B. Smith Book Examines the Challenges of Alzheimer’s

I am reviewing books through the Blogging for Books program in an effort to support my community’s Little Free Library, thus the addition of book reviews outside of the usual sexual health topics to Your Sexy Librarian postings. After being reviewed, the book gets stamped “Always a Gift, Never for Sale” and placed into a Little Free Library for others to enjoy. My latest book selection is Before I Forget: Love, Hope, Help and Acceptance in Our Fight Against Alzheimer’s written by B. Smith and Dan Gasby with Michael Shnayerson, which was released on January 19, 2016. Smith is the B. Smith who, in her youth, became America’s first African-American supermodel who went on to experience stunning restaurant and home goods fame before being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2013. Gasby, Smith’s husband since 1992, is Smith’s business partner at B. Smith Enterprises. He became and remains Smith’s primary caregiver after her diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. Shnayerson is a long-time contributing editor at Vanity Fair and the author or co-author of seven books. It is unclear exactly how Shnayerson contributed to this specific written work. Before I Forget is beautifully written from the heart. The format of the book is in chapters that start with Smith’s perspective on her disease in italics before moving on to Gasby’s experiences, thoughts and feelings as Smith’s primary caregiver and ending in lessons learned that include knowledge about Alzheimer’s itself and tips for caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients. The book’s tips of how to be a better caregiver are insightful and can even translate to any disease state in which someone is a caregiver in the...

Explaining Partial Androgen Insensitivity

I took a writing hiatus due to experiencing an ongoing medical crisis. I am still sorting out how to live with my new diagnosis, which sadly interferes with my ability to write, to think, to sleep, to laugh and to live how I want to live my life. My diagnosis doesn’t just affect me; it affects my partner Dutch, my entire family, my friends and my pets and my ability to perform at my bill-paying day job. I am not back to being 100 percent myself yet. This is my first blog post in nearly two months. I am considering this to be a small win in my battle back to health and wellness.   A friend told me about a young colleague undergoing gender reassignment surgery. This was not an act of malice or of gossip. It was simply my friend, who is of an older generation, wanting to better understand the situation. We now talk about gender reassignment surgery in the news and at the coffee maker at work where previously this was a taboo topic that wasn’t discussed openly. My friend’s colleague was diagnosed during his youth with partial androgen insensitivity syndrome (PAIS). Androgen insensitivity is a condition that affects sexual development before birth and during puberty. People with androgen insensitivity conditions are genetically male, with one X chromosome and one Y chromosome in each cell, yet their bodies are unable to respond properly to male sex hormones, or androgens, which includes testosterone and dehydroepiandroesterone or DHEA. As a result, the person has some or all of the physical traits of a female with the genetic...

Miscarriage: Signs, Types and Treatments

Miscarriage is the medical term that describes a pregnancy that ends on its own, within the first 20 weeks of gestation. Pregnancy occurs in three trimesters: the first 12 weeks of a pregnancy are the first trimester, weeks 13 to 27 are the second trimester and the remainder of the pregnancy makes up the third trimester. Most miscarriages occur in the first trimester of pregnancy. Second trimester miscarriages can occur as well. Miscarriage is the most common type of pregnancy loss. According to the March of Dimes, “about 10 to 15 out of 100 pregnancies end in miscarriage.” The organization reports “as many as half of all pregnancies may end in miscarriage.” In these pregnancies, known as chemical pregnancies, the miscarriage occurs shortly after implantation of the fertilized egg, resulting in bleeding that occurs around the time of expected menstruation. For this reason, women may not even realize they have miscarried. During the first trimester, the most common cause of miscarriage is chromosomal abnormality within the zygote, which is the fertilized egg. Most chromosomal abnormalities are caused by a damaged egg or sperm cell or by a problem that occurs when the zygote undergoes cell division. Other causes of miscarriage include maternal hormonal problems, infections or health issues; maternal lifestyle choices such as smoking, drug use, malnutrition and exposure to radiation or toxic substances; improper implantation of the fertilized egg into the uterine lining; maternal age; and maternal trauma, especially to the abdomen. There are several different types of miscarriage, although most people use “miscarriage” as a blanket term to describe all of these varying conditions. A threatened miscarriage...

Masturbation: Its American History and Its Benefits

Historically, America has held a somewhat negative societal view of masturbation that can be traced back to several centuries ago. In America in the 18th and 19th centuries, the perfect storm collided to help condemn masturbation as being a degenerate act. Decades of the Judeo-Christian tradition of condemning masturbation as being a misuse of one’s sexuality combined with the general prudishness of the Victorian era, which lasted from 1837 to 1901, and with the Great Awakening religious revivals of the early 18th century to the late 19th century to land masturbation into the banned acts arena. Literary works during the Victorian era helped move masturbation from being just a socially wicked act to being one of a physical and mental health nature that required medical treatments and even cures to eradicate. One of the biggest opponents of masturbation during this time was American physician Dr. John Harvey Kellogg (1852-1943), who thought sex was detrimental to our physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. He had evener stricter views on masturbation. In addition to sharing his anti-masturbation and anti-sex beliefs with others, Dr. Kellogg physically lived his beliefs and values. It is believed that Dr. Kellogg was celibate, that he and his wife never consummated their marriage, that they kept separate bedrooms during their entire marriage and that all eight of their children were adopted. Dr. Kellogg was raised as a devote Seventh-day Adventist and kept to his faith all throughout his life. He went to medical school before returning to his home state of Michigan where he would eventually practice as a physician at an Adventist-operated sanitarium. In his written work...

Debunking the Virgin Myth

I recently watched an episode of Game of Thrones in which two characters were conversing about a bride being free to marry another man based on an absurd notion. Basically, since the purported virgin bride did not bleed on the bedsheets on her first wedding night, the first marriage was never consummated and she could now be married off in a second marriage. Let’s ignore the fact that this second marriage would unite two prominent families and just focus on debunking what I like to call the virgin myth. Let’s start with a solid fact: not every virgin bleeds during her first vaginal sexual intercourse experience. Another solid fact is that nearly every female human is born with a hymen, which is a piece of fringed tissue that is filled with blood vessels and located in between the two folds of the vulva. The hymen develops during the third or fourth month of pregnancy, and the reason for its development is still a bit of a mystery. Hymens, just like vulva, come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, which means no two are alike. The hymen doesn’t actually cover the vaginal opening. Instead, the hymen creates folds that cause the opening of the vagina to be smaller in size than it would be without a hymen being present. The size of the hymen opening can be small enough to prevent some women from using tampons during menstruation. In rare cases, the hymen opening is too small and requires a minor surgical procedure to open it enough to allow for menstruation blood to pass out of the vagina....

Egg and Sperm Freezing as Fertility Benefits

The Department of Defense (DoD) announced at the end of January that it is expanding fertility benefits for active duty service members to include the cost of egg and sperm freezing. These services will be covered during a two-year pilot program designed as part of the Force of the Future Initiative, which is a move to make the military a more family friendly employer and to encourage troops, especially women, to remain enlisted. Egg and sperm freezing will only be available to active duty service members who either request the benefit or who are anticipating a deployment. Deployed service members run the risk of sustaining injuries that can reduce or eliminate their ability to father children or to carry a pregnancy to full term. According to Military Times, more than 1,300 veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan suffered injuries to their groin regions and genitalia that required advanced reproductive surgeries. These injuries are mostly from encounters with improvised explosive devices (IED’s) or shrapnel from explosions. “We can help our men and women preserve their ability to start a family, even if they suffer certain combat injuries,” Defense Secretary Ash Carter said of the new program. The DoD already offers in vitro fertilization (IVF), artificial insemination, sperm extraction and embryo preservation at no charge to severely wounded, active duty personnel and their spouses. Neither Tricare, the military’s civilian health benefits program, nor the Department of Veterans Affairs, which provides health care to former service members with service-connected conditions, cover the cost of IVF or other advanced fertility treatments, such as egg and sperm freezing. After the two-year pilot program...