What every man should know about the menstrual cycle

First off, I am so sorry for the union tended hiatus. When I Sid that I may not blog everyday, I didn’t mean this. Ever since Hurricane Sandy my life has been on fast forward. While sitting in a business meeting yesterday my log came up and I realized that I hadn’t put fingers to keyboard in two months. Laying in my bed unable to fall ack asleep I figured I ought to remedy that. So here I stand and go figure on a day that I have yet to post a blog for.

When I started this blog, I coined Thursday as “Man-up Thursday”. Now the sensitive man or the liberal woman might think that I am trying to insult the male race and call into question their manhood. That is not the case at all. Honestly, it just sounded good. Today is the one day that I will talk about issues specific to men. So worry not men…man-up.

I am sure every woman will agree when I say that, men confuse me. I swear sometimes I think that they are eternally two years old. At 30+ years old I expect a man to know certain things. That includes the basic mechanics when it comes to a woman….the woman they are sleeping with regularly…menstrual cycle. It is appalling how many men don’t grasp it and have the balls, pun intended to rely on the woman to be diligent. What the hayle…I am tired and I am sure my fellow womenfolk are too.

Years ago, I told one of my brothers that they should know their partner’s cycle as well as their partner. It’s not rocket science and with today’s technology it’s easier than ever. But because y’all menfolk are special, I am going to give you the gift of free information. In a nutshell, I am taking away your cough EXCUSES.

First off, the proper word to describe that dreadful wrapped in joy monthly occurrence is menstruation. Yes, I know self included that we tend to se the word “period” to describe it but in truth a period is a form of punctuation. On average, a woman’s cycle is 28-days but it can range from 21-35 days in adults. Everyone is really different and even more every month can vary. The 1st day of the cycle begins the day her menstruation starts for any given month.

In the first half of the cycle, levels of estrogen (the “female hormone”) start to rise. Estrogen makes the lining of the uterus (womb) grow and thicken. Concurrently, an egg, or ovum, in one of the ovaries starts to mature. At about day 14 of an average 28-day cycle, the egg leaves the ovary. This is called ovulation. As the egg makes its way through the fallopian tube to the uterus hormone levels rise and help prepare the uterine lining for conception. Conception is more likely to occur during the 3 days before or on the day of ovulation. This is because sperm can live longer than an egg. So if you had intercourse 3 days ago, that sperm is chilling waiting to pounce. It can also happen 1 to 3 days after, based on the same concept. Keep in mind, women with cycles that are shorter or longer than average may ovulate before or after day 14.

A woman becomes pregnant if the egg is fertilized by sperm cell and attaches to the uterine wall. If the egg is not fertilized, it will break apart. Then, hormone levels drop, and the thickened lining of the uterus is shed during the menstrual period. The day before the menstrual engines is the last day of her cycle.

In a 28-day cycle, a woman is typically infertile from day 21 to day 5 of the next cycle. Her fertile day typically starts on day 6 even if she is still menstruating. Please understand that a woman can conceive while she is menstruating.

So you see, it is really not rocket science. While you may not be the one going through the chula body changes you too can take an active role.

Since you menfolks are visual beings, I was able to find the most graphic picture so you could understand the mechanics. I suggest you memorize it. It may save your pickets cause babies are expensive.

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(Photo can be found here)
Well guys that’s all for now. I have 30 minutes before I need to officially get up. I am going to try and take a nap before then. I hope you learned something today. If conception occurred and you didn’t take an active role in preventing it, you have no one to blame but yourself. If you wanted conception to occur…congrats cause your a dad.

In health,
Maliyka is health

Fitness for life: Massages

Today is Fitness Friday. Aside some from physical activity to keep fit one must address the mental and spiritual areas. Personally, I believe in God to which takes care of the spiritual portion. For the mental portion, I take a mental vacation via getting a massage. If you have never had a massage, I suggest you run to the nearest spa and allow yourself to be worked out mentally. As it happens, massages don’t just benefit the mental aspect of your body. They also benefit the physical aspect. Routine massages, help to prevent the lymphatic system from going stagnant. One of the reasons why after a massage you should drink plenty of water is because the stimulation promotes lymphatic movement. You want to get rid of all of the toxins that this causes. The increase water allows the toxins to be leased from your body.

This month, I have treated myself to one massage at my favorite spa, Hibiscus Health & Wellness Center. As it happens, they had an anniversary sale. This week is the last days of the sale. You can click here for more information. I guarantee that by the time you finish you feel like a brand new person. Don’t live in the area, no problem. I am sure that in your area there is a spa that can provide you the much needed mental treat. As it happens, after my return to Black Girls Run tomorrow after a very long absence I will be laying upon white sheets and relaxing aromas at Hibiscus for another massage. I hope you get on the massage bandwagon. I promise that just like milk it will do your body good.

Today’s Prescription: Your body should be treated like a temple and like a temple you are supposed to treat it well. Take the time to treat your body well. Remember that it was given to us on loan. One day, we have to give it back.

In health,

Maliyka is health

Freezer burn: Egg freezing

Some time ago my mommy (she’s actually my cousin who is like a 2nd mother to me), asked me if I had ever thought about freezing my eggs. Before you start offering condolences, no I am not dying. Rather my eggs are dying. At the time, I had entered into my 30th year and had no still don’t really real prospect of a mate to help me in child making activities. Knowing how much I wanted a child eventually, she was concerned that when I got around to it I would not have any eggs left to fertilize. At the time, I was startled. I was not ready for a child. Children weren’t even on my radar yet here was someone wondering more about my eggs than I was. However, as I detailed in the blog post a few weeks ago I realized that my fertility had a ticking clock attached to it. Even still, I will not be freezing my eggs.

Although, this is not Fertility awareness month over the past few days there have been many post related to freezing ones eggs. One op-ed piece that I read in  the NY Times , did bring home a valid point. That doctor that every woman loves to hate, the OB/GYN almost always talking about pap smears, cancer, and contraception but they never really discuss whether you plan to have a baby. On a personal note, I can attest to that. During my last visit, my doctor asked me what form of contraception I was using. Not once did she say, “Hey you are almost 32 years old, do you plan on having children anytime soon.” While I am not in a rush, it is a conversation that I believe my doctor should have discussed with me. Go figure, she is not even aware that both my maternal grandmother and mother were considered post menopausal way before they were 50. As a matter of fact, my grandmother started going through menopause right after she had my mother. She was 38.
There should be nothing to big or small that a doctor will not talk about with their patients. Even if that patients says, “you know what doc, I don’t plan on having children.” At least the doctor can notate that they had the discussion. Even if my doctor, had broached the topic with me i would not rush to have a child. I am sure that this is one of the reasons why doctors are cautious about broaching this topic. No doctor wants to be liable for any decision that a patient made which is not in their best interest. Here is the thing, as a doctor it is your duty to talk about the good, bad and the ugly. at some point personal responsibility must come into place and this is one of those situations. Some women, may bot even realize that their eggs have am expiration date and the longer they wait the harder it may be to conceive. It is all about education. While I am not promoting egg freezing it cost too much money there maybe someone who is interested. Who better to receive that information from than by your doctor.

As the oldest of 10 children, while I would like children freezing those little things that pop out of my ovaries and roll down my fallopian tube is not a reality for me. I am comfortable with never having any children. But to the woman who has $12,000+ to freeze their eggs good for you. For those women who have a medical condition that may destroy your chances at fertility, you are in luck. With all the health policy changes and us living in a society that values procreation insurance companies may actually pay that high price tag.

Today’s prescription: There is nothing wrong with planning but remember that your plan must be realistic. Tomorrow is never promised.

October’s other cause: Domestic Violence

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While going through my twitter timeline @maliykaishealth, I came across the above tweet. As you may or may not know, in addition to October being Breast Cancer Awareness month, it is also Domestic Violence Awareness month. I wonder how many people knew that?

I am a big football lover. In spite of my Jets disappointing me, I am loyal to them. As soon as October began, I noted the uniform change. The players wore pink sneakers and gloves. Coaches, including my beloved Rex Ryan wore a sweater vest with the breast cancer logo on it. I approved of this uniform change however, I was disappointed. On a few occasions, I tweeted the NFL asking them where the attire representative of Domestic Violence awareness was? There is no question that breast cancer is a serious disease but is it more important than domestic violence?

We live in a blame the victim society. The fact that breast cancer in no shape, form or fashion is really preventable seems to have entitled the disease to more attention than domestic violence. There is no question that a lot of times, domestic violence victims have placed themselves in situations that had they not they would not be victims. However, that does not negate the fact that they are being victimized and deserve support.

Domestic Violence is a costly and deadly occurrence. It deserves more attention than what it is getting. It deserves the same amount of attention that breast cancer is getting. The nation should be painted purple and pin in honor of the victims and survivors. Sport teams should pay homage to both causes at the same time. Wear purple gloves and pink sneakers or perhaps one of each. Have multiple logos placed on team uniforms. Speak out just as frequently on domestic violence as is done for breast cancer. By ignoring the cause you are telling the women who really had no recourse that they are not important. Only S&M victims like to intentionally be abused. They get off sexually. Domestic Violence victims are not getting off sexually. They are not asking to be hit or abused in any matter purposefully. Unless you are in their shoes, you don’t know how hard it is for them to leave.

Let make October 2013 the first time ever where both causes are given prominent shine. Let’s find a cure for breast cancer and end domestic violence. They both are issues that plagued our society. they both deserve the same amount of attention. Who is down with me for the cause.

Todays prescription: Honor yourself and never let anyone take from you who you are.

In health,
Maliyka is health

Depression: Real or not

20121022-104842.jpg Yesterday, I was finally able to catch up with my mother and as usual, our conversation touched on varying topics. One topic was depression. My mother’s belief was that depression really isn’t a mental health issue. Not having an immediate answer I ha to pause before answering. After thinking about it for a few minutes, my response was that for some it really is.

My mother’s statement heavy on my mind still prompted me to do a google search with the criteria, “Is depression really a mental illness.” It is typical with searches like this that at least one conspiracy based search result will pop up. These conspiracy based search results are usually authored by someone who have self-proclaimed themselves as an expert on the subject. They usually lack any formal education in the subject matter. As it happens, the second search result that popped up was a man who believes as my mother does. The difference is that this gentleman is actually a licensed psychologist by the name of, Philip Hickey, Ph.D. According to Dr. Hickey, depression is not a mental illness rather it is an adaptive mechanism which, is natures way of telling the individual to make some life changes. He likens the body’s response to how it would respond if it experienced physical pain [see article].

While I understand both my mother’s and Dr. Hickey’s point of view. I disagree up to a certain point. There are some individually whose depression has really become a form of mental illness. To trivialize their condition as a health professional is crass and unbecoming. These are the individuals who are so depressed that they cannot function normally in society. According to an article on Psychcentral, depression is a mental disorder rather than a disease. This definition is perhaps one of the most important definitions when it comes to depression. When depression is no longer looked at as a disease it becomes understandable when classified as an illness.

The thing is that, everyone at some point has experienced some form of depression. Granted it may not have been to the extreme where clinical intervention is needed never the less it existed. To those people I say that you are not mentally ill, Rather, Dr. Hickey’s definition is quite apropos. Most often, it is the body’s way of saying, “Something must change.” If your depression is more than the occasional bout, it is more than just a moment. If your depressive state is so great that you can no longer function, it is more than a tiny problem [other symptoms]These are the people who the medical profession should be targeting and are targeting.

To the individuals who are more just occasionally depressed know that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Know that you don’t have to snuff out your life to see that light. While I don’t know how it feels to be clinically depressed, I have been depressed a time or two and it was no fun. I didn’t want to be depressed. It happened and it was a dark moment in my life. Luckily, i was able to snap out of it as fast as I sunk into it. I understand that, not everyone has that ability and for you myheart aches. To be in that deep, dark place all of the time I am sure is no picnic. Hopefully, with medical advancements there will be that now elusive happy shot that will prevent depression from taking firm hold. Until then, I say be as happy as you can be. Know that as cliche as it may sound, God will not place a burden on you greater than you can bear. Stay strong. I promise that in the end it will all get better.

Today’s prescription: Don’t allow anyone or anything to put you in such a state where you no longer can function. Giving power over yourself to someone else will lead to self destruction.

In health,
Maliyka is health

Fitness: Child’s Play

This morning, I came across a NY Times blog post in my twitter feed @maliykaishealth discussing the newest study related to childhood obesity. The blog post asked whether exercise programs help children stay fit? According to the post, a new study found that physical activity interventions in school almost never increase overall daily physical activity rather they participate in the intervention and then remain stubbornly sedentary during the rest of the day. This got me to wondering why? Are these programs to structured? Why are school physical activity programs just not hitting the mark?

I’m a 80’s baby. Born in 1980. Growing up I enjoyed playing. Yes I watched television and enjoyed cartoons but going outside to play was my favorite pastime. Can we say that the park was the best place to be in my younger years. The one year that I did attend public school [P.S. 249 I enjoyed recess. Why…because I got to play. Even gym was a favorite subject of mine because even though we were learning and being physically active it was just plain fun. Games such as jump rope, dodge ball, tag, steel the bacon, etc. all physically involved and all fun were common activities I engaged in. Yes these games were fun. They were also beneficial health wise because they encouraged you to be active. No one wanted to be the child who also got caught. The amount of obese children then was nothing like the amount found today.

Children like to play and rightfully so. They should not have to be concerned with the mundane facets of life. Any program that encourages physical activity should be fun. Learning can should be fun. Children and even some adults have a short attention span. If that attention isn’t grasped early the lesson will not be learned. There is no question that the lessons being imparted are necessary for these children’s wellbeing but do they understand that. Are the educators in charge of their physical activity putting it in terms where they can understand the long-term implications. Are the lessons fun. Is physical play being encouraged. Perhaps, the fun should be brought back. Less television and more physical. Television that showed fun and physical things. Someone get the jumprope and the neighborhood kids. I bet you they will enjoy it and so will you.

Today’s Prescription: Nurture your inner child. In a stress world such as the one we live in our inner child can be the best stress reliever.

In health,
Maliyka is health

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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is Breast Cancer awareness month. If you haven’t feel your boobies pun intended  You may just save your life. On a monthly basis, you should be checking your breast for any abnormalities. You may not realize, but the breast are made up of different components however there are several areas that are more prone to developing cancer than others.The most breast cancer types are ductal carcinoma and lobular carcinoma (Source: CDC). As of 2008, 10,203 women were diagnosed with breast cancer and 40,589 women died from breast cancer.

As with most health conditions, it is best to be proactive. Something that doesn’t take long could end up saving your life. For those of you who do not know how to check your breast I have given you a gift…direction. It is also important to know that men can also develop breast cancer. It is important that they look at their breast area as well.

How to Examine your breast

In the mirror:

  1. Stand undressed from the waist up in front of a large mirror in a well-lit room. Look at your breasts. Don’t be alarmed if they do not look equal in size or shape. Most women’s breasts aren’t. With your arms relaxed by your sides, look for any changes in size, shape, or position, or any changes to the skin of the breasts. Lookin the direction of for any skin puckering, dimpling, sores, or discoloration. Inspect your nipples and look for any sores, peeling, or change  the nipples.
  2. Next, place your hands on your hips and press down firmly to tighten the chest muscles beneath your breasts. Turn from side to side so you can inspect the outer part of your breasts.
  3. Then bend forward toward the mirror. Roll your shoulders and elbows forward to tighten your chest muscles. Your breasts will fall forward. Look for any changes in the shape or contour of your breasts.
  4. Now, clasp your hands behind your head and press your hands forward. Again, turn from side to side to inspect your breasts’ outer portions. Remember to inspect the border underneath your breasts. You may need to lift your breasts with your hand to see this area.
  5. Check your nipples for discharge (fluid). Place your thumb and forefinger on the tissue surrounding the nipple and pull outward toward the end of the nipple. Look for any discharge. Repeat on your other breast.In the shower:
  6. Now, it’s time to feel for changes in the breast. It is helpful to have your hands slippery with soap and water. Check for any lumps or thickening in your underarm area. Place your left hand on your hip and reach with your right hand to feel in the left armpit. Repeat on the other side.
  7. Check both sides for lumps or thickenings above and below your collarbone.
  8. With hands soapy, raise one arm behind your head to spread out the breast tissue. Use the flat part of your fingers from the other hand to press gently into the breast. Follow an up-and-down pattern along the breast, moving from bra line to collarbone. Continue the pattern until you have covered the entire breast. Repeat on the other side.Lying down:
  9. Next, lie down and place a small pillow or folded towel under your right shoulder. Put your right hand behind your head. Place your left hand on the upper portion of your right breast with fingers together and flat. Body lotion may help to make this part of the exam easier.
  10. Think of your breast as a face on a clock. Start at 12 o’clock and move toward 1 o’clock in small circular motions. Continue around the entire circle until you reach 12 o’clock again. Keep your fingers flat and in constant contact with your breast. When the circle is complete, move in one inch toward the nipple and complete another circle around the clock. Continue in this pattern until you’ve felt the entire breast. Make sure to feel the upper outer areas that extend into your armpit.
  11. Place your fingers flat and directly on top of your nipple. Feel beneath the nipple for any changes. Gently press your nipple inward. It should move easily.
  12. Repeat steps 9, 10, and 11 on your other breast

For those of you who need visual instructions here is a video that will help you breast-cancer-awareness-breast-self-exam.html

In health,

Maliyka is health

The elephant in the room: Mental health and color

“African-American Black people are not crazy!” Sounds familiar? It should. It is a sentiment that much uninformed Black people believe. The truth of the matter is that they couldn’t be furthest from the truth. Mental illness does not know color. It only knows people and it can attach itself to anyone at any given time. Point in case Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. Here is an educated man who seemingly on the outside appeared to be well however, his recent diagnosis says otherwise.

The American Psychiatric Association has a page dedicated specifically to the African-American community. Contrary to misguided belief, mental illness in African-American communities are similar to the that of the general population.  Just like their counterparts, most of them are functional in that they are able to keep up good mental health.  This does not negate the fact that these people who are mentally ill need treatment.

From a cultural perspective, mental illness is the elephant in the room that no wants to discuss and that is largely the problem. Failure to accept that this disease affects African-Americans is one of the reasons why there is a lack of culturally competent care. The ones who suffer in silence the most are African-American men who rarely if ever seek treatment for mental illness.  Dr. William Lawson in a recent interview stated, “Many African-Americans have a lot of negative feelings about, or not even aware of mental health services. They may not be aware of the symptoms of many mental disorders, or they may believe that to be mentally ill is a sign of weakness or a sign of a character fault” NPR. This statement could not be any more true as is evidenced by the fact that Rep. Jackson, Jr. took two months before he opened up to the world that he too was suffering from the silent disease…mental health.

No one knows why mental illness exist. One of my co-workers who is a psychiatric doctor shudders at the world crazy. Rather he believes that the mentally ill have a brain dysfunction. Being mentally ill does not make you stupid. In fact, there are a lot of intellectual geniuses who are considered be mentally ill. It has been said that Albert Einstein was mentally ill. Yet he was a genius.

As an African-American, one should not feel like they are weak for being mentally ill. It is said that knowing is half the battle. knowing that you have an illness puts you in a place to get the best treatment.  Know that you came from Kings and Queens and being mentally ill does not make you weak rather not dealing with the issue makes you weak. With proper treatment, you can be just as strong as those who don’t suffer from this disease.

Today’s Prescription: What will be will be. You can’t change it but you can learn to live with. In your quiet space repeat the Serenity Prayer to yourself and remember that you are not weak rather you are ill.

“God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change,
courage to change the things we can,
and wisdom to know the difference.”

Sleep: The key to life

20120928-210828.jpg Today’s topic relates to why I didn’t post yesterday. Seriously, I am tired. Am I the only one who appreciates sleep more now than when I was in my teen to early 20 years? I remember being good off of 4hrs of sleep. Slowly I needed 6 hours. At 32 it is more like I need 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep. Unfortunately, sometimes I just don’t get it.

When people mention being fit the first thing that comes to mind is not being fat. Sorry guys but there’s more to it than just that. Being fit involves getting enough rest. Not getting enough sleep has been attributed to weight gain (Prevention Magazine). In theory, the more sleep you have the more energy you gain. When you don’t get enough sleep you don’t have enough energy so you eat. Most often you’re not eating apples and oranges rather your eating everything that a nutritionist would cringe at. Lack of sleep can also be linked to accidents, a decreased sex drive, heart attacks, etc. (WebMD).

While children require more sleep than adults, adults should be getting at least 7-9 hours of sleep. For some, getting that amount of sleep may be difficult. There are ways to rectify that. Some ways to do that include setting a routine. Bedtime should be around the same time each day. Foods with caffeine should be avoided before bedtime. Your sleeping area should be comfortable. These are just some of the ways that you can get that sleeping beauty type of sleep. For additional tips click here.

On that note, I think it’s time for me to call it a night. I didn’t follow my own advise and in additions to allergies beating me down, exhaustion is also messing with me. I am aiming for at least 7 hours before I start my busy Saturday. Sleep tight all.

Today’s prescription: Get some sleep. It’s the key to longevity.

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In health,
Maliyka is health

Tick Tock: There goes that biological clock

 

As the person in charge of my Sorority’s Stork’s Nest I am responsible for facilitating the 1st session. Being a trained community health educator it is a walk in the park for me. Having recently partnered up with Harlem Hospitallocated in none other than Harlem, NY (for those that don’t know that is an area in Manhattan) we recently started our 2nd cohort on September 11th (how ironic). Now every time, I have facilitated a session, an interesting discussion has ensued. This time was no different.

I can proudly say that I am 32 years old. Not trying to brag but I look good. Aside from the weight that I could stand to lose (I’m losing it). My baby face has folks thinking that I am under 30 (not to long ago a woman told me I couldn’t come to a performance at a club because I wasn’t 21) quite often. The thing is, I don’t have any children. In my opinion and that of my mother that is not a bad thing. Coming from *drumroll* a mother who birthed 10 children and me being the oldest I just don’t feel the rush.

As always, when I facilitate the Stork’s Nest session, we talk about the basic things that people need to do while they are pregnant. We also talk about things that they need to look out for as well as what happens at each stage of their pregnancy in terms of development, doctor’s appointments and testing. The 11th was no different in terms of topics covered but the conversation add was enough to add another tick tock to tat dreaded biological clock. During our discussion about test like the amniocentesis I mentioned that unless there was a reason to think that there was a genetic disorder it really isn’t offered to you until you hit 35 years old when you are considered high risk. While discussing this, it came out that I was childless, 32 years old and not planning to have a child for at least 3 years. Doing the math for you, I would be 35 and as one of the women pointed out high risk. She’s right, I would but I am in no rush to move up my schedule.

I am at the age where a lot of my friends have children. This year alone, I have gained so many nieces and nephews via my friends that it’s hilarious. I promise you that I won’t remember any of their birthdays. Without fail, someone always insist that I need to have a child. My response to them is that I am too young. Out of 10 children, my mother only as 2 grandchildren and thankfully, she isn’t pressed for more. There is no question that, one day I do want to have children. I also understand that at 32 years of age having already lost about 90% of my eggs (keep in mind that women are born with all of the eggs that they will ever have) I may have increased difficulty in getting pregnant the longer I wait (ABC News) Honestly though, I am okay with that. Aging a child is a huge step and I know that I am not ready for it. It pisses me off when I ear of mothers throwing their baby in the trash like garbage. Aside from not getting pregnant there are other options. I am not worried that I may have difficulty in getting pregnant. If it is meant to be, it will happen. If not I will adopt. Articles like the one the New York Times put out don’t scare me. My ovaries may look older than my real age but so what. There are already to many people in the world using up resources that are becoming scarce such as water that one less person populating really isn’t a bad thing.

So yeah, after that conversation happened, my clock did tick tock a little louder but I politely hit the snooze button. I refuse to be ruled by the proverbial biological clock. This body belongs to me (God really loaned it to me but you get my point). No one has the right to tell me when I should get pregnant and even when they do I smile and say I am too young to have a baby. After all, I really am.

Today’s Prescription: when it comes to life changing events don’t rush. Granted you are not promised forever but that is not an excuse do things haphazardly. This applies to having children. Family planning is a lost art.

In health,
Maliyka is health