By: Shriya H I was sitting at my desk at ASAAP when I got the call from the walk-in clinic letting me know my results had arrived. Outwardly, I think I appeared calm and controlled as I slowly moved to a more private area […]
Tag: reproductive health
By: Reenita V Some may find this topic a bit taboo. Many might find this conversation gross, icky, something that should never be discussed with peers, family, and partners or even just discussed at all. Others might love this subject, too. Either way, it’s time […]
By: Monique Gill
A recent Ontario study confirms that South Asian women lead in the number of breast cancer
cases that have progressed to stages 4 & 5 (The Canadian Press). By contrast, Chinese
women lead in the number of cases that have been successfully detected and prevented.
Researchers suggest this is most likely due to the proactive role the Chinese community takes
in discussing sexual health. By contrast, researchers believe the high number of South Asian
women diagnosed in late stages of breast cancer is due to the lack of education within the
Why is it a taboo to talk about sexual health within the South Asian community?
South Asian women are strongly discouraged by our communities and each other from
exploring our sexualities and by extension, inquiring about sexual health. Often times, even
topics that minimally revolve around sexuality are marked as inaccessible.Female virginity is
traditionally seen as a virtue upheld in South Asian culture and sadly many women hesitate to
ask questions about their sexual health for fear of being seen as sexually active (whether they
are or aren’t) which is inherently linked to cultural taboo and character defamation.
Discussing sexual health with South Asian women doesn’t necessarily mean promoting sexual
activity, instead it promotes healthy lifestyles and provides women with information to make
educated choices. We need to move past the idea of sexual topics being adulterated by being
spoken about with shame and secrecy and as a community be open to discussing and providing
sexual health awareness for all South Asian women.
Is putting effort into upholding stigma around sexual activities worth risking the lives of our
women? Sexual education is a must for everyone in South Asian communities, regardless of
gender. We cannot afford to let deliberate ignorance take the lives of any more South Asian
Sex education is rarely without controversy. As a sexual health educator, working with South Asian communities all over Toronto, I see firsthand how sexual misinformation, stigma, cultural and gender norms can all make sex a hard topic to discuss. Lately, however, it seems to be […]
By: Saipriya V
Sterilization is a common procedure used to terminate fertility . The two most common procedures include tubectomy in women and vasectomy in men. Though the male sterilization procedure is medically less complicated, globally 2.5 to 4 times women are sterilized than men (1).
In India, since late 1990’s health care system targets women for the family planning programs (2). For women, especially those who suffer the burden of India’s patriarchal society, and women who live in poverty the sterilization procedure is the only way to avoid having several children. The financial incentives given by the government indirectly forces women to undergo the sterilization procedures , so that their husbands can get the money.
The health care workers deliberately target women, especially in the rural areas for the mass sterilization camps run by Indian government . Every year these mass sterilization camps take the lives of at least 5 to 10 women (2–4). This is because most of the camps take place in a school or at the camp site, where there is minimal access to water and sterilized environment. In 2013, 100 women were sterilized in few hours and were ‘abandoned’ unconsciously in the field , because they could not accommodate their numbers. Similarly 2014, 83 women were sterilized by a doctor in less than 3 hours in Chhattisgarh, where 68 women were treated for septic shock and 11 women died following the surgery (2–4).
It is shocking to see our women were treated like ‘cattle’ in these sterilization camps. Unequal treatment of women in these societies leaves them vulnerable to violence, mistreatment, physical and emotional harm.
Health care workers were forced to reach sterilization target every year, so they hesitate to educate women, about other birth control options. Instead, they encourage them through incentives, often targeting poor and marginalized women. In our society being women and being poor clearly leaves women to have no choices over their bodies.
The family planning programs should be refashioned by focusing more on educating women about the other birth control options and empower her rights over her body.
1. Cullins V. Sterilization: Long-Term Issues. Glob Libr Women’s Med [Internet]. 2008; Available from: http://www.glowm.com/section_view/heading/sterilization:long-termissues/item/404
2. Bode L De. Why Indian women are victims of sterilization “cattle camps” [Internet]. ALJAZEERA AMERICA. 2014. Available from: http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/11/14/women-india-sterilization.html
3. Chaurasia M. India mass sterilisation: women were “forced” into camps, say relatives. theguardian.
4. Neha Wadekar. INDIAN WOMEN ARE BEING STERILIZED [Internet]. NewsWorthy. Available from: http://www.nehawadekar.com/the-reality-of-sterilization-in-india-part-i/
Whenever I tell someone that I work in HIV education, I’m invariably met with “So like, condoms?” This response is unsurprising since growing up many of us equate safe sex with only condoms, which is great given that condoms do provide effective protection; however, the […]
By: Reenita V.
Going to get tested can be super scary, especially if it is your first time. It is hard to predict what is going to happen, what questions you will be asked, if it’s going to hurt, etc. To ease some of your concerns, I’m here to give you a detailed run down of my most recent STI check.
In Toronto, the clinic of my choice is Hassle Free Clinic because as the name suggests, it really is hassle free. You should choose the
clinic of your or if you have one, your family doctor. I visited the clinic during the drop-in time which means I arrived to a packed lobby and that the wait was going to be a long one. Instead of relying on books or playlist to get through the wait time, I asked a friend to come along (she plays a role in the pancake portion of this story) and having someone with me eased some of the nervousness. This was not my first time getting tested but nonetheless I was nervous. Drop-in times at a clinic means that the chances of running into someone you may know are pretty high . Running into an aunt, boss, or teacher at a clinic can be absolutely horrifying but
the thing to remember is that they are there for the exact same reason you are.
My number was called, my personal identification form was filled out and it was time to wait for the doctor to call. When my number was called, I followed the doctor into a small room and this is where the nervous butterflies turned to giant owls flapping away in my tummy. I felt slightly awkward as I entered the room. The doctor introduced herself, had me sit at the desk and eased me into the question portion of my check-up. The question portion can feel very intrusive but it is always important to be honest with your doctor. Here are the questions the doctor asked me:
- Had I been screened for STIs previously?
- What kind of contraceptives do I use?
- When was my last period?
- Do I have regular menstruation cycles?
- Have I had my regular gynecological exam which screens for cervical cancer?
- When was the time I engaged in unprotected sex?
- How many people am I currently having sex with?
- Have I ever had an STI before?
- Was there any pain in my pelvic?
- Any concerns the doctor should know about?
When the question period was over, it was time for the dreaded exam. The doctor left the room so I could undress, which I did quickly and just so you know, I did leave my socks on. I lay on the table with a medical sheet covering my lower half, the doctor re-entered the room. She made casual chit-chat while she retrieved a speculum and sat on the stool located at the end of the table. The exam started with the insertion of the speculum which as usual, the doctor gave me a heads up before this happened. This step was not at all painful however; I felt a slight bit of pressure from the expansion of the speculum. Keep in mind; all bodies are different as are experiences so the insertion and opening from the speculum can feel different for everyone. The doctor exclaimed that my cervix looked great and that she was going to take a couple of swabs. The doctor took two swabs and then the exam was done. While the doctor was turned away, I dressed quickly and let out the nervous breath I was holding for the whole exam.
Back in the desk chair, now fully clothed the doctor sat down allowing for any follow up questions. Having been tested before, I just assumed that I was getting checked for everything but sadly, I had never asked the doctor exactly what was happening during my exam. This time I confirmed with the doctor that I was being checked for bacterial vaginosis, yeast, Trichomoniasis, Gonorrhea, and Chlamydia. I made a later date to check for HIV, Hepatitis C and Syphilis as these tests are done through blood work. The doctor and I discussed how apprehensive someone might be about getting tested but she assured me she has seen it all and at this clinic especially, they are absolutely judgment free. The doctor informed me I would be informed of any positive results in a week and with that I was on my way.
My friend, who was experiencing her first STI screening, met me in the hallway. I gave her a look over and at first glance did not recognize any signs of trauma. In fact, she looked proud. Leaving the clinic, we started chatting about what happened in the room and if our expectations came true. Mid conversation we stumbled across an all you can eat pancake buffet – score! We loaded up our plates and sat and continued our conversation. Now, not everyone may jump at the idea of sharing such a personal experience with someone but, as we wiped syrup off our faces, I realized that sharing this experience created an opportunity to discuss concerns, experiences, and knowledge sharing. We went from scary and unsure to this incredible bonding moment and made an investment in our sexual health.
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