To read part 1, click here.
Tuesday morning, I made my way back to the Armenian Center to the Umuado Igbo Nigeria and in Diaspora’s event entitled “Managing the Challenges of Women and Girl Empowerment in Nigeria.” I found Francis who introduced me to the other women on her team. She handed me the program for the event and I saw that I was scheduled to be the FIRST panelist to speak! So much for my plan.
So many of the contraceptive programs offered to Africa come with forced ideological colonization. As the only white woman on the panel, I was keenly aware of my desire to empower them by offering information and walking alongside them to live the fullness of their culture without imposing mine.
The rest of the panelists spoke eloquently and emphasized the need for action rather than just talking about solving problems. As they spoke about the issues women face in their culture, I was even more humbled by realizing my own privilege.
During the question/answer time, a woman who was seated in the back stood up and introduced herself as Malcolm X’s youngest daughter. I am certain that the surprise on my face was evident as my mind raced to realize, “THAT Malcolm X?!” My slight awe quickly vanished as it became clear that she intended to try and take over the event by monopolizing the mic. She did, however, touch on the idea that action was needed, so when the moderator was able to take back the floor, she refocused onto this theme of the event.
Francis then directed a question toward me. “Women in Nigeria don’t use Billings because they don’t know how it works. What do we DO? How do we get started?” I explained that getting started is not difficult, but that all they would need is one trained teacher to teach a group of women to become instructors so that they can teach others, and it can ripple throughout the country. I also mentioned that Benin already has a WOOMB affiliate and that they may be an excellent resource for getting trainings started.
After the event, Francis expressed to me that she knew a Catholic woman who she was sure would be on board with this, and she is going to keep in touch with me to help them along the way. I also told her about the WOOMB International Conference to be held in Benin next year, and that it would be an excellent opportunity for those that they teach to become more connected and inspired.
These women were joyful, dynamic and lovely inside and out. As we chatted more, the moderator came over and I learned that she has seven children. I grabbed her hand and said, “Me too!” Francis laughed heartily and said, “So the one you are carrying will make 8? You should have two more and then you will have 10!” What a contrast to the shock and disdain of many in our culture at so many children. How beautiful to see their love and encouragement of large families!
Tuesday evening, three women from our team attended an NGO reception. It was an amazing opportunity for networking, and more informal discussions. The women in attendance were having a marvelous time, and were chatting up a storm. We talked to so many people, and were amazed at the openness of everyone to what WOOMB offers.
I also had an opportunity to speak with Susan O’Malley (Chair of the Executive Committee of CSW) that night. When I handed her out postcard she recognized it instantly, and remembered that we had asked for two parallel events, but she thought they had only approved one. I cheerfully announced that we had been given both events and how thankful we were for that opportunity. She shifted her weight to one leg, looked at me with skeptical eyes and said, “So, does it really work?” I smiled and confidently replied, “Yes, it actually does work!” I went on to explain a brief history of the Drs. Billings, Odeblad and Brown and Billings efficacy statistics. She shared that she had gotten pregnant on the IUD, Pill and trying the Rhythm method with the Pill. I quickly interjected, “Oh, now, we aren’t the rhythm method, the science is totally different.” I gave a very quick rundown of the ovarian hormones effects on the cervix and sensation, changing vs unchanging patterns. She thought for a moment, looked at the card again and said, “I need to go look at your website again, that’s interesting.”
I was thrilled at the length and honesty of our conversation.
Wednesday offered more opportunities for passing out postcards and networking. I spoke with a women from “Pleasant Gathering,” and was able to attend their parallel event. They are a faith based group from Nigeria who rescue women out of sex work and give them a marketable trade to make a living. They also were interested in how Billings education could help the women in their program.
As with the other women from Nigeria, these women were open and loving, grabbing me by the hand and leading me around to introduce me to everyone in their group.
Wednesday afternoon provided a good opportunity to relax a little bit. We were able to find some treasures at the CSW Artisan Fair where women from all over the world brought their handmade items to sell. We also got to enjoy a little bit of New York by attending a taping of the Stephen Colbert Show, and walking through times square. It was a nice change of pace before gearing up for our last event in Thursday.
I spent Thursday morning passing out more postcards, and inviting people to our event. When it came time for us to begin, I was disheartened at the number of people in the room. I had talked to so many people that had expressed what seemed like a genuine interest in coming. But, my spirit lifted as time went on, and the room filled with familiar faces. I was excited to see Destiny Herndon De-La-Rosa (Founder of New Wave Feminists) come in. I had connected with her a few weeks before CSW and invited her to come. Allison did a fantastic job directing the event, and each panelist spoke well of their personal empowerment. Monica presented the slide rule excellently as well. The audience was engaged and again followed up with thoughtful questions. Even after the event had finished, we all stayed around talking for quite some time.
The WOOMB team went to dinner all together that evening to debrief from the week and get started planning for next year.
I am so very thankful for the opportunity to represent WOOMB International at
the United Nations for CSW63. I believe that the team this year was strong, supportive of one another, and effective in spreading our message. I look forward to being able to represent WOOMB to the UN in the future.
Thank you to all of you who supported me and helped me take the Billings Ovulation Method to the United Nations!
Over-the-counter hormonal birth control is now available in California and Oregon. Other states are hoping to follow their lead, and Presidential hopeful, Donald Trump has also declared his support for over-the-counter birth control. Considering that birth control has become synonymous with women’s health, this is not surprising. What seems to be missing from this discussion is the fact that oral contraceptive pills (OCP) are not vitamins or supplements; they are pharmaceuticals which come with long list of side effects and risks, as well as lifestyle and drug interactions.
When a woman obtains her prescriptions through her doctor’s office, the impetus is on the doctor to monitor her health and drug interaction concerns (whether they take this role seriously when it comes to birth control, is discussion for another day). But if OCP’s become available over-the-counter, only the pharmacist will be there to ensure her safety. The pharmacist, unlike the physician, has little idea who this woman is, what other medications she is on, or what lifestyle choices she may be making. Who then, will be left to will inform her or to monitor how these powerful pharmaceuticals (designed to disrupt a naturally, well-functioning endocrine system) are affecting her health.
We’ve previously examined the side effects and risks associated with OCP’s, and won’t address them here today. Rather, let’s look at lifestyle and drug interactions are even more ambiguous to the average pill user. Our unquestioning trust in OCP’s has blinded us to these concerns to the point that women believe these cross checks are irrelevant and unnecessary. On the contrary, information on these interactions is a serious concern for women’s health. If proponents get their way, and OCP’s become available over-the counter, there will be little to no regulation of what pill is taken by what women, and no regard for what her personal health needs are.
Lifestyle Interactions with Oral Contraceptives:
The most well-known lifestyle choice that significantly interacts with OCP’s is smoking tobacco. A wave of research in the late nineties researched the effect of smoking while taking OCPs and found that risk of blood clots, venous thromboembolism and stroke are significantly higher, specifically in women over the age of 35. The fight to make the public aware of the dangers of tobacco use has brought this dangerous interaction to light.
Smoking marijuana may also interact with oral contraceptives, although research is limited considering the very recent legalization of recreational marijuana in certain states. Nevertheless, health care providers are able to theorize that “Marijuana may have effects that counteract estrogen. Taking marijuana along with birth control pills might decrease the effectiveness of birth control pills.” Furthermore, marijuana has been found to have an adverse effect on the circulatory system by increasing heart rate and blood pressure. These symptoms are compounded when alcohol is used in conjunction with the drug. Combine this with the pill’s known association with a higher risk of blood clots and venous thrombosis, and the risks of this combination are easy to see.
Interactions of alcohol and caffeine use with hormonal contraceptives are limited, but worth noting. Alcohol consumption in women using OCPs has been seen to increase the central nervous system effects and blood levels of the alcohol. In other words, while taking OCP’s it may not take as many drinks for a woman to become tipsy. Oral Contraceptives are also seen to decrease the metabolism of caffeine, causing it to linger in your system longer. This may seem like a benefit to some, but according to the University of Illinois Health Center, the effects of the combination are significant enough to encourage women to know and look for the signs of caffeine overdose.
In addition to lifestyle interactions, a popular formulation of the pill (ethinyl estradoil/levenorgestrel) has 533 drug interactions to keep track of as well. Check out this helpful list compiled by the University of Illinois that takes a closer look at a few of those interactions including corticosteroids, over-the-counter pain killers, anti-seizure medications, anti-depressants and more.
Risks associated with hormonal contraception have been ignored to the point that most women do not believe there are any risks at all. The move to make contraception available over-the-counter will only worsen this information gap. The political term “Women’s Health” again overshadows the much more important health of a woman.
Women deserve better!
You can still manage your fertility and plan your family. #Ditchtherisk of hormonal contraceptives. The Billings Ovulation Method is 99.5% effective, 100% risk free and side-effect free, and enables a woman to easily monitor her overall health. If you are one of the many women who deal with PCOS or Endometriosis, the Billings Ovulation Method will not leave you to suffer the effects! Every Billings chart is a hormonal assay that a trained physician can use to diagnose the underlying cause of your ovarian dysfunction (hint: it is NOT hormone imbalance. Your hormones are only a symptom of the deeper issue that needs to be uncovered for you to get back to true health.) Schedule your free informational session with us today by calling (918) 4010-NFP and learn how Billings can help you achieve Women’s Health that is true, honest, and empowering! #NeverSettle for less.