Female Condoms Moving to Prescription Only Model

In an interview and subsequent article that was released by thebody.com Veru Health, the makers of the FC2 condom, have announced that the FC2 (also known as female condoms, receptive condoms, or insertive condoms) will be moving over to a prescription based model. Setting the company up to create additional barriers between people and this sexual health option. With a prescription based model, FC2 condoms will no longer be available over the counter. Instead people will need to visit a doctor who can provide a prescription, and then have that prescription filled at a pharmacy. Meaning that those who are uninsured, of whom a disproportionate number are people of color, will encounter an increased cost to purchase an FC2.

For those of you who many not know what an FC2 condom is- whereas the condom that is most often used is an external barrier placed over the insertive partner before intercourse, the FC2 is used as an internal barrier, placed inside of the receptive partner before intercourse.

The FC2 has a lot going for it, it puts additional power of when to use physical protection into the hands of the receptive partner, may assist with better sensation for both partners when compared to other condoms, and is a latex free option for those with latex allergy. And while the FC2 is only approved by the FDA for vaginal sex, it has gained quite a following with people who use it for anal sex.
Currently, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) covers 18 birth control methods which includes the FC2. Previously, you could purchase a three pack of FC2 over the counter for a little more than $9 but with the change to a prescription model some people may have to pay upwards of $20 to purchase one. Reasons someone might have to pay the full price include:

  • Being uninsured
  • Wanting the FC2 for off-label use (such as for anal sex)
  • Not qualifying for or being denied birth control benefits (such as gay, bi, or queer men and trans women)
  • And any other reason a provider might create for denying a prescription or an insurance company for denying specific coverage.

Moving to a prescription based model, where people with insurance can access FC2 at no cost and those who do not have insurance encounter increased cost, ignores the fact that even getting insurance in the first place is a barrier for many people, let alone getting to see a doctor, and filling a prescription. With the birth control sections of ACA under intense scrutiny by the current administration, it seems to be an ill-timed and ill-advised decision.
Instead of creating ways for the most underserved members of our communities to access this sexual health option, Veru has put in place additional barriers, while also completely ignoring the fact that many people encounter judgement and stigma around sexual health from their healthcare providers.

On the brightside, according to the interview, Veru Health will still make the product available to health departments and nonprofits at no change in cost, meaning that people will still be able to get access to FC2s without having to go see a provider. They will only have to live near, or be able to travel to a health department, or non-profit that is providing them in their community.
If you are interested in the FC2 condoms stop by allgo and grab a supply. We also have a wide array of different types of condoms, lube, and dental dams. If you are unable to make it out to our space, you can also try the CDN Store who will ship condoms, including FC2 condoms, to your house for free as long as you live in Travis, Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, or Williamson county. If you live outside of those counties you can also try Gilead Sciences Website which will ship for free anywhere in the US but gives smaller quantities.

 

We’d like to know what you think about these health care changes. Please let us know in the comments or continue the conversation with us on on Facebook and Twitter!

4 Ways to Support Each Other Through Difficult Times

Often times, we turn to those around us for support during difficult times, and as community members, friends, and family, we come together and use our light and strength to help those around us to heal, and grow. It is important that we know how to help each other process and heal during times when healing is challenging, because only by working together can we ensure that all members of our community are strong and happy. Below are some ways that we can begin to work together to support each other.

 

Listen

And realize that not everything needs a response or a story about you. Sometimes it can help people to know that others have felt or are feeling the same way as they do, or to hear your thoughts about what they are experiencing, but sometimes it’s best to just allow space for people to share their feelings and thoughts, without comment. This can be hard, but sometimes the most powerful thing you can do, is listen without comment.

 

Ask questions

Don’t assume that you know what someone is thinking or feeling, make sure to ask questions. By asking questions you show that you are interested and care about what people are feeling and experiencing. Let people tell you what is happening, and don’t be afraid to ask for clarification if you do not understand. The more information you have the better you are equipped to assist someone. On that same note though, try not to badger someone with questions. Sometimes people don’t know how they feel or why. It’s a fine line between asking enough questions and asking too many. Which takes us to our next point…

 

Recognize the situation

Sometimes the situation doesn’t call for talking, sometimes people just need a distraction. A movie, or music, or just someone to play video games or eat food with with. Often times we put all the focus on making people talk or share, and sometimes that’s the worst thing we can do. If you don’t know how to help ask. “How can I help?” And recognize that sometimes people need space alone, and that’s ok too.

 

Learn the difference between empathy and sympathy

This video is a good place to start.

Sympathy can been seen as being able to recognize that another person is hurting, while empathy is being able to recognize how it feels to be hurting as someone else is. We might not always have the personal experience to truly understand how someone is feeling, but we can still empathize, and that empathy allows us to form a deep connection with someone and use that connection as a bridge between you. Empathy allows you to connect more meaningfully with the people around you.

 

Create opportunities for involvement

But don’t require it. Sometimes it can take a while for some of us to work up the energy to leave the house, or be around other people. By creating opportunities to spend time together,  by not requiring it you are saying, “I would love to see you and spend time with you, but it’s totally ok if you are not in that space right now.” It can be difficult when we have been trying to spend time with someone who we care about, who is just not in the space right now to participate, but remember that having that opportunity for involvement can mean a lot to a person even if they don’t always take it.

Allow time for your self care

Make sure to take time to allow yourself to process. Sometimes we can get so caught up in being there for those around us that we forget to take the time to take care of ourselves. Remember to set your personal boundaries, which can be hard, especially when we feel that someone is relying on us. Keep in mind that you are not your friends therapist or doctor, you are their friend. It is important that you recognize that helping a friend through a difficult time is no excuse for someone to take advantage of you or to start unhealthy or abusive habits. Remember to speak up when you need to, and leave room for others to speak up when they need to also.

As things around the world continue to change it is important that we come together to support each other as we continue to grow and shine.

We’d like to know how you support those you care about during difficult times. Please let us know in the comments or continue the conversation with us on on Facebook and Twitter . We look forward to connecting!

Positive Coping Strategies for Enduring Distress

While building strong self-care habits is important for long-term or overall mental wellness, they don’t happen overnight, and sometimes you need strategies that can be implemented right now. When we are in moments of distress, emotions and panic have a tendency to take over. In these moments, it’s helpful to acknowledge the feelings and then turn to coping skills—the strategies we use to deal with stressors and difficult situations.

 

Below are a few categories and examples of positive coping skills; use them to inspire you to recognize effective coping strategies that you may employ for yourself during times of distress.

 

Self-Soothing

Comfort your senses with things that are calming, pleasant, or simply appealing to you.

  • Find something that’s soft to the touch or has a texture that brings you joy. Hold it and feel it in your hands or on your body. For example, your favorite blanket, a treasured stuffed animal, cool stones, or even trinkets that remind you of a fond memory.
  • Put on some good music. You could even make playlists for various moods so you have music ready to go. If you’re a musician yourself, play something. Listen to guided meditations, like this Black Lives Matter Meditation for Healing Racial Trauma. Find a podcast that is uplifting or soothing to you.
  • Eat something yummy.
  • Look at some pretty artwork. Scroll through pictures of friends and loved ones. Keep a board of your favorite pictures on your wall. Save a small picture of something (or someone) cute or nice or lovely in your wallet.
  • Find a smell that’s calming and really notice it. Light some candles or burn some incense. Put on some fragrances you love.

Distractions

Take your mind away from the distress for the moment to save yourself from becoming overwhelmed.

  • Read a book.
  • Watch a movie or TV show you like.
  • Hang out with a friend.
  • Play a video game.
  • Clean or organize your environment.
  • Play with or care for an animal companion.
  • Exercise or play sports.

Opposite Impulse

Balance the inputs in your personal world by actively seeking something that fills an “opposite” emotion.

  • Watching funny videos. Like this one.
  • Reading affirmations.
  • Do something to help someone else.
  • Encourage others.
  • Make a gratitude list.

Emotional Awareness

Identify and externalize your feelings.

  • Write in your journal about what’s going on.
  • Express your emotions through art (visual, musical, crafting, etc).
  • Talk with someone you trust—a friend, a therapist, a family member.
  • Re-interrogate and manage your expectations of the situation.
  • Allow yourself space and time to cry, laugh, scream, or whatever you need.

Mindfulness

Accept and validate your feelings.

  • Meditate.
  • Practice breathing exercises.
  • Prioritize peacefulness and relaxation.
  • Acknowledge your feelings as “guests” in your house, and sit with them until they leave.
  • Take a shower, take a walk, or go for a drive.

Crisis Plan

Keep contact information for loved ones, support networks, and hotlines easily accessible.

  • Keep your friends on speed dial.
  • Look up local or national hotline services that are available to you. These may be phone, text, or chat services.

 

For many of these coping strategies, it may be particularly helpful to make some preparations ahead of time. Having encouraging reminders, positive affirmations, and fond pictures visible around the spaces you spend the most time in makes it easy to use them to ground yourself. Preparing playlists for different moods saves you from digging up the songs you want to hear in the moment. You could even put together a small “self-care first aid kit” with small bits from each strategy to keep in your room or even your bag; it could contain a small snack or candy you like, a scented item, positive affirmations, trinkets and reminders, pictures, etc.

 

If you are interested in building a coping skills firsr aid kit with allgo’s Health and Wellness program, join us on June 14th, 2017 from 6:00 to 8:00 at allgo!