers, too.
I originally joined the education committee, as I am a huge believer in people having solid information and support to make decisions by. I don’t want to make peoples decisions for them-I want them to take responsibility for their own decisions by having the full information and support to do so. One thing I really want to achieve is uniting the community around this service. There is so much division, misunderstanding and polarization around women’s health right now. The reality is preventing unwanted or mistimed pregnancy, in the narrow focus we provide, is a point of unification and healthy focus for everyone. Following reproductive justice concepts of support for all women is the way forward. We are doing one small thing -in the whole spectrum of what can be done-that is powerful for women’s health and that everyone can agree on.
Most people do not realize how many barriers there are for women to get effective safe birth control to prevent unwanted pregnancies. Things that most folks take for granted are serious barriers to health care for many.
For example, privacy in rural areas is a problem. If you are a 19-year-old working after high school but were raised in heavily religious environment, you may not want anyone seeing you go to the local health clinic as you may see someone you know.
Distance is an issue if one person in a relationship needs the car for work and the other can’t get to a health care provider. Distance is shown to even just be a psychological barrier.
Cost is serious problem as LARCs, while being cheapest long term, can have significant upfront cost for most-a few hundred out of pocket is a real barrier for many East Tennesseans. Cost can be barrier just because someone doesn’t know what their benefits include. We have many clients that are actually eligible for free birth control via their benefits, but they don’t know.
Once they hear from us, they can get free birth control, the psychological barrier is gone and then it turns out they could have gotten for free all along. We facilitate access in many ways whether it be transportation, privacy, cost, literacy level, or psychological barriers.
Basic information is an issue as there are many false perceptions about how LARC works and how safe and effective it is. A key point in this is that women focused interventions are one of the few we know that are effective long term.
My long-term goal with this organization is that we can see significant drops in the NAS rates in our area as a result of our hard work. NAS babies are taking a huge toll on families and the community at large and will need extensive financial and physiological support and resources. We need to focus on prevention for the benefit of our whole state economy. I think the missing piece in our states focus on education; which is great-is that there is a second "leg" to supporting a strong economy. People must be healthy. Once you have a healthy educated population you are unstoppable. I am a true believer that all of us are interconnected in our functioning in society-like a human chain- and that all of us are only as strong as the weakest link in that chain of existence.
There are so many ways to help. If you work in a facility where your staff or client base needs to know about us, have us come do an education session or training. If you can be a Founding member and pledge at a Founders level for 4 years this gives us an ability to serve more women. If you can’t financially contribute at that level, then becoming small donor is vital to our continued service. Helping us table at events or helping us reach anyone who may benefit from our service is good. Providers can help by contracting with us to provide services in ways that meet the needs of financially challenged or at-risk populations.
Imagine your donation money of $300 concretely changing someone's life for the better for five years just by buying them time to grow and learn? It is a very practical tangible intervention that really works and as we see from multiple studies throughout our country and around the world.