Is Stevia Safe?

Stevia plant leaves have been used for centuries by native people in Brazil and Paraguay to sweeten beverages. It has also been used in Japan to sweeten since 1970.  Stevia contains no sugar; the main ingredient is called Stevioside. Many people choose to use Stevia in the place of artificial sweeteners. It is calorie-free and has no impact on blood sugar. It is also much sweeter than table sugar–hundreds of times sweeter. The main reason I haven’t tried Stevia is because you can’t buy it in any of the local grocery stores in my area.

Through doing some research, surprisingly I’ve come across claims which say Stevia may not be safe. It’s natural, so one would assume it is safe. Then again, tobacco is natural and it isn’t safe. I stumbled across one site that said a group of European scientists in early 2006 conducted a study that showed when male rats were given high doses of Stevia for 22 months, their production of sperm was reduced severely. It also showed a decline in the weight of the seminal vesicles and an increase of cell proliferation in their testicles. It was stated that over time, this could likely cause infertility or other reproductive problems. Another study in female hamsters showed they had fewer and smaller offspring.

This information is enough to convince some people to either stop using Stevia or to never start using it. For me, it’s not quite enough. I find it hard to believe Stevia is really this harmful, if the Japanese have been using it since the 70s with no report of problems. Also, these studies don’t specify exactly how much Stevia was given in relation to the body weight of the subject. No specific details of the study were given, so I can’t help but doubt its credibility. In addition, I also came across references to studies claiming Stevia is completely safe and even offers health benefits such as regulating blood sugar levels, lowering high blood pressure, improving digestion, and also calming an upset stomach. These studies showed Stevia has absolutely no effect the reproductive system, even when given in large doses (2,500 mg or 2.5 grams per kilogram of body weight).

Stevia is not approved by the FDA as a food additive, which is why I wasn’t able to find any prepackaged products with Stevia. The reason it isn’t approved is not because tests show it’s unsafe but because the toxicological information on Stevia is too inadequate to determine its safety. Basically, no one has done enough extensive research to prove one way or another. Part of this may be because no one wants to spend the big bucks to get it tested. Since Stevia is a natural product, it requires no patent to produce, and that gives less of a motive for companies to take Stevia under their wing because anyone could take a piece of the market. However, the FDA did approve Stevia to be marketed as a dietary supplement.

My take on it is that Stevia is probably safe in moderation–just like the artificial sweeteners. I’m sure the same people who think Stevia isn’t safe, also feel artificial sweeteners aren’t safe. I’m going to give Stevia a try. There are a couple of reasons why I would like to try Stevia. One being, I would like to have an alternative to artificial sweetener because artificial sweeteners cause me to experience  gas, bloating, and headaches, when used regularly. Also, I have read that Stevia is a much better option for those prone to yeast infections because supposedly the yeast do feed off of the artificial sweeteners. I have severely cut back on my intake of artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols since I did my 2 weeks without them. Some weeks I don’t even have any, and when I do it’s only once during the week. Overall, my vagina feels healthier. Last week I had my period. The little irritation I feel after my period was still there for a day or two but didn’t last nearly as long as it had in the past when I was using artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols daily. In the past, it would last an entire week after my period. I’m curious to see how things down there react to Stevia.

Naturalamb Condom Review

Naturalamb condoms are non-latex condoms, made by Trojan, designed to prevent pregnancy. They are great for those in a committed relationship who are not concerned about STDs. They are made from the intestinal membrane of a lamb and have been around for ages. These condoms are not an effective preventative measure against STDs. Studies have proven that the tinny pores in lambskin condoms are not large enough for sperm to pass through, but are large enough for HIV and possibly other STDs to pass through. If you are in a committed relationship and are not a vegetarian, you may want to give Naturalamb condoms a try.

My husband seemed to like the fit and feel of the Naturalamb condoms much better than the polyurethane condoms. For me, it’s as close to not using a condom as you can get. It feels very natural and does not cause any irritation whatsoever. I also like the lubricant on the condom. It isn’t sticky and the condom doesn’t dry out quickly. If you like additional lubrication, both oil based and water based work with Naturalamb condoms (I prefer water based). Some people complain about the smell of the condom. They do have  a somewhat odd smell, but it isn’t nearly as strong or unpleasant as latex. Most of the time I don’t smell it. The only time I get a whiff of the smell is if my face is for some reason particularly close to the condom. I don’t smell it at all during sex. So far we haven’t experienced any problems with the condom breaking or sliding off, even after lengthy or rough sex sessions.

Naturalamb condoms are much pricier in comparison to latex or even polyurethane condoms (you’ll pay at least $20 for a box of 12). They are more expensive to make due to the fact that they are made from lamb intestine membranes. Depending on how often you have sex, the price of these condoms can really put a dent in your wallet. Some couples alternate between lambskin condoms and a cheaper condom to save money. We use Naturalamb all the time because it’s hard to go back once you get used to the barely there feeling.

StarStarStarStar(Rated 4/5 Stars)


Trojan Supra Condom Review

Trojan Supra condoms are non latex condoms made from a material called polyurethane. Many people choose to use polyurethane condoms if they have a latex allergy. They are super thin and because of this, they transmit natural body heat much better than latex condoms. Although thin, they are also strong. Some people without a latex allergy choose to use polyurethane condoms because they feel more natural than latex condoms. Polyurethane condoms are compatible with water-based lubricants and oil based lubricants. This is an added benefit because latex condoms are not compatible with oil based lubricants.

Latex condoms were never really much of an option for me because I am allergic. Although, it did take me a little while to figure out I was allergic. Since I’ve been married, I haven’t used condoms–until recently. I decided to go off birth control and we’re not ready for babies yet, so we decided to give condoms a whirl. I will first mention that it is not clear whether or not polyurethane condoms are effective against preventing STDs. On the Supra package it states that testing is still being done to determine how effective they are against preventing STDs. Some websites say they are effective at protecting against STDs but not as effective as latex condoms. Although my husband and I don’t have to worry about STDs, I thought it might be worth mentioning. Maybe someone out there knows for sure whether or not they effectively prevent STDs. They do effectively prevent pregnancy, when used correctly.

I liked the polyurethane condoms ok. They weren’t great, but they weren’t horrible. They didn’t smell like anything, which was nice. They also didn’t cause any type of allergic reaction. It used to be difficult to find polyurethane condoms without the spermicidal lubricant nonoxynol-9, but now they’re pretty easy to find. The Trojan Supras I bought didn’t have it. I specifically looked for ones without it because I’m allergic to nonoxynol-9.  My biggest complaint with these condoms is they dry out too fast even when using lube. Once they get dried out it feels like rubber inside me. The Trojan Supras feel better than latex (from what I remember), but you can still tell they are there. I could really tell the condom was there when I was on top. I just couldn’t seem to reach orgasm while being on top and using this condom. The only way I can explain it is, it just didn’t feel right.

My husband complained that they were too tight. He is well endowed but not to the point where I would say he is huge. The condom literally looked like it was cutting off the circulation on his penis. I know condoms are supposed to fit very snug but this was just ridiculous. I’ve read other reviews and many complained about the Trojan Supra condoms being too tight. We didn’t finish the box because our lambskin condoms came in. My lambskin review should be coming soon. Trojan Supra condoms are more expensive than latex but not as expensive as lambskin condoms. I bought online because I prefer a little privacy. They were about $23 for an 18 pack.

StarStar1/2 (Rated 2.5/5 stars)

2 Weeks Without Artificial Sweeteners or Sugar Alcohols

Today marks two weeks of having no artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols in my diet. It really did get easier day after day. Although my little experiment was some what hindered by my few days on antibiotics, I still feel there are legitimate results to report. Below are the things I experienced.

  • Better sleep at night.
  • More energy during the day.
  • Not hungry at all in between meal times.
  • Less headaches.
  • No cravings for sweet stuff after day 3.
  • Better concentration.
  • Slight weight loss.
  • Less gas and bloating.

For the first two nights, I fell asleep really early, which is very unusual for me. By night three, I was back to my normal sleep routine but was able to wake up easier in the morning. During the day, I felt more energized and also didn’t feel hungry in between meals. Some mornings I wouldn’t even eat breakfast because I just wasn’t hungry. The first 3 days, I still craved something sweet, especially after a meal. After day three, the sweet cravings were completely gone. I even made it through Valentine’s Day without cravings. My mother in-law brought over several different types of sugar free chocolates. She knows I don’t eat sugar but didn’t know about my two week ban of artificial sweetener and sugar alcohols. Normally I would have been so excited to try new kinds of sugar free chocolate that I would eat a couple right away. Instead, I thanked her, and once she left, I put them away in the cabinet and forgot they were even there.

I also experienced significantly less headaches. I always have sinus problems so there’s no way I’d go two weeks without a single headache, but I didn’t get a headache daily like I normally do. Instead, I had one or two a week. In addition, my concentration was better. Typically I have serious problems concentrating for long periods of time. Usually I’m constantly getting up every hour or so to get a snack or find a piece of gum, so I’m thinking the increase in concentration is due to less distractions by food. I was what I would call an obsessive gum chewer. I used to be a smoker, and I believe chewing gum took the place of smoking. Without the sweet cravings, I don’t seem to have the urge to chew gum. I’ve lost about 4lbs over the past two weeks. I’m not eating as much, and I’m eating more vegetables. I’ve found it’s a lot easier to keep my daily carb count low when you eliminate artificially sweetened things. Many of the snacks I used to enjoy had about 5-10 carbs per serving. Finally, I’ve experienced less gas and bloating. Most people know that artificial sweeteners and most certainly sugar alcohols can cause gas and bloating. However, I wasn’t aware of the extent–mostly the bloating. Even though I’ve only lost 4lbs, my stomach looks like I lost more because all of the bloating is gone.

In conclusion, I can definately say I was addicted to artificial sweeteners/sugar alcohols, and I feel much healthier not having them in my diet. I wish I could say it fixed the irritation (by iritation I mean feeling like a yeast infection is coming on) I felt after my period, but I had to take antibiotics for a UTI. The irritation could have been from the antibiotics. I plan to stick with the ban on artificial sweeteners/sugar alcohols for as long as I can because I feel much better. I’m sure I won’t ban them for life, but they will definately not be a part of my diet on a daily basis like they were before. I’ll give you an update on my results after my next period. One more thing I wanted to mention was the amount of money I saved on groceries. My grocery bill was on average $20 cheaper a week without all the prepackaged snacks and ingredients to make my own artificially sweetened snacks.

Condoms and Yeast Infections

I thought I would write a post dealing with condoms and yeast infections because many people don’t know there can be a correlation between the two. In some cases, condoms can cause yeast infections, and in other cases, condoms can actually prevent yeast infections. I’ll first talk about how they can prevent yeast infections. Semen can neutralize the pH in the vagina. It has to temporarily, in order to survive and make it’s way to fertilize an egg. If you have sex often, the semen can alter the pH in the vagina for more than just temporarily. The vagina operates best when the pH levels are more acidic. If the semen has had a significant impact on your pH level, this could cause a yeast infection. Obviously, if you use condoms, the semen never makes it’s way into the vagina. In addition, condoms are also great for preventing bacteria from entering the vagina. Let’s say your partner hasn’t showered in a day and he didn’t wash his penis off (Gross I know, but it happens.) before having sex. If you don’t use a condom, all of the germs and bacteria that could be on his penis will then be inserted all the way into your vagina. If he uses a condom, some of the germs may get on the outside of your vagina, but they won’t get on the inside where the condom is protecting. In general, condoms make for cleaner sex and much easier clean-up for the woman.

On the other hand, there are certain instances where condoms can cause a yeast infection. One instance is if you are allergic to the condom itself. Many people have a latex allergy. Cases of people allergic to latex can range from minor to severe. Minor meaning, after repeated use an irritation occurs, and severe meaning hives, swelling, or difficulty breathing occur immediately after contact. People who are severely allergic know it, but those who are are only slightly allergic may not be aware of their allergy. Someone who is slightly allergic may experience a burning, swelling, or irritated sensation in the vagina after condom use. It may not happen after just one use but repeated use may cause these symptoms. The allergic reaction can definitely upset the pH in the vagina and give you a yeast infection. If you are allergic to latex, try switching to a polyurethane condom. You can also try lambskin condoms. I will warn you about lambskin condoms; they DO NOT offer protection against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

Another way condoms can give you a yeast infection is if the lubricant on the condom contains nonoxynol-9–a spermicide that is said to kill the HIV virus. Studies have show a link between nonoxynol-9 and yeast infections as well as urinary tract infections. Many condom makers no longer use nonoxynol-9. It’s easy to find condoms that don’t contain this spermicide. Another instance where a condom can cause a yeast infection is if you are allergic to the lubricant on the condom. Also, some lubricants contain glycerin. Often times people who are prone to yeast infections cannot use lubricants containing glycerin because it gives them a yeast infection. In this situation, you can look for a condom with a different lubricant or buy a non lubricated condom and use your own water based lubricant. If the glycerin is the problem, then find a non-glycerin lubricant. The answers to your yeast infection problems could be as simple as changing the type of condom you use.