PCOS: Erasing the Stigma

two womenUntil I encountered health-related issues of my very own, I had never heard of PCOS. There are no PSAs, no health class curricula, and it is not uncommon for many physicians to be unfamiliar with the seemingly unrelated symptoms that can be a detriment to the life of a woman who is affected.

Irregular menstrual cycles, weight gain, sluggishness, thinning hair, depression, acne, infertility, and sometimes (but not always) cysts on the ovaries are what a woman with PCOS may have to battle on a daily basis. Not only must a woman endure the physical effects of this disorder, but also the psychological effects that come with these changes. To be clear, that is by no means a comprehensive list of symptoms.

This is polycystic ovarian syndrome, and it affects more than 5 million women in the United States alone. Continue reading

Pro-Choice Friday News Rundown

  • teacher and studentsApparently there’s a weird subset of people who think teaching kids medically accurate, age-appropriate information about sexuality, reproduction, and sexual health will unleash some sort of rabid sex demon upon these poor kids and they’ll lose every ounce of their innocence! So to prevent that from happening, the folks out in Gilbert are censoring factual information from text books. (AZ Central)
  • The co-creator of the birth control pill thinks all sex will be for fun by 2050. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? (Jezebel)
  • As many as 8 million women haven’t been screened for cervical cancer (via Pap testing) in the past five years! (ABC News)
  • The best thing about this piece on why unplanned births are a bigger calamity than unmarried parents? This quotation: “Empowering people to have children only when they themselves say they want them, and feel prepared to be parents, would do more than any current social program to reduce poverty and improve the life prospects of children.” (The Atlantic)
  • My home state, Ohio, is leading the charge to enact the most extreme abortion bill in the nation. HB 248 would ban abortion as soon as the fetal heartbeat can be detected (around six weeks gestation) and has a fair chance of passing since Ohio’s House and Senate are controlled by Republicans. (Cleveland.com)
  • Americans have short memories when it comes to remembering what life was like pre-Roe v. Wade. From hospitals having to have “septic abortion wards” dedicated to treating women for complications from unsafe, illegal procedures and botched self-abortion attempts, to thousands of women dying from their injuries, it really was a harrowing, scary time in our history. We hold out hope that those days are behind us forever. (Think Progress)
  • India’s government sponsored a “population control” effort, which pays women to undergo sterilization, botched an obscene amount of the surgical procedures, killing 12 women and injuring dozens more. Positively sickening. (NY Times)
  • Anti-gay, anti-birth control, anti-abortion, anti-common sense, intolerant religious fanatic Cathi Herrod continues to wreak absolute havoc upon the political landscape in Arizona. (Media Matters)
  • The longstanding ban on gay men giving blood donations may soon be lifted. The caveat? The men will have to be celibate from homosexual sex for at least a year. (Slate)
  • Despite my own history as a clinic escort, my blood still boils at the sight of “sidewalk counselors” who hatefully troll women seeking reproductive health care. (Cosmopolitan)

Let’s Talk Contraception: Contraceptive Patches

Ortho EvraIs there a topical birth control available, you ask? No contraceptive cream or ointment has been developed yet, but yes, there is a patch that can be applied to your skin that is almost 99 percent effective at preventing pregnancy.


Patches are easy to use, discreet, and provide excellent birth control.


It’s called a transdermal patch and there is only one available by prescription in the United States. The Ortho Evra patch (or the generic version, called Xulane) is a small, sticky plastic patch that you apply to your skin: one patch each week for three weeks and then no patch for one week before you start the cycle again. While you wear a patch, it releases both a progesterone hormone, norelgestromin, and an estrogen hormone, ethinyl estradiol. This hormone combination is absorbed through your skin and enters your bloodstream to prevent pregnancy, much like oral birth control pills. It is discreet and can be worn comfortably and confidently during bathing, showering, swimming, and exercising without fear of its falling off. As a matter of fact, the patch has been rigorously tested in many situations, and these studies have shown that when applied properly, the patch loosens or falls off less than 2 percent of the time.

Contraceptive patches come in boxes of three for each month. To use a patch, you open a packet and apply one patch to clean, dry, intact (not irritated or injured) skin. It is recommended to apply it to areas on the buttocks, abdomen, upper torso but not breasts, or outer part of upper arm. It should not be applied to areas where it could be rubbed off, such as under a bra strap. Most users apply the patch the first day of their period or the Sunday after the start of their period. When you initially start using the patch, you will need to use a back-up contraceptive method such as a condom for the first seven days. If you are switching to the patch from birth control pills or the vaginal ring, you apply your first patch on the day you would usually start your next pill pack of pills or insert your next vaginal ring. In that case you do not need to use a back-up method of birth control. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: James Burton for State Representative, LD 14

The Arizona general election will be held on November 4, 2014, and early voting is already underway! Reproductive health care access has been under attack, both nationally and statewide, but Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed candidates who have shown strong commitment to reproductive justice. To acquaint you with our endorsed candidates, we are running a series called “Meet Our Candidates.” Make your voice heard in 2014!

James Burton LD 14East of the Tucson metropolitan area, LD 14 comprises Cochise County (Sierra Vista, Douglas), Greenlee County, Graham County (excluding the tribal reservation), and the far eastside of Pima County (Rosemont area, Corona, Vail, Rita Ranch, and the surrounding mountains of East Tucson). Here, James Burton is running for a seat in the Arizona House of Representatives, where he is facing incumbents David Gowan and David Stevens.

David Gowan is the current majority leader in Arizona’s House of Representatives. He is running on a platform that includes “limiting government and promoting individual responsibility,” yet he voted in favor of SB 1062, which, through the government, would have allowed businesses to discriminate against individuals on the basis of religious beliefs. He also voted in favor of HB 2284, which authorizes the government to perform unannounced inspections of abortion facilities without a warrant, which makes it that much harder for individuals to obtain a medical service that is protected under the U.S. Constitution. Burton’s other opponent, David Stevens, voted in favor of SB 1062 and HB 2284 as well.

Both Gowan and Stevens also support the government prohibiting an individual’s constitutional right to obtain an abortion; and oppose comprehensive sex education, which would serve to educate an individual on how to protect themselves from sexually transmitted diseases and prevent unintended pregnancies. Further, both oppose adding “sexual orientation,” “gender identity,” or “gender expression” to the classes of race, religion, age, sex, and ancestry in an anti-discrimination law that would serve to protect the individual. Lastly, both oppose unmarried domestic partners receiving the same employee and health benefits as married couples — discriminating against people who make the personal choice to remain unmarried.

Burton, running on a platform of inclusiveness — including listening to the people of LD 14 — was the only one out of the three candidates who attended the district’s debate. Answering a series of moderator-provided questions, Burton stated “the voices of the district need to be heard.” Burton is the only LD 14 House candidate running on a platform of inclusiveness, and we recommend Mr. Burton for a single-shot vote.

Mr. Burton was kind enough to speak with us on October 15, 2014.


“The government should not interfere in anyone’s health care choices. Period.”


Tell us a little about yourself.

When I finished high school in 1968, I enlisted in the U.S. Navy. I served four years with service in Vietnam and as a hospital corpsman with the Marine Corps minefield team at Guantanamo Naval Base, Cuba. When I was in high school, I began insulating pipes, boilers, and air conditioning systems with my father, at his insistence. Thanks, Dad. After my honorable discharge, I returned to that trade. After a short time I left the Midwest for the environs of Arizona. Arriving in Phoenix on St. Patrick’s Day, 1973. Continue reading

TIED! DuVal and Ducey TIED With Two Weeks Until Election Day!

The following guest post comes to us via Kelley Dupps, political engagement coordinator for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona.

fred-duval

Fred DuVal trusts women.

Tea Party Republican Doug Ducey acknowledged this weekend that despite all of the support from the Koch brothers, he and his Democratic opponent, Fred DuVal, are tied in the polls with two weeks left until Election Day. This revelation comes on the heels of the marriage equality court case decision on Friday.

We’ve all heard about the issues in this campaign — education, jobs, veterans — and we can all agree that these are important issues that will face the next governor of Arizona. But it’s what we haven’t heard that really sets these two candidates apart: women’s health. We have yet to hear from Mr. Ducey how he believes that the government should ban abortion in all cases — even those cases of rape, incest, or health of the mother. And that is just the start of Mr. Ducey’s long list of how he doesn’t trust women, or their families, and how he would like the government to intrude into people’s lives.

Women’s health and reproductive justice have barely been a blip on the screen. This is unfortunate because reproductive rights are the single largest set of issues distinguishing the candidates. Doug Ducey has installed Cathi Herrod from an extreme lobbying group, Center for Arizona Policy, as a key adviser on his campaign. Though he has tried to sell himself as a “moderate,” he seeks the advice of Ms. Herrod, who has been behind heinous discriminatory bills — such as this year’s SB 1062, widely regarded as an attack on the LGBTQ community — that have made our state a laughingstock. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Sheila Ogea for State Representative, LD 25

The Arizona general election will be held on November 4, 2014, and early voting is already underway! Reproductive health care access has been under attack, both nationally and statewide, but Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed candidates who have shown strong commitment to reproductive justice. To acquaint you with our endorsed candidates, we are running a series called “Meet Our Candidates.” Make your voice heard in 2014!

Sheila Ogea scaledLegislative District 25 is located in Maricopa County, covering much of Mesa. Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed two candidates in the House race: Sheila Ogea and David Butler.

In stark contrast to their Republican opponents, our endorsed House candidates in LD 25 are strong supporters of reproductive health and justice. As Ms. Ogea told AZCentral.com, “We need to make sure abortion is safe and accessible and work together to decrease unwanted pregnancies by making birth control and sex education available.” We asked her to talk to us in more depth about her views on reproductive-rights issues in Arizona.

Ms. Ogea was kind enough to share her thoughts with us on October 17, 2014.


“I strongly trust in a woman’s right to make her own decision about her body.”


Tell us a little about your background.

I am one of six children raised by a single mother. We lived in Arizona and California when I was growing up.

I have been married to my husband, Robert, for 47 years. We have two daughters. We lived in Michigan for about 30 years. I was a housewife, working part time occasionally as a waitress and volunteering at the school. When my daughters were old enough, I started going back to school, taking word-processing and accounting classes. I starting working through temp agencies to try and get some experience, and eventually I got a job with Wayne County Health Department.

I joined the National Organization for Women (Downriver Chapter in Michigan) in 1989 right after attending a huge rally for abortion rights in Washington, D.C. Our chapter used to volunteer to escort patients at a local abortion clinic. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Esther Durán Lumm for State Representative, LD 21

The Arizona general election will be held on November 4, 2014, and early voting is already underway! Reproductive health care access has been under attack, both nationally and statewide, but Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed candidates who have shown strong commitment to reproductive justice. To acquaint you with our endorsed candidates, we are running a series called “Meet Our Candidates.” Make your voice heard in 2014!

Esther Duran Lumm scaledEsther Durán Lumm is currently seeking to represent Legislative District 21 — an area that includes El Mirage, Peoria, and part of Glendale — in the Arizona House of Representatives, and is the only House candidate we endorse in that district. We recommend a single-shot vote for her — voting for Esther Durán Lumm and no other House candidate will give more weight to your vote.

She kindly took time for an interview on October 10, 2014.


“If Americans are ensured of the pursuit of happiness, they must be entitled to choose their own life partners and lifestyle without government dictating to them its version of right or wrong.”


Tell us a little about your background.

I’m a native of Arizona, born of immigrant parents from Mexico. I am married and have a blended family of five children, 12 grandchildren, and one great-grandson. I retired in 2001 after working for Bull Information Systems, Inc., formerly Honeywell, for 27 years as an editor for their worldwide newsletter, a supervisor, a technical writer, and a project manager. Prior to that I worked for Mountain Bell as a directory assistance operator for five years, and a member of the Communications Workers of America Union.

Simultaneously to my career at Bull Information Systems, I worked part-time as a facilitator for victims of domestic violence at Faith House. I have been an advocate for education, working people’s rights, children’s rights from K through 12, faculty and administrators’ rights in higher-education colleges, and laborers’ rights. My advocacy efforts have been voluntary through the Arizona Hispanic Community Forum, an advocacy organization of which I am a member since 1987.

Earlier this year, one of your opponents, Rick Gray, voted for HB 2284, which permits the health department to inspect abortion clinics without a warrant. What do you think about this new law?

I am opposed to this law, as it violates women’s rights. I see it as just another unjust movement to keep women as second-class citizens. Continue reading