the ch!cktionary

I'm Lena Chen, a writer, activist, and media producer who's been called a "skank" (by Bill O'Reilly) and "a small Asian woman" (by The New York Times). My favorite part of my workday is the hate mail.

For the unlikely story that is my life, read on.

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irregular features
Ask Lena: Reader Questions Answered
Anatomy of an Outfit
Bad Feminist Confessions
Freelance Friday: Career Advice for Young Writers
Hate Mail
Gratuitous Photos Of My Bulldog
Notes & Snapshots from Abroad
Recent Tweets @lenachen
Posts tagged "sexual health"

"According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), use of IUDs by female ob-gyns is three times greater than that of the general public.”

Not that it’s a competition, but I humbly predict the public will soon follow. Since I switched from the Pill to the IUD in 2009, I’ve heard more and more stories from readers and friends about people clamoring to get them - some even go as far as crossing the border to Canada, which frankly impresses me. Trend or cult? I don’t think the IUD is going to get any less popular (and I think a lot of readers would agree).

Just did a segment on HuffPost Live about the United Nations declaring contraception a human right. You can check it out above :)

Beginning yesterday, millions of folks across the country will be able to obtain contraception at no cost. But not so fast … there are still plenty (like the uninsured) who won’t be able to access these benefits. How do you know where you fall?

According to the online birth control network Bedsider.org:

  1. This is just the beginning. Lots of insurance plans renew after August 1, 2012, so the change might not apply to your plan right away.

  2. The new requirements only benefit people with insurance. The cost of these services won’t change if you don’t have health insurance, although other provisions of the ACA may help uninsured folks get birth control coverage down the line.

  3. Some health insurance plans will be exempt. Health insurance plans that have maintained “grandfathered” status, as well as plans offered by churches and houses of worship, won’t have to cover these services. The National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) has details on what it means if your plan is grandfathered in case you want more info on that mysterious term.

  4. Religiously-affiliated institutions, including some colleges and universities, will have until August 1, 2013, to comply and even then won’t be required to directly cover these services. Instead, HHS is figuring out the best way to accommodate these institutions while still making sure coverage is available for women on these plans.

  5. Brand names might not always be included. The rule will allow plans to control costs by, for example, continuing to charge co-pays for branded drugs if a safe, effective generic alternative is available.

Not sure if you qualify? Call up your provider using a script provided by the National Women’s Law Center, try out the handy widget above from Bedsider, and ask your friends and family to do the same :)

Hump Day PSA: Free birth control in the United States starts TODAY. Beginning on August 1, 2012, the Affordable Care Act guarantees women access to preventive health care services (e.g. cancer screenings, HIV and STI testing, well-woman visits, breastfeeding support, prenatal/post-partum care) without copayments or deductibles. That includes prescription contraception, the prohibitive cost of which can often mean the difference between safe sex and an unplanned pregnancy.

For more information on whether your health plan is offering women’s preventative services with no co-pay, check out this easy-to-follow guide at the Center for Reproductive Rights. Previous coverage of the fight for women’s health care can be found in my archives.

Please repost widely and spread the word to your social networks!

Image courtesy of Ultraviolet.

Asker Anonymous Asks:
should middle school girls have anal sex to avoid pregnancy?
lenachen lenachen Said:

Anyone who’s having anal sex should still be using condoms, regardless of their pregnancy concerns. I also generally think that it’s much likelier to be a positive experience if you engage in a sexual activity because you enjoy that particular activity, not because it’s a second best option. If pregnancy prevention is the only reason you’re at all interested in anal sex, then you might want to consider just going on birth control. And as with any type of sex, only engage in it if your partner(s) is someone with whom you’re comfortable :)

More burning questions? Ask Lena.

HAPPY BACK UP YOUR BIRTH CONTROL DAY!

Here’s a mid-week PSA for all you lovely folks: even if you’re fastidious about your sexual health, we all know that accidents can happen. That’s where the morning after pill comes in! So how can you make sure that you’re prepared in the event of a contraceptive failure? Check out the tips below:

Plan ahead. Though emergency contraception goes by the colloquial term “morning after pill”, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t obtain it way before you get down and dirty. After all, the potential of an unplanned pregnancy can be really stressful, and three out of the four kinds of EC available in America are more effective the sooner you take them. If you’ve already got EC on hand when the condom breaks, you won’t have to worry about trudging over to CVS at the break of dawn. Contraceptive failure can happen to anyone - don’t think you’re immune! (If you want to buy EC online, here are coupons available through the campaign.)

Know your rights. The law permits anyone over the age of 17 (regardless of gender!) to obtain emergency contraception without a prescription. Unfortunately, there are still pharmacists who have refused to prescribe EC over-the-counter due to misinformation. If that happens to you, show up informed! Bring this wallet-sized fact sheet (courtesy of the National Women’s Law Center) to your pharmacy and tell them what the consequences will be if they refuse to sell you EC.

Get informed. There are four brands of EC on the market. Do you know the differences between all of them? And did you know that you can also use the Paragard IUD as a form of emergency contraception? Check out the above episode of Sex Really (which I made for last year’s Back Up Your Birth Control Day), and download this handy chart of EC options from the National Institute for Reproductive Health.

Fight for access. Last year, the FDA recommended that EC be made available over the counter, a recommendation that was overruled by an unprecedented (and unjustified!) veto by the health secretary. As a result, those under 17 still can’t obtain it without a prescription even though American has the highest unplanned teen pregnancy rate of any industrialized nation. Learn more about the political battles over our contraceptive rights over at RH Reality Check.

Share the knowledge. Today’s the Back Up Your Birth Control Day of Action! Help spread the word about EC by using the #ECBC hashtag and retweeting facts from my Twitter that I’ll be posting all day. You can also reblog this post, link to or like the campaign on Facebook, or share the video above (short link: http://youtu.be/BTsTiIcmBiw) with your social networks.

The Back Up Your Birth Control National Day of Action is a national campaign to expand access to emergency contraception (EC) by increasing public education and awareness. It is a project of the National Institute For Reproductive Health.

It’s the debut of Sexy Times, my new web series airing weekly on Alloy Digital’s gURL.com! So I filmed this way back in the fall of 2011 - and while I think the opening credits and overall editing are rocking and SO worth the pain, I remember a brutal shoot in which I sweat like a pig and thought, “These hot lights rival Bikram yoga in intensity.” Glad that part of the ordeal stayed on the cutting room floor …

Check out episode numero uno (above) on what to do when you want to use a condom but your partner doesn’t, let me know what you think (pretty please!), and keep an eye out on a new clip every Friday with some handy sex and relationship tips.

Hint hint: gURL.com’s target demo is younger girls and teens, but I like to think that I give all-ages advice ;)

Bring me one woman who has been left behind. Bring me one. There’s not one.

Georgia Representative Tom Price, when asked how low-income women could access contraception without insurance

I don’t know what country Mr. Price is living in. GOOD Magazine’s Amanda Hess and Nona Willis Aronowitz compiled stories from 25 of their peers (including yours truly) to illustrate the number of people who have been financially constrained in their contraceptive decision-making. And we are the “lucky ones”. Have a story of your own? Share it in the comments or tweet it out under the hashtag #priceiswrong.

Concerned about women’s access to healthcare? Add your name to the list of supporters for the Coalition to Protect Women’s Health Care (whose members include Planned Parenthood, Feminist Majority, and NARAL Pro-Choice America, among others).

FYI... a great accompaniment for yeast infection treatment is upping your yogurt intake while you're treating. (Some people also apply plain yogurt directly, although I've never done...)
lenachen lenachen Said:

Thanks for the tip! If the garlic remedy isn’t up your alley (one reader mentions that she’s super allergic), I’ve also seen suggestions online for creating yogurt popsicles by freezing *unsweetened* plain yogurt in the fingers of latex gloves. Make sure they’re sugar-free though, because yeast feeds on sugar and no one wants strawberry-flavored vagina anyway, right?

Well … actually, that could be pretty cool. BUT NOT A YEAST INFECTION CURE. So don’t do, people.

(As always: I am not a doctor, proceed with caution, and please get any funky stuff checked out!)

The state has a right to [ban contraception], I have never questioned that the state has a right to do that.
Rick Santorum in New Hampshire today

(via golden-bopit-deactivated2012092)