Blush: Uterine transplants

A baby was born in the US last week.

Not all that newsworthy, is it?

How about: A woman born without a uterus gave birth to a baby in the US last week.

That’s super incredible.

Ultrasound of Dragon at 19 weeks.

She achieved this by transplant – a donor gave their uterus (and this can be a live or deceased donor) and it was implanted into the woman. In the case of the US birth, it was part of a study conducted by Baylor University, and the recipient had to have healthy ovaries, undergo IVF, and retrieve fertilized eggs that would then be implanted into the transplanted uterus a year after the operation.

Uterine transplants have been done in other countries, too. A woman in Sweden gave birth to a healthy baby boy in 2014, and they got pregnant via IVF a year after the operation. (The woman in question had Rokitansky syndrome, and was born without a uterus or vagina.) The uterus came from a post-menopausal woman, which makes this pregnancy even more interesting, as it not only proved that a pregnancy can occur in a transplanted uterus, but the uterus isn’t affected by menopause.

Anti-rejection drugs must be taken while the uterus is in use (not just while pregnant), and these start causing complications after two pregnancies, so the uterus needs to be removed at that time.

Still, this is pretty incredible, and opens up some pretty incredible opportunities for women both born without a uterus or who have needed their uterus removed (cancer, etc reasons).

What is the next step?

Working towards keeping the uterus for longer, not requiring anti-rejection drugs, transplanting ovaries as well, not requiring IVF to get pregnant…

Any others?


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Blush: Relearning how to pee

The other day, I came across a very hilarious account of Shoshana Sperling, a woman who had bladder leakage. If that doesn’t sound funny to you, I agree. It doesn’t. But the way that this story was written really tickled my fancy. Go read it here.

If you just want the facts and don’t want to read the article (but you really should because it’s hilarious), her bladder leakage happened because it stretched from holding the pee in. Once it’s stretched, it’s hard to tell when it’s full. And bam! Leaks.

An exploding water balloon seemed fitting here. Image from flickr.

This can happen to anyone, not just moms, like in the story. (They call it “busy mom syndrome”.)

And the cure is relearning how to pee. Having a schedule. Shrinking your bladder back to normal so that you can tell when it’s full.

The result of this research is me realizing that being able to hold my pee for hours and hours at a time is not something to be proud of, because it’s stretching my bladder, and I’m probably going to have this exact problem very soon.


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Blush: Seniors

If you think having “the Talk” with your children is weird (try the card game Blush to help with the conversation!), how would you feel about having that same conversation with your newly divorced or widowed parent?

This article from Arti Patel on Boom 99.7’s website has a bunch of statistics, including that both chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis cases have all increased between the years 1980 and 2015 (the most recent national data). And while seniors aren’t experiencing all that many STIs, the fact that there are still reports of any cases is worrying.

Joan Price, sex advocate and author of The Ultimate Guide to Sex After 50: How to Maintain – or Regain! – a Spicy, Satisfying Sex Life, says the reason why the community has high STI rates is simple: they’re not using condoms.”

Patel, 2017

So I did some calculations. If a person is 60 today, they were born in 1957. Add 14 (the approximate age for sex education), and you get 1971. What was sexual education in Canada like in 1971?

A depiction of a classroom in stereotypical Canada, circa 1970. Image from www.macleans.ca

This was actually an interesting topic to research. I found a pretty great resource here (page 387), but here’s the most important part:

“During the 1960s and 1970s, most students in Canadian schools received little, if any, sexual health education. During this period, information about sexuality was often provided in programs called “Family Life Education” (FLE), which focused on human reproduction, puberty, and, in some cases, birth control.”

Pearson, p 387

Note that there is no mention of STIs. Why not?

Because the AIDS and HIV scares didn’t happen until the 1980s!

So the senior population would not have learned about using protection against diseases. No matter the sexual orientation, a senior couple wouldn’t consider using a condom, because there wouldn’t be a chance of getting pregnant!

In conclusion, have a talk with your parents, and make sure they are aware of the consequences of not using a condom!


References

Why STI rates are steadily going up in Canada

Sexual Health Education in the Schools: A Brief History – Chapter 15 (PDF: 1MB)


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Blush: Recommendation Wednesday

One of my close friends posted a very good article on coming out as asexual last week, and I got permission to link to it for my Blush post this week. Please go and read it, and like her on Facebook (here).

I was greatly heartened after the surprisingly well-attended Asexual Identities panel at CanCon this year.  It was really awesome to be on a panel with other people who were so similar to myself, and had similar experiences.  It was wildly reaffirming, and helped me a great deal on a personal level. [Read more]

S.M. Carriere’s website.

If you’re enjoying the Blush blogs, consider learning more with Blush: The Card Game from Renaissance Press.

Blush: Sexual Harassment and Assault

On Sunday October 15th, #metoo was all over Twitter and Facebook. Eric had to explain to me what it was about.

I’ve seen amendments to the tweet by changing “women” to “people”, and I think that makes it better.

People is a better term because it is inclusive of trans and nonbinary humans, who are just as likely to be harassed as cis-women.

However, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the #metoo movement was started by Tarana Burke, a Black woman, ten years ago! To join Burke’s movement to amplify the voices of sexual assault survivors, go to metoo.support. (Source that I highly recommend reading. Go! This page will still be here when you’re done. It even opens in a new window! You’ve read it? Good. We can continue.)

I have also seen a couple articles mentioning that there are victims who do not feel safe enough to join in. My heart goes out to them, and please know that this blog is a safe space. Comments are moderated before being posted, so no hate speech will get through. If you need help, we will do everything in our power to help you.

And yes, #metoo.


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Blush: Consent and kids

Last week we went to a family birthday party (five celebrated at once, from the ages of 1 to 70!) and a lot of fun was had. However, it definitely brought to my attention that our daughter has no concept of personal space, boundaries, or consent.

She’s 1 years old. This is normal.

Normal it may be, but consent is something she needs to learn. And now that she’s walking and able to chase down other kids, she needs to learn it fast.

Fortunately, there are some pretty great resources to help us. I encourage everyone to read at least this guide (it’s 4 pages) if you have any children in your life, whether they belong to you, your family, or your friends.

My sister is already really great at respecting my daughter’s limits. Every time she visits, she asks “Can I pick you up?” before touching her. I know that if she ever says “no”, it will be respected.

As adults, we need to be aware that a child’s “no” to hugging, kissing, or being held, is not them casting any aspersions on our character. They’re just not in the mood to be touched, and we should respect that. Offer an alternative, like a high five, a fist bump, a blown kiss, or a simple wave.

Along a similar vein, if the child has agreed to be touched, and then wants to stop, they should be listened to.

This is all common sense, and easy to follow because we’re adults. We understand the reasoning. How do we teach it to children?

Part of teaching consent to kids is modelling it. Showing that they have agency over their own bodies is a big step to understanding that others are also to be respected.

My daughter and her cousin, whom she terrorized last week.

She walked up to the only other person her size and tried to hug them. She kept her balance (and grip) quite well as he tried to wriggle away… I feel like I dropped the ball at this point. I should have taken her aside and explained that he wasn’t interested in being held, just like she didn’t want to be held by the strangers at the party. I might not have gotten through to her, but I should have tried, multiple times if necessary.

Teaching them empathy is another part. Our daughter also pulled the his hair. He cried, understandably. But she doesn’t seem to understand that having hair pulled hurts – she does it to herself all the time, and doesn’t seem bothered by it. She thinks it’s funny when she pulls other people’s hair. I made her apologize to him (I held her while I apologized for her because she is non verbal) and told her not to pull other people’s hair. I don’t think it has sunk in yet. She pulled mine the next morning.

It’s a work in progress. Suggestions are welcome.


References

http://www.teachconsent.org

Parent Discussion Guide

https://goodmenproject.com/families/the-healthy-sex-talk-teaching-kids-consent-ages-1-21/

http://www.parents.com/parenting/better-parenting/advice/how-to-teach-your-children-about-consent/


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Blush: Sex and Menopause

Once menopause hits, a lot of changes start happening, and most of them are hormonal.

In case you don’t know, pretty much everything that goes on in your body is regulated by hormones, but especially your sex drive. For example, just a small change in testosterone (everyone has this, btw) can make your sex drive fluctuate drastically.

I was trying to go abstract with a wrinkled piece of paper, but I wasn't liking it. This is a much better image to suit menopause. Image from here.
I was trying to go abstract with a wrinkled piece of paper, but I wasn’t liking it. This is a much better image to suit menopause. Image from here.

The North American Menopause Society is a great resource for people approaching menopause. It has a plethora of references, articles, and resources.

After reading through this website, some of the things that struck me are:

  • yoga helps with a lot of the problems
  • don’t be afraid to ask for a therapist (if you’re in Ottawa, Sue McGarvie has excellent reviews as a sex therapist)
  • do Kegels daily – not only does this increase blood flow, but it helps to strengthen your pelvic floor (and this should be done by all adults at all ages!)
  • lube is not a frivolity, but a necessity (again, for all ages)
  • a lot of people are going through this – don’t be ashamed to ask for help

If you’re enjoying the Blush blogs, consider learning more with Blush: The Card Game from Renaissance Press.

Blush: Ejaculate colours

Hello readers!

To continue the colour theme from two weeks ago, I decided to write about the colours of ejaculate!

A sperm whale. Image from www.coolantarctica.com
A sperm whale. Image from www.coolantarctica.com

The usual colour of semen is white-grey.

Its consistency can vary, but as long as it isn’t extremely sticky and viscous (a sign of possible inflammation), it’s completely normal. Some viscosity is perfectly fine!

If the semen is slightly brown, pink, or red, there is a possibility of blood in the semen. This could be because of inflammation or bleeding in the interior organs (prostate or seminal vesicle). This is only a worry if the colour persists for a week or two. Get it checked out at this time at the latest.

A yellow tinge to semen could be because of urine, a high white blood cell count, or jaundice. Again, if the colour continues to show up after a week or two, go and see a doctor.

If semen is yellow-green, this is a sign of a possible prostate infection. Again, something to keep an eye on over the next couple of weeks, and if the unusual colour continues to show up, go get it checked out.

If the above colour changes also happen at the same time as other symptoms, such as fever, pain, blood in urine, and/or sexual dysfunction, go see your doctor as soon as you can. Unusual colour changes (especially accompanied by other symptoms) can indicate a medical condition, and it’s best to catch the more serious ones early.


References

www.mayoclinic.org

www.healthline.com


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Blush: Period Blood Colours

If you feel that your period is not your normal, it is recommended to see your doctor. You know your body best!

Image from www.monthlygift.com. This blog has no references, but some interesting content.
Image from www.monthlygift.com. This blog has no references, but some interesting content. It was written by an RN.

The colours you are most likely to see during your period are:

Bright red – this shows up for the longest amount of time during most people’s periods.

Dark red – this colour is associated with heavy days, first thing in the morning, and clots. This colour will only be seen at some points during the period, not the whole time. If this colour is the dominant one, get it checked out. Heavy periods might indicate anemia.

Brown or black – this colour is usually at the beginning or end of the period, and it’s just the old blood that has been oxidized the longest. If this colour is the dominant one, get it checked out.

Pink – this colour is mildly unusual. It might mean the flow is very light, that estrogen levels are low, an unbalanced diet, or that a high level of exercise is shortening the period. Not all of this is bad! However, if this colour is the dominant one, get it checked out.

Any other colour (in my research for this, blue, purple, orange, and grey have all been mentioned) should be seen by a doctor asap, as they indicate some health issues.

Any bleeding in between periods should be checked out asap as well, as that could indicate other health problems.


References

Trying to find good, sourced references on this topic was very difficult. I’d find an article that told me all about the colours of the blood, but then there’d be no references in the article, and I’d have to start all over again. Very frustrating!

http://www.webmd.boots.com/women/guide/menstrual-blood-problems-clots-colour-and-thickness

http://www.healthline.com/health/womens-health/why-is-my-period-brown#1

http://www.teenvogue.com/gallery/period-blood-colors-what-they-mean


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Blush: Recommendation Wednesday

The baby Dragon has been very clingy, which has been limiting my research time, so the post on period blood is going to have to wait until two weeks from now. In the meantime, this awesome and adorable webcomic is my recommendation for today:

Assigned Male webcomic by Sophie Labelle. Image from Sophie's Twitter header.
Assigned Male webcomic by Sophie Labelle. Image from Sophie’s Twitter header.

It’s called Assigned Male, written by Sophie Labelle. You can find the comic on Tumblr, like it on Facebook, follow Sophie on Twitter (@assignedmale), buy stuff from its Etsy shop, support it on Patreon, and eventually, hopefully, find the comic on its website. The website is currently down because of a violent series of death threats and hacking, which you can read about here and here.


If you’re enjoying the Blush blogs, consider learning more with Blush: The Card Game from Renaissance Press.