Author Archives: SuzyKnew!

About SuzyKnew!

SuzyKnew! is dedicated to improving the sexual and reproductive health and sexual pleasure of women of color.

Fertility Friday: Low-Fat Diets And Testosterone In Men

This weekend we are sharing Fertility Friday’s podcast on how diet affects testosterone in men. Discover why low-fat diets are terrible for both testosterone and sperm production in men in today’s episode with Joe Whittaker.

Joe Whittaker is a clinical nutritionist and researcher. He holds a master’s degree in Nutritional Therapy, from the University of Worcester. His research has been published in top academic journals, and widely covered by the media. His academic research is focused on men’s health, particularly testosterone and sperm health.

Here’s a link to Joe’s research study: Low-fat diets and testosterone in men: Systematic review and meta-analysis of intervention studies

Topics discussed in today’s episode:
  • How nutrition relates to sperm health and testosterone production
  • What men can do to support their testosterone and sperm health
  • How calorie restriction effects men
  • How men and women’s bodies are affected differently by intermittent fasting
  • Correlation between men’s testosterone production and sperm production
  • Why would a vegetarian and vegan diet not be optimal for reproduction

GO HERE: For the podcast!

 

ASK JANICE: TRIGGER WARNING – GABBY PETITO, ABUSE, AND RACE

Dear Janice – What do you think about the whole Gabby Petito thing? What does it have to do with us?

***

Dear SuzyKnew! Reader:

My answer isn’t going to be another piece railing at the “Missing White Woman Syndrome” following the tragic and preventable death of Gabby Petito, the 22 year old white woman whose disappearance dominated recent news cycles. By the way, that phrase “Missing White Woman Syndrome”, was brilliantly coined by the late, great Gwen Ifill (RIP). There have already been dozens of well-written articles and thought pieces about the stark contrast between the nonstop coverage of the pretty, blonde, white woman who went suspiciously missing and the dearth of coverage of the THOUSANDS of missing Black, brown, and indigenous women (and men).

What more can I say that you don’t already know? Everyone reading this knows that Black, brown, and indigenous women go suspiciously missing EVERY SINGLE DAY in this country, without so much as a backward glance from the media. More disturbing is how little attention these cases get from actual law enforcement. But this isn’t new information.

Black women, especially know how little our safety matters to the general public. Just look at how long it took to convict R. Kelly! On Monday, September 27, 2021, the R&B singer was FINALLY convicted of nine federal sex trafficking and racketeering charges after actual DECADES of raping, kidnapping, and abusing Black girls and women. DECADES!!! And to be totally honest, these convictions wouldn’t ever have happened without the relentless, grass roots efforts of Black women activists who, slowly and steadily, kept up the pressure to bring this prolific pedophile to some inkling of justice.

The fact of the matter is the United States is a deeply racist, violently patriarchal society that does an abysmal job of protecting the rights, autonomy, and safety of women. Full stop. It’s at least 100 times worse for Black, brown, or indigenous women. As I type this, individual states actively seek to dismantle our hard-won reproductive and voting rights. Incidents of domestic and intimate partner violence have escalated to record levels thanks to the pandemic. And according to recent headlines, the country recently recorded the largest annual increase in murders in six decades.

So, things are grim for women of color here in the good ol’ U. S. of A. But you already knew that. That’s why I didn’t want to turn this into a Gabby Petito versus women of color type piece. Because what happened to Petito does warrant our attention. Not because she’s white. And not because the thousands of other missing Black, brown and indigenous women don’t warrant our attention, too. They do.

But I don’t want that to detract from the fact that violence against women continues to go largely unchecked in this country. Gabby’s case perfectly illustrates this. From what I can discern from all the information shared about her situation, what happened to Gabby happens to far too many women far too often:

Just over two weeks before she went missing, witnesses reported a violent altercation between Petito and her boyfriend/fiancé Brian Laundrie. The witnesses told law enforcement that they’d seen Laundrie slapping and hitting Gabby. But when the police came, they simply separated the couple for the night, presumably so that they could “cool off.” The couple were adamant that they were in love and didn’t want anyone charged with a crime. The police officer reported that Gabby was “confused and emotional.” He went on to report that “After evaluating the totality of the circumstances, I do not believe the situation escalated to the level of a domestic assault as much as that of a mental health crisis.”

So, you get reports from a witness who says that a man was slapping and hitting a woman. You investigate and learn that the couple did have “a physical altercation following an argument”, but they are “in love” and don’t want anyone to be charged. Then … and here’s the kicker for me … the officer says the woman (Gabby) is “confused and emotional” and that problem isn’t domestic assault, it’s a mental health crisis.

A mental health crisis.

And the officer’s solution was that they should just separate for the night and that’s it? WHAT THE HELL KIND OF TRAINING DO THEY GIVE POLICE IN MOAB, UTAH??? Because even if she was having a mental health CRISIS, on what planet do you simply let her sleep in her van for the night instead of getting her some mental health HELP??

If Gabby was “confused and emotional” following a violent altercation with her boyfriend/fiancé, where witnesses saw him HIT HER, why would your only solution be to just separate them for the night, allowing her to sleep in her van alone?

And now Gabby is dead, presumably murdered by Laundrie, who remains missing.

Both as a mental health crisis case and a domestic violence case, this kind of deep systemic failure happens all the time. Especially to women. That it happened to a pretty, young white woman who seems “worthy” enough to warrant wall-to-wall news coverage ought to tell you how bad it is for Black, brown, and indigenous women in similar circumstances.

The police mishandled the whole thing, imho. I don’t know how things work in Moab, Utah. But even I know that whether he saw a mental health crisis or a domestic violence crisis, that police officer failed Gabby Petito miserably. He should have insisted she get checked out at a hospital, at the very least. Let medical experts determine the problem. Let a medical exam show if there were signs of physical abuse. Let a medical team intervene if she was, indeed, having a mental health breakdown. Maybe, alone with a medical professional, Gabby Petito would have had a chance to tell her side of the story.

Instead, Gabby spent that night alone in her van. A month and a half later, her remains were discovered after an exhaustive search, and Brian Laundrie got to go home to his family. Now he’s missing and is sought in connection to Gabby’s murder. What a horrible story.

Every single day, Black, brown, and indigenous women get abused, have mental health crises, go missing, and get murdered without dominating the news cycles for weeks on end. These girls and women leave behind families and friends who love them and desperately seek their safe return. But those families, our families won’t get the closure, albeit tragic, that Gabby Petito’s family gets. We rarely do.

Here are some numbers you should always keep nearby, either of which, that officer in Utah could have used and possibly saved Gabby’s life. I hope you never need them, but if you do, they could save your life.

Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-SAFE(7233)

Mental Health Crisis/Suicide Hotline: 800-273-TALK(8255)

Fertility Friday: Do You Have Low Progesterone?

Ladies, this weekend SuzyKnew! shares Fertility Friday’s podcast on how to deal with low progesterone.

Fertility Friday’s Lisa Henderson-Jack asks: Do you have low progesterone?

The majority of the questions Fertility Friday receives via emails and DMs are related to progesterone issues.

How do you know if you have low progesterone?

Below are the most common ways low progesterone shows up in the menstrual cycle:

  • Short luteal phases (10 days or less)
  • Premenstrual spotting
  • Moderate to severe PMS symptoms (during the week prior to your period)


Other possible symptoms include heavy periods (menorrhagia), low basal body temperatures, and even recurrent miscarriage.

Fortunately restoring normal progesterone levels is often fairly straightforward (though it’s not always “easy”).

Today Fertility Friday shares a brand new podcast episode all about progesterone, where Lisa share the basic steps to improve your progesterone production and normalize your hormones in the process.

Many of the strategies to improve progesterone production are things that we know we should be doing but often aren’t doing consistently, because we get carried away with the responsibilities of life.

Here are a few things you can do today to boost low progesterone:

  • Get to bed between 9:30 and 11:00PM each night and get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep.
  • Sleep in the dark (pitch black) to support your melatonin production.
  • Stop skipping breakfast.
  • Eat enough food for your activity level (a minimum of 3 full meals per day with sufficient protein, fat, and carbohydrates).
  • Consider reducing or eliminating your caffeine consumption (tea, coffee, energy drinks contain caffeine and therefore suppress your appetite).
  • Smart supplementation (magnesium and vitamin B6 have been shown to support progesterone production)


It’s easy to underestimate the power of these basic foundational factors, but Lisa recommends that you chart your menstrual cycles as you make changes. This way you’ll be able to see for yourself if it’s working! Of course there are many other factors that can contribute to progesterone issues, but this is a powerful place to start.

Click here: for the podcast

What’s The Texas Abortion Law? And Why Is It A Game-Changer?

Also called the “Heartbeat Bill,” Texas Senate Bill (SB) 8 became the law in Texas last Wednesday. The bill has 2 parts: it prohibits a woman from having an abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which is around 6 weeks, and it allows anyone to sue anyone who helps a woman have an abortion for $10,000 plus money for covering attorney fees.   In addition to suing abortion providers, you could sue the parent, aunt, sister, or friend who help the patient get an abortion – or of course, the Uber driver who drives the patient to or from home. Everyone’s talking about the Uber driver.   (Uber and Lyft have since come out to let their drivers know they will cover their legal fees if they get sued.)

So, if you’re down and out on your luck, you could consider hanging around a clinic or doctor’s office hoping to gain information about an abortion taking place to make some money.  And no worries about needing money to cover the lawyer you’ll have to hire.  Your attorney fees will be covered. Yes, becoming an Abortion Bounty Hunter just became a career opportunity. It’s similar to the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act , popular in Texas, which deputized citizens to hunt down runaway slaves. So, if your daddy’s daddy’s daddy was a slave bounty hunter you might consider this law normal or a part of your family legacy business.

Few women realize they are pregnant before six weeks, and if they do, it takes a few days to get both the Texas required ultrasound appointment and then the abortion appointment.  The Texas Policy Evaluation Project figure below illustrates how many women who realize they are pregnant before 6 weeks aren’t able to actually able to get an abortion until after 6 weeks.

sb8

Not to mention in all of this: the law makes no provision for rape or incest.

Ladies,  on September 1, the Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision let the the Texas Abortion law slide,  which makes Roe vs Wade effectively dead.  Yes. That’s right – Roe v Wade, as law of the land is over.

This is a game-changer. The flood gates are open. Other states that have restrictive abortion laws (see SuzyKnew!’s Will Abortion Rights Be Overturned In The U.S.)   that haven’t made it to the Supreme Court are lining up to copy the Texas Law, believing that Texas has found a way around Roe v Wade.  These states include Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Oklahoma and South Dakota.  Jason Rapert, an Arkansas Republican senator running for lieutenant governor in 2022, tweeted  “As the original sponsor of the first #HeartbeatBill to pass in America in 2013, today I have ordered a bill be filed in Arkansas to update our law to mirror the Texas SB8 bill.”  Although Florida’s state legislature is not in session right now, a Republican state lawmaker currently running for Congress announced he’s planning on introducing a bill that is the “exact same” as Texas’. And, Republican legislators in Indiana said they want to law that does the same thing as Texas’ law does.

Of course, for Roe v Wade to be officially overturned, the Supreme Court would have to rule on it. But, if the Texas Abortion Law does the job, why bother?

Black, brown and low-income women will be more negatively impacted by this law than white women.  Proportionately speaking, Black women have more abortions than other women. And, many of us don’t have the resources or time to travel to other states to get an abortion.

What’s next? Besides calling your representative, mobilizing the vote,  or not giving your man any honey until the law is overturned like Bette Midler is doing? Medical abortion? Texas is on the verge of banning sending abortion pills by mail.   But, some are thinking about advancing abortion access via telemed and abortion pills in Texas especially since COVID has made approach more popular.

SuzyKnew! readers, you tell us what’s next!

Are My Labia Normal?

This is the type of question you ponder in the middle of a pandemic. Or a hurricane. As the horrors of COVID 19 and Hurricane Ida surround us (not to mention Afghanistan), focusing on something more personal can be comforting. Yes, instead of navel gazing, you can labia gaze…

Labia -you know – is Latin for lips.  There are the outer labia (labia majora) and inner labia (labia minora) when it comes to the folds of your vulva.   The outer lips is where the hair flourishes and usually cover part of our inner lips. The inner labia connect to the clitoral hood.

So – what is normal when it comes to labia? Are mine too long? Too short? Too thick or wrinkly?

You probably know the answer: Everyone is different. Vulvas – and all their “stuff” – come in different shapes, sizes and colors.  And, yes, sometimes one side of the inner lips is longer than the other side. Only in porn movies do a lot of labia look cropped and boring. But, if labia are long and chafing, you can get surgery to reduce them.

And, what if you don’t like the way your lips look and want the boring porn look? Is labiaplasty the answer? SuzyKnew! did tackle this question a while back in 2015 when a reader asked about getting plastic surgery for her vagina. But, it’s 2021 now. And, we know there is no “normal” looking labia so to speak. Maybe earlier people wanted the boring, cookie-cutter porn look. But, I think ladies know the the goal today is to strut your stuff and take pride in your unique look.   

Labia are kind of like snowflakes. No two pair look alike.

Fertility Friday: Conceiving In The Midst Of A Pandemic

This weekend SuzyKnew! shares Fertility Friday’s podcast on conceiving in the midst of a pandemic.  This is a powerful and important podcast episode focusing on conception in the midst of chaos.

With the increasingly restrictive measures that have been imposed on us, and growing uncertainty about when we’ll emerge from it all, where does that leave your plans to grow your family?

If you’ve wondered whether this is the “right” time to conceive, you’ll appreciate today’s episode. Find out why Fertility Friday’s guest feels that the current state of affairs presents an incredible opportunity to bring children into the world. Fertility Friday delves into the topic of stress and explore how to cultivate your thoughts and emotions to foster an incredible, life-giving environment for your unborn child — regardless of what’s happening in the outside world.

A timely and important conversation.

Click here for more

Make Your Summer Complete With A Black Historical Romance Novel

It’s summertime, ladies. This means lounging on the beach, by the pool or just on the front porch with a good romance novel. Yes, I was one of those teenagers who loved romance novels – especially the historical kind that would sweep you off your feet into another era.  The drama and licentious language made me swoon.  The intensity took my mind off my troubles. And, yes, the sex scenes were my favorite.  So taboo. Then I got busy with life and forgot about my love for romance novels.

But this summer, as the days get hotter, I’ve started to think about going through my book stash and finding a shameless sexy story to reread.  Then I stumbled across Black historical romance novels.  I’ve read a Black romance novel or two but I didn’t know about the historical ones. And, then I heard the Obamas are launching their own romance series on Netflix.   Although the Obama’s “Blackout” isn’t historical, it’s still about finding love. So, I think this is the summer to dive into a few Black romances.

Below are two well-known authors I’m considering. Let me know some of your favorites.

Beverly Jenkins’ is one of the grandmothers of African-American historical romances. She wrote her first novel, Night Song, over 40 years ago.  The book is rich in historical detail and politics. This romance is about a Buffalo solider and school teacher on the plains of the midwest.  An independent school teacher finds the Buffalo soldier’s advances difficult to resist. Oohh…

Called Queen of the Black Historical Romance, Jenkins has written over 40 novels including Rebel, Tempest and Destiny’s Embrace.

Book riot labels Unconditional Freedom a “must read.” So, I guess I better read this one. The novel confronts the psychological ravages of slavery while revealing the privilege mix-raced women had in selecting their partners. The male protagonist was born free and then kidnapped and sold into slavery.  Although he is rescued by the Loyal League, a covert organization of Black spies, he can’t shake damage caused by the experience of being enslaved.  After joining the Loyal League to seek vengeance against the Confederacy, he meets Janeta Sanchez, the daughter of an enslaved woman and the plantation owner who married her, who infiltrates the group, as a double agent.

The characters are flawed but find comfort and love in each others’ arms in the midst of the Civil War.

Unconditional Freedom is a part of award-winning author Alyssa Cole’s Loyal League series. The first Loyal League book, Extraordinary Union is billed as an epic love story and A Hope Divided is Loyal League book number 2.  These books deal with race and love in the era of the War Between the States A critic calls Cole’s prose “flawless” and her historical research “absorbing.”

So, where did I find these novels? Book Riot’s list of the top 15 Black historical romance novels over the last 25 years.  Take a look. I’m sure you’ll find something good.

 

 

Fertility Friday: Autoimmunity And Infertility

Hey Ladies! This weekend we share Fertility Friday’s podcast on the connection between fertility challenges and autoimmune disorders.  Here is Fertility Friday’s podcast interview with Aimee Raupp,  MS, LAc, a renowned women’s health & fertility expert, celebrity acupuncturist & coach, and the best- selling author of the books Chill Out & Get HealthyYes, You Can Get Pregnant, and Body Belief .    The interview discusses the role of autoimmunity in cases of “unexplained” infertility.

Discover why Aimee is often the first practitioner who has tested for these markers for many of her clients, and what that could mean for you on your fertility journey. Follow this link to tune in!

Juneteenth, Father’s Day, And African-American Father-Daughter Relationships

Juneteenth, Father’s Day, and African-American Father-Daughter Relationships… how are they all related?

Well, first of all, we’re celebrating them all this weekend. Happy Juneteenth! Happy Father’s Day!

Juneteenth celebrates the arrival of Union soldiers in Galveston, TX announcing the end of the U.S. civil war and slavery and Father’s Day, which this year falls the day after Juneteenth, is the day we set aside to celebrate our fathers. The relationship women have with their fathers plays a large role in shaping their relationships in their adult life.

Unfortunately, there are few studies that examine the role African-American father-daughter relationships play in a Black woman’s ability to be establish happiness in marriage and good sexual health. Many of the existing studies are theses and not peer-reviewed articles appearing in research journals. What we can glean from these studies?

One study found the quality of father-daughter relationship significantly influenced the type of men daughters’ found attractive.  The study also noted that Black American women who have high quality relationships with their fathers tend to have longer lasting romantic relationships with men than their counterparts. Although there is a need for more research, these findings should make us pause and reflect.

As you celebrate your freedom and your father this weekend explore how your relationship with men – good or bad – has been influenced by your father. How can you be grateful and give thanks or come to terms with your reality? Your reflection may take time and you may have to wait like the slaves in Galveston, but reflection but whatever your reflection turns up, honor it, as we honor our freedom and family.

Photo credits: Tayfun Coskun Getty Images