A public health scientist explain reasons for the racial disparities

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Research in the U.S. has found that there is little difference in sexual behavior between white WSM (women who have sex with men) and Black WSM.[1] For example, the median number of lifetime sex partners for white WSM was 3.6 compared with 4.1 for Black WSM; 10% of white WSM have had 15 or more male sex partners in their lifetime, compared with 9% for Black WSM.[2]

Yet Black women have far higher rates of STIs than white women do. …

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Screwy sperm

My house sits up on a bluff across the creek from a popular “put in” spot for kayakers. A picture with my house incidentally in the background once graced the cover of Kayaking Magazine! From my vantage point, I can watch the boaters as they navigate the rocks and the bridge pylons where the creek water rushes through. I was recently reminded of the kayakers while reading some new research on sperm movement through the female reproductive tract.

Turns out sperm don’t swim like we thought they did. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing sperm under…

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Part 2: Pregnancy, Breastfeeding, and Insomnia


The use of cannabis is most frequent in women between the ages of 20 and 30. This corresponds to the peak childbearing years. Since the potency of cannabis has increased and, with legalization, so has the consumption of cannabis. There is increased cause for concern about the safety of using marijuana during pregnancy.

One of the great benefits of cannabis legalization is that researchers can now legally study the effects of the substance on animals and on humans. It is well known that the fetus is forming its major organs very early in pregnancy, often before a woman may suspect…

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PART 1: Differences in Men and Women and Weed

Current legal status U.S.

First banned for use in the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act, cannabis remains under the regulation of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) under Schedule I of the Controlled Substance Act of 1970 (with amendments through 2017). Drugs under Schedule I, by definition have a high potential for abuse and have no accepted medical use. However, some cannabis derivatives have been found to be therapeutic. Marinol (pure tetrahydrocannabidiol (THC) and dronabinol (synthetic THC) have been FDA approved to treat nausea and vomiting induced by chemotherapy and are listed in…

An OB nursing colleague once told me, and I agree, that a woman should be considered “no longer a virgin” after she gives birth for the first time — not after she has sex for the first time. A woman’s body changes after she gives birth. After she has penis-in-vagina intercourse for the first time? Nada.

A woman feels no different after she “loses” her virginity, except maybe psychologically and that mostly due to society’s labeling than to any inherent physical or rational change. In fact, after sex, she doesn’t feel like she “lost” anything at all. Except the label…

Sexually transmitted infections are on the rise

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Do you have coronavirus fatigue?

Are you tired of talking about the coronavirus pandemic?


Let me distract you with the other current pandemic.

What other pandemics, you say?

The STI pandemic.

What STI pandemic, you say?

The STI pandemic that no one’s talking about.

What’s going on with STIs?

Over 100 million Americans have an STD at any given time. That’s about one in every three of us. America has the highest rate of curable STDs among all the developed countries in the world.

So, is this just an American thing?

No. Rates of syphilis increased by 70% in the EU between 2010 and 2017. In fact, 2017 was the first…

Stumbling over terminology hinders communication

CDC -public domain

An infection arises when an organism that has the potential to cause disease invades the body. An infection is declared a disease only when it causes damage to the body that is characteristic of the specific organism. Someone could be infected with a microbe, say polio or tuberculosis, and never have any symptoms. They are infected but are not diseased. Others infected by the same microbe can have all the symptoms of, and die from, the same infection — they have the disease.

STD: sexually transmitted disease — a term used since the mid-1970s for…

Image: Frances O. Kelsey receives the President’s Award for Distinguished Federal Civilian Service from President John F. Kennedy, 1962. National Library of Medicine, Images from the History of Medicine

Reviewing reproductive health laws

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Three politically-driven policies have not only gagged women’s health care providers but have caused an increase in what they sought to prevent. The most recent, and most egregious, is Trump’s gag rule (I’m sure he thinks it is the biggest and the best). And all for naught.

The Helms Amendment (1973)

Passed in wake of Roe v. Wade decision; this Amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 prohibits US global family planning assistance funds from being used by organizations that 1) provide abortion-related services or 2) refer patients to other clinics that provide abortion-related services or 3) allow staff…

Let’s be clear — COVID-19 is not a sexually transmitted infectious disease. You cannot contract it from sperm or vaginal fluids. You can contract it from respiratory fluids that you would be likely to exchange if you are in close enough proximity to be having a sexual encounter.

So technically, I would say that you can’t get it from having sex but you can get it by having sex. Clear?

Sex with housemates

If you are considering having sex with someone you are self-distancing with, you are likely already exchanging respiratory germs from talking, laughing, sneezing, coughing or from touching…

Kristine Shields

Dr. of Public Health, Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner, researcher, and writer on reproductive health and justice. KristineShieldsAuthor.com.

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