The choice to live in the open as a lesbian in 21st century Israel is not a simple or an easy choice. Those of us who classify ourselves as lesbians struggle almost daily with homophobia, prejudice and institutional discrimination. The process of outing oneself is a long process which never comes to an end. Again and again we have to do it in front of family, friends, colleagues, children’s friends and other social groups. We carry on our relationships, bring up our children and belong to other sub communities (such as religious Jewish lesbians, Palestinian lesbians etc) surrounded by discrimination.
This chapter deals with various problems which could interest lesbians. Those of us, who have changed gender identification at a later stage, are faced with special challenges such as keeping in touch with previous partners. The medical system for a lesbian is hostile and many lesbians tend not to visit gynaecologists. This chapter also offers support to lesbian mothers who are struggling to find out what assistance and services are available in Israel.
Sexuality is a pivotal force which can be a powerful source of many sensations such as pleasure, empowerment and liberation. The chapter deals with and discusses sex and sexuality in various settings. Its main aim is to contribute towards the realization of our positive sexual potential and allowing other positive influences into our lives. The way we experience sexuality stems from the social setting in which we live, but can also form it. The chapter examines social behaviours and codes which push many of us to quell, diminish or limit our desire, our sexual experience, our pleasure and the varied ways we identify ourselves as sexual female beings.
Where are the ovaries? What is the function of the fallopian tubes? This chapter gives a guided and thorough tour of the internal aspect of the sexual and reproductive organs and helps to introduce us to the organ terminology, their function and their place in our body. After the tour, we deal with the menstrual cycle – including ovulation and bleeding.
The chapter also touches upon the cultural aspects of menstruation and its influence on women’s moods and mood swings which may occur at various stages of the cycle, as well as the range of ways to combat the pain which can accompany the monthly bleeding, and more. The last part of the chapter is dedicated to religious women writing about Nida and Jewish/Muslim religious requirements relating to menstruation.
The chapter deals with our ability to have sexual encounters which are sensual and passionate whilst protecting our sexual health. Safe sex is not necessarily the opposite of pleasurable sex. The use of buffer birth control can prevent sexually transmitted infections, yet will not lessen our pleasure. One of the most common causes of unsafe sex is ignorance, resulting from the fear of discussing the subject. The avoidance of momentary embarrassment and discomfort could lead to being infected by incurable venereal diseases. Therefore, an open and honest discussion with a partner about sex may get rid of concerns and contribute towards cooperation and the safeguarding of our health.
The chapter looks at the infectious venereal diseases, ways of being infected, diagnosing the illness, the treatments and whether complete healing is possible. The chapter informs you of the health services being offered in Israel to infected women.
The Aids/HIV epidemic is a global crisis. This chapter is for all of us who are interested in learning more about HIV and Aids for those of us who are living with the disease and wish to understand more and consult someone about it.
The chapter includes general information on the disease and ways of transmission, details about check ups and advice centers, availability of support networks and state assistance and existing conventional and complimentary means of treatments, as well as information about HIV/Aids pregnancies.
During the second half of the 20th Century, many changes have occurred which relate to a woman’s reproductive choices. Until fifty years ago, fertile women became pregnant and gave birth out of choice or because there were no adequate contraceptives. The decisions were defined by rigid social expectations and medical realities. The chapter deals with the variety of reproductive choices that exist today in regards to parenting, the accessibility of birth control, terminations and new reproductive technologies.
The chapter also deals with women who decide not to bear children, and the varying types of “family units”, such as single motherhood or same sex partnership wishing to either give birth or adopt. The chapter handles questions relating to public and legal aspects of parenting as well as to the social norms accepted within this area.
The right to make decisions regarding our bodies is in our hands and includes, amongst other things, the right to reproduce. We can decide whether we wish to bring children into this world, when and with whom. The various contraceptives at our disposal allow us to engage in safe sex with men. Today we have many more choices than our mothers and grandmothers had. The improvement and advancement of birth control technology provide us with more options and methods, allowing us to suit our form of birth control to our way of life and our health. Yet, those choices are still limited and have an impact on our health.
This chapter deals with the personal and health implications of each of the birth control options available today. The chapter touches on questions and difficulties which many women experience when considering contraceptives – questions such as which contraceptive to choose? How effective is each method? What impact will it have on my health? How useful it is in preventing pregnancy? And, what is the role of my partner in all this?
About half the women discover, at some stage in their life, that they are unexpectedly pregnant. If we suspect we have such pregnancy, it is important to identify the last day of the menstrual cycle and, of course, take a pregnancy test. Early discovery could allow us more choices of action. This chapter provides stepping stones. Whether we experience confusion, anxiety, happiness or curiosity, we will need help in the form of practical information and emotional support which can assist us in deciding whether to carry on with the pregnancy or to terminate it.
The chapter directs us to many sources of information for each stage of the pregnancy, including the decision whether to choose abortion or adoption.
The chapter focuses on creating a safe environment for pregnant women. We touch, throughout the chapter, on the range of emotions which pregnancy can cause in women and their partners; we give advice on how to choose a practitioner and a companion for the duration of the pregnancy relating to health, medical and nutritional aspects of the pregnancy.
The chapter provides information about medical tests and various symptoms occurring during pregnancy, pregnant women’s rights, special cases such as high risk pregnancy and pregnancy at a young/old age, as well as pregnancy & addictive substances and pregnancy & the disabled, handicapped and the chronically ill. Towards the end of the chapter there are thoughts and considerations in order to help you choose the best place and way for you to give birth in Israel.