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51 Women's Sexuality News Articles
from 2018 2nd Half
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11-16-18 Swedes debate period-proofed workplaces
People in Sweden are debating a new government-funded initiative to provide a supportive environment for women during their periods. The new Gender Equality Agency has given a grant of 530,000 kronor ($58,400; £44,900) to an organisation called MENSEN (Menses) to "break the taboo around menstruation", with period-friendly workplaces receiving a certificate. MENSEN calls for toilets, sanitary bins and hand-washing facilities to be available in all working environments, including for professionals outside the office space, like construction workers, plumbers and bus drivers. "We risk treating menstruation as an illness rather than a normal bodily function," Josefin Persdotter, a sociology researcher at Gothenburg University told the Arbetet labour movement weekly. "Sometimes you are hungry, sometimes thirsty, and sometimes you have hormone fluctuations affecting your work," she said. Other advocates want employers to supply sanitary products at work just as they provide toilet roll. Around the world, women struggle to have a dignified menstrual experience. Some women are excluded from social life during that time of the month. Others lack adequate hygiene products due to poverty. The issues are all part of the same core problem, Swedish period advocates believe. Sweden is known for its gender equality programmes - the government has even launched an instruction manual for feminist foreign policies. Menstrual rights feature not only in the media, but also on stage and in public spaces. There has been "Period - The Musical" for schools, a stage play, comic books, exhibitions and a podcast, not to mention artwork on the Stockholm metro by prominent graphic novelist Liv Strömquist. The latest campaign has divided public commentators. "Why should my boss know when I'm having my period?" asks a columnist in the leading daily Svenska Dagbladet, in response to a suggestion that staff should log their periods in Excel sheets.
11-15-18 Catching up on sleep at weekends may aggravate period pain
Sleeping in on weekends may cause period pain by disrupting normal reproductive cycles, a study in female university students suggests. We already know that female shift-workers are more prone to irregular menstrual cycles, difficulties falling pregnant and miscarriages, possibly because their irregular schedules affect the circadian rhythms that control their hormone cycles. Yoko Komada at Meiji Pharmaceutical University in Japan and her colleagues wondered if social jetlag – a pattern of sleeping in on weekends to make up for early starts during the week – may have similar effects. To find out, they surveyed 150 female Japanese university students about their sleep habits and menstrual patterns. The students were defined as having social jetlag if the midpoint of their sleep was an hour or more later on their days off than on their university days. Those with social jetlag reported significantly more pain, bloating and behavioural changes during their periods. Moreover, the greater the social jet lag they had, the worse their symptoms were. These adverse health effects could not be explained by late-night drinking or smoking at the end of the university week, since almost none of the students drank alcohol and none smoked. Getting up later on days off may throw out the body’s circadian rhythms, which are reset daily by light exposure upon waking, says Jonathan Cedernaes at Uppsala University in Sweden. “In either social jet lag or shift work, you mistime when your body is expecting to sleep and be exposed to light,” he says.
11-15-18 Is the sex recession only for straight people?
When a trend makes the cover of The Atlantic, you know it's really arrived. That's surely the case with the "sex recession," the term Kate Julian coined in a blockbuster article to describe a phenomenon that social scientists have been tracking and puzzling over for years now. Americans — and not just Americans — are having less sex than they used to. A lot less sex. They're starting later and engaging with less frequency, with fewer people over a lifetime, and with less satisfaction. We may seem to the casual observer to be a sex-obsessed society, but it appears that impression is as accurate as someone's Instagram feed. And while there's some data to cheer about — a decline in teen pregnancy is surely a positive development, for example, as is the dramatic decline in new HIV infections — the overall picture is a depressing one, given how strongly correlated a positive sex life is with personal well-being. What is the explanation for this sustained decline? Cultural conservatives will predictably indict the continuing echoes of the now-50-years-old sexual revolution that cheapened intimacy and disrupted the purportedly natural order of family-formation. Feminists need only gesture at any given week's headlines to bring their own indictment of violent male entitlement as the root cause. In both cases, the blame falls on changes in the culture. The narrative satisfactions of such cultural explanations are obvious, which is why I'm instinctively inclined to look first for material explanations. And there are plenty on offer. Perhaps environmental pollutants are to blame for a drop in libido as they are plausibly to blame for a global drop in sperm count? Or perhaps it's the opposite, and the removal of lead from gasoline explains the drop in teen pregnancy as well as it explains the drop in teen criminality? Economic explanations are also ready to hand. Partly as a consequence of the Great Recession, a whole cohort of young adults have lived with their parents at much higher rates and for much longer into their 20s (and even 30s) than previous generations. It's hard to build a stable relationship under such conditions. Meanwhile, those fortunate enough to have good-paying jobs increasingly feel married to them, leaving little time to explore the depths of human companionship. Then there's technology, changing our habits and thereby our minds and brains. Are ubiquitous screens making us more distractible and depriving us of high-quality sleep? Has pornography-facilitated masturbation acted like a drug, blunting our drive to seek fulfilling erotic relationships? Is the sex recession a side effect of our widely-attested plague of anxiety and depression, or of the libido-dampening drugs prescribed to treat those conditions?
11-15-18 Exclusive: A new test can predict IVF embryos’ risk of having a low IQ
A new genetic test that enables people having IVF to screen out embryos likely to have a low IQ or high disease risk could soon become available in the US. THE prospect of creating intelligent designer babies has been the subject of ethical debate for decades, but we have lacked the ability to actually do it. That may now change, thanks to a new method of testing an embryo’s genes that could soon be available in some IVF clinics in the US, New Scientist can reveal. The firm Genomic Prediction says it has developed genetic screening tests that can assess complex traits, such as the risk of some diseases and low intelligence, in IVF embryos. The tests haven’t been used yet, but the firm began talks last month with several IVF clinics to provide them to customers. For intelligence, Genomic Prediction says that it will only offer the option of screening out embryos deemed likely to have “mental disability”. However, the same approach could in future be used to identify embryos with genes that make them more likely to have a high IQ. “I think people are going to demand that. If we don’t do it, some other company will,” says the firm’s co-founder Stephen Hsu. For many years, it has been possible to do simpler genetic tests on embryos as part of IVF. For example, parents at risk of having a child with cystic fibrosis have the option to undergo IVF and select an embryo that doesn’t carry the gene behind the condition. It is also possible to screen for several other conditions caused by a single gene, as well as those caused by chromosomal abnormalities, such as Down’s syndrome. However, most medical conditions are influenced by hundreds of genes, which has made it impossible to screen out embryos with a high risk of heart disease, for example, or select embryos with a low likelihood of experiencing depression. This is true for traits like intelligence too.
11-15-18 New techniques may soon make designer babies a reality – are we ready?
IT IS hard to think of an area of science more controversial than the genetics of intelligence. Now it is about to get exponentially more contentious. For a long time, DNA testing couldn’t tell us anything useful about someone’s IQ or any other traits affected by multiple genes, such as diabetes or cancer risk. But new “polygenic” techniques for analysing many genetic regions at once have begun to make this possible. This week, we report on the first company offering fertility clinics a test for screening IVF embryos for disease risk and low intelligence (see “Exclusive: A new test can predict IVF embryos’ risk of having a low IQ”). With this news, it is unlikely to be long before some clinic, somewhere, starts using a similar approach to offer prospective parents the ability to pick out embryos that look most genetically promising for a high IQ. As if this isn’t controversial enough, it may only be the beginning. As our understanding of traits governed by multiple genes grows, it may also become possible to screen for embryos that are more or less likely to have a range of other features, be it sexuality, autism or susceptibility to depression. We already live in a world where wealthy individuals are willing to cross borders to pay for procedures at the sharpest edge of fertility research. The first baby created using a particular three-parent technique was born two years ago to Jordanian parents helped by US scientists working in Mexico, for example. While many prospective parents won’t want to genetically fine-tune their children this way, the idea of a near-designer baby will undoubtedly appeal to some. The desire to maximise a future child’s intelligence, mental health or physical attractiveness could be enough to prompt couples with no fertility problems to seek IVF, just to have this opportunity.
11-9-18 A ban on ‘sexual health’
The State Department is considering a proposal that would bar U.S. diplomats from using the terms “sexual and reproductive health” and “comprehensive sexual education,” reported Politico.com. Those terms have been used for years in domestic and international government communications but would be replaced under this proposal by phrases such as “reproduction and the related health services.” Several social conservatives at State and other agencies are reportedly pushing the change. The ban could impair relations with the U.N. and complicate funding requests from groups focused on women’s reproductive rights. The State Department has already removed mentions of access to contraception and abortion from human rights reports.
11-9-18 Phthalates and language delays
Prenatal exposure to a type of chemical found in floor tiles, food packaging, shampoos, and cosmetics could cause language delays in young children, new research suggests. Scientists have long been concerned that phthalates, which make plastics more flexible and long-lasting, can affect the development of children’s brains. The new study—a collaboration between teams in Sweden and the U.S.—looked specifically at their impact on early speech development, reports The Philadelphia Inquirer. Researchers tested urine samples from about 1,365 pregnant women, all in their first trimester, for phthalates. When the women’s children were between 30 and 37 months old, the researchers asked the mothers how many words their offspring used. They found that the children of women who had higher phthalate levels during pregnancy were more likely to suffer from a language delay, knowing fewer than 50 words. One of the study’s authors, Shanna Swan from the Icahn School of Medicine in New York, advises pregnant women to try to reduce their exposure to phthalates by using scent-free personal-care products and phthalate-free nail polish. But she acknowledges that the chemicals are “hard to avoid,” because they are “hidden in many household products, like vinyl floor covering and upholstery.”
10-26-18 Having more partners
Blissful ignorance, with a new study that found that marital happiness correlates strongly with lack of sexual experience prior to marriage. One theory, said researcher Bradford Wilcox, is that “having more partners prior to marriage makes you critically evaluate your spouse in light of previous partners, sexually and otherwise.”
10-24-18 Data suggests 60 per cent of babies aren’t breastfed after 6 weeks
Guidelines recommend breastfeeding for 6 months, but data suggests that less than half of mothers in England choose or are able to breastfeed beyond six weeks. As few as four in ten mothers still breastfeed their babies after they are 6 weeks old, according to new figures from Public Health England. This is in contrast to the the World Health Organisation’s recommendation that mothers should exclusively breastfeed their babies for the first six months of life. Rates for breastfeeding babies between 6 and 8 weeks old has stayed relatively stable in England for the last four years only varying by a couple of percent each year, according to data from NHS England. However, the rates vary significantly by region. Eight in 10 babies were being breastfed between 6 and 8 weeks old in Tower Hamlets, London compared to less than two in 10 in Knowsley, Merseyside. In many cases women are unable to continue breastfeeding even if they want to, and that so few are able to meet the guidelines suggests that in their current state they may be unrealistic for many women. The NHS Start for Life website says that there are many advantages of breastfeeding, including health benefits for both babies and mothers. Breast milk protects babies from infections and provides a “perfect balance” of vitamins and nutrition for infants, according to the website. Breastfed babies have a lower chance of cot death and childhood leukaemia, they also have a lower risk of allergies and are less likely to develop diabetes or become overweight when they are older. Benefits for women include reducing their risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, osteoporosis, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
10-23-18 New clues to unravelling link between pregnancy and breast cancer risk
Women are less likely to get breast cancer if they give birth before the age of 30. Now we know the effect kicks in specifically after 33 weeks of pregnancy. We’ve known for some time that a woman’s risk of breast cancer is reduced by both the number of children she has and at what age she gives birth to them – although exactly why is a mystery. A new study of the populations of Denmark and Norway offers clues. It suggests that the duration of pregnancy may be key, with a woman’s relative risk of breast cancer dropping sharply between 33 and 34 weeks of pregnancy. Mads Melbye at the Statens Serum Institute in Denmark and his colleagues used national registries on childbirth and cancer that included 2.3 million Danish women and 1.6 million Norwegian women. They looked at long-term effects, tracking the cases of breast cancer 10 years or more after pregnancy. The researchers found that women who had pregnancies lasting 33 weeks or less saw a reduction in their breast cancer risk of 2.4 per cent on average. However, if their pregnancy lasted 34 weeks or more, their relative risk was reduced by 13.6 per cent on average. If a woman’s second pregnancy reached this 34-week point her risk was reduced by 16.9 per cent, and if it was her third pregnancy, her relative risk of breast cancer after a pregnancy that reached 34 weeks was reduced by 37.7 per cent. Melbye and his team found that the link between reduced cancer risk and a pregnancy that reaches 34 weeks occurred whether or not the pregnancy resulted in a live or a stillbirth. Though breastfeeding has been shown to reduce cancer risk following pregnancy, this new finding suggests it is not the only thing at work.
10-18-18 Pregnancy changes how hundreds of genes work in a woman’s body
Genes that alter their expression during healthy pregnancies have been identified for the first time, potentially helping us to predict at-risk pregnancies. It’s no secret that women’s bodies go through radical changes during pregnancy, but we’re finally starting to understand what happens at the gene level. Alicia Smith at Emory University in the US and her colleagues took blood samples from 63 women early and late in pregnancy to see if they could detect any changes in their gene expression. Of the 16,000 genes they looked at, they found that 439 altered their activity between the first and third trimester of pregnancy. Many of these changes occurred in genes involved in the immune and circulatory systems, both of which are known to undergo major transformations during pregnancy. For instance, the researchers observed increased expression of several genes from the alpha-defensin family, which help to fight disease-causing bacteria, fungi and viruses. This is probably to protect the fetus from microbes like listeria that can cause spontaneous abortion and pre-term birth, says Smith. Changes were also seen in genes that protect the fetus from the mother’s own immune system. “Your immune system is designed to identify foreign cells and fight them, which makes carrying a fetus very complicated,” says Smith. “That’s why pregnancy is associated with a number of immune changes that stop your body from rejecting the foreign fetus.”
10-17-18 Special coating gives condoms self-lubricating powers
A polymer coating turns condoms slippery once it comes in contact with body fluids – and it doesn’t dry out. The next generation of condom can lubricate itself. It comes with a polymer coating that turns slippery once it comes into contact with body fluids – and that doesn’t dry out. Condoms are not the most comfortable things to wear, so most store-sold condoms are coated with silicone oil as a lubricant. But silicone oil – as well as other water-, oil- and silicone-based lubricants – are easily absorbed by the skin, so the lubrication doesn’t work for extended periods. Mark Grinstaff at Boston University and his colleagues have addressed the problem. They coated latex condoms with a new “water-loving” coating called HEA/BP/PVP. This becomes slippery once it encounters water and body fluids. The coating also bonds strongly with the latex in condoms so it won’t come off during use. The team measured the friction produced when rubbing the polymer-coated latex against a skin-like surface for 16 minutes. The polymer-coated latex generated 53 per cent less fiction than non-coated latex that was simply lubricated by water. Grinstaff’s team found that non-coated latex covered in a commercially available lubricant generated less friction than their polymer-coated latex – but only inside the first five minutes of use. By the end of the 16 minute test period, the friction from latex with personal lubricant was 10 per cent greater than that from the polymer-coated latex.
10-12-18 C-section births surge to 'alarming' rates worldwide - study
Doctors' use of Caesarean section to deliver babies has nearly doubled in 15 years to reach "alarming" proportions in some countries, a study says. Rates surged from about 16 million births (12%) in 2000 to an estimated 29.7 million (21%) in 2015, the report in the medical journal The Lancet said. The nation with the highest rate for using the surgery to assist childbirth is the Dominican Republic with 58.1%. Doctors say in many cases the use of the medical procedure is unjustified. Until recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) suggested that Caesarean section - or C-section - rates of more than 15% were excessive. The study analysed data from 169 countries using statistics from 2015 - the most recent year for which the information is available. It says there is an over-reliance on Caesarean section procedures - when surgery is used to help with a difficult birth - in more than half of the world's nations. Researchers reported a rate of more than 50% in the Dominican Republic, Brazil, Egypt and Turkey, though Brazil implemented a policy in 2015 to reduce the number of Caesarean sections performed by doctors. They also found huge disparities in the use of the technique between rich and poor nations. In some circumstances, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, the surgery is unavailable when it is genuinely required. Use in 2015 was up to 10 times more frequent in the Latin America and Caribbean region, at 44% of births, than in the west and central Africa region, where it was used in just 4% of cases. The study urges healthcare professionals, women and their families to only choose a Caesarean when it is needed for medical reasons - and for more education and training to be offered to dispel some of the concerns surrounding childbirth. (Webmaster's comment: 1/3 of births in the US are C-section. We are de-evolving our ability to have children in the normal way.)
10-10-18 We need to get better at supporting people who lose a pregnancy
This week is Baby Loss Awareness Week, but more must be done to help those who, like me, have suffered a loss, says Petra Boynton. Anyone who has experienced a miscarriage, stillbirth or other pregnancy loss will understand the pain, distress and uncertainty that can follow. Because these experiences are common, you might hope that the way we help people during and after the event would be uniformly good. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Back in 2016, The Lancet noted that half of the world’s 2.6 million annual stillbirths are preventable. There are also marked inequalities globally, because 98 per cent of stillbirths happen in low-income countries. Variations in facilities, access to services, and public awareness all make a difference to pregnancy and birth outcomes. The quality of training for healthcare workers is also patchy, with staff often struggling to stay up to date with the latest evidence, or to provide effective care in overstretched services. Where training is provided, it tends to focus primarily on physical – preventing accidents and dealing with pregnancy or birth problems – rather than emotional needs. Providing compassionate care also requires we do better at recording stillbirths. In September, The Lancet reported that the prevalence of stillbirth is currently underestimated by a third. The World Health Organization uses an international cut-off point of fetal loss after 28 weeks for recording stillbirth. Researchers and practitioners are asking for stillbirths to be recognised and recorded from 22 weeks, allowing for more investigations into its potential causes. Parents simply want better opportunities to recognise their losses and remember their babies.
10-7-18 The woman who fought for the right to be a prostitute
On 1 May 1958, a young woman was an unusual cynosure of all eyes in a courtroom in the north Indian city of Allahabad. Husna Bai, a 24-year-old woman, told Judge Jagdish Sahai that she was a prostitute. Invoking the constitution, she had filed a petition challenging the validity of a new law to ban trafficking in human bodies. By striking at her means of livelihood, Bai argued, the new law had "frustrated the purpose of the welfare state established by the Constitution in the country". It was an act of radical public defiance by a poor Muslim prostitute. She had forced the judges to look at women on the street at a time when life in India had excluded prostitutes from civil society. Their numbers - 28,000 in 1951, down from 54,000, according to official records - had dwindled, as had public support for them. When prostitutes offered donations to the Congress party, Mahatma Gandhi refused and told them to take up spinning instead. All this despite the fact that they were among the few groups of people who were allowed to vote because they earned money, paid taxes and owned property. Not much is known about Husna Bai's personal life - and a search of the archives turned up no photographs - apart from the fact that she lived with her female cousin and two younger brothers who were dependent on her earnings. But the largely forgotten story of her struggle for the right to ply her trade is part of an engrossing new book by Yale University historian Rohit De. A People's Constitution: Law and Everyday Life in The Indian Republic explores how the Indian constitution, despite its "elite authorship and alien antecedents, came to permeate everyday life and imagination in India during its transition from a colonial state to a democratic republic". The lack of any archival material meant that De had to depend on court records to piece together Husna Bai's story as part of a larger movement by women across the country. Bai's petition sparked a lot of interest and anxiety.
10-5-18 Syphilis in newborns
The number of children born with congenital syphilis—passed on to them during pregnancy or labor—rocketed by more than 150 percent from 2013 to 2017. There were 362 cases in 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports, and 918 last year; most cases were in the South and West. Syphilis can be cured easily with penicillin. But eight out of 10 pregnant women who leave the bacterial infection untreated pass it on to their unborn babies—with often fatal consequences. The disease caused at least 77 stillbirths or newborn deaths last year, reports USA Today. Infected babies who survive can develop health problems such as deformed bones, severe anemia, and meningitis. “To protect every baby, we have to start by protecting every mother,” says Gail Bolan, head of the CDC’s STD prevention division. “Early testing and prompt treatment to cure any infections are critical first steps, but too many women are falling through the cracks of the system.”
10-5-18 Adultery law overturned
India’s Supreme Court has scrapped a British colonial-era law that criminalized adultery, in a ruling that activists are praising as a victory for human rights. Under the 158-year-old law, a man could be sentenced to five years in prison if he had sex with another man’s wife without the consent of her husband. Women could not prosecute their cheating husbands, though, or sue their mistresses. The Hindu nationalist government of Narendra Modi had supported the law, saying it protected marriage. But the court disagreed. “Husband is not the master of wife,” said Chief Justice Dipak Misra, who retired this week. “Women should be treated with equality along with men.”
10-5-18 IVF success boosted by drug that helps embryos implant in the womb
Women given a drug that increases blood flow to the womb have a significantly higher chance of giving birth through IVF. People undergoing IVF could soon have a better chance of having a baby thanks to a drug that helps embryos implant in the womb. A recent trial involving almost 800 women attending 41 fertility clinics across Europe found that the drug – called nolasiban – significantly increased the success rate of IVF. Each participant took a nolasiban pill or a placebo 4 hours before they had an embryo transferred to their womb. Almost 45 per cent of those in the nolasiban group went on to have a baby, compared to 33 per cent in the placebo group. The results, which will be presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine in Denver next week, potentially mark the biggest advance in IVF in 25 years, according to Ernest Loumaye at ObsEva, the company that is developing nolasiban and that funded the research. The drug works by blocking the hormone oxytocin. This increases blood flow to the womb and reduces contractions that can occur during embryo transfer, thereby making it easier for the embryo to implant, says Loumaye. The initial results are promising but more trials are needed “before we can start getting too excited”, says Peter Illingworth at IVF Australia. “I’d also advise caution until the full experimental details of the latest trial are released,” he says. Loumaye and his colleagues are planning to launch another trial of nolasiban in 1000 women undergoing IVF later this year. If it’s successful, the drug could be available by the end of 2020, he says.
9-28-18 Stormy Daniels
Stormy Daniels offers an X-rated portrait of Donald Trump in her new tell-all memoir, Full Disclosure. The adult-film performer describes her alleged 2006 one-night stand with Trump in explicit detail and says she kept the affair a secret for years, including from the man she married in 2010. Daniels also says that the night after she had sex with Trump, the two went to a nightclub, where he encouraged her to talk to Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, then 23 and fresh off a Super Bowl win. At Trump’s urging, Roethlisberger walked Daniels to her hotel room, where he stood outside her door and pleaded to come in. “I was terrified,” Daniels writes.
9-28-18 Supporting Trump’s manhood
Russian state television ran a prime-time segment this week defending President Trump against porn star Stormy Daniels’ accusation that the president’s private parts are “smaller than average.” The description appears in Daniels’ new memoir, Full Disclosure, in which she details an alleged 2006 sexual encounter with Trump. Pro-Kremlin pundit Dmitry Kiselyov said on Russia 1 that since Daniels had worked in porn, she was exposed to many male co-stars selected for their “unnaturally grotesque dimensions,” so her perception of average was skewed. “Let’s support Trump,” he said, “purely as men.” Kiselyov said Daniels’ claims were deeply unfair to Trump because the president, for the sake of decency, can’t respond. “Is he supposed to pull down his zipper and whip out his goods?” asked Kiselyov.
9-28-18 Rise of sex robots
Legal sex workers in Nevada are warning about the rise of sex robots, calling the mechanical lovers “unhealthy and dangerous.” A number of sex-doll brothels have sprung up around the world, and the owner of Nevada’s Bunny Ranch said he intends to offer sexbots by 2020. But workers at Sheri’s Ranch outside Las Vegas resent the idea of robots cutting in on their turf. The bots are “dehumanizing,” said licensed sex worker Allissa. “A man who becomes comfortable with a sex doll is alienating himself from healthy sexual experiences with real women.”
9-27-18 Adultery no longer a criminal offence in India
India's top court has ruled adultery is no longer a crime, striking down a 158-year-old colonial-era law which it said treated women as male property. Previously any man who had sex with a married woman, without the permission of her husband, had committed a crime. A petitioner had challenged the law saying it was arbitrary and discriminated against men and women. It is not clear how many men have been prosecuted under the law - there is no data available. This is the second colonial-era law struck down by India's Supreme Court this month - it also overturned a 157-year-old law which effectively criminalised gay sex in India. While reading out the judgement on adultery, Chief Justice Dipak Misra said that while it could be grounds for civil issues like divorce, "it cannot be a criminal offence".
9-24-18 How motherhood changes the brain
Pregnancy and childbirth set off some of the starkest biological alterations a woman's brain undergoes. So how come no one tells you about them? In the weeks after my first son was born, I squandered hours of precious sleep leaning over his bassinet to check that he was still breathing. I researched potential dangers that seemed to grow into monstrous reality by the blue light of my smartphone. Among them: The lead paint my husband and I had discovered, a real but manageable risk, had turned our new home into a hazard zone. I cleaned our floors incessantly but still imagined a cloud of poison dust following us as I carried the baby, so tiny and fragile, from room to room. When the doctor screened for postpartum depression during my six-week checkup, she noted that my responses to the questionnaire were somewhat mixed though my score was within the normal range. She asked whether I had thoughts about harming myself or my child, and when I said no, she moved on. But I was struggling. Before baby, I had managed a tendency toward low-level worry. Now it was as if the volume had been turned up. Among the biggest worries I faced was worry itself. The way I saw it, motherhood made me feel this way, and I would be a mother forevermore. Would I always be this anxious? And would my baby suffer for it? I feared that something deep within me — my disposition, my way of seeing the world, myself — had been altered. In truth, something very foundational had changed: my brain. What I didn't know then — what I wish I had known then — was that I was in the midst of the most rapid and dramatic neurobiological change of my adult life. The unmooring I felt, and that so many new mothers feel, likely was at least in part a manifestation of structural and functional brain changes, handed down through the millennia by mothers past and intended to mold me into a fiercely protective, motivated caregiver, focused on my baby's survival and long-term well-being.
9-17-18 Last call for Nevada’s brothels?
There have been brothels in Nevada since the days of the Gold Rush, but in one of the state's 16 counties that could be about to change. Voters in Lyon County have a chance to put an end to legal prostitution in November, in a ballot coinciding with the country's mid-term elections. Lucy Ash met a veteran Nevada sex worker and heard the arguments for and against. Air Force Amy totters around the kidney-shaped swimming pool in her high heels to show me the gym where women can work out between clients. She points out the barbecue patio and the Jacuzzi before flinging open a garage door to reveal some dusty quad bikes. "We've got everything we need right here, even ponies in the stable out the back," she says. "I don't ride them because it's too risky - I need my body to work," she adds with a throaty laugh. We escape the blinding desert sun for the dimly lit parlour where a pink neon Bunny Ranch sign flickers over the bar. A few girls in lingerie or skimpy dresses are sitting on the crushed velvet sofas hunched over laptops and phones. This is the most famous of the 21 legal brothels scattered across rural Nevada. Behind the bar there's a corridor, which leads to dozens of bedrooms, each occupied by a sex worker in return for a daily rent. The Bunny Ranch is set in a scrubby landscape punctuated by gas stations, casinos and gun shops. It lies just the inside Lyon County line. Prostitution is outlawed in nearby Carson City, Nevada's state capital, and other urban areas. Road signs on the driveway show copulating rabbits and warn that the speed limit is 69mph - just kidding, it says underneath. When a customer rings the buzzer on the gate, an internal bell summons the sex workers into the parlour for a "line-up". Once he has chosen a woman, she takes him to her room to negotiate a price. The overwhelming majority of clients are men although occasionally couples make an appearance. Air Force Amy is still, at 53, one of the top earners at the ranch and she says she is pulling in about half a million dollars a year. Airbrushed photos of her in her youth decorate the walls.
9-14-18 STDs on the rise, again
Rates of sexually transmitted diseases climbed for the fourth consecutive year in the U.S. in 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced. A record high of 2.3 million cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis were diagnosed last year—some 200,000 more than in 2016, itself a record-breaking year. Scientists say there is no single reason for the years-long uptick, reports The New York Times. Possible factors include the proliferation of dating apps, the opioid epidemic, and reduced funding for public sexual health clinics. “Most people with these STDs do not know they are infected,” says Gail Bolan, director of the CDC’s division of sexually transmitted disease prevention. “They don’t realize that these diseases are spreading silently through the country.” The CDC warns that chlamydia and gonorrhea—which is becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics—can lurk in the body without symptoms and lead to serious health issues if left untreated. The agency recommends that all women under 25, as well as men who have sex with men, undergo annual screenings for both diseases.
9-14-18 Gandhi wanted women to 'resist' sex for pleasure
In December 1935, Margaret Sanger, the American birth control activist and sex educator, visited Indian independence hero Mahatma Gandhi and had an absorbing conversation with him. Sanger was on an 18-city trip to India, speaking with doctors and activists about birth control and the liberation of women. Her fascinating exchange with Gandhi at his ashram in the western state of Maharashtra is part of a new biography of India's "father of the nation" by historian Ramachandra Guha. Drawing on never-before-seen sources from 60 different collections around the world, the 1,129-page book tells the dramatic story of the life of the world's most famous pacifist from the time he returned to India from South Africa in 1915, to his assassination in 1948. The biography also provides a glimpse into Gandhi's views on women's rights, sex and celibacy. In his ashram, Gandhi's efficient secretary, Mahadev Desai, took copious notes of the meeting between the leader and the activist. "Both seem to be agreed that women should be emancipated, that a woman should be the arbiter of her destiny," he wrote. But differences quickly arose between the two. Mrs Sanger, who had opened the first US family planning centre in New York in 1916, believed that contraceptives were the safest route to emancipation. Gandhi demurred, saying women should resist their husbands, while men should try to curb "animal passion". He told his visitor that sex should be only for procreation. Mrs Sanger soldiered on spiritedly. She told Gandhi that "women have feelings as deep as and as amorous as men. There are times when wives desire physical union as much as their husbands". "Do you think that it is possible for two people who are in love, who are happy together, to regulate their sex act only once in two years, so that their relationship would only take place when they wanted a child?" she asked. This is where contraception came in handy, she insisted, and helped women prevent unwanted pregnancies and gain control over their bodies. Gandhi remained stubborn in his opposition. (Webmaster's comment: Even today many, if not most men, believe sex is for a man's pleasure. Women's pleasure is incidental. Many men see them as only for breeding.)
9-11-18 Marijuana use among pregnant women is rising, and so are concerns
Solid data on the dangers of the drug to pregnant women and babies are hard to come by. I’m relatively new to Oregon, but one of the ways I know I’m starting to settle in is my ability to recognize marijuana shops. Some are easy. But others, with names like The Agrestic and Mr. Nice Guy, are a little trickier to identify for someone who hasn’t spent much time in a state that has legalized marijuana. A growing number of states have legalized both medical and recreational marijuana. At the same time, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding are using the drug in increasing numbers. A 2017 JAMA study described both survey results and urine tests of nearly 280,000 pregnant women in Northern California, where medical marijuana was legalized in 1996. The study showed that in 2009, about 4 percent of the women tested used marijuana. In 2016, about 7 percent of women did. Those California numbers may be even higher now, since recreational marijuana became legal there this year. Some of those numbers may be due in part to women using marijuana to treat their morning sickness, a more recent study by some of the same researchers suggests. Their report, published August 20 in JAMA Internal Medicine, found that pregnant women with severe nausea and vomiting were 3.8 times more likely to use marijuana than pregnant women without morning sickness. So some pregnant women are definitely using the drug, and exposing their fetuses to it, too. Ingredients in marijuana are known to make their way to fetuses by crossing the placenta during pregnancy (and by entering breast milk after the baby is born). But what actually happens when those marijuana compounds arrive?
9-10-18 The sextech inventor ‘closing the orgasm gap’
Be warned – this film is all about sex. And business. Straight women have a third fewer orgasms than straight men during sex – and 28-year-old Stephanie Alys is determined to change that. The inventor co-founded a multi-million pound business and she now sells luxury vibrators in 57 countries. But working in sexuality can be an uphill struggle, especially when trying to fund a business idea that pushes the boundaries of pleasure.
9-7-18 Breastfeeding and marijuana
Now that marijuana has become legal for recreational use in eight states, and for medical use in 30, a growing number of people consider the drug largely harmless. But the American Academy of Pediatrics has a simple message for nursing mothers: Don’t touch the stuff. The AAP examined 50 mothers who used marijuana, with children ranging from newborns to toddlers more than a year old, reports CNN.com. The researchers found that tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive ingredient in weed known as THC, could be detected in breast milk up to six days after use of the drug. While previous research has suggested that THC can cross to the fetus via the placenta, potentially affecting brain development, the AAP’s study didn’t look into how or whether the milk’s recipient could be affected. But the researchers concluded that until more is known, taking the drug while breastfeeding simply isn’t worth the risk. Study author Christina Chambers, from the University of California, San Diego said the findings should be a “call to action” for long-term research.
9-5-18 ‘The pain was instant’: The devastating impact of vaginal mesh surgery
Kath Sansom used to enjoy boxing and high-board diving, but after having a vaginal mesh implant, her life took a dramatic turn for the worse. Millions of women over the last two decades have undergone vaginal mesh surgery, but it has recently become clear just how many have experienced severe complications. In our main interview this week, we hear from Sohier Elneil, one of the few surgeons in the UK qualified to remove mesh. Here, Kath Sansom shares her story of what it’s like to undergo the treatment and the impact it had on her life. She had a mesh sling implanted in March 2015 to treat mild stress urinary incontinence. It was removed seven months later. She now runs the Sling the Mesh campaign to raise awareness of mesh complications and support mesh-injured women in the UK. How did you feel after the mesh was implanted? The pain was instant. I struggled to walk. The pain down the backs of my legs felt like really deep, heavy toothache. It hurt me to walk, sit, lie. I couldn’t get any relief. I had cheese-wiring pains in my vagina, burning pain so bad I couldn’t even use a tampon. In the weeks before, I did a boxing class, high-board diving and mountain biking. I went from that to excruciating pain. How did the pain evolve? You’re supposed to be better within a week, but it gradually got worse and worse. Did you know about the possible side effects before the operation? If you were told: “You can have this little operation but you might lose your sex life”, you wouldn’t see anyone for dust. Or if your doctor said: “You can have this little operation and you might not be able to walk – but at least you won’t wee your pants.” You’d run out the door!
9-5-18 The inside story of the vaginal mesh scandal, from top removal surgeon
Mesh implants have injured thousands of women. Surgeon Sohier Elneil explains how the crisis happened and why women turned to her for treatment. IN THE late 1980s, the medical industry was looking for new ways to treat women experiencing urinary incontinence and vaginal prolapse, both relatively common conditions following childbirth. At the time, doctors suggested physiotherapy, weight loss and other non-surgical interventions, with complex surgery as a last resort. When mesh implants came along, they seemed like a simple and convenient alternative: a flexible plastic scaffold that took less than an hour to implant and allowed women to leave hospital quickly and get on with their lives. Permanent mesh implants became standard treatment for millions of women with these conditions. They have proved effective in many cases. But some women have experienced complications, including mesh eroding through the vaginal wall or piercing the bladder, nerve damage and infection. The implant can cause chronic pain, sometimes so severe women are barely able to walk. Tens of thousands of women around the world have brought lawsuits. The US Food and Drug Administration reclassified mesh as a “high-risk” device in 2016. More recently, Australia and New Zealand have banned its use in some circumstances. And in July the UK’s National Health Service suspended the use of mesh in England for stress incontinence. The mesh was designed to allow bodily tissue to grow through it, so it is very hard to remove. Sohier Elneil at University College Hospital in London is one of fewer than 10 surgeons in the UK able to carry out the procedure. She performed her first mesh removal in 2005 and, since then, has been at the forefront of the campaign to raise awareness of mesh complications.
9-5-18 Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop pays $145,000 in vaginal egg lawsuit
The lifestyle website founded by actress Gwyneth Paltrow has agreed to pay $145,000 (£112,000) for making unscientific claims about vaginal eggs. The settlement also applies to a "flower essence", which Goop said could cure depression. Goop claimed its jade and rose quartz eggs, which are inserted vaginally, could balance hormones and regulate menstrual cycles, among other things. The lawsuit was brought by California's consumer protection office. "The health and money of Santa Clara County residents should never be put at risk by misleading advertising," District Attorney Jeff Rosen said in a written statement. "We will vigilantly protect consumers against companies that promise health benefits without the support of good science…or any science." Goop said in a statement that while it "believes there is an honest disagreement about these claims, the company wanted to settle this matter quickly and amicably. This settlement does not indicate any liability on Goop's part". Both the jade and rose quartz eggs, which are sold for $66 and $55 respectively, are still for sale, but Goop is prohibited from making further health claims that are not backed up by science. Goop also will be banned from selling medical devices that are falsely advertised or unapproved. The company agreed to pay $145,000 in civil penalties, and is also offering a refund for customers who purchased the eggs or the flower essence under false claims.
9-5-18 Teens born from assisted pregnancies may have higher blood pressure
Reproductive technologies such as in vitro fertilization may put kids at risk of hypertension. Assisted pregnancies give infertile couples the chance at a child. But kids conceived with reproductive technologies, such as in vitro fertilization, or IVF, were more likely to develop high blood pressure as adolescents than their naturally conceived counterparts, a new study finds. Of 52 teens conceived with technological help, eight had hypertension, defined as blood pressure greater than 130/80 millimeters of mercury. Only one teen of 43 conceived naturally had the same high blood pressure, researchers report online September 3 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. High blood pressure raises the risk of later stroke and heart attack, among other health problems. The estimated prevalence of hypertension among U.S. adolescents is about 3.5 percent. Among the teens from assisted conceptions in the study, it was 15 percent. “This is a small study, and this is not terrible blood pressure, but it’s blood pressure that should alert somebody that we need to be checking it routinely,” says Larry Weinrauch, a cardiologist at Harvard Medical School who wrote an editorial accompanying the article. As of 2014, more than 8 million babies worldwide had been born as a result of assisted pregnancies, according to preliminary data released in July by the International Committee for Monitoring Assisted Reproductive Technologies in Palo Alto, Calif.
9-3-18 It's Freezing Out There is the web series about egg freezing you didn't know you needed
When you think of egg freezing, you probably think of the quintessential career woman. "I have a glossy image in my head of a professional woman in a nice silk shirt striding into a fertility clinic with a pile of binders and a four-year plan," writes Eva Wiseman for The Guardian. It's an archetype as much rooted in cultural debates about career-driven women as pop culture. Back in 2012, Anne-Marie Slaughter — of "Why women still can't have it all" fame — preached the gospel of egg freezing to young women just entering the workplace, arguing it would let them focus on their professional development before a family gets in the way. That same year, the TV show New Girl made much the same point. Yet today, with democratic socialism is on the rise, something feels amiss about this perspective. Is a career really the only reason why a woman should freeze her eggs? The answer to this question is what makes It's Freezing Out There, a new web series out today, so refreshing. Its creator, Pepper Binkley, smartly upends the trope of a professional woman freezing her eggs to "get ahead," instead emphasizing why even those of us still figuring thing out ought to be thinking about biological clocks.
8-30-18 The woman who founded the 'incel' movement
When Alana started a website for lonely people struggling to find love, she had no idea it would become linked to a community of hate and anger directed at women, which would ultimately lead to the deaths of several innocent people in her home city. "It definitely wasn't a bunch of guys blaming women for their problems. That's a pretty sad version of this phenomenon that's happening today. Things have changed in the last 20 years." Alana abbreviated "involuntarily celibate" to "invcel", until someone suggested that "incel" was easier to say. "The word [incel] used to mean anybody of any gender who was lonely, had never had sex or who hadn't had a relationship in a long time. But we can't call it that anymore." By 2000, Alana was moving away from the community, satisfied that it would continue without her. "I didn't notice what was going on because I wasn't paying attention. My dating life was going OK. I didn't want to think about my history as a late bloomer." Nearly 15 years later, Alana was in a bookshop reading a feminist magazine when she saw a small story about a man named Elliot Rodger. The 22-year-old had killed six people in a shooting and stabbing spree in Isla Vista, California, before turning a gun on himself. Before his death, he had distributed a 141-page document exploring his deep-rooted loathing of women, fuelled by an intense frustration over his virginity. Now Elliot Rodger was being seen as a hero by some in the incel community. There was worse to come. In April 2018, a man from Toronto called Alek Minassian posted on Facebook: "The Incel Rebellion has already begun… All hail the Supreme Gentleman Elliot Rodger!" Shortly afterwards, he drove a van down a crowded street, killing 10 people. (Webmaster's comment: No forgiveness and no redemption!)
8-28-18 Endometriosis: The pair who helped change Australia's conversation
Australia recently launched its first "national action plan" targeting endometriosis. It followed the advocacy of many - not least a mother and daughter who used viral success to fuel a wider conversation, writes Gary Nunn in Sydney. Earlier this year, Sylvia Freedman received a message from a woman she'd never met disclosing something she found "bizarre, but lovely!" The woman had decided to name her baby Sylvia, because without Sylvia's advocacy, she'd never have got pregnant. Syl suffers from endometriosis. Endometriosis (endo) currently has no known cause and no cure. It can cause severe pelvic pain and infertility. Back in 2013, Syl's university tutor, who also had endo, offered to mentor her through an honours thesis on coverage of endometriosis in the media. Their web search for media mentions of endometriosis returned zero mentions of the disease in any major Australian media outlets over 10 years. The tutor withdrew her offer, saying Syl couldn't do a literature review with nothing to review. It was a fresh blow after a decade of confusion, debilitating pain, missed classes, losing jobs and endless hours on the couch hugging a hot water bottle, wishing she lived inside a different body. Today, Sylvia, 27, is having a good day. She's able to sit upright on a chair opposite me and her mum, Lesley at their home in Sydney. In the past, endo often left her unable to sit up, walk or even do up her jeans. Syl feels much better now partly thanks to effective excision surgery, daily self-management and Visanne - a drug designed to treat endo. This medication is now available in Australia because Lesley and Sylvia took on pharmaceutical giant Bayer - and won.
8-24-18 SEX AND THE SUGAR DADDY
In Kenya, more and more young women are using sugar daddies to fund a lifestyle worth posting on social media. Transactional sex was once driven by poverty, says film-maker Nyasha Kadandara. But now, increasingly, it's driven by vanity. Eva, a 19-year-old student at Nairobi Aviation College, was sitting in her tiny room in shared quarters in Kitengela feeling broke, hungry, and desperate. She used the remaining 100 Kenyan shillings she had in her wallet and took a bus to the city centre, where she looked for the first man who would pay to have sex with her. After 10 minutes in a dingy alley, Eva went back to Kitengela with 1,000 Kenyan shillings to feed herself for the rest of the month. Six years ago, when she was at university, Shiro met a married man nearly 40 years her senior. At first, she received just groceries. Then it was trips to the salon. Two years into their relationship, the man moved her into a new apartment because he wanted her to be more comfortable. Another two years down the line, he gave Shiro a plot of land in Nyeri county as a show of commitment. In exchange, he gets to sleep with Shiro whenever he feels like it. Eva's experience is transactional sex in its most unvarnished form - a hurried one-off encounter, driven by desperation. Shiro's story illustrates an altogether more complex phenomenon - the exchange of youth and beauty for long-term financial gain, motivated not by hunger but by aspiration, glamorised by social media stars, and often wrapped in the trappings of a relationship. Older men have always used gifts, status, and influence to buy access to young women. The sugar daddy has probably been around, in every society, for as long as the prostitute. So you might ask: "Why even have a conversation about transactional sex in Africa?" The answer is that in Kenya, and in some other African countries, "sugar" relationships seem to have become both more common and more visible: what once was hidden is now out in the open - on campuses, in bars, and all over Instagram.
8-21-18 There’s a new cervical cancer screening option
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force now recommends HPV testing alone every five years. For cervical cancer screening, there’s a new option in town. Women ages 30 to 65 can opt to have human papillomavirus, or HPV, testing alone every five years, according to new recommendations from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. HPV testing alone joins two other alternatives that are still endorsed: an HPV test plus a Pap test every five years, or a Pap test alone every three years. The guidelines, published online August 21 in JAMA, are the first update to the group’s cervical cancer screening recommendations since 2012. Recent research has shown that HPV testing, which checks for the presence of the sexually transmitted virus in a sample of cervical cells, is better at catching precancerous lesions early than the traditional Pap test, which looks for those lesions in a cervical cell sample. Globally, cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer among women. HPV causes nearly all cervical cancers.
8-15-18 Don’t restrict women’s contraception rights through moral panic
Failures of the contraception app Natural Cycles have been linked to abortions in Sweden. But critics should remember all contraception fails sometimes. IT IS tempting to think that people who entrust their family planning to an app that uses body temperature to work out when they are fertile deserve all they have coming. Certainly the app Natural Cycles, recently approved as a form of contraception in the European Union and the US, has been controversial, especially after it was linked to several abortions in Sweden last year (see “No contraceptive is perfect, but can you trust apps to stop pregnancy?”). Women may fail to heed the app’s warnings on fertile days, or the app itself may sometimes get it wrong. But all contraceptive methods fail: pills get forgotten, injections missed and condoms skipped. The average effectiveness of most contraceptive methods is usually considerably lower than “perfect use” effectiveness. What’s clear is that Natural Cycles works pretty well for at least some women. Hormonal contraception is still likely to be the best option for many, but those who have had side effects or who baulk at chemically altering their bodies have a right to seek alternatives. Abortion is a separate issue – it should not be used to generate a moral panic over a genuine advance for free choice.
8-15-18 No contraceptive is perfect, but can you trust apps to stop pregnancy?
Birth control app Natural Cycles has come under fire for unwanted pregnancies, but this just reveals how little we understand contraception. WOULD you trust your smartphone to stop you getting pregnant? That might sound ridiculous, but the US Food and Drug Administration has just approved an app called Natural Cycles as a form of contraception. This follows similar approval by the European Union last year, which saw the app garner an enthusiastic following of women eager to stop taking hormonal contraception, but also mounting controversy. It seems simple. You measure your temperature and tap it into the app, and its algorithm tells you if there is a risk of conceiving that day. Avoid sex or use a condom on those “red days” and you shouldn’t get pregnant. Of course, things are more complicated than that. The first signs of this were the abortions. In January, it was reported that Stockholm South General Hospital in Sweden had identified 37 unwanted pregnancies among women using the app. These accounted for 5.5 per cent of those seeking abortions there in the last four months of 2017. This prompted the Swedish Medical Products Agency to open an investigation into the app. Now its adverts are under fire. The UK Advertising Standards Authority announced last month that it is investigating the marketing by the Swedish firm behind the app after receiving three complaints about paid posts on Facebook. The complainants took issue with the app being described as a “clinically-tested alternative to birth control methods”. News headlines and regretful testimonials seem unlikely to deter other tech firms from following Natural Cycles into the contraception business. In May, Ava – a firm that makes a fertility-tracking bracelet and app – announced it had raised $30 million to expand into various aspects of female health. One of these is preventing pregnancy and the firm is in discussions with EU and US health agencies.
8-14-18 India rejects patent plea for 'immoral' sex toy
India's patent office has rejected a plea by a Canadian company to patent a vibrator because sex toys violate "public order and morality". Invoking India's obscenity law, the patent office said the law "has never engaged positively with the notion of sexual pleasure". The patent office said sex toys are considered to be obscene objects and are illegal in India. But a 2011 court ruling had said sex toys could not be considered obscene. An Ontario-based company called Standard Innovation Corporation had applied for a patent in India for a new vibrator, to prevent generic local copycats being sold in the market, according to Shamnad Basheer, a visiting professor of law at India's National Law School who is working on a book about public health law. In April, the patents office rejected the plea, saying that sex toys lead "to obscenity and moral deprivation of individuals". "These are toys that are not considered useful or productive. Mostly these are considered to be morally degrading by the law," the office said. "The law views sex toys negatively and has never engaged positively with the notion of sexual pleasure". The office also invoked the Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), a 155-year-old colonial-era law, which criminalises gay sex and unnatural intercourse, in refusing the patent.
8-13-18 Essure sterilisation device: Australian women to launch lawsuit
Women in Australia will pursue a class action lawsuit over a sterilisation device that has allegedly caused medical problems for women worldwide. The lawsuit against German pharmaceutical giant Bayer, maker of the Essure implant, will follow similar actions in the UK, US and Canada. Women with the implant have reported problems such as chronic pain and adverse reactions to nickel. Bayer has defended the Essure device as safe. The product was withdrawn from sale in the US in July. Bayer had already halted sales in all other nations, citing commercial reasons. "We continue to stand behind the product's safety and efficacy, which are demonstrated by an extensive body of research," the company said in July. Australian firm Slater and Gordon said the lawsuit would examine whether the device, sold in the country from 2010, was "inherently defective". The small coil implants, which are made of nickel and polyester (PET) fibres, were used as a sterilisation device to stop eggs reaching the womb. They were inserted into the fallopian tubes and designed to trigger inflammation, causing scar tissue to build up and eventually block the tubes, known as a hysteroscopic sterilisation. (Webmaster's comment: How insane can doctors get?) "For the women who have experienced complications it has been incredibly damaging," Slater and Gordon lawyer Ebony Birchall said. She said many women had been forced to have a hysterectomy to remove the coil.
8-9-18 Pregnant women’s use of opioids is on the rise
Early screening could prevent pregnancy complications and health problems for babies. Pregnant women aren’t immune to the escalating opioid epidemic. Data on hospital deliveries in 28 U.S. states shows the rate of opioid use among pregnant women has quadrupled, from 1.5 per 1,000 women in 1999 to 6.5 per 1,000 women in 2014, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports. The highest increases in opioid use among pregnant women were in Maine, New Mexico, Vermont and West Virginia, according to the CDC study, published online August 9 in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. “This analysis is a stark reminder that the U.S. opioid crisis is taking a tremendous toll on families,” says coauthor Jean Ko, a CDC epidemiologist in Atlanta. In this first look at opioid use during pregnancy by state, Washington, D.C. had the lowest rate in 2014, at 0.7 per 1,000 women, and Vermont had the highest, at 48.6 per 1,000. However, the data from the U.S. Health and Human Services Department represents only the 28 states that record opioid use at childbirth during the studied time frame. “We knew the incidence was increasing” as the number of babies going through opioid withdrawal has also gone up, says Matthew Grossman, a pediatrician at Yale University. Overall, the number of U.S. deaths attributed to opioids has also been steadily rising (SN: 3/31/18, p. 18). In 2014, there were 14.7 opioid deaths per 100,000 people, up from 6.2 per 100,000 in 2000, according to the CDC.
8-8-18 Inducing labour at 39 weeks leads to fewer emergency Caesareans
It has been thought that inducing labour leads to more C-sections, but a study of over 6,100 women suggests this isn’t the case when induced at 39 weeks. Choosing to induce labour at 39 weeks has been found to reduce the rates of emergency Caesarean deliveries, as well as lowering maternal and fetal complications. Inducing labour has been thought to increase the rate of C-sections, but a study of over 6,100 women from across the USA suggests that inducing at 39 weeks of pregnancy lowers the rate of emergency C-sections by 3 percentage points, down to 19 per cent of deliveries. Women in the study who had inductions also reported experiencing less pain in labour, and a greater sense of control over the labour process. “Safe avoidance of caesarean birth has both immediate and long-term benefits for a woman: women who deliver vaginally have fewer complications,” says William Grobman, at Northwestern University in Chicago, who led the study. The findings are reassuring, says Neena Modi, at Imperial College London. But about half of women start labour at 40 weeks or later. This study doesn’t shed any light on what to do about pregnancies that reach 41 weeks or more, she says. There is a danger that this study could lead to more elective inductions, and an increase in unnecessary medical interference in deliveries, says Modi.
8-8-18 ‘Hey’: short messages are the best dating site strategy, study says
An analysis of online dating has found most users hit on people who are 25 per cent more attractive than them, and that shorter messages have better reply rates. It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man on a dating app will pursue a date with a single word: “hey.” And according to a new study, that may be the best strategy for attracting a partner who is out of your league. Elizabeth Bruch and Mark Newman at the University of Michigan, US, studied the messaging patterns of 94,478 men and 92,457 women on a free online dating website. The users were located in New York, Boston, Chicago and Seattle, all were seeking heterosexual relationships, and their genders were self-identified. They found that women receive more messages than men, and most of the messages sent on the service go to only a small fraction of users. The most popular person in the study was a 30-year-old woman in New York who received 1504 messages during the month-long study period. Bruch and Newman ranked each user’s desirability by the number of initial messages they received, which were themselves weighted by the desirability of the person sending them, using the same kind of maths that is used to rank web pages in a Google search. For men, desirability peaked at around 50 years old, while for women it peaked at 18 and dropped steadily with age. The more education a man had had, the more desirable he was. But with women, an undergraduate degree was the most desirable level of education, and graduate degrees were linked to decreased desirability.
8-8-18 Online dating: Aim high, keep it brief, and be patient
Scientists say the secrets to success in online dating are to aim high, keep your message brief, and be patient. Playing "out of your league" or dating people considered more attractive than you, is a winning strategy, according to a new analysis of internet daters in the US. Men had greater success when they approached women they believed were more desirable than themselves. The new study has been published in the journal, Science Advances. Internet dating has become the dominant form for those seeking romance - it's the third most popular means of meeting a long term partner and around half of all 18-34 year olds now use dating apps. In this new report, scientists used a Google-inspired algorithm to understand the desires of people wanting to match up. They analysed messaging and demographic patterns among heterosexual users in New York, Boston, Chicago and Seattle. They found that both men and women contact potential partners who are, on average, around 25% more desirable than themselves. Your "desirability", they found, is not just about the number of messages that you receive, but who you receive them from. If your messages come from people who have themselves received lots of messages, that makes make you more desirable, according to the study.
7-30-18 Women have more miscarriages than live births over their lifetime
A study that brings together many different findings concludes that miscarriages are even more common than we thought. Most fertilised eggs miscarry rather than develop into healthy babies. However, most miscarriages usually occur very early in pregnancy, without a woman even being aware she was pregnant. A few previous studies have suggested that miscarriages are the most common outcome of conception. Now a meta-analysis claims to have “unambiguously” confirmed it. For women in their 20s, conception is as likely to end in miscarriage as it is in a live birth, says William Rice, an evolutionary biologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara. “It is not an abnormality,” he says. “It’s the norm.” The rate shoots up as women age, with women in their late 40s having more than 30 miscarriages per newborn. “It starts high and it gets extremely high,” says Rice. He combined data from a number of disparate sources to work out the frequency of all miscarriages, including the very early miscarriages that women are not usually aware of. For instance, IVF records reveal how many live births result per embryo implanted. Other studies have looked at how the rate of lethal chromosomal abnormalities in eggs rises as women age. Rice gives two examples. Women in Denmark, who have free access to birth control and elective abortions up to 12 weeks, have 1.7 children on average. These women have 2.1 miscarriages in their lifetime on average, Rice calculates, along with 0.4 elective abortions. By contrast, frontier Mormon women in the US in the 19th century, who had no birth control and an average of eight children each, had an average of 16.8 miscarriages in their lifetime, he calculates.
7-28-18 Midwife training centre attacked in Afghanistan's Jalalabad
An Afghan midwife training centre has come under attack by militants, with at least three people injured. The attackers set off explosives and fired gunshots at the centre in Jalalabad, Nangarhar province. Most students and midwives have been rescued, but others are missing, with fears they could be trapped inside. No group has yet said it is behind the attack, although Islamic State militants have claimed several recent attacks in the eastern province. The Taliban have denied any involvement. The attack began at around 11:30 local time (07:00 GMT) on Saturday, provincial spokesman Attaullah Khogyani said. "The Afghan security forces have cordoned off the area and [have] launched an operation to gun down the attackers," he added. Local officials told the BBC's Afghan service that about 70 employees and students were in the compound when the attack began. At least 57 have been evacuated, but others are still unaccounted for, the authorities say. An eyewitness told AFP that the attackers appeared to have placed explosive devices in the street near the complex. It is not clear why the midwife training centre was targeted. However, militants often choose official buildings and medical facilities for their attacks, and many Afghans are opposed to unmarried women working outside their homes. More than 50% of births in Afghanistan take place without a trained midwife. The country has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world - 396 deaths per 100,000 live births - well above the global average of 216 deaths. (Webmaster's comment: The rate in the EU is 8 deaths per 100,000. The rate in the US is 28 deaths per 100,000 - the highest in the developed world.)
7-28-18 The plight of India's surrogate mothers
Once a world leader for commercial surrogacy, the country is now tightening controls. Outside of a maternity ward, a young man and woman are bent over a phone. A few minutes ago, a nurse beckoned them over and ushered them in through a closed door. They came back out smiling. On the phone is the photo of a newborn baby girl. She's in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit; these are her parents in the waiting area, and her birth mother, or gestational carrier, is in the ward, getting some much-needed sleep. Since the '90s, couples and single people, gay and straight, have been coming to India to hire surrogates to have their babies. And here, at the Akanksha Hospital in Anand, Gujarat, founder Dr. Nayana Patel has assisted in the birth of nearly 13,000 babies via surrogacy. Surrogacy is reported to bring $400 million every year to the Indian economy. Doctors in even the smallest towns assist in it, but a few towns like Anand have turned it into big business. Here, fertility clinics not only assist in surrogacy — they also keep a rotating roster of surrogates in all stages of pregnancy, right on the premises. Women come from all over the country, and for nine months, they live in a dorm away from their families and carry a stranger's child to term. "It was always my dream to practice infertility and make from patients to parents," Patel says. She started IVF training in the '90s, when it was still a nascent field and set up a fertility center in 1999. "But I never thought of doing surrogacy because even I felt that how can somebody carry somebody's child and just hand it over," Patel says. "Is it correct?" Then, she got a letter from an Indian woman in the U.K. who was born without a uterus. The woman and her husband sought surrogacy. They tried in the U.K. and couldn't find a surrogate. So they turned to Patel, who said she'd help them if they found their own surrogate. After a futile search that lasted for months, the girl's mother agreed to carry her daughter's baby. As Asia's first grandmother surrogacy, the media attention brought an outpouring of letters to Patel. In India, perhaps even more than other parts of the world, having a child — and particularly a male child — is a big part of marriage. For many people who have an arranged marriage, having a male heir is the main reason they tie the knot. Patel started to hear from couples who couldn't conceive and was moved by their stories. "It made me think, 'What could happen to their marriages?'" Patel says. "Either they live a childless life or there is a divorce or a second wife sometimes. Or she's totally depressed and tries a suicide attempt." So, she started Akanksha, which translates to "desire." The clinic has now grown into a full hospital.
7-27-18 Drug to treat endometriosis pain first to be approved in over a decade
A new drug relieves pelvic pain in women with endometriosis, but is expensive and can cause side-effects like hot flushes, headaches and nausea. A pill for treating endometriosis-related pain will soon become available after being approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. Endometriosis occurs when tissue from the uterus spreads to other parts of the body, usually within the pelvis. It can cause severe pelvic pain during menstruation, sex, or all the time, and affects up to one in ten young women. At the moment, endometriosis-related pain is normally managed with common painkillers, contraceptives that shorten or suppress menstruation, or injectable hormone treatments. For many women with endometriosis, these treatments either don’t work, trigger side-effects like weight gain or moodiness, or can only be taken for short periods due to their effect on bone density. The newly-approved drug – elagolix – can be taken for longer, but it does have several side-effects. In a placebo-controlled clinical trial involving almost 900 women with moderate to severe endometriosis pain, elagolix reduced menstrual pain in over 40 per cent of patients and non-menstrual pelvic pain in over 50 per cent when taken as a once-daily pill. It also reduced average pain ratings during sex. The drug works by reducing oestrogen – the hormone that drives endometriosis. Because it only lowers oestrogen slightly, it can be taken for up to two years. In contrast, injectable hormone treatments can only be taken for 6 months because they lower oestrogen more powerfully and cause bone loss.
7-5-18 Slight Preference for Having Boy Children Persists in U.S.
Americans' long-standing tilt toward preferring a boy over a girl if they could have only one child continues. Thirty-six percent of Americans say they would want a boy and 28% a girl, with the rest -- 36% -- volunteering that it wouldn't matter or that they don't have an opinion. Gallup has asked this question 11 times since 1941, with an average 11-percentage-point gap in preferences for boys over girls -- ranging from a 15-point gap in 1947 and 2000 to four points in 1990. The current eight-point preference for a boy, from a June 1-13 poll, is slightly lower than the 12-point gap in Gallup's last measure, from 2011. The 77-year-long tendency for American adults to express overall preferences for a boy over a girl is driven by the marked preference among men for a baby boy and the more closely divided preferences among women. Men, over the years of Gallup's trend, have preferred a boy over a girl by an average of 25 points, while women have averaged a slight three-point preference for a girl.
- Preference for boys over girls has averaged 11-point margin since 1941
- Men are strong in their preference for a male child, 43% to 24%
- Women have divided preferences: 31% want a girl; 30%, a boy