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Tag: women’s health

Break The Stigma Day: My Story and One Big Thing

It’s Break The Stigma Day!!! Today I am taking a stand for women with “H” to break the silence and break the stigma. I want you to feel happy, healthy and totally loved. You deserve it! and….I know it is a journey that starts with a single step. Take that step with me today as I share my story, resources and one BIG thing that has helped me to find peace and my happily ever after! I am a women who is happily married to the man of my dreams. We have a beautiful, healthy little girl and had it not been for this ONE THING….none of this would have been possible for me. I would probably still be single and miserable wondering where Mr Right is. I am so excited to take a stand for YOU today to create a magical life…a happily ever after. #breakthestigma #pinktent #drkelly #btsd #whatstigma

$50 Off Secrets To Success Course on 4/24/19 with code: shamefree

There Is No Cure But Community For Women With Herpes

Are you a woman with herpes who feels all alone? Depressed? Unworthy of love? Did you know April is STD awareness month? While there is no cure for herpes, there IS community. So many women out there are just waiting for a cure so they can return to happiness. This line of thinking puts your whole life on hold. The truth is, they may or may not find a cure for herpes in your lifetime. There is another way to access HAPPINESS and I will be talking about that today. You are NOT a victim! I see you and know that you deserve love and happiness NOW. Not tomorrow, or a week from now, several months from now or years from now…but NOW. Time is precious! Listen in on today’s #TransformationalTuesday conversation. This is a conversation and quick tip that you don’t want to miss. Want to fast track your healing and happiness? Join our FREE community of women supporting women with std’s and sexual abuse at www.PinkTent.com/forum
#btsd #breakthestigma #whatstigma #herpesstigma #PinkTent #foundationscourse #DrKelly #happinessnow

How do you know if you are ready to date again?

How do you know if you are ready to date again? Let’s face it, dating is hard enough as it is and many women struggle to know when it’s time.
Whether you just broke up with someone or you have been single for years, there are things to consider before putting yourself out there. Today I am going to share some key distinctions that help you determine if you are ready or not. If you jump in too soon, you run the risk of dating the same guy or girl over and over again that doesn’t meet your standards. It is no fun to keep on attracting and dating Mr or Ms. Wrong instead of Mr. or Ms. Right. Have you ever watched the movie Runaway Bride with Julia Roberts? There is a key take away from this movie that will help you discover if you are ready to date nor not. #datingwithconfidence #drkelly #pinktent #dateyourselffirst #youdoyou #runawaybride #singleandsad #juliaroberts #transformationaltuesday

How do you Spring Clean for Soul Connection?

How do you Spring Clean for Soul Connections?
I remember what it was like balling my eyes out to my mother when I was single and really thought something was wrong with me. At 34 years old, all my friends were getting married and having kids. I was really starting to feel like the 3rd wheel with partnered up friends. I was on Match.com at the time and I would have said that it was more like match.bomb! I thought that my expectations were too high…and yet there was so much more. My Mom advised me to keep going and keep my head high. She told me to have FAITH. Today I would like to share an exercise that I use with my clients to help clear emotional baggage that causes us so much suffering. What is the dating crisis you are really experiencing that causes you to
-Keep attracting the same unhealthy relationship again and again
-Wonder why you procrastinate getting on dating apps
-Lose confidence in the HOPE of finding your Partner…your Happily Ever After
then join me in today’s powerful #transformationalTuesday exercise that can be done in just 5-10 minutes
#DrKelly #datingcoach #PinkTent #datingwithconfidence #MamaGena #SpringCleaning #match #positivesingles #shameless

Misdiagnosis of Herpes Symptoms In Women

Did you know that herpes symptoms in women can be confused with many common conditions? 85% of people with herpes don’t know they have it! Common symptoms include blisters, sores, itchy areas, tingling, burning, painful urination, skin fissures and cracks, skin ulcers, swollen lymph nodes, fatigue, depression, pain down the leg, flu like symptoms, body aches and watery vaginal discharge; but how do you know if it is herpes? I have worked with women who were misdiagnosed with several other ailments before they were ever PROPERLY diagnosed with herpes.

Why does this happen?

Herpes is truly the Great Masquerader. Doctors and patients alike misdiagnose herpes all the time. Here is a chart of what women with herpes think they have and what men with herpes think they have.

What Women With Herpes Think They Have What Men With Herpes Think They Have
Yeast Infection Folliculitis
Urinary Tract Infection Jock Itch
Menstrual Complaints Normal Itch
Hemorrhoids Hemorrhoids
Heat Rash Zipper Burn
Urethral Syndrome Insect or Spider Bite
Allergy to condoms, spermicides, sperm, elastic/pantyhose Allergies to condoms
Irritation from bike seat, shaving, douching Irritation from bike seat, tight jeans, sexual intercourse
As you can see, it would be very easy to misdiagnosis herpes in women AND men. So, if you have any or many of these symptoms, especially if they are reoccurring, I suggest that you seek medical advice. You have to take control of your health and sometimes it means challenging your doctor’s diagnosis. There have been times when I have encouraged women to demand a herpes blood test. Not knowing can drive you crazy! A simple blood test paired with a thorough exam can determine your herpes status. You can find a herpes testing center near you.  I also recommend getting screened for other STI’s.
If you end up testing positive for herpes, Pink Tent (TM) is here it support you. We are committed to educate, empower and inspire women with herpes to live, love and thrive. If you reside in the Boulder/Denver area, check our www.ColoradoHFriends.com. We host monthly discussion groups, social events and women’s brunches. Take a stand for your health and get tested!
Live. Love. Thrive.

 

How Herpes affects Women’s Sexuality

aloneHow Herpes affects Women’s Sexuality

Contributing Author: Stephanie

Many anthropologists, sociologists, and feminist theorists have explored the reasoning behind women’s sexuality, or rather the reasoning for the almost absence of women’s sexuality in today’s society.  Because women’s ability to have sexual desires based on their own personal desires, and not those of a man, is frequently discredited by mainstream society, women’s sexuality automatically becomes discredited as a whole.  The idea that sexuality is socially constructed based on things we learn from media, religion, schools, and other great institutions is a common theory.

Scholars in this area have also taken specific interest in the way that an STD diagnosis might affect how a person experiences sexuality based on the social construction and meaning on the diagnosis.  

Women’s sexuality is already invalidated, so an STD diagnosis simply invalidates it further based on her supposed deviation form the female sexual norm (having sexual desires, acting upon them, and being diagnosed with an STD because of those actions).

There are plenty of articles and scholarly works out there discussing this issue from an outside perspective, but I would like to share my personal experience of dealing with my new sexual identity after being diagnosed with herpes. I would like to emphasize that my perspective is very heterosexual, for lack of a better term, but I believe there will be plenty of parallels for those who identify elsewhere on the spectrum.

As I feel many young women believe when they first begin to experience their sexual selves, my sexuality was based solely on what I thought my male partner wanted.

Neither the media, school, nor my parents had ever taught me what sex or intimacy should be from a woman’s perspective.  It was always based on heterosexual male pleasure.

That being the case, when I learned I had herpes I felt I could no longer fulfill those sexual desires for someone else again because I was no longer desirable to men based on my new label as a “sexual deviant.”

I would like to break down my experience into stages that coincide with Dr. Kelly’s “Stages of Grief” in her book Live, Love, & Thrive with Herpes in hopes that many of you can connect to one, a few, or maybe even all of them as you begin to find sexual freedom after your diagnosis.

Stages to Sexual Freedom:

  1. Avoidance
    • Reference Stage One: Trauma and Denial, and Stage Two: Feelings of Rage from Dr. Kelly’s “Stages of Grief”
  2. Settling
    • Reference Stage Three: Profound and Prolonged Sadness
  3. Fear of Control
    • This stage triggers Stage Four of the “Stages of Grief,” Communicating and Reaching Out
  4. Freedom
    • Reference Stage Five: Surrender and Acceptance, and Stage Six: Empowerment

Avoidance (Trauma and Denial/Feelings of Rage)
When I was first diagnosed I had an irrational fear of spreading herpes to anyone I had any sexual contact with at all.  I say irrational, because as I learned more about the transmission of the virus, I discovered there are plenty of ways to reduce the likelihood of transmission as well as ways avoid the possibility of transmission completely.  

Because of my fear, during this stage I completely avoided any situation that could lead to sexual desire, including dating.  

Trauma and Denial, as Dr. Kelly emphasizes in her book, played a huge role in my avoidance.  The trauma of my diagnosis as well as my denial made disclosure impossible at the time.  I was not ready to disclose my situation with someone, and I knew I had to do so before becoming intimate again.

Settling (Profound and Prolonged Sadness)
Looking back on my journey, this stage brings me the most sadness, which directly relates to Dr. Kelly’s explanation of Stage Three in her book.

During the “Settling” stage my mind set was to “take what I can get.”  If a man said he loved me or that he found me irresistible despite my herpes I thought I had to reciprocate those feelings.  This is because I thought it was so incredibly rare for a man to feel these things about me after my diagnosis that it might be my only chance to find love or intimacy again.  

After going through this stage, my blunt advice is that this is NOT TRUE.  There will be many men or women that love you and find you undoubtedly sexy not despite your herpes, but almost by virtue of your herpes and the woman it has created.

Fear of Control (Communicating and Reaching Out)
This stage was by far the longest of the four because it took me so long time to understand my thought process during it.  

As women we already sometimes feel a lack of control with our sexuality and sexual decisions based on the submissiveness we learn from society.  After I began to seek intimacy again after settling for men I did not necessarily desire, I found it… but on someone else’s terms.

I believed that I no longer had the right to share my opinions about what I desired sexually because it was unfair to ask someone to put himself at risk for my pleasure.  What I learned after verbally expressing my thoughts to loved ones was that I have just as much control over how I experience sex and intimacy as I did before.  

I was afraid to take control of my sexuality again because that could mean putting someone else at risk.  What I didn’t realize is that if I had disclosed my diagnosis and shared the transmission risks with my partner I had done my part in keeping him safe.  

This is where Dr. Kelly’s stage on communicating and reaching out becomes so important.  Without my ability to do so, I may not have allowed control back into my intimate experiences.

Freedom (Surrender and Acceptance/Empowerment)
After effectively communicating and finding the ability to reach out and seek advice from friends and family, I am finally able to enjoy my sexuality and be at peace with my diagnosis.

I have accepted that I cannot have spontaneous sexual encounters without putting others at risk, and I now understand how that is not at all a curse; it is actually a true blessing.

I have accepted that I need to be at a more intimate level with someone before I share my sexuality with them in order to feel comfortable and in control of the situation.  Once again, this has proved to be a huge blessing in my life.

Finally, I have accepted that my herpes diagnosis has not hindered or tainted my sexuality in any way, but rather it has forced me to embrace every piece of my self in order to find true intimacy with another person.

I encourage you all, as I always do, to find the silver lining in situations where you feel that your herpes might have given you the short end of the stick.  I can guarantee that once you start searching, you will find all the amazing ways that herpes has allowed you to grow as a woman in every way, including your sexual being.      

Practicing Self-Love

file1551245784283Practicing Self-Love

By Contributing Author Stephanie

As I was beginning to write this blog, I started with looking for articles about self-love. There are so many articles out there telling us how to love ourselves and how to practice as much patience with ourselves as we do with others. Although these are all beautiful and inspiring articles I found that the majority was missing one thing.  What do we do when we feel completely unable to love the person we are today, right at this moment?

This is something I have struggled with my whole life, but when I was diagnosed with herpes it became even more difficult.  As women we are constantly surrounded by messages and images telling us what beautiful is, what the ideal woman acts like, and what our health says about our character as women.  It can be extremely difficult to push those messages aside in order to learn to really love yourself, but I would like to share with you all how I have been able to start to do just that in order to accept myself exactly the way that I am. Over the last year I have made it a priority to really get to know myself.  By that I mean I wanted to know what makes me feel happy, sad, excited, anxious, and what things were really most important to me in my life.  Through my efforts this year I have been able to understand what triggers my emotions, what I really value in my life, and many other things I would have never guessed were a part of who I am a year ago.  

Interestingly enough, understanding myself in these ways has helped me to fall in love with the person that I am. When reflecting on this experience, I like to compare it to falling in love with another person.  As we get to know someone, either intimately or as a friend, we start to accept that person for everything he or she is as well as everything he or she is not.  As we accept a person for all he or she has to offer we can start to really love that person unconditionally.  I believe this is what has happened in my relationship with myself over the last year.  By allowing myself to get to know me I have been able to accept myself for everything that I am, and that has given me the ability to love myself unconditionally, herpes and all. I challenge you all to get to know yourselves on the same intimate level you might imagine you would get to know your life partner on.

If you are struggling with accepting yourself as a woman diagnosed with herpes, understanding deeper traits about yourself will allow you to put less emphasis on such a small aspect of your health and life.  Remember that others will only judge you as much as you judge yourself.   I hope what I have discovered will help you all as you begin the same journey that I started a year ago.  Be your biggest fan, and the journey towards unconditional self-love will be easy.    

Overcoming Stigma and Finding your Unique Path

Overcoming Stigma and Finding your Unique Path

By Contributing Author Stephanie

I watched this video quite a few months ago and for a long time did not understand my connection to Eleanor Longden or her struggle with mental health.  After much contemplation I began to understand my ability to empathize with her and be overwhelmingly inspired by her journey.  Although her experience with schizophrenia is vastly different than my own experience with herpes, the fact of the matter is we both had to overcome societal stigma and as well personal stigma against our conditions.

To me, the most inspirational part of Eleanor’s story is her ability to not only overcome that stigma but to do so in a way that defied the norms of medicine and treatment for her condition.  By overcoming the stigma associated with schizophrenia she was able to work with her symptoms and hardships in order to create a meaningful interaction with her voices.  What she teaches any of us going through the process of overcoming stigma to promote healing is that doing so will allow you to experience your stigmatized identity in a way that is actually beneficial. For those of us dealing with a new herpes diagnosis, or the trauma that comes along with an outbreak after years of living with the virus, it is important to interact with our condition and symptoms in a compassionate way.  My ability, and i’m sure many of yours, to understand Eleanor’s hardships is a perfect example of one way herpes has been beneficial in my life.  Being able to feel true compassion and empathize for others in seemingly completely different situations than your own is a true gift that I may not have today without my diagnosis.

I hope you all find as much inspiration in Eleanor’s story and her ability to overcome stigma associated with her voices as I have; and I hope it inspires you all to find your unique path to health and happiness in your acceptance of your diagnosis.  

 

About Stephanie

Hi Everyone! My name is Stephanie.  I was diagnosed with HSV-2 in April of 2014 when I was 22 years old.  Right now, almost three years later, I am a doctoral student in the sociology department at Purdue University.  I recently completed my MA in sociology at the University of Northern Colorado where I explored the role of stigma in the process of disclosing a genital herpes diagnosis.  With that said, if anyone is interested in reading what I discovered in my project, I am happy to share that with you! I plan to continue advocating for our community, as well as studying the social factors that influence sexual health in order to understand how we can create a world that is easier for people diagnosed with STIs.  I really enjoy writing for the Pink Tent community and am excited to be able to share some of my experiences and thoughts about living with genital herpes with you all.

Prepare for Cold Season and Avoid Herpes Outbreaks

Avoid Herpes OutbreaksPrepare for Cold Season and Avoid Herpes Outbreaks
By Contributing Author Stephanie

As we enter into the beautiful, yet dangerously contagious, fall season I usually have one thing on my mind: avoiding colds.  After being diagnosed with herpes, this concern weighs on my mind even more.  As most of us know, the herpes virus shows up when our immune system has been compromised.  There can be many causes for this including stress, another virus like the common cold or the flu, or perhaps even lack of sleep.

As my body was still trying to build up immunity to the herpes virus, colds had a substantial effect on my experience with outbreaks.  For the first year of my diagnosis, every time I caught a small cold, an outbreak would follow days after the cold arrived.  Because of this, I have found that it is extremely important for me to take care of myself and keep my immune system strong in order to avoid herpes outbreaks. This blog post will go over some simple, yet key points on how to boost your immune system during the cold season in order to avoid herpes outbreaks. The first step you can take to avoid herpes outbreaks by boosting your immune system is take Omega-3s on a daily basis.

In Dr. Kelly’s book, Live, Love, & Thrive with Herpes, she suggests 2000 mg or more a day. Omega-3s are a great way to boost your immune system as well as balance your hormones, and support cardiovascular and brain health. Zinc Chelate is another easy supplement to use to boost your immunity. Dr. Kelly’s book suggests 50 mg a day.  Not only will taking Zinc on a daily basis support a strong immune system, but it will also promote skin health and tissue repair: two benefits that are amazing for herpes outbreaks. Vitamin D3 is also a great supplement to build immunity.  The suggested dose listed in Dr. Kelly’s book is 5000 IU’s a day.

Women are often deficient in Vitamin D3 and new research is showing that it acts as a hormone, signaling cells to boost immunity. If you are osteoporotic, then D3 is required for you to be able to properly absorb your calcium supplements. Probiotics are another supplement to add to your regimen or diet, not only during cold season, but all the time.  Probiotics help the “good bacteria” in your body to thrive so that they can fight off the “bad bacteria.” You may be able to get all the probiotics you need from your diet.  A few of the foods known to be rich in probiotics are yogurt, sauerkraut, kefir, and kimchi.

One last supplement you should always take to support your health and immune system is a multivitamin.  In Live, Love, & Thrive with Herpes, Dr. Kelly suggests a multivitamin that has at least 750 mg of calcium and 450 mg of magnesium. If you are already taking each of these supplements daily, congratulations!  If you are not, now would be the perfect time to start. Cold season is among us, and supporting our immune systems is extremely important to avoid herpes outbreaks as well as for our overall health and happiness.  I hope these suggestions find you well and that you all have a happy and healthy cold season.