As I embark on my journey of becoming a sex therapist, I learn more and more that without justice-justice there is no reproductive justice. We're fighting for them to take us serious at the doctor's in life or death matters, so how the f*ck do we get them to care enough to provide us with the proper information on contraception? The answer to this question is a lot more long-winded than we can get into right here and now, but what our sordid history with white supremacy at the intersection of medicine (especially in the reproductive realm) has taught us anything, it's simply this: be knowledgeable and aware of said history, then take that knowledge and demand what's best for your body and your choices.
My greatest recommendation is finding a doctor who looks like you if at all possible, but if that's not possible, here is the lowdown on one type of birth control that gynecologists and clinicians aren't talking about nearly enough and when they do, it seems to be disproportionately pushed on black and brown bodies in a way that can be "eerily" off putting — LARCs, or Long-Acting Reversible Contraception. I believe this is birth control info that everyone should have access to, so we're making it accessible!
This type of contraception lasts anywhere from three to twelve years, depending on which one you select and if you don't like it, it can be immediately removed pending a doctor's appointment. For those that are hormonal, the major implications of hormones will reverse almost immediately after removal in many cases. However, as always, it's worth mentioning that everyone's body is different and thus those results might be different.
No IOUs, Just an IUDMethod: IUD (Hormonal - Progesterone Only)Shutterstock
Seemingly, the most commonly known LARC is an IUD. The IUD is a 't'-shaped piece of plastic that is inserted into the uterus as the name might imply. So with the copper IUD, that little 't' comes wrapped up in copper while the other forms of an IUD are plastic with a synthetic variation of progestin known as levonorgestrel shooting out like a battleship in a game of Galaga. With the copper IUD, it also acts as an alternative to over-the-counter emergency contraception and is most effective than if taken within five days (the sooner, the better) for those who thought they had a pullout game or simply had the misfortune of having a shitty condom.
You might have heard about this from older generations of women who experienced the horrors of the Dal-kon Shield, where the string from the IUD was causing infection in many women and a doctor continued to push them despite knowing this. Other physicians were never informed, as a result, women were deemed infertile in some cases and dead in others. This was during the 70s when the IUD rose to popularity in the US (despite being on the market since the 50s), it has since been remodeled to avoid these complications. As of today however, there are very rarely complications with IUDs. In fact, for some it has become the BFF of birth control.
For women who have contraindications for hormonal contraception, there is a nonhormonal option within this category of LARCs. It's a copper IUD by the name of Paragard. Paragard boasts about being the only of its kind in that is 100 percent hormone-free. You're probably asking yourself, well how can this birth control method effectively prevent pregnancy if there are no hormones involved? To keep it simple, sperm doesn't like copper so when the two cross paths, sperm scurries back away from the vaginal canal.
The other forms of IUDs, non-copper or hormonal IUDs, release progestin in order to thicken the cervical mucus and block eggs from crossing the barrier.
Eggplanted or Implanted
Nexplanon (formerly known as Implanon), or the implant contraceptive, work the same as hormonal IUDs in that they rely on progestin to create a barrier of mucus to keep eggs from traveling through. They are another form of long-acting reversible contraceptives and are inserted between the biceps and triceps. It takes on a simple shape as a small, plastic rod about the length of your pinky finger and the width of a sliver or a "matchstick." Both methods are 99 percent effective with typical use, making them more effective than any other method of birth control on the market.
As an FYI: typical use is the use outside of labs that takes into account user errors such as forgetting appointments, pills, etc that would dilute the effectiveness of birth control.
Unfortunately, they have a similarly deceptive and disappointing history to the Dal-kon shield with one of the first models of the implant to be popularized — Norplant. But even worse, the government pushed incentive during the 90s for women on welfare to get the implant inserted as a modern answer to the eugenics movements. These terrifying histories have created mistrust in even the most well-meaning physicians and rightfully so.
One Size Fits AllBirth Control 101: Choosing The Best Contraceptive Method For You
There are still some doctors who don't feel comfortable inserting IUDs into women who have yet to have children, according to them it is more of an uncomfortable insertion when the cervix has never been dilated in a big way. Then there are doctors who simply don't feel comfortable and this may or may not have to do with their own feelings towards it, implicit bias, or a lack of knowledge on their part. The reality is that the IUDs are slightly different in size and none of them are big or small enough to truly make a difference in the discomfort that has notably been associated with womanhood. To that effect, there is actually little to no pain associated with insertion of either of these devices, however, there can be quite a bit of bruising after having it inserted.
Also, what I will disclaim is that in removing the implant it requires the doctor to make a small incision. In some cases, the implant may move over time and may require a little more pressure to find and remove. Nonetheless, this pain is not even pain but more like I described before — discomfort. If ever you are unable to feel the implant in your arm, it's important that you make an appointment with your doctor.
Show Me the Money
The short-term cost of LARCs are hands down more pricey than that of other upfront cost for your barrier methods and your oral methods. But when we look at the long-term cost that includes transportation, prescription cost, etc over a lifetime it is far more cost effective to get a LARC. Still, I'm aware of the barriers that may be in the way of getting these methods, especially with the Trump administration. It goes without saying you should check with your insurance (Medicaid included), companies first to see if they cover LARCs but if not, there are resources such as Planned Parenthood that offer income-based payment options.
This was hugely important for me as someone whose insurance was funded through a Catholic organization, and I've had my implant funded through PP twice now. Without aid or insurance, the cost of LARCs can be hundreds of dollars, specifically ranging from about $400 to nearly $1000 (or more). Bedsider makes it easy for those who may not have insurance to check out local clinics that might offer these methods at low to no cost.
Here at xoNecole, we are not physicians and by no means are we suggesting that you go forward with this method without speaking to your gynecologist, namely to ensure there are no contraindications that might put you at risk when using a LARC. What we are suggesting is that women stay armed with knowledge and potential options that may work for their bodies, especially if we see that our own physicians are not providing this info. But especially as birth control is not a one size fits all band aid that they try to make it out to be by pushing certain methods on certain groups in the way I've seen and heard of them doing with Depo-Provera.
If knowledge is power, then I can't imagine the weapon we might become if we continue to push for knowledge that affords us true reproductive justice, as it allows us to do what we feel is best for our bodies for us to move through life comfortably.
While reproductive advances may have been created to eliminate our existence and reduce our right to bodily autonomy, you being informed is an act of resistance and you deciding what works for your body—well, that's us taking control in ways they never imagined—regardless of what we choose.
Featured image by Getty Images
Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:
- Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptive Methods | HHS.gov ›
- Long-Acting Reversible Contraception | NEJM ›
- Understanding LARC | American Sexual Health Association ›
- Long-acting reversible contraception ›
- Long-Acting Reversible Contraception (LARC) - Your Guide ›
- Long-Acting Reversible Contraception Program - ACOG ›
- Long-acting reversible contraception - Wikipedia ›
- Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptives (LARCs) | Planned ... ›
- Long-Acting Reversible Contraception: Implants and Intrauterine ... ›
- Long-Acting Reversible Contraception | Planned Parenthood Mar ... ›
Motor City native, Atlanta living. Sagittarius. Writer. Sexpert. Into all things magical, mystical, and unknown. I'll try anything at least once but you knew that the moment I revealed that I was a Sag.
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Imma tell y’all what — it seems like not one week goes by when I don’t see some sort of so-called term that has me like, “What in the world?” For instance, when I first stumbled upon “self-partnering,” honestly, I laughed. Then shared it with some other single people as well as married folks I know. And I kid you not, every individual was like, “What the heck does that mean?” When I told them that it was yet, one more way to seemingly define single living, basically everyone’s follow-up was, “Oh, brother.”
Why can’t (more) singles just be single and be okay with that? Good Lord. Why does there need to be some sort of relational play-on-words to make it sound like we’re with someone — even if we’re not?
Now masturdating? Even though it’s not even close to being a “real” word, it’s something that also brought a laugh outta me — although it was then followed by a genuine smile. The laugh because I almost immediately caught the play-on-words. The smile was due to the intention behind it all.
If you’re not familiar with what masturdating is and you’re curious about why you should even care, take a few moments to at least skim through what it’s about and why I think participating, as a single person, is a pretty cool (and effective) concept.
Masturdate: a date w oneself
What’s Masturdating All About?
Masturdating. Okay, so let the word marinate for just a moment. What does it sound like? Yeah…exactly. And since a huge part of masturbation centers around self-pleasure, it’s cool to explore how “self-dating” could produce similar (as far as pleasure is concerned in a broader sense) results. Because masturdating is all about spending quality time with yourself, pampering yourself, treating yourself— and yes, taking yourself out on dates.
Any of you who may think that masturdating is a consolation prize — and a pitiful one at that — for not being able to go out with another human being or get that dream $200 first date that social media was all in a tizzy about last year (bookmark that) — personally, I think that you’re the demographic who needs to try out masturdating first and the most. Why? Off top, I’ll share my three good reasons.
3 Reasons To Strongly Consider Masturdating
1. It’s an intimate way to get to know yourself better. I’ve been working with couples for a pretty long time at this point and if there’s a pattern that I see arise, OFTEN, it’s that two people are oftentimes so busy trying to “find their person” that they didn’t even know who they were. As a direct result, they found themselves in a relationship with someone who only complemented the “kiddie pool version” of who they were.
That’s why it can be so beneficial to spend time getting to know yourself on the “deep end” of things: what makes you tick, what your passions are, what you want most out of life, what are your interests beyond obvious things — and masturdating can help you to discover all of this. Whether it’s traveling alone or taking out a weekend to drink some wine and journal, the more you get to know yourself, the clearer you’ll be about who complements you on a romantic and friendship level.
2. It will definitely help to boost your confidence levels. I guess since I’m an ambivert, I don’t really get why people freak out at the mere thought of going to a restaurant or movie alone. Personally, I think it requires a helluva lot more energy and gumption to wait around and plan stuff with other people (#Elmoshrug). However, whether you’re an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert, there’s no way around the fact that the more comfortable you get with doing things alone, the more your confidence levels will increase — no, soar — because of it.
One article that I read on the topic said that doing things alone can make you more creative, improve your mental health, and help you to be totally okay with being alone (so that you’re not “needy” for other people’s attention). A psychotherapist from a New York Times article on the benefits of spending time alone said, “Getting better at identifying moments when we need solitude to recharge and reflect can help us better handle negative emotions and experiences, like stress and burnout.” And when you’re able to stare negativity in its face without flinching, how could that not make you bolder, more self-secure, and hopeful about your life?
3. It will teach you to value your time more effectively. In every facet of your world, you’re gonna operate from a healthier place if you’re operating from a “full cup” rather than an empty one. When it comes to this topic, think about it — if you’re constantly waiting on someone to call you to go out or wishing for a dream date with some guy, all you’re doing is wasting precious time that you could be spending taking a cooking class or hell, hiring a chef to make you dinner at your own home.
Indeed, waiting has two sides to it: when it’s in the form of patience, it is indeed a virtue, yet when it’s wrapped up in the notion that you’re not really living life unless you have an audience…it is totally working against you. Choose wisely.
10 Solo Date Ideas To Help You To “Master” Masturdating
So, what if you’re someone who has either never considered actually masturdating before or you don’t really know what to do beyond dinner and the movies? Here are a few ideas to consider:
1. Attend a workshop or masterclass that you’re interested in. If there’s something that you’ve always wanted to learn, sign up for a workshop or masterclass. The cool thing about this option is there are probably some in your city, as well as some that you can find online (like here) that are convenient and affordable.
2. Binge-read at a local coffee shop. Aside from their coziness and oftentimes inviting scents, I once read that a lot of us gravitate to coffee shops because we can be around people without having to actually socialize with them. So, if you want to “hang out” while still being able to enjoy a bit of solitude, take a book that you’ve been trying to finish to a local coffee shop, order your favorite latte, and sit in a big-ass comfy chair. Usually, you can sit there for hours, and the staff will be just fine with it (another bonus).
3. Have a spa day in the next town. You can never go wrong with a spa day. And while going with a friend can be fun, sometimes there’s too much talking transpiring to be able to fully chill out and relax. So, go off of the grid, get a change of scenery, and hit up a spa in the next city (or town). There are lots of studies out here supporting that day trips or “daycations” can actually be really good for your long-term health and well-being.
4. See a community play. Some of the best solo dates that I’ve ever been on consisted of taking in some of the local arts in my city. What’s really cool about this particular option is, oftentimes, they are extremely inexpensive, if not totally free of charge (in exchange for making a donation or putting money into a tip jar).
5. Plan a trip. Whenever people say something along the lines of, “If you don’t expect anything, you won’t be disappointed,” I know that they low-key have some (additional) healing to do from past disappointments. There’s simply too much intel out here to support that anticipation (of good stuff) makes us more motivated and optimistic, keeps our dopamine levels up, and makes life more exciting overall.
Since traveling alone is more cost-effective, gives you the freedom to do whatever you want (when you want), and increases the possibility of meeting new people and having new experiences on your journey — why not devote a day this weekend to planning a solo trip? All the way around, it’s good for you.
6. Try your hand at your own “$200 date.” Uh-huh. Roll your eyes if you want to, but it’s real easy to talk left about how a man should be able to just drop $200 like it’s nothing…until you actually try to do it. So yes, while taking yourself out on this type of date could serve as a bit of a reality check, it can also “scratch the itch” of waiting on some dude to do it for you. It’s also way less emotionally draining because, at least when you’re taking your own self out, it’s guaranteed that you’ll enjoy the company…right?
7. DIY some pampering. When you get a chance, check out “5 Reasons You Should Unapologetically Pamper Yourself,” “Want To Love On Yourself? Try These 10 Things At Home.,” “I’ve Got Some Ways For You To Start Pampering Your Soul,” and “When's The Last Time You Actually Pampered Your Vagina?” The bottom line here is pampering is all about, not mere self-maintenance; it’s all about treating yourself to levels of EXTREME SELF-INDULGENCE. So, if nothing else tickles your fancy on this list, at least consider doing that, chile.
8. Feed your creativity. Something that I used to be really good at is art. That said, one of my goddaughters is insanely talented, so she has reminded me to tap back into it. Also, a big part of what got me into the writing world is poetry; I actually used to be a house poet at a local spot. Sometimes, my best quality time moments with myself have been revisiting these creative sides of me — and this is definitely easier to do (and enjoy) alone.
9. Try some stargazing. When’s the last time you took a blanket into your backyard, laid down on it, and just stared at the stars for hours on end? While some say that stargazing can teach you to be mindful, others say that being in that form of nature reduces stress, while others believe that looking up at the universe at night can increase your attention span. All solid reasons to give it a shot, if you ask me.
10. DO. ABSOLUTELY. NOTHING. Let me tell you something that nobody will ever be able to make me feel bad about: doing absolutely nothing. I’ve got data to back me up. Good Housekeeping shares that doing nothing can help you decide how you want to respond or react to certain things. I like howThe Guardian says that taking this approach helps you to regain control of what you give your attention to.
TIME magazine says that it can ultimately make you more productive.BBC offers up that it can help you tap into your ingenuity.Henry Ford Health says that it can make you kinder and a better problem-solver. So, if you want to invest in yourself, do nothing sometimes.
Closing Thoughts from the Lovely Javicia Leslie
While some of y'all may know Javicia Leslie from being the former Batwoman, I discovered her back in the day from the indie series Chef Julian (and yes, "Julian" was right to say that "Mo" looks like Tatyana Ali...the real ones know). Sometimes I'll hop on her IG to see what she's got going on and this story popped up within a few hours of me penning this...so, I took it as hella confirmation.
TREAT YO SELF. WAIT FOR NO ONE.
WAIT FOR NO ONE. TREAT YO SELF.
RINSE AND REPEAT.
Sooo…what kind of masturdating plans do you have for this coming weekend? While going out with others has its perks, hanging out with yourself has a ton of ‘em too. Enjoy!
No…for real. ENJOY!
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