In 1963, as a19 year-old
newlywed, I wondered about birth control. A physician for whom I worked told me
about hormonal contraception. It seemed very foreign but he went on to say that
it had been tested for 25-years and was the safest medication on the market. Shortly
after, one of my friends from high school died from a stroke after being placed
on oral contraceptive hormones. Subsequently researchers discovered the
estrogen in "the pill” was at too high a level. Needless to say, I chose not to
use that method of birth control. Times have changed and hormonal
contraception, although not perfect, is available to meet the lifestyle and
choices of women in a more safe way.
Because I was not using hormones, I noticed changes throughout my cycle – in my cervical mucus, tender breasts, variations in mood etc. but did not know their meaning. Many years later, while studying to become a Certified Nurse-Midwife, I learned about the dynamic menstrual cycle, its impact on reproduction, and the changes that occur throughout a woman’s reproductive life. I loved knowing that I had been aware of my cycle and could now put knowledge to those experiences. As a healthcare practitioner, I cared for women using hormones, either for birth control or perimenopausal symptoms, and realized that often some women had little knowledge about how the hormones impacted their cycles. As a professor of women’s health nursing, I further realized the lack of knowledge that existed among students, many of whom had been using hormones for years to prevent pregnancy or alleviate symptoms related to their cycle, and how challenging learning about the menstrual cycle was from a one-dimensional page in a textbook.
While on the faculty at the Medical College of Ohio, in collaboration with Carlos Baptista, M.D. and The Center for Creative Instruction, I developed a computer-based, multimedia educational module on the menstrual cycle to support student learning and facilitate women’s healthcare decision-making. The module is used by women, schools of nursing, allied health, home schooling, traditional classrooms, human biology courses etc. etc.
Having had a website for several years, I decided I wanted to do something more for women. I am a story teller, and I love hearing women’s stories…there is nothing on the Internet like what I am doing at this time which is gathering stories about women witnessing their lives, drawing themes from those stories, bringing in literature on the theme, and interviewing the authors of the stories and/or people practicing or researching in the area. Women will have access to best practice websites and what is going on in the news about women’s health. They will learn what to expect at their stage in life and share with each other in the women’s forum.
Indeed, The Gathering Place is a celebration of women.