Women's Bodies

Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places

Welcome Aboard my Newsletter and New Podcast

Updated Sept. 19, 2021 with British study about menstrual cycle changes in women

Sharyl Attkisson

Menstrual changes in women after Covid-19 vaccine:

Many public health officials wrote off reports as without merit.

UCDavisHealth suggested concerned women were probably just stressed.

New research says there's a biologically plausible link.

#TheyWerentJustStressed?

30,000+ Women in UK Report Menstrual Problems After COVID Shots, But Menstrual Issues Not Listed as Side Effect

“If we were to follow the scientific method, as it was taught in textbooks ... we would immediately see this observation of menstrual cycle changes in tens of thousands of women as a signal, for which necessary questions would need to be asked,” Dr. Lawrence Palevsky told The Defender.

According to an editorial published Sept. 16 in The BMJ, more than 30,000 reports of menstrual irregularities and vaginal bleeding had been made, as of Sept. 2, to the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency’s (MHRA) Yellow Card Scheme — the UK system for collecting and monitoring adverse reactions following COVID vaccines.

Reports of adverse reactions include heavier-than-usual periods, delayed periods and unexpected vaginal bleeding. Most women who reported a change to their period after vaccination found it returned to normal the following cycle, according to the author of the editorial, Dr. Victoria Male, a reproductive specialist at Imperial College in London.

To date, none of the COVID vaccine manufacturers list any issues pertinent to menstrual health as a side effect. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, common side effects of COVID vaccines include: pain at the site of vaccination, tiredness, fatigue and fever.

My article published in a local newspaper

Looking For Love In ALL the Wrong Places

In India, I almost became Mrs. Robinson. by CS Hecht 

“It's a little secret just the Robinson's affair

Most of all you've got to hide it from the kids

Koo-koo-ka-choo, Mrs. Robinson

Jesus loves you more than you will know

Whoa, whoa, whoa

God bless you, please, Mrs. Robinson

Heaven holds a place for those who pray

Hey, hey, hey

Hey, hey, hey”

Kovalum Beach, Southern India 

Kumar and I became friendly while I was bored on the beach during the Monsoon season. I was also waiting for money to arrive from the States. He had a small shop and showed me around his male artifacts. He became friendlier as time went on. He told me I had soft hands and pretty brown eyes. Who could resist such a catch? 

Flattery from an attractive younger male was rare since mostly my experience with the boys in India consisted of them shouting, whistling, and the requisite catcalling when I walked down the street or the beach. I felt at home, it felt just like New York City. 

For some odd reason, my interest in Kumar waned after he told me that he wanted me to teach him all about sex and lovemaking. His parents would be arranging a marriage for him with a nice Indian girl soon and he wanted to learn firsthand all about the ins and outs of female bodies and how they work. Although I was very tempted by his once in a lifetime opportunity to help him lose his virginity (sarcastically speaking), I declined his sweet offer. And after he shunned me in public because of course he couldn’t be seen with an older female slut like me, I suspected that our short-lived romance was now over.

Later I learned that young boys in India watch many porn aka romantic movies where white women from the United States and Europe eagerly have sex with guys in their pure white dhotis. It is not their fault that these movies depict white women in such a manner.

In this presumably matriarchal and matrilineal society, there are sections on trains set aside for women. Of course, men intrude and bully their way inside. And young women and older women alike rush home before dark because to be a lone woman roaming around out on the streets at night means one thing only, you are a hooker. A woman of ill repute. A streetwalker seeking customers. 

During a gathering of mostly men clamoring for a seat on a bus one day, the gentlemen pushed aside an elderly lady so they could get inside and get a good seat before she did. What great manners. Of course, this pushy old broad from New York, screamed stop and parted the Red male Sea to allow the lady to get on the bus before them. 

Don’t mess with Mother Nature or pushy broads from New York, boys. 

I traveled around the world in the late 1980’s with an interfaith, interdenominational and international intercessory prayer ministry called OIM. My adventures in Bangladesh, India and Thailand resulted in about 10 months of learning firsthand the status of women in other countries. We also visited many religious and cultural places. 

Indira Gandhi became the first female Prime Minister of India in 1966.  But for me, being an obviously mere woman, I was not allowed to peek inside of or visit any Muslim mosques due to my female genitalia. Forbidden. My vagina and vulva were verboten for fear my blood would taint the place. In Orthodox Jewish synagogues, men sit on one side and women sit elsewhere for the same reason. Women are also not allowed to become rabbis of Orthodox synagogues. 

The norm is gender separation just like men’s and women’s bathrooms has been the standard until the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer folks made a  fuss. Imagine the audacity to consider yourself a human being who can be and love whoever you want when you don’t fit into the “normal” gender binary system.  

In Bangladesh, I witnessed women hiding behind walls. All I could see were their eyes. This was in public restaurants. When I took a bus, we stopped for a potty break in the middle of nowhere. There was a restaurant there and I was directed to a hole in the ground in the back of the establishment to do my personal business. 

In Israel, which in the beginning had a woman leader (Golda Meir was their fourth Prime Minister), I saw a sign on a wall approaching an ultra-Orthodox Jewish religious community that said if a woman is not wearing the appropriate attire (all covered up similar to what women in Arab-Muslim countries are forced to wear), you will be shot on sight (I kid you not). 

In some communities worldwide, Orthodox Jewish men refuse to shake hands with women (for fear of smelling their stinky female menstrual blood and the dire consequences of women ovulating in public?). They also say a morning prayer, Thank God I’m not a woman. 

Back in the good old USA, we have never elected a female president. The Equal Rights Amendment has never been passed because although women are the majority of citizens, we must remain second class, barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen. Rapists and domestic abusers are afforded more rights than their victims. In all states but three, a man can legally marry a girl under 18 years old. Women receive $300 less in their Social Security checks on average because of the wage gap (no equal pay for equal work). Women also work three unpaid jobs at home, (child care, housework and elder care). 

The Goddess must be so proud. Oh no, such blasphemy. The ONLY really true authentic God everyone on earth is supposed to worship is blonde-haired blue eyed Jesus hanging on the cross (he sacrificed his life for us), no, Jehovah, no, Hashem the scary old guy of the Old Testament and in Charleton Heston movies, no, the Messiah when HE comes, no, Buddha, no Allah, no 33 to 33 million gods of Hinduism, no, my guru, no, my dear leader. So many gods and goddesses to choose from. 

As they sing in Disneyland,

“It's a small world after all

It's a small world after all

It's a small world after all

It's a small world after all

It's a small, small world.”

Invisible Women: miscarriages should keep office hours

By Caroline Criado Perez • Issue #68

Women Who Miscarry Treated Like They’re Having an Abortion

One in ten women will experience a miscarriage in her lifetime. Globally an estimated 23 million miscarriages take place every year. By the time you’ve finished reading this article, 88 women will have miscarried. And yet despite miscarriage being such a common experience — or perhaps because it is so common — the evidence around it, and the treatment for it, remains patchy at best.

Several women mentioned having to return repeatedly to the early pregnancy or maternity unit, again having to pass the gauntlet of pregnant bellies and new-born babies, just for follow-up blood tests

This was one of the things that made me most angry when I was miscarrying, having to return repeatedly, on my own (because of pandemic restrictions) to the “scene of the crime”.

The women who were treated as a nuisance…or as I now call it, the “why are you here” tendency

…or turned away, and told they had their dates wrong…

told to come back *2 weeks* later in case I had my dates wrong. Spoiler: still a miscarriage

…or told that they had never been pregnant in the first place

The current rule for the NHS is that your miscarriage will only be investigated after you’ve had three. This rule was highlighted by a lot of women as one they would like changed.

It would have been easier not to have to wait until after 3 miscarriages to be referred for investigation. A blood test identified Lupus Anticoagulant, use of Blood thinners can prevent miscarriage. Maybe they would’ve prevented previous? Will never know…

This rule arguably contributes to the insensitive treatment of women who are not yet at their third miscarriage

There were nights I bled so heavily it woke me up, I would just sit on the toilet in the dark for hours in the middle of the night because the toilet was easy to clean. I would phone periodically to let them know I was still bleeding but the response was “you’re on the gynae waiting list, what do you want me to do”

It is also not recommended by The Lancet, who in April this year published a special series called Miscarriage Matters (a very apt pun, because based on the stories I have received from women, it very much does not.) The three miscarriage rule, says The Lancet, “is ideological, not evidence based,” and it “has created a pervasive attitude of acceptance of miscarriage, urging women to “just try again.” This attitude not only “underestimates, and risks dismissing, the personal physical and mental consequences of a miscarriage,” but has also “affected the availability and quality of care that women receive after a miscarriage and does not accurately reflect the evidence on management.”

And what are those physical and mental c0nsquences? Well, apart from the serious psychological impact, “previous miscarriage is associated with a higher risk of preterm birth, fetal growth restriction, and other obstetric complications in subsequent pregnancies. [It] is also associated with a higher risk of long-term health problems for women, including cardiovascular disease [and] venous thromboembolism.”

As the authors point out, therefore, a history of repeated miscarriage might represent an important data point for reducing a woman’s risk of future cardiovascular disease (the number one killer of women in Europe and the US, let us not forget). Are these risk factors used in any of the commonly used heart disease risk prediction models, or any of the AIs proudly heralded as predicting heart attacks five years before they happen? Are they f*ck. Just women’s issues nothing to see here

And as a “women’s issue,” naturally the data is woeful. In fact, there isn’t even a universally agreed-upon definition for what constitutes a miscarriage, making international comparisons more or less impossible – that said, most countries, including the UK, don’t publish this data anyway. In fact, we don’t even collect it properly: only women who miscarry at a hospital will have their miscarriage recorded. 

The perception of miscarriage as a single event with little to no relevance to a woman’s health more broadly has, says the Lancet, “resulted in a deficiency of high-quality epidemiology, and trials for management and prevention that should be available to guide practice and guidelines.” The lack of medical progress “should be shocking,” they point out. Instead, there is “a pervasive acceptance.”

Key to The Lancet‘s call for better data collection and more research is the recommendation that the three miscarriage rule should be scrapped:

…after one miscarriage women should have their health needs evaluated and provided with information and guidance to support future pregnancies If a second miscarriage occurs, women should be offered an appointment at a miscarriage clinic for a full blood count and thyroid function tests and have extra support and early scans for reassurance in any subsequent pregnancies. After three miscarriages additional tests, including genetic testing and a pelvic ultrasound, should be offered.

They further recommend that women with early pregnancy bleeding and a history of one or more miscarriages should be offered progesterone treatment following a health economic analysis which found that this was “more effective and less costly compared with placebo treatment .” 

These recommendations on better data collection and more timely treatment are welcome and should absolutely be integrated into miscarriage care immediately. I also have some of my own to add:

1: Entirely separate treatment areas 

All miscarrying women should be treated away from labour and other maternity wards. Miscarriage is a bereavement. You wouldn’t host a funeral at a fairground, so don’t group grieving women in with the very thing that have just lost: a pregnancy and a newborn baby

When I went for a scan, there was a one way system, so women didn’t have to exit back through the waiting room in tears. This should be the case everywhere

2: Follow-up blood tests at local GP surgery

Relatedly, don’t require women to keep coming back to the hospital for blood tests just to see if hCG levels are lowering normally. These can and should be done at their local GP surgery. 

3: Language change

SO MANY women spoke about the pain of their dead baby being referred to as “cells” and “tissue”. It would cost nothing to end this practice.

4: Automate systems

A miscarriage should automatically trigger the cancellation of future antenatal appointments: women should not have to be calling the hospital to cancel them themselves, and they certainly shouldn’t be sent letters chastising them for failing to show up.

5:Ensure notes are passed on and, most importantly, read

Enough said

6: Early Pregnancy Units should be open 24/7 

Miscarriages don’t keep office hours so neither should treatment for them. It is not reasonable to tell a heavily bleeding woman to call back in three days.

7: Recognise that a miscarriage is not just a heavy period

Give women appropriate pain relief options and set their expectations appropriately. 

8: Above all, make compassion and empathy a prerequisite for working with miscarrying women

I waited for 6 hours on a labour ward and was shouted at by a ward nurse because my husband sat on the bed to cuddle me. 

The scan of my undeveloped baby was kept with my notes and I had to see it repeatedly. It was even given to me as I went into maternity assessment at the start of labour, which my husband complained about. 

Many of the stories were a result of bad systems. But FAR too many were simply a result of thoughtless treatment. Together with language change, a bit of compassion would be a very low-cost way of ensuring a miscarriage isn’t any more traumatic than it needs to be. As one of my respondents pointed out, “It may be routine for them but for me, it felt like my world was ending.”

Did you know:

Playing football is simply not under a man’s control while the propagation of the species is just “me time for dilettantes” (quoting myself there, classy)

Anyway, it turns out this is standard practice:

A spokesperson for Aviva said, ‘As is common across the Private Medical Insurance industry, pregnancy and childbirth is an exclusion on most Aviva PMI policies. The cover that we do offer when related to pregnancy and childbirth is limited to a specific list of conditions that can occur as a complication of pregnancy, which are specifically noted in our customers’ terms and conditions. Stress incontinence is not on this list.

Including in other countries…

Impact of Pandemic on Women's Health

Have women’s services been disproportionately affected by the pandemic?

Invisible Women -- extreme women & default male antibodies

By Caroline Criado Perez • Issue #65 • View online

Maria Kuhn and Hana Schank, both of whom were involved in serious car crashes in which women suffered from fractured spines and torn intestines but from which the men escaped with lesser injuries. They have since both written about their experiences and are lobbying the US government to make cars safer for women.

They also co-authored this excellent article that came out last week

Which has some excellent news for American GFPs about possible progress in addressing one of the world’s most lethal gender data gaps:

Now, there may be hope. Embedded in the House of Representatives INVEST in America Act is a provision requiring updated and more equitable dummy implementation tested in every seat.

GFPs who are interested in keeping up with the progress of this legislation can head here where you will find the latest updates as well as useful resources for defeating the annoying person in your life who insists, in the face of all the evidence, that there is nothing to see here.

DOVETAIL WORKWEAR.

“Even with the best of [the women’s gloves available], the bias was still inherent,” explained Sara DeLuca, co-founder and lead designer. “We would ask to look at women’s workwear gloves and they would say “They exist. Here are some pink ones.” As always, women were the afterthought. And we set out to change that.”

When I asked about the sex differences hands and how Dovetail accommodated for those differences in their design, DeLuca replied that yes, women’s hands are different in shape, in palm-to-finger ratio and more, which is why the shrink it and pink it approach doesn’t work for gloves, but “because we engineer for women first, and our gloves are not a derivative off men’s, I don’t pay attention to the differences, tbh. I simply don’t think about men at all.”

After coming up with the initial prototype without reference to male hands whatsoever, they gave the female-design gloves to dozens of tradeswomen and asked them to “work [the gloves] as hard as they work,” and then to give Dovetail feedback on things like:

  • Where did the cuff hit? (Very important for utility gloves)

  • What happens in the high-wear areas? 

  • Where do you need more reinforcement? Where do you need less?

And, LAST BUT NOT LEAST:

  • Are THE FINGERS THE RIGHT LENGTH (they may not have asked this question in all caps)

  • how pathetically grateful we are for things that actually fit our bodies. We shouldn’t be this grateful for things that we pay for actually being designed for us!

Although, also: TAKE NOTE, OTHER COMPANIES, WOMEN LIKE THINGS THAT FIT THEM PROPERLY.