Category Archives: blog

To meet gender-related SDG targets, improve the resource allocation

To meet gender-related SDG targets, improve the resource allocation

2018-10-18

The low allocations, huge fluctuations over the years in funds, and the underspending clearly indicate that political interest in efficiently targeting the SDGs is marginal. Political interest is driven either for electoral gains or as firefighting mechanisms

Adequate resource allocation accounts for the continued deficit in health, nutrition and welfare outcomes for women and girls in India.

The trajectory towards realising the SDG targets is not going to be easy with the current level of political commitment to these issues. If this deficit has to be reduced in order to move towards the SDG targets in the stipulated time, budgets for service delivery have to be increased substantially without further delay.

Over the last few years, new programmes and schemes targeted at women and girls have been launched, especially in areas such as health, nutrition, livelihood and protection from abuse. Some progress has been made in law-making on domestic violence, sexual assault, and sex selection.However, inadequate allocation of resources have made implementation of these programmes and schemes ineffective or limited in their reach.

The health, nutrition and welfare deficit in India is still high when compared with countries of similar level of development such as Thailand or Mexico,or even countries which are less economically developed such as Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal. Within this, there are class, caste and gender inequities, as well as regional inequities. A large part of this deficit is due to inadequate budgetary allocations. Even resources committed in the budget are either underspent or used inefficiently.

The picture we get from the government’s own data sets such as NFHS, SRS and NSSO is that maternal and child mortality remains a major problem in many states in India. Access to basic healthcare services, including maternal, sexual and reproductive health is grossly inadequate. Violence against women and marriage before legal age continue to be high, despite stringent legal provisions and investment in supportive programmes and services.

On the positive side, we see an increased public debate and media attention to gender issues.This periodically leads to increase in budgetary allocations – for instance, when an epidemic strikes, or children die in large numbers due to malnourishment, or rape cases get highlighted in the media.

An assessment of budget allocations and expenditures of some of the key programmes and schemes targeted at reducing gender inequities leads to the conclusion that there is lack of serious intent in achieving the goals. These programmes and schemes are launched with much fanfare but end up being populist proclamations directed towards electoral outcomes or public relations exercises.

Early study results suggest fertility app as effective as modern family planning methods

Early study results suggest fertility app as effective as modern family planning methods

GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER

Early results from a first-of-its-kind study suggests that typical use of a family planning app called Dot is as effective as other modern methods for avoiding an unplanned pregnancy.

Researchers from the Institute for Reproductive Health (IRH) at Georgetown University Medical Center are studying women’s use of the app for 13 menstrual cycles, or about one year. The ongoing prospective study design is the first to apply best-practice guidelines for assessing fertility awareness based methods in the testing of an app.

The interim results following Dot’s use for six cycles are published in the journal Contraception (title: Estimating six-cycle efficacy of the Dot app for pregnancy prevention.) Dot is owned by Cycle Technologies, which is solely responsible for the app.

Dot provides a woman with information about her fertility status each day of her menstrual cycle. It uses an algorithm and machine learning to identify the fertile days of her cycle based on her cycle lengths.

After women had been in the study for six cycles, the researchers found that the app had a typical-use failure rate of 3.5 percent, which suggests that Dot’s one-year typical efficacy rate will be comparable to other modern family planning methods such as the pill, injections, and vaginal ring.

“Given the growing interest in fertility apps, it was important to provide these early results,” says Victoria Jennings, PhD, principal investigator of the Dot efficacy study and director of the IRH.

718 participants in the United States enrolled in the study, and 419 participants completed six cycles of use. There were 15 confirmed pregnancies from cycles when participants used the method incorrectly (such as having unprotected sex on days of high fertility). No pregnancies occurred in cycles when participants reported correct use of the app during high risk days for pregnancy.

“Our purpose is to provide guidance to women who want to use Dot as well as to health providers and policy makers who are interested in this emerging method of family planning,” Jennings says. “We hope this paper contributes to the on-going discussion about the effectiveness of fertility apps and how their efficacy should be assessed.”

Final efficacy results are expected in early 2019.

###

This study was supported by the United States Agency for International Development grant (OAAOAO13O00083).

In addition to Jennings, study authors include Liya T. Haile, Hanley M. Fultz and Dominick Shattuck of the IRH, and Rebecca G. Simmons of the University of Utah. The authors report having no personal financial interests related to the study. The Dot app is a proprietary technology developed by Cycle Technologies, a company owned by a family member of Jennings’.

About the Institute for Reproductive Health

The Institute for Reproductive Health at Georgetown University Medical Center has more than 30 years of experience in designing and implementing evidence-based programs that address critical needs in sexual and reproductive health. The Institute’s areas of research and program implementation include family planning, adolescents, gender equality, fertility awareness, and mobilizing technology for reproductive health. The Institute is highly respected for its focus on the introduction and scale-up of sustainable approaches to family planning and fertility awareness around the world. For more information, visit http://www.irh.org.

About Georgetown University Medical Center

Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC) is an internationally recognized academic medical center with a three-part mission of research, teaching and patient care (through MedStar Health). GUMC’s mission is carried out with a strong emphasis on public service and a dedication to the Catholic, Jesuit principle of cura personalis — or “care of the whole person.” The Medical Center includes the School of Medicine and the School of Nursing & Health Studies, both nationally ranked; Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, designated as a comprehensive cancer center by the National Cancer Institute; and the Biomedical Graduate Research Organization, which accounts for the majority of externally funded research at GUMC including a Clinical and Translational Science Award from the National Institutes of Health. Connect with GUMC on Facebook (Facebook.com/GUMCUpdate), Twitter (@gumedcenter). Connect with Georgetown University School of Medicine on Facebook (Facebook.com/somgeorgetown), Twitter (@gumedicine) and Instagram (@georgetownmedicine).

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-10/gumc-esr101518.php

Dear Men of #MeToo: Abuse Is Behaviour, Not a Symptom of Mental Illness

Dear Men of #MeToo: Abuse Is Behaviour, Not a Symptom of Mental Illness

2018-10-12

When abusers bring mental health issues as an excuse to their behaviours it gives birth to a misinformed and ableist narrative.

Trigger warning: Sexual harassment/abuse

The #MeToo movement has helped many women come out with their stories of sexual harassment and abuse at the hands of powerful men. It has also highlighted the problems associated with mental health. Many women have spoken up about the impact of these incidents on survivors and understanding why women take time to come out in the open with their narratives. At the same time, the more catchy mentions of ‘mental health’ have been furthered by the men accused of sexual harassment and assault themselves, through their carefully-worded apologies.

Mayank Jain, a journalist at the Business Standard, comedian Utsav Chakraborty and Abhishek Upadhya, an editor at India TV, attempted to use their mental health issues as a defence after being accused of predatory behaviour by several women. Words like “struggle”, “disease”, “seeking help” and “therapy” were littered on their Twitter timelines. These words say things that these men want us to know – but do they really matter? And why talk about it now?

Putting bad mental health on the table when you’re accused of misconduct is a common gambit. After the poet Mary Karr wrote about how her former partner David Foster Wallace had abused her physically and emotionally, a lot of backlash focused on Wallace’s mental health issues. In a personal essay for the New Yorker, celebrated author Junot Diaz talked about the repression of his childhood abuse and linked it to the accusations of assaulting and harassing multiple women. The courtroom trials of Roman Polanski mentioned his ‘mental illness’ several times, following his arrest for sexually abusing children.

The similarities are clear. All these men, and many others, influenced generations with their work in literature and the media, suffered from mental health issues and abused those who seemed less powerful. However, it would be amiss to connect abuse and mental health.

First off, there are similar patterns of violence perpetrated by people with as well as without  a mental illness. “The intersection of abusers with mental health issues is very thin,” Sadaf Vidha, a Mumbai-based psychologist whose clientele includes survivors of gender-based violence, says. “Think about it while reversing the roles – when women or minorities suffer from mental health issues, do we see them automatically abusing or assaulting other people?”

Research denies a link

The association of mental illness with abusive behaviour isn’t new; the ‘insanity defence’ is probably its most famous byproduct. Researches have been exploring this relationship for decades and have found prevalence of mental illness in convicted sex offenders, but no signs of a clear cause-effect has been found.

1999 study by Jenny Muzos of the Australian Institute Of Criminology dispels the myth that violent behaviour is associated with mental illness. It found that characteristics of crimes such as homicides committed by offenders diagnosed with a mental disorder were no different from those of crimes committed by other offenders.

After a undertaking series of studies, Nancy Erickson, an attorney and consultant on domestic violence and legal issues, concluded that while mental illness may or may not exist in abusers, the abuse they inflict is a behaviour and not a symptom.

meta-analysis of several studies by Andrew Klein, a professor of law at the Indiana University, Bloomington, and funded by the US Department of Justice, for the Battered Women Justice Project states that men who abuse are no more likely to suffer from mental illnesses than the ordinary population. Their paper reads, “Although batterers may suffer from depression or low self-esteem after being arrested or restrained, these conditions have not been found to have caused the abuse.”

Jaydip Sarkar, of the Institute of Mental Health, Singapore, asserted in a 2013 review of the assessments of mental health of sex offenders in India that rape, sexual harassment and other predatory behaviours are not necessarily the result of having a mental health problem.

The issue of perpetrators using stress as a result of work and/or substance abuse as an excuse was discussed in a 1999 review by Sarah Buel, a lawyer and professor at Arizona State University. Buel spent three decades working with survivors of domestic violence and concluded that though violence cannot be caused by stress, stress could exacerbate violence.

When abusers use mental health issues as a shield, it adds to a frightening, misinformed and ableist narrative. “Men directly or indirectly saying that abusive tendencies are due to mental health issues, is just another version of ‘I couldn’t control my desire/anger’,” Vidha added. “This is a very well-known pattern. Abusers will blame health, external environments or the victims, anything that allows them not to take responsibility for their misuse of power.”

The work of Lundy Bancroft

Jain’s tweet about him seeking therapy to “reform himself” was similar to Mark Halperin’s lengthy apology for reportedly assaulting about half a dozen women during his time at ABC News, in the early 2000s. In his statement, Halperin said he sought mental health counselling after he left ABC.

Lundy Bancroft spent years studying and counselling abusive men. In his 2002 book, Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men, Bancroft discusses the myth behind using mental health as a reason to abuse as well as to feed misguided beliefs that perhaps treatment that can ‘fix’ these men.For example, on Diaz’s reference to his childhood abuse, Bancroft writes, “… abusive men may find that accounts of childhood abuse is one of the best ways to pull heartstrings.”

Bancroft states that people have the potential to overcome emotional injuries from childhood and the impact of these injuries need not push the person to inflict same behaviour on others.

When Chakraborty mentioned his mental health, he was attempting to sneak it into his apology and lay the ground for sympathy. Bancroft pointedly dismisses this, writing “… abuse is a problem of values and not of psychology. Mental illness does not cause abusiveness anymore than alcohol does. Perceptions of life circumstances in these men are accurate, their minds work logically and they understand cause-effect.”

The same goes for Jain’s excuse and Upadhya claiming to seek professional help to address “these issues”. Bancroft continues, “I have yet to meet an abuser who has made any meaningful and lasting changes in his behaviour through therapy regardless of how much insight he may have gained.” He also writes that professional help will only help make them “happy, well-adjusted” abusers because interventions like psychotherapy can only address issues they are devised to address, and abusive behaviour isn’t one of them.

It is also important to differentiate between two types of destructive behaviour. One is where severe mental disorders like mania could cause a person to become destructive, as a result of which they may end up hurting the people around them. The other is where the destruction is intentional and isn’t motivated by the illness.

Of course, none of these means that any mental health issues these men may have are invalid or non-existent. They are likely to be as distressing for these men as they are for anyone else. However, the distress does not have anything to do with their inability to understand consent or the agency of the women.

“We are a patriarchal society and allowing mental health issues to become an excuse for abuse or assault will lead to massive misuse of policies and laws like the Mental Health Act,” Vidha said about the consequences of people buying into these connections. “We need to differentiate between what socialisation teaches men that is ‘okay to do’ and what their mental health conditions lead them to do.”

Mental health issues and predatory behaviour can coexist in a single mind but with some distance between each other. There are people who do suffer from a mental illness and are abusive towards women – and there are also people with a mental illness who do not engage in such behaviour. This is where human psychology takes a step back and calls value systems to the stage.

Prateek Sharma is a student pursuing a master’s degree in clinical psychology, a researcher and a mental health activist working to promote inclusive mental health care in India. He tweets @prateekshawarma.

https://thewire.in/health/dear-men-of-metoo-abuse-is-behaviour-not-a-symptom-of-mental-illness

 

Why Won’t Parents Talk About Helping Their Daughters Get Abortions?

Why Won’t Parents Talk About Helping Their Daughters Get Abortions?

“Your daughter’s 14, huh?” asked the guy at the wedding reception. “I guess you’re heading for the Grandma Danger Zone.” I wasn’t offended exactly (it was a party, after all, and most of us were drunk and speaking freely), but I was a bit surprised by the casualness with which a relative stranger commented on my child’s theoretical sexual activity. Trying to move the conversation along, I chuckled politely and replied, “Well, if she did get pregnant now, I would help her get an abortion, so that won’t be an issue.”

There was a long silence as this man and the other people in the conversation looked at me in shock. He’d made a lighthearted comment about my daughter’s potential teen pregnancy, and I’d responded in kind with a lighthearted comment about my daughter’s legal right to exercise her reproductive agency. Why did his comment garner laughs and knowing glances while mine elicited a full-on record scratch? Mercifully, someone changed the subject, and I was left with knowing that I, and not this man, had said something terribly wrong.

ut why? This was Massachusetts. These were liberals who would likely describe themselves as pro-choice. Yet somehow, my taking the concept of abortion from the theoretical to the concrete had shocked their sensibilities. And this wasn’t an isolated incident. I soon realized that being the parent of teenage girls meant many such conversations about the potential for their “bad decisions” ending in an unwanted pregnancy. Friends with girls the same age joked about warning their daughters to “keep their legs together” or not to get “knocked up.” Every time I pointed out that becoming pregnant needn’t result in having a baby, the universal reaction was mouths agape.

Yes, America remains fundamentally conservative on abortion, with Roe v. Wade freshly imperiled by the Kavanaugh Supreme Court. Although, in a recent Gallup poll, support for abortion rights is evenly split—about 48 percent on each side—the number of those who support abortion drops to 29 percent when people are asked if they think it should be legal under any circumstances. Part of this could be due to misinformation about things like fetal development and late-stage abortion, which can override our logical understanding of pregnancy in favor of a more emotional response. But it also has to do with our cultural values around pregnancy and a woman’s responsibility toward it. Often, it takes some other moral issue overcoming one’s fundamental distaste for the act of abortion itself (e.g., rape, incest, or a serious health risk to the mother) for the average American to accept it as a viable option. Our laws and regulations increasingly reflect an assumption that abortion is (only sometimes) a necessary evil, rather than a morally neutral health care option. Even among the progressive, pro-choice left, abortion is often talked about as a last resort—a horrible, traumatic event that must be avoided at all costs. But that’s not how I talk about abortion with my daughters.

Yes, I tell them, there are lots of good reasons to avoid an unwanted pregnancy in the first place: the potential physical dangers of unprotected sex, the potential emotional complications involved. But none of those should affect our ability to support, without judgment, a woman’s right to choose. I remind them that they are lucky to live in a state with access to safe and legal abortions and that should they find themselves in the position to need to avail themselves of those resources, I will give them the support they need.

I wish that other progressive parents were having the same conversations, but based on my experience, I suspect they’re not. And I get it. It’s one thing to believe in a theoretical person’s right to end an unwanted pregnancy; it’s entirely another to consider your own child’s behavior and its consequences. Perhaps parents are worried a child’s unwanted pregnancy might reflect poorly on their own parenting, implying that their daughter has made the kinds of “bad choices” she’d been dutifully taught to avoid. And talking about your daughter getting pregnant feels almost abstract, a cultural trope akin to joking about “getting out the shotgun” to defend her against unsavory gentleman callers. It’s not real; it’s just something parents say to indicate a general anxiety with watching one’s children grow into sexual maturity. Talking about your daughter getting an abortion, on the other hand, isn’t some common cultural shorthand or reference; it’s a specific reference to a specific procedure performed upon your specific daughter. Suddenly these abstract conversations are brought uncomfortably into the realm of the real and the possible. What would you do, the other parents are implicitly asked by my response, if your daughter had a pregnancy that she and you agreed should not be carried to term? What would you actually do? I think it’s time to stop shying away from this very real question, and its very real answer, and align our parenting with our politics.

So long as people still find it acceptable to joke about my daughters getting pregnant, I’ll continue to respond in kind by reiterating my support of their right to choose. I hope more pro-choice parents start to do the same. You’ll likely be met with a similar barrage of awkward silences and shocked looks, but I truly believe that the more comfortable we are talking about abortion without squeamishness or moral judgment, the more normalized it will become, even among those who already claim to support it. And honestly, making people at weddings or a moms’ night out a little uncomfortable is the very least we can do to help challenge cultural assumptions about women’s sexuality and reproductive rights. It’s a small but significant way we can move the needle in the cultural and political conversation around the ethics of abortion—and a huge way we can signal to our own children that we will practice what we preach when it comes to their bodies.

Men’s anxiety: How to combat middle-aged pressures so they don’t reach crisis point

Men’s anxiety: How to combat middle-aged pressures so they don’t reach crisis point

2018-09-25

The mid-life crisis is a common cliche, but an expert today explains how pressure to perform in life is driving many men into mental health difficulties.

our middle years can be a high pressure and confusing time, but don’t bottle up your feelings (or get a tattoo that you’ll regret later).

We all know the cliches of the midlife crisis – the sports car, the wardrobe overhaul, the desire to chuck yourself around at Arctic Monkeys gigs and, um, the affairs.

But there are reasons behind the stereotype.

There’s a wake-up moment in middle age when you realise most of your life is probably behind you.

Plus the stress of caring for a young family as well as ageing parents, while ­shouldering job ­pressure can take its toll on your mental health and relationships .

In fact, a report from the Office for National Statistics found middle-aged people are the least happy, have the lowest levels of life ­satisfaction and suffer the most anxiety.

And men are more vulnerable than women, who reported feeling more satisfied overall.

“There’s always been a clear ­correlation between how the economy is doing and the mental health of middle-aged men,” says Dr Rafael Euba, consultant psychiatrist at The London Psychiatry Centre ­(psychiatrycentre.co.uk).

“There’s pressure to achieve, which isn’t always easy, especially in times of economic hardship, and that can provoke a deep sense of failure.”

While women tend to deal with psychological distress by talking to each other, Dr Euba says men are reluctant: “Most men still think acknowledging they’re suffering is a sign of ­weakness, and so put up with stress which is more likely to come out in other ways, such as drinking.”

Have you reached a crisis point? Our Q&A could help you to find out, and learn how to navigate those rocky years…

Do you fail to embrace new things and feel the best is behind you?

Middle age can actually be a great time to try new things, says Dr Euba: “When you’re young there are many possibilities in the future, but by middle age it’s common to think, ‘this is my life’, and dwell on things you haven’t achieved.

“But you could argue you’re in the peak of life. Yes, if you watch films and read novels you’d think that peak time is the 20s, but people in their 20s make huge mistakes.

“By now, you’re ­experienced, you know what you like and what you don’t, you will ­probably have more money and freedom, so potential to enjoy life is huge. You may also look at life in a balanced way.”

Do you feel overwhelmed by stress, but keep it bottled up?

Planning your goals and reaching out to friends for support are key, says Dr Euba.

He says: “Stress often comes down to economic ­pressure and dealing with the system – providing for your ­family’s future and dealing with authorities over schools and care provided for elderly parents.

“You need to be able to delegate if you can, to compromise where necessary, to negotiate and to plan.

“If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s crucial to make use of your social network and don’t regard stress as a sign of weakness, but as a sign you have to plan things and get support from the other people in your life.”

Do you feel trapped or dissatisfied at work?

This is a tough one to sort out, admits Dr Euba: “Most of us can’t just walk out of a job if we have dependents. But it can help to remind ourselves of the norm – that it’s a minority of privileged people who genuinely love their job and earn good money from it. They are the exception to the rule – not you.

“Don’t compare ­yourself to others. These days, largely thanks to social media, if your life isn’t amazing it’s tempting to believe you’re failing. But it’s normal to have difficult days.

“Set yourself smaller, achievable goals and celebrate those wins and, if possible, try to carve out areas of your work that you’re in control of.

“It’s also important to understand there’s much more to being a man than how big your salary is and how far you go in the hierarchy.”

Are you anxious about your physical health?

Our bodies begin to decline in middle age and it can be a painful glimpse of what’s to come.

Dr Euba says: “The knowledge there’s less ahead combined with the onset of physical ailments can cause anxiety. Getting fitter is good for the mind and there’s growing medical evidence that exercise can help people beat depression. The key is, don’t overdo it.

“Pay more attention to lifestyle – don’t smoke and don’t drink too much – and just be aware of your body. Taking responsibility for your health will help you feel in control.”

Do you feel your sex life and relationship are dull? Do you want to cheat?

If you’ve been in a relationship a long time, along with a sense of stability can come a sense that life is, well, just a bit boring.

Dr Euba says: “Men’s sexual potency does start to decline in middle age, and although it’s more subtle than it is for women, it can affect self-image for some men.

“If that’s combined with a lack of sexual interest from their partner, many guys take that as a personal failure. These things make couples more vulnerable to affairs.

“It helps to know these issues are normal and seeking help in therapy doesn’t mean you’re less of a man.”

This Bi Visibility Day, let’s hear it for the “B” in LGBTI!

This Bi Visibility Day, let’s hear it for the “B” in LGBTI!

Today is Bi Visibility Day and this year we’re marking the moment with a brand new mini-campaign focusing on busting the myths surrounding bisexuality.

Bi people suffer many of the same abuses as gay men and lesbians – including criminalization, violence and discrimination. They also have to deal with an additional set of negative stereotypes, such as the myth that being bi is a phase or that bi people are promiscuous, confused, or just seeking attention. Some people wrongly believe that bi people don’t experience violations because they can “choose” to be in relationships that will be perceived as straight. As a result, most bi people fear coming out – even to their closest family and friends.

None of these assumptions are true, but they leave many bi people feeling misunderstood, isolated and at risk of harm. You can help change that!

Click on the link, below, to visit our new campaign action page, where you’ll find a new animated myth-busting video, advice on how to be an ally to the bi community, and a factsheet for those looking to learn more. Please take a moment to read up, watch the video and share a message of support on social media.

https://www.unfe.org/bivisibility/

This Bi Visibility Day, let’s hear it for the “B” in LGBTI!

In solidarity,

Team UN Free & Equal

www.unfe.org

India’s Anti-Gay Law Is History. Next Challenge: Treat LGBTQ Patients With Respect

India’s Anti-Gay Law Is History. Next Challenge: Treat LGBTQ Patients With Respect

2018-09-18

Two years ago, Shivam Sharma rushed to a Mumbai hospital at 2:30 a.m. He’d had sex earlier that night with a man who was HIV positive. They’d used protection, but Sharma just wanted to be sure he was safe.

So he went straight to the emergency room and asked a junior doctor for a preventative dose of antiretroviral medicines, or PEP — post-exposure prophylaxis.

Hospital staff “were absolutely clueless,” Sharma, 28, recalls. No one had ever asked for a PEP before, staff told him.

“They pulled out a massive manual on how to deal with sexually-transmitted infections and insisted I take something like 25 different tests,” he says. They phoned a senior doctor at 3 a.m.

Sharma felt frustrated. He had to fight for a basic prescription.

It was just like the first time he got tested for HIV, back in college. He went to a posh health clinic, and the nurse yelled across the room, warning a colleague — and anyone else within earshot — to “be careful” of him.

The implication was that Sharma was dangerous and dirty because he had identified himself as “queer.”

For more than 150 years, homosexuality was a crime in India. Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, a British colonial-era law, banned sexual acts that were “against the order of nature.” There have been prosecutions under the law. But more frequently, it gave police license to harass and blackmail gay men.

Section 377 drove generations of LGBTQ Indians into the shadows. It prevented many from fully embracing their sexual and gender identities. It complicated both patients’ and doctors’ access to information on LGBTQ-specific health issues. And it got in the way of access to vital medical care.

When India’s Supreme Court ruled Sept. 6 to decriminalize homosexuality, modifying Section 377, it opened a new era for public health policy.

In its judgment, the court said the Indian constitution guarantees all Indians, including LGBTQ people, “the right to emergency medical care and the right to the maintenance and improvement of public health.”

FYI: Masturbating Wrong Can Lead To Sexual Dysfunction

FYI: Masturbating Wrong Can Lead To Sexual Dysfunction

Do you masturbate? If you answered ‘no’, you’re likely to be one of those automated internet bots; or else you’re probably lying, according to a recent survey on sexual health and behavior. The study showed that for people in their twenties, 84.6 per cent of women and 93 per cent of men admitted to masturbating! But if so many of us are doing it, why aren’t we speaking openly about it?

Why is masturbation taboo?

Why do kids love to put sugar on corn flakes? This is because corn flakes are, well, bland; and this is no coincidence. The product was designed by a medical doctor called John Kellogg – a proponent of the anti-masturbation movement who intentionally made corn flakes neutral tasting as he believed a bland diet would reduce sexual desire!

This idea that masturbation is bad has been reinforced by other ill-informed health professionals of the 20th century. It was said, for example, that rubbing one out could cause blindness, cancer, tuberculosis and a range of other ailments – ideas which have since been disproved. And of course, since biblical times religious institutions have told us that masturbation is a mortal sin. Why is our society so uncomfortable about the simple act of tugging the slug?

Life is chaotic and unpredictable – we all know this, on some level. As a society, then, we experience an unconscious need to gain a sense of control over ourselves, our lives and our world. Sexual urges are natural and inevitable – we’re going to experience them one way or another. But masturbation is an act which we can choose to control.

By portraying masturbation as dirty, bad, forbidden and unhealthy, we are giving ourselves a wonderfully simple choice: don’t masturbate and you’ll be good; do the five-finger shuffle and you’ll be bad. This may be part of the reason why masturbation is a taboo topic: it’s comforting, on a psychological level, to have things set out in black and white and to portray something that we don’t fully understand as being bad.

Why should we speak more openly about masturbation?

Upon reaching a legal drinking age, an adolescent is likely to pay a trip to the bottle store. Ideally, the teen should also get a lecture on how to drink responsibly. The same should apply when it comes to masturbation! Let’s explore why.

1. Sex addition is a growing phenomenon

Can you become addicted to masturbation, or perhaps porn? Sex-based addictions and compulsions aren’t yet counted as official diagnoses in their own right, at least not by the American Psychiatric Association. But that doesn’t mean that these problems aren’t real! A visit to any sexual health clinic – or my own consulting room, for that matter – will show that compulsive porn use and masturbation (which often go hand-in-hand) can cause big problems in people’s lives. It’s by talking about these risks -and creating a space where people feel comfortable to ask for support – that we can combat this problem.

2. Incorrect masturbation habits are linked to sexual dysfunction

Some of us may have developed a habit of rushing through masturbation – we learnt this when we were shameful adolescents, nervous about being caught or overheard by our parents. Rushing the process, however, trains our bodies to do the same during sex; and this can lead to a form of sexual dysfunction called premature ejaculation, which can be extremely distressing and emotionally debilitating for men who suffer from it.

Furthermore, do you use porn to help you masturbate? If so, you’re not alone; but researchtells us that porn actually changes the structure of our brains, desensitizing us to sexual stimuli and making it unlikely that we’ll be aroused by anything other than porn. This can put you at risk of serious sexual health concerns such as erectile dysfunction and performance anxiety.

3. Men feel unnecessary emotional distress

While societies attitudes toward masturbation are slowly shifting (particularly for men), those who do wax the carrot often end up feeling embarrassed, guilty or ashamed from participating in this natural and healthy process. Women who masturbate are potentially at an even greater risk of feeling shame, given the taboo that surrounds female masturbation in particular!

Apart from being unpleasant, these sorts of emotions can cause unnecessary harm. One study, for example, found that men who felt guilty about solo sex experienced higher levels of general distress, anxiety, depression, alcohol use, relationship problems and general sexual problems! However, this unnecessary guilt can be avoided if we’re able to speak openly and normalize this ordinary aspect of our sexuality!

4. Masturbation is healthy

Despite what 20th century doctors – and perhaps your grandmother – have been saying: masturbation won’t make you go blind, become impotent or grow hair on your hands. Quite the opposite, doctors today will tell you that masturbation, especially when done correctly, is healthy!

The benefits are extensive: masturbating can lower your risk of prostate cancer and may improve your immune system; it creates a cocktail of feel-good chemicals such as dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin and also lowers your levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) which can protect from you from other stress-related illnesses. One study even suggests that masturbating more primes your body and mind for intercourse, meaning that you’re likely to have more sex; and if you know how to masturbate correctly you can program your brain and body to last longer in bed!

In my own therapy room, clients usually become visibly uncomfortable when we start talking about masturbation! Ironically, it’s once they start opening up about this important aspect of their sexual and psychological health that they truly stand to gain from what sex therapy can offer.

As a society, we have come a long way since repressive, Victorian times. Nonetheless, we still have a long way to go. We need to start combatting the taboo and stigma that accompanies discussions of masturbation, so that those engaging in it (i.e. everyone) can make sure that they’re accessing the multiple health benefits on offer!

Daniel Sher is a registered clinical psychologist. He serves as a professional consultant for the Between Us Clinic, which provides sex-therapy online programs.

https://www.menshealth.com.au/incorrect-masturbation-habits-are-linked-to-sexual-dysfunction?category=Sex

4 Common Sexual Insecurities, And How To Fight Them

4 Common Sexual Insecurities, And How To Fight Them

2018-09-07

Sex and anxiety go together like socks and flip-flops; i.e. not well at all. We’re all a little bit insecure, whether we’re aware of this or not. When it comes to the bedroom, however, us men are particularly prone to doubting ourselves. Unfortunately, sexual insecurities can have a devastating effect on our sex lives, relationships and self-esteem.

What’s the link between anxiety and sexual performance?

Anxiety can trigger various forms of sexual dysfunction. How? This happens because anxiety hijacks your brain and body, generating a burst of hormones and electrical activity that sends you into fight-or-flight mode. It’s impossible to have sex in this state because on a biological level, your brain is pushing your body to fight or flee – not fornicate. We discuss four common sexual insecurities faced by men and what you can do to address them.

Penis Envy

Most men would like a bigger penis, but why is this such an issue for so many? The short answer (ha!) is that our joy-sticks carry a lot of symbolic weight, representing everything from power and dominance to competency and success. We are also told that a real man should be, well, Khal Drogo from Game of Thrones: dominant, confident, aggressive and super ripped.

But nobody is all of these things all of the time; and so we carry a perpetual sense of insecurity, which we project onto our junk. Unfortunately, however, this can lead to serious self-esteem issues and research shows that men who worry too much about the size of their penis are more likely to face erectile problems and premature ejaculation.

Regrettably, there are limited penis enlargement strategies that actually work. While surgery may add a few centimeters to your flaccid penis, it does not change the size of your erection and it can cause serious nerve and tissue damage. Other strategies – creams, devices, weights and pills – are not effective, so don’t even waste your time.

So, what can you do? Keep in mind that statistically speaking, your penis is probably of normal proportions, despite that niggling voice in your head that says otherwise. Moreover, remember that in most cases penis size doesn’t really matter that much: research shows, for example, that only a minority of women are concerned about this issue; and 85% of females were perfectly happy with the length of their partners’ gear.

This means that ultimately, you’d be better off investing your energy into aspects of yourself that can be changed. Like what? You could work on your communication skills and take your emotional connection to a higher level. You could also work towards becoming a foreplay master. These skills will be far more useful in the bedroom than an elephant trunk in your pants.

Body Image Concerns

Body image concerns are becoming an increasingly common source of sexual insecurity among men. Who wouldn’t want to be stronger, slimmer and more ripped? Studies have shown that 40% of us are unhappy with our bodies and a quarter of men prefer to have sex with the lights off as a result.

Apart from negatively impacting your sex life, these sorts of concerns are linked to self-esteem issues, eating disorders, depression and more. But no one should have to feel ashamed of their body and if this is causing you serious distress or getting in the way of your ability to live a normal life, speak to your doctor or psychologist about getting some support. Apart from that, if you’re able to adopt a healthy lifestyle in terms of your diet, exercise and sleep schedules, this may help you change the way you feel about yourself by increasing your self-esteem and confidence.

Worrying About Satisfying Your Partner Sexually

Why are we so hung up on this, especially when it’s not necessarily such a bad thing? One study showed that men desperately want their partners to orgasm because this makes them feel more masculine. So, we’re obsessed with giving orgasms because we care about our partners, but also because we’re caught up in our own fragility.

What can you do? Remember that penetrative sex with an orgasm at the end is not the be all and end all. Rather, we need to focus on creating an experience of mutual pleasure. Sexually, this often means concentrating more on foreplay. But don’t restrict yourself to that: a fulfilling sex life is built on solid emotional foundations. Aim for satisfaction by giving her a massage, cooking her dinner and providing your undivided attention after asking about her day. All of this will ease the pressure and help you to realize that your relationship can be intensely satisfying, even if she doesn’t climax every time.

Falling into the Performance Anxiety Cycle

The three sexual insecurities listed above are common sources of sexual anxiety; and the big problem is that a single case of erectile dysfunction is often enough to make a man anxious about whether or not he can get an erection the next time he tries to have sex. After a bad sexual experience or two you might find yourself deep in the sexual performance anxiety cycle, which is challenging to get out of.

In fact, so many of us are insecure about our erections that in 2017, Pfizer earned $1.2 billion from Viagra sales in the U.S. alone! However, while drugs might work for erectile problems that are caused by aging or medical conditions, these sorts of pills fail to address the underlying cause in people who have erectile dysfunction that’s caused by psychological factors.

It’s common to worry about being able to get or keep it up. But because of the way that anxiety affects the brain, worrying about your erection reduces your ability to have one. Whether or not you’ve actually been diagnosed with erectile dysfunction, the best way of tackling this common form of insecurity is by treating the underlying sexual performance anxiety that causes erectile problems in so many of us.

wning Your Sexual Insecurity

Insecurity is part and parcel of being a man, even though so few of us are able to speak about it. It’s important, though, that we become comfortable with the parts of ourselves that don’t quite match up to what our society deems masculine. One way of doing this is by focusing on an aspect that so many men are acutely aware of: sexual insecurity. If we’re able to heal or at least accept the four sexual insecurities that we have discussed here today, we’ll be able to improve our own sex lives whilst also strengthening our relationships and ultimately become better men by being more open, honest and self-aware.

Daniel Sher is a registered clinical psychologist. He serves as a professional consultant for the Between Us Clinic, which provides sex-therapy online programs.

https://www.menshealth.com.au/how-to-overcome-sexual-insecurity

Do men really exaggerate their number of sexual partners?

Do men really exaggerate their number of sexual partners?

When it comes to sexual partners, what’s in a number? For one recent survey study, researchers at the University of Glasgow analyzed the responses of over 15,000 men and women and concluded that men are more likely to exaggerate their number of opposite-sex partners, possibly because men estimate rather than count all of their partners.

Men, it turned out, claimed an average of 14 sexual partners over their lifetime, while women reported only seven. The people surveyed were between the ages of 16 and 74.
The investigators claim that such studies are an important part of human sexuality research and in assessing the risk of sexually transmitted infections. But my fellow sex therapists and I aren’t so sure. Rather than focusing on one’s number of partners, “We should be talking about what folks want for their future and what they’ve learned from past relationships,” sex therapist Gracie Landes said.
I asked Landes and several of my other colleagues to weigh in on the continued fascination that the public — and media — seems to have with people’s number of sexual partners.

Are men exaggerating or overestimating their number of partners?

The answer to this question appears to be a resounding “yes.” Indeed, it’s simple math: “Given that there are not significantly more women in the population than men, if men are reporting higher numbers and women are reporting lower numbers, many are reporting inflated or deflated numbers due to the tendency to answer questions in a way that they think they’re supposed to,” sex therapist Dulcinea Pitagora explained.
In fact, statistics released by the dating app Tinder show that men use a broader strategy, indicating their approval of someone’s photo by swiping right on 46% of profiles, while women swipe right on only 14%. A study of raw data from Tinder also found that about 80% of female users are all competing for the same 20% of men.
“This seems to indicate that the number of sex partners would be especially skewed in the male population in favor of the more desirable men and that a majority of men are not having much success,” sex therapist Michael Aaron said. “It’s possible, then, that surveys such as this one, which find higher overall partners amongst men, may be indicative of men inflating their numbers, perhaps due to underlying shame.”

Why would someone inflate or deflate their actual number?

As Aaron suggests, society’s focus on the number of people someone has slept with may lead some to exaggerate — or decrease — their actual number out of embarrassment.
“Women might underreport out of fear of being judged negatively, while men might overreport in order to be looked at more favorably,” sex therapist Rachel Needle said. “In other words, men who have a high number are considered studs, while women are often slut-shamed. In addition, women might round down so their partner feels more important and special.”
Sex therapist Barbara Gold agreed. “I believe this is attributable to shame. It goes back to the gender myths that women aren’t supposed to enjoy or expose their sexuality lest they be judged in a negative way, while whatever sexual shame men may carry, social norms not only allow them to be sexual creatures but expect them to be,” she explained.

Should you ask your partner their ‘number’ — or tell them yours?

Whether you choose to talk numbers with your partner is entirely up to you. “You should do whatever you’re comfortable with,” Gold said. “You might ask why they want to know and what the number represents to them and then decide if or how you want to respond.”
“I find that more men ask this question of their female partners than vice versa,” sex therapist Deborah Fox noted. “Although men make some meaning out of the number they receive, it’s not really the question they want an answer to. They really want to know how they stack up to the previous partners, but that question requires way more nerve to ask. They want to know, ‘Am I the best lover you’ve ever had?’ but they’re also unlikely to ask that question.”

What should couples be discussing instead?

Rather than fixating on the number of people you or your partner have had sex with, I advise turning the conversation so that you’re having an open discussion about your interests.
“Instead of discussing a number, you should be talking about what you know you enjoy sexually, what you’re curious about and what you might want to explore in terms of sensations, types or scenarios, monogamy/non-monogamy and your top erotic triggers,” sex therapist Sari Cooper said.
And while you should certainly ask about your partner’s sexual health — and get tested — the number of sexual partners you’ve both had shouldn’t affect the need to practice safe sex.
It can be tempting to focus on one’s number of sexual partners, and studies like this one allow curious folks to compare themselves to others. But the fact is that there’s no right or wrong number. What matters most is your relationship with your current partner and how you can both make that as satisfying as possible.

https://edition.cnn.com/2018/09/06/health/number-of-sex-partners-kerner/index.html