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As the decade changes and we consider the state of women's health in the United States, who better to turn to than the authors of five taboo books of 2019 that addressed issues that generations of women have not been talking about, but do they need to do it? We ask these doctors and health advocates to send their Top 7 messages to women by 2020. This is what they said.
1. Better birth control is possible, and it is necessary
"Because birth control has been an incredible force in the lives of women, allowing them to achieve (and even set) long-term educational goals and career goals, and achieve gains towards economic parity with men, there is a taboo about talking critically about it, for fear of being taken away from us, and our earnings with him, "says Sarah Hill, author of This is your brain about birth control: the amazing science of women, hormones and the law of unintended consequences.
Hill wants to see more investments in research and development of better contraceptive methods. She says that hormonal birth control influences the brain in a way that bothers people to recognize, even who a woman finds attractive as a couple and, to some degree, how she responds to stress.
It used to seem that the best defense against sexist rhetoric was to pretend that these effects did not exist at all, says Hill. "But putting your head in the sand is not a way to advocate for a better future for women."
It can be uncomfortable to recognize the defects of hormonal contraception while simultaneously struggling to make it accessible, says Hill, but adds, "It is compensation. We have to find a way to live in this discomfort while we seek improvements. Women deserve better."
2. Most "vaginal health" products are fake
One of the most pernicious myths is that vaginas are in a constant state of near catastrophe and need cleaning and repair, says Dr. Jen Gunter, New York Times columnist and author of The Bible of the vagina: the vulva and the vagina: separating the myth from medicine. Forget all those myths, he says: "Your vagina has things covered."
The message that a woman's genitals need constant maintenance, with things like washes, showers, epilators, wipes and special "feminine" adjusters, is mainly promoted by companies that want to make women feel insecure to buy something, Explain. "If our genitals required special care, we would never have evolved in this way." In general, says Gunter, it is a bad idea to rely on information from a source that is also trying to sell you something.
3. Transgender women are women.
Gunter writes about the gender transition and what he has heard from the parents of transgender children is that he provided them with medical information that they were not getting anywhere else, including from their primary health care provider.
It all comes down to the simple: "Having a vagina is not what makes you a woman. It's how you feel inside," says Gunter. "We shouldn't reduce anyone to the parts of his body, but it happens more with women, and especially with trans women."
Finally, he says, "parts are parts and people are people."
4. Women's pain is real.
For years, Abby Norman experienced extreme menstrual symptoms and extraordinary abdominal pain during sexual intercourse. But doctors ruled it out. "They implied that they thought my pain was psychological," she says.
It was only when she started taking her boyfriend to dating that she felt taken seriously. "Suddenly, things changed. All I could think about was: & # 39; Why wasn't it enough when I said it? & # 39; Why is it that being a disappointment to the man in your life is the signal that things need to change? "
Norman wrote about his experience, which culminated in a diagnosis of endometriosis, in his memoirs. Ask me about my uterus: a search to make doctors believe in women's pain. She says the great conclusion (in addition to the need for greater awareness and understanding of endometriosis) is that "doctors must recognize that women are able to know themselves." This phenomenon can be aggravated when the patients are women of color.
5. It's time to rethink menopause
According to historian Susan Mattern, when women in premodern agrarian societies left their reproductive age, "it looked like an improvement, an entrance to a really important phase of life." Mattern is the author of The slow rise of the moon: science, history and the meaning of menopause.
She says that too much emphasis is placed on the mass market books on menopause in the "treatments" (or lack thereof) of menopause.
"The modern way of thinking about menopause is not the only way," she says. "And other ways could serve us better."
Mattern says that humans have been a kind of long life for quite some time, and were "designed" by evolution to live up to 70 years and thrive in our years after reproduction. She says that the new is the stigma associated with old age. "We tend to think that aging is bad and that only young people are useful. But if we don't appreciate what happens during the rest of our lives, we don't understand who we are."
6. The vagina. Clitoris lips. It's okay to talk about them.
These clinical terms are still often treated as dirty words, and that is a problem, says Gunter. "When you can't say a word, the implication is that it's embarrassing and you shouldn't talk about it. And that stifles your ability to discover what is typical, compared to what could be a medical condition."
Regularly, he says, women go to his office, "and even behind closed doors, they can barely say the words to describe what's wrong with their reproductive system. They even tell me: & # 39; I don't know why & # 39; I have trouble saying this. And that is not to belittle women: that is how effective the culture of shame is, even today. "
The danger of not being able to speak freely about bodies, says Gunter, is twofold. If women cannot talk about their health problems with their doctor, they will not only miss treatment, but also receive bad advice from less reliable clandestine sources.
7. Women's rights are human rights.
Jennifer Weiss-Wolf is struggling to put an end to what she calls the "tampon tax," which still exists in 32 states. She describes the case against the taxes of menstrual products in her book Periods that were made public: take a position for menstrual equity.
It is time to connect those problems with the ways in which society marginalizes certain other groups, he says, and press for greater dignity and justice for people who also live on the street or are in jail.