PinkTober is here and I am ecstatic to share on the intersection between your mental and reproductive health. Happy birthday Uganda! It was Independence day on 9th which was followed by International Mental Health Day on 10th. Not forgetting that 11th was the International Day of the Girl Child! How dope! If you’re new here, we’re almost wrapping up on a blog series dubbed (BTS)Bold type Series. It looks at women who dare to challenge the status quo and continue to thrive on challenges. I have Dr.Patricee, here today to share on the intersection of your mental and reproductive health.
Quick Fun Fact.
Reproductive health +mental health +Physical health=Overall health
1. Who is the phenomenal lady sharing on the intersection of your mental and reproductive health?
I am a headwrap enthusiast, Afrocentric and have an “unhealthy addiction” (that’s if addictions are ever healthy!!) to Ankara prints. I was christened Patricee Moae Douglas, however, many people refer to me as Dr.Pat.
A women’s and girls’ health and rights advocate who has a special interest in sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). Additionally, I am the founder of SRHR Adventures, a grassroots organization that seeks to promote SRHR with a special focus on family planning/contraception in Guyana, my home country.
2. When did you first pick interest in this area? How have you managed to address it to young women living in conservative communities? Is there we can join in this contribution?
I have always had an interest in women ’s health. However, it was during my medical internship that my love for the promotion of family planning/contraception was birthed. After encountering countless women and girls who hadn’t a clue how to prevent an unwanted pregnancy.I knew I had work to do!
How have I managed to address SRHR topics with females living in conservative communities? Now, that’s a great question!! My team and I have done this by approaching the topics we facilitate in such communities with tact and cultural sensitivity. However, I wouldn’t say it’s a “walk in the park” because it is quite challenging since there are many cultural barriers in relation to the work we do.
(Considering there’s a link between mental health and reproductive health; people affected by mental health issues may resort to sex, smoking cigarettes as a coping mechanism. This increases one’s risk of cervical cancer and Sexually Transmitted Infections. It is important to note among the leading risk factors for cervical cancer include having multiple sexual partners and smoking cigarettes).
3. For those of us who don’t know, what are the implications of cervical cancer on our mental and reproductive health?
That’s quite a specific question, therefore it deserves a specific answer! However, before I delve into its effect on reproductive health, I must mention that cervical cancer is one of the preventable cancers that is claiming the lives of many women in lower and middle-income countries. If women that are 21 and older do regular screening for cervical cancer by way of pap smears or VIA (Visual Inspection with Acetic Acid) many a life would be saved. Additionally, it depends on whether the parents ensured that their daughters are vaccinated against the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is the culprit that causes virtually all cases of cervical cancer. The rate of cervical cancer would decrease significantly.
Now, to get back to your question! Cervical cancer is reproductive cancer that only affects females because as we know males don’t have a cervix! Therefore, they cannot develop cervical cancer. Further, it is one of the most common reproductive cancers in females and it is frequently diagnosed between ages 35-44. Moreover, there is a link between cervical cancer and infertility since the treatment of cancer may involve removing the womb (uterus) or radiotherapy which may affect the ovaries. Further, it affects the overall quality of life of the affected person.
(This is where the intersection between mental and reproductive health starts.)
4. Now still on the issue of mental and reproductive health, what is your stance on the prevalence rates of adolescent pregnancies?
This is an issue that is very dear to my heart since my high school best friend dropped out of school on the same issue. She was brilliant and had a bright future ahead of her but due to this matter and lack of a great support system, she hasn’t been able to achieve her full potential.
I often tell others that, adolescent pregnancy is an issue that needs to be taken more seriously!! Further, it is important to note that we are failing our young people by not equipping them with the knowledge they need to make informed decisions in connection with sex.
(Not only is it a social issue, but also one that affects one’s mental and reproductive health .)
5. We have come all this way in our interview; we cannot let you leave without you sharing your fave tips on caring for our flower(vagina)?
Love your flower as it is!!! All flowers aren’t alike, but they are all beautiful whether the petals (labia) are big or small!! Additionally, your flower is self-cleaning, hence washing with water will do the trick but if you desire to use a soap ensure that it doesn’t have dyes, preservatives and/or harsh chemicals. Therefore, you need not get creative when cleaning it!! Lastly, eating yogurt is good for our flowers but don’t overdo it. Also, don’t forget to strengthen those pelvic floor muscles by doing your Kegels!
There you have it, ladies, after this; we can continue the conversation of the intersection of our mental and reproductive health.
6. Lastly, what essential advice do you have for those starting their reproductive health activist journey/ or wish you would have known as you were starting out?
Let your passion drive you and surround yourself with people who share your vision! There you have it, ladies and gentlemen! All the juice on the intersection of our mental and reproductive health.
Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below.
Feel free to interact with her across all social media; (SHRAdventures)