Pelvic Floor & Kids – Learn the 3 Things You Need to Know

posted in: SRHR, Anus, Health, Penis, SexHealth, Vulva 0
Pelvic Floor & Kids Sexual Health | Vavven™

Why’s Pelvic Floor Health Important?

If you’re a dad, mum, carer… then you need to have the ‘Pelvic Health’ conversations (note the plural) with your kids.

Early healthy conversations teach good lifelong habits and remove the shame associated with the pelvic region. This shame is created by us not talking openly in society about sexual health, of which pelvic health is a large component.

If you’re thinking these conversations may be too awkward to bring up with your kids, then you need to challenge yourself. Would you neglect teaching your kids to brush their teeth or to practice sun safety? I’m guessing the answer was no, so why should this area be any different. It’s not actually, pelvic health is simply no less important to your child’s lifelong health, wellbeing and happiness.

The aim of the pelvic health conversation is awareness

Awareness of what the pelvic floor does, when it’s working, and what their normal looks like. To know their own body means they will know change.

But before you have this conversation with your child, have it with your doctor. They will have insight into your child as an individual and give you age appropriate information on pelvic floor exercise, such as, what age to start, frequency and duration. Your doctor may even recommend not doing them as they may actually be too tight to start with. Some signs of this are pelvic pain, constipation, and difficulty starting urination.

What does the Pelvic Floor do?

Pelvic health is required to: control our bladder and bowel; support our internal organs; stabilise and support our spine; provide healthy erectile function and ejaculation; support our uterus during and after child birth to help prevent the uterus descending into the vagina; and enhance all genders sexual pleasure.

It is estimated up to 13% of men and 37% of women suffer urinary incontinence; 20% of men and 12.9% of women suffer faecal incontinence; half of us post child birth have pelvic organ prolapse, many occurring close to child birth but are more likely to occur near menopause, and one-fifth of which require medical attention; and we haven’t even touched the sexual wellbeing numbers.

The pelvic floor is the muscle set that holds all of your insides in, and provides functional control of our bladder, bowel, and uterus. It’s a very complex little set up with muscles darting all over the place and a few openings for the urethra, uterus and anus to pass through. The pelvic floor muscles wrap firmly around these openings to help keep the passages shut. It’s also of interest to know that the urethra and the anus each have a second sphincter to help with this function.

Pelvic Floor

The pelvic floor muscles can weaken for a number of reasons: surgery; constipation; heavy lifting; bladder and bowel problems; pregnancy; age; high impact exercise; and obesity, to name a few. And just as impacting but a much rarer occurrence is pelvic floor muscles that are too tight. The failing of the muscles to relax can prevent the bowel and bladder fully emptying, as well as causing difficulty with penetrative intercourse.

If you have an issue with your pelvic floor chat with your doctor, don’t self-diagnose, they did that university degree for a reason. If you’re in Australia follow this link to find your closest pelvic floor physiotherapist.

The best advice available for maintaining pelvic health is to:

  1. Exercise the pelvic muscles regularly from an early age (this may be as simple as walking see below);
  2. Have good health habits to try and prevent constipation, but also good toilet habits  to manage it when it occurs; and
  3. Discuss your pelvic health with a medical professional.

For our kids to be able to follow these three steps, then we need to talk with them about pelvic health just as we would about healthy eating. These conversations will teach them the basics at an early age and set them up for shame free pelvic health. Pelvic health is a practice to start young to create a healthy habit and reduce the likelihood of suffering sexual or functional issues.

But How Do You Teach Your Kids Pelvic Floor Exercises?

First of all remember the aim is body awareness, knowing where the pelvic floor is, how to operate it, and what their body normal is. Understanding their own body means they will notice changes with age.

With regard to kids resources, there isn’t that much out there unfortunately and what is out there is very gendered. This book may be helpful if your conversation is with someone who just lovvvvess pink and frills, but don’t let a lack of targeted resource slow you down.

We didn’t need a book or a video to show our kids how to brush their teeth, we just taught them from our own experience. So there is no reason why we can not teach them what and where their pelvic floor is, how to activate it, and how to relax it, after we’ve taught ourselves and sort medical guidance on recommended start age and frequency.

These two videos teach the same information in a simplistic way, but approach the lesson with different styles, so just see through the gendering, aging, and the prostate cancer references.

Two very important areas which are not discussed in the videos are:

  1. Normal daily activity: Standing and walking with good posture will work the pelvic floor. So an active healthy kid doesn’t need to go crazy with doing these exercises, they just need to be aware of their body and how it works, what can affect it, and to notice change and seek help if needed.
  2. Relaxing: After you tighten a muscle, let it go completely, let it relax. Learning deep breathing to relax the diaphragm will also relax the pelvic floor, as they are part of the same system. Deep breathing will also calm the nervous system and that’s a nice state in our modern active lives.  

So go to town. This a great skill for all you adults as well!

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[fusion_youtube id=”https://youtu.be/e2xcgG2WAg0″ width=”” height=””

A couple of tips to help when chatting to your kids (after chatting with your family doctor)

  • Find something to relate the conversation to e.g. an aging pet with toileting difficulties
  • When describing the muscles describe them as something kids can visualise e.g. a trampoline or a hammock
  • Only locate one set of muscles at a time i.e. the ones to stop wee, then the ones to stop poo etc.
  • Link the exercising to a visual cue which relates to the frequency of exercise e.g.fish feeding or hockey practice. Over time they’ll associate the visual cue with the exercise
  • And keep it light, don’t go over the top, the aim is awareness

A couple of tips to help when chatting to your kids (after chatting with your family doctor)

  • Find something to relate the conversation to e.g. an aging pet with toileting difficulties
  • When describing the muscles describe them as something kids can visualise e.g. a trampoline or a hammock
  • Only locate one set of muscles at a time i.e. the ones to stop wee, then the ones to stop poo etc.
  • Link the exercising to a visual cue which relates to the frequency of exercise e.g.fish feeding or hockey practice. Over time they’ll associate the visual cue with the exercise
  • And keep it light, don’t go over the top, the aim is awareness

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Sexting in 2020 it’s Time to Demand Tech Companies Change

posted in: SRHR, Safety, SexAdvice, SexHealth 0
Safe Sexting Vavven

What’s Sexting?

A few sexy images or a steamy text conversation is a great way to spice up the day between lovers.

Sexting is sending another person a sexually explicit image or message via any technological means.

It’s predominantly associated with mobile phones and nude pics sent between lovers. They’re certainly not uncommon, with 20% of teens 13-19 sending them and 33% of adults 20-26.

So if most of our sexting is between consenting people in relationships,

what’s the problem with sexting? It’s privacy!

Dr. Amy Adele Hasinoff , a communications researcher, highlights our privacy issue with technology is certainly not a new debate.

We’ve been here, and we’ve solved it.

History has show us many social issues have been born from technological advancement, but it also shows us industry has also stepped forward and solved many of the social issues which have occurred. The automobile industry and safety is a perfect example of such an instance.

If we have expected industry to assist in solving the social issues their technology enables, why are we choosing to send the ‘just don’t do it’ message to our young consenting adults when it comes to sexting?

Rather we should be demanding tech companies implement features to ensure consent levels prior to image sharing. It’s not like industry hasn’t come to the party to solve social issues before.

Many believe creating privacy around digital items is impossible, but it’s not. You can not purchase an e-book and just share it around, your doctor can not share your digital medical files, nor can your bank release your financials to the web.

Banning all sexting to solve privacy issues is like banning all dates to solve date rape, it’s illogical.

As Dr. Amy Adele Hasinoff argues in the TED talk below, the approach we have to sexting is all wrong. We should be focus our efforts on providing digital privacy via consent, rather than discouraging and criminalising it.

Our love stories, short and long, have played out with the assistance of the media of the era for as long as time. Love letters written and passionate sculptures erected to show our lust and love. Dr Hasinoff brings a great love story of 1886 to our attention, where a boy met a girl via the telegraph, and eloped.

One of the barriers to providing consent to images on social platforms, is the business models are built on the ‘share’. They want you to share, like, and engage, and the tech companies want to make this as easy as possible to do.

The second barrier is the lack of practical sexting laws and the will to implement them.

In the US sharing nude images of persons, even yourself, under the age of 18 is considered child pornography. An American paper from 2012 found people aged 17 and under made up 7% of all arrests for possession of child pornography in the US, this is double the 2000 figures.

The third barrier is our social tolerance of people who disseminate personal images without consent.

Yes sexting has it’s risks, but so does anything fun, such as sky diving or trying something new! Serious privacy violation shouldn’t be one of the risks of sexting, especially when we have the capability to install technology to prevent it.

 

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Abortion in NSW Australia Remains a Criminal Matter

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Abortion in NSW Australia Remains a Criminal Matter

This opinion was written in response to MLC Mehreen Faruqi’s defeated bill in NSW upperhouse (May 2017). The Bill was to decriminalise abortion in NSW. At the date of posting abortion is still in the criminal code in two Australian States, New South Wales and Queensland.

This opinion was printed in the Newcastle Herald.

Abortion in NSW Australia Remains a Criminal Matter.

It’s 2017 and a dead NSW citizen has greater bodily autonomy than a living uterus-owning NSW citizen. A bill came before the NSW Legislative Council this month to remove abortion from the Crimes Act, enact safe access zones around abortion clinics, and to require doctors to disclose conscientious objection and refer patients onto those who do not have such an objection. The bill failed, with 64 per cent of our representatives voting against it. Not one Liberal or National party member voted for the bill.

A vote against this bill effectively says our legislators believe from conception the government should have greater rights over the human organ of the uterus than the uterus owner. Yet we live in a society where a dead person has the right not to donate perfectly good organs that could preserve an actual human life.

Yes, common law has provided an avenue for abortion by allowing termination if the woman concedes she is mentally, physically, or economically unfit. Not that she has bodily autonomy.

The bill’s result does not reflect community expectations. The Medical Journal of Australia says “a majority of Australians support laws that enable women to access abortion services after 24 weeks’ gestation”. The Australian Survey of Social Attitudes 2003 found “81 per cent of those surveyed believed a woman should have the right to choose whether or not she has an abortion” with “77 per cent of those who identify as religious also supporting a woman’s right to choose”.

“It’s 2017 and a dead NSW citizen has greater bodily autonomy than a living uterus-owning NSW citizen.”

A major objection to the bill was a lack of regulation for late-term abortions, but only 0.7 per cent of abortions that now take place are after 20 weeks, and there is no evidence of more late-term abortions in ACT where a similar practice has been in place since 2002. Failing to find any science to support the objection, a lack of external regulation on other medical procedures, and the fact numerous studies have proven safe and legal abortions reduce late-term pregnancy terminations, one must concluded the lack of regulation issue is grounded in religious morals. Others claim the vote failed due to the gender construct within parliament, but, by gender, the vote was very similar with only 44 per cent of female and 31 per cent of male representatives voting for the bill. I would suggest the disproportional religious representation in our parliament crosses genders.

It was even argued that a doctor being made to disclose conscientious objection and refer patients onto those who do not have such an objection, was a breach of a doctor’s right to religious freedom. On what planet is this rational? If my doctor doesn’t believe in blood transfusions (yes this is a religious belief) can they just bypass telling me I need one? I don’t think so.

Both Labor and Liberal claimed MLC Mehreen Faruqi was using the bill for political purpose. And of this, I’m extremely confident. Faruqi has used the system and backed the parliament into telling the public their truth on female bodily autonomy. The truth that they believe abortion is a criminal matter. Their argument against the bill was grounded in religious belief, which leads one to believe either they’re overly religious or religious organisations have disproportional influence within their parties.

Either way, they are completely out of step with the people they represent, even the majority of religious ones. However, I understand their anger, no one likes to be made to speak their truth when it’s this ugly.

Disclosure: I’m an atheist and I have a uterus.

Jacqueline Haines is a social entrepreneur who champions sexual and reproductive health and rights

How did the NSW Parliament Vote?

FOR: 14

Jeremy Buckingham (Greens), Mehreen Faruqi (Greens), Justin Field (Greens), John Graham (Labor), Mark Pearson (Animal Justice Party), Daniel Mookhey (Labor), Peter Primrose (Labor), Adam Searle (Labor), Walt Secord (Labor), Penny Sharpe (Labor), David Shoebridge (Greens), Mick Veitch (Labor), Lynda Voltz (Labor), Dawn Walker (Greens).

AGAINST: 25

Lou Amato (Liberal), Niall Blair (Nationals), Robert Borsak (Shooters, Fishers and Farmers), Robert Brown (Shooters, Fishers and Farmers), David Clarke (Liberal), Rick Colless (Nationals), Catherine Cusack (Liberal), Greg Donnelly (Labor), Scott Farlow (Liberal Party), Ben Franklin (Nationals), Duncan Gay (Nationals), Trevor Khan (Nationals), Scot MacDonald (Liberal), Natasha Maclaren-Jones (Liberal), Shayne Mallard (Liberal), Taylor Martin (Liberal), Sarah Mitchell (Nats), Paul Green (Christian Democratic Party), Don Harwin (Liberal), Shaoquett Moselmane (Labor), Fred Nile (Christian Democratic Party), Greg Pearce (Liberal), Peter Phelps (Liberal), Bronnie Taylor (Nationals), Ernest Wong (Labor).

DID NOT ATTEND: 2

Catherine Cusack (Liberal), Courtney Houssos (Labor).

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The Pussy Grab Gone Global

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Vavven The Pussy Grab Gone Global

Printed in Newcastle Herald on 4th Feb 2017

Does making America great again require restrictions to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR)? Well, President Trump and his posse certainly think so…

Shortly after gaining office, his first three executive orders were to: freeze federal hiring; withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP); and reinstate the Mexico City Policy.

Those of a certain political persuasion could certainly muster a good argument for freezing federal hiring and withdrawing from the TPP, but no matter what your politics it would be extremely hard to mount a case for the Mexico City Policy as an integral component to making America great again. It’s a bit of an anomaly unless President Trump’s grand plan is to take his signature pussy grab global!

The Mexico City Policy relates to the United States provision of international family planning assistance and is heavily focused on abortion politics. In order for a foreign non-government organisation (NGO) to be eligible for American federal funding they must not, even with non-American funds, perform, advise on, or endorse abortions as a method of family planning.

This policy has been dubbed the Global Gap Rule, not only does it prevent an international NGO from providing services or advice with non-American funds even when legal within the country they operate, it also prevents them actively participating in the political system and advocating for the legalisation of abortions.

The restrictions imposed by the Mexico City Policy suppress the freedoms of others to engage in public policy debates, undermining America’s own core principle of free and open debate. It’s this unconstitutional behaviour which prevents the restrictions being imposed on their own citizens; hence the policy not applying to American based organizations. Claiming to promote democracy around the world, while imposing a policy which is considered unconstitutional in your own country, could be considered truly American.

One point which needs to be highlighted is the Mexico City Policy is not required to prevent American federal funds being utilised for abortions. The 1973 Helms Amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act prevents American federal funding being used for any of the following outside of America – abortion services; biomedical research; and lobbying on abortion (since 1981). Yet it’s argued by certain circles of influence the Helms Amendment is not strong enough and the Mexico City Policy is needed.

President Trump is not the only president with vagina on his mind, though possibly the only one with it in his palm, the governance of the female reproductive system has been of critical importance for every American President since Reagan introduced the Mexico City Policy in 1984. Each new President has made their position on the policy known in their first week in office. Clinton rescinded it, Bush reinstated it, Obama rescinded it, and now Trump has reinstated it.

Being a strong advocate for SRHR and its capacity to lift masses out of poverty, no one could express my feelings on the topic of abortion or President Trump better than Gough Whitlam – “Let me make quite clear that I am for abortion and, in your case Sir, we should make it retrospective.” But as difficult as it will be for some to understand, this is not a debate on abortion. It’s a debate on America’s predatory behaviour that places people at greater risk in order to progress a moral agenda through a policy which is unconstitutional in their own county.

The Mexico City Policy is fraught with unintended consequences. After the Bush administration re-introduced the Mexico City Policy in 2001, it was found abortion rates actually increased in sub-Saharan Africa and in Ghana, and shipments of American donated contraceptives stopped in 16 developing countries. It’s estimated 225 million women worldwide lack access to modern contraception, one of the most important barriers for preventing unwanted pregnancy. American federal funding is a big deal for global SRHR, they give $607.5 Million per year, preventing six million unintended pregnancies, which in-turn averts 2.3 million abortions and 11,000 maternal deaths.

The figures above prove the restrictions imposed by the Mexico City Policy are unable to improve quality of life or reduce global abortions, because they attempt to deal with only a symptom of the greater issue; they do not eliminate women’s need for abortion. These are the figures American policy makers should be paying attention to, not the disproportionate religious voices within their political system.

Although abortion is a last resort for many women, it is a requirement. And it will always remain an important part of providing global SRHR. The provision of SRHR is one of the fastest ways of creating equality of opportunity, allowing people the ability to recognise their unequal potential.

Providing SRHR will unlock the talent which is currently stifled, by allowing girls and women control over the number and spacing of children, education will become more accessible, unlocking employment or business opportunities not currently available to them. This will activate their economies and create a better world for all of us.

So to Trump, Pence and all who champion the Mexico City Policy with vigour, I say ‘go love yourself’. To the rest I say ‘it’s time we look further than government to solve the world’s biggest issues’.

 

Thanks for reading.

Jacqueline Haines

Founder and CEO Vavven

Vävven believes SRHR is fundamental to global development, equal to those of finance and trade. The denial of SRHR across the world is a human rights problem, but one we champion can be solved within our lifetime.

We’re here to give global support by working with aid organisations that champion Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) and raising those awkward conversations closer to home, because we believe equality of opportunity is needed to create lasting change.

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An Open Letter to Honey Birdette

posted in: SRHR 0
Vavven Honey Birdette

Dear Honey Birdette,

As you know, recently a number of your ex-employees initiated a protest and petition along with the Young Workers Centre calling out poor working conditions, and sexual harassment claims in your retail stores. It is distressful there are many spaces in our social and corporate worlds where sexual harassment exists. But you would agree with me that the one place it certainly should not exist is within an organisation which claims to be founded on sexual empowerment, such as yours and mine.

This is because, put simply, to use overt sexualisation to sell your products in the name of sexual empowerment that in turn allegedly put your employees in danger is insidious and contradictory by nature.

Now I’ll be the first to admit there are many areas I personally take issue with about your company and its practices, but I am a firm believer that being a feminist means allowing other women to choose their own way and do things I may not agree with. However I’ve decided to step into this debate due to your relative silence on the allegations made, because I believe as leaders in society, particularly an industry so directly related to sex, there are two basics we must get right in our relationships; listening and consent.

We may not like everything we are told, but when a group within our society stands up and tells you that your work practices are not cool, then listening shows respect and replying shows you listened. The reply can range from taking corporate steps to review and investigate, as well as introduce new policies and procedures through to adequately refuting the claims made. Simply calling the allegations a ‘mistruth’ and not elaborating any further only leaves me and many others wondering why.

Consent is a frequently discussed topic in connection with sex. Its impact, however, reaches so many other aspects of our lives. Your ex-employees have raised serious concerns which are effectively based on consent, or lack thereof, in their alleged treatment by your customers and your managers. They have raised concerns about your alleged work practices, alleged customer interactions, and alleged dismissal of sexual harassment complaints to your managers.

As mentioned above, there are many aspects of your company philosophy I take issue with, from the inability to display products on everyday women and the constant use of the ‘come f*ck me’ faces, to the ability to sidestep the sex toy retail regulations imposed on so many others in the industry. I do recognise the contribution you have made to opening up the conversation around sex and pleasure, as well as the role played in reducing the shame often associated with the purchase of intimacy products.  But without the base line of mutual listening and un-coerced consent in your relationships, these positive steps are potentially meaningless. The allegations raised are extremely serious and deserve a reply. You have a responsibility to uphold the values that have been fundamental to the formation of your community.  

I would urge you to take immediate action in regards to  the complaints of your ex-employees.

Regards,

Jacqueline Haines

Founder and CEO Vavven

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SRHR Fact – One million births occur every year to girls under the age of fifteen years.

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Vavven SRHR Fact

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Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR)???

posted in: SRHR, SRHR1Only 0
Vavven Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights

Woo yeah, we have some heavy content here people, but stay with us! Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) affects all genders. It’s a broad term used to categorise four sub sectors: sexual health; sexual rights; reproductive health; and reproductive rights.

To unpack this a little more…

  •    Sexual health, is sexual development free from illness and violence.
  •    Sexual rights are the rights of all people to decide freely about their sexuality.
  •    Reproductive health is the physical, mental & social wellbeing in all matters related to pregnancies.
  •    Reproductive rights are the rights of people to decide freely about the number and spacing of their children.

‘It Begins with One: Sexual & Reproductive Health & Rights’
United Nations Foundation

So why is any of this important?

Because the personal is political! SRHR affect millions of people, everyday, across the globe. Just a few statistics to give you a feel for the size of the issue: one million births occur every year to girls under the age of fifteen years; 156,000 infants are born each year with HIV (almost all were preventable); 830 females die every day from preventable pregnancy and childbirth related issues; in developing countries one in every nine girls are married by the age of 15.

But don’t think we in ‘developed’ countries are removed from these issues, we are greatly affected. In Australia alone we are affected across all four sectors, from marriage equality to the taxing of sanitary products.

Vävven believes SRHR is fundamental to global development, equal to those of finance and trade. The denial of SRHR across the world is a human rights problem, but one we champion can be solved within our lifetime.

We’re here to give global support by working with aid organisations that champion SRHR and raising those awkward conversations closer to home, because we believe equality of opportunity is needed to create lasting change.

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