Newsletter The Women’s Health Activist® is a bimonthly publication of the National Women’s Health Network. We’d like to hear from you. Please e-mail questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Rebecca Spence
In January, the U.S. women’s health movement celebrated the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, which gave women the right to legal abortion. In the decades since Roe, health activists have focused on advocating for reproductive justice, which demands that women have the right to be parents — as well as the right not to parent — and to decide where, with whom, and how we give birth. Reproductive justice includes the rights to accept or refuse any type of maternity care and to access this care from respectful and culturally appropriate providers — which are essential for women to be able to make the best decisions for themselves and their families.
Trans men's Health is a “Women’s Health” Issue: Expanding the Boundaries of Sexual & Reproductive Health Care
By E. Cameron Hartofelis, MA(c), MPH(c) and Anu Manchikanti Gomez, PhD, MSc
During the 2012 elections, Vice President Joe Biden called transgender discrimination, “the civil rights issue of our time.” While this is a sign that transgender rights are garnering national attention, the population continues to face many obstacles in accessing needed health care. In particular, transgender men (or “trans men”) face significant barriers to accessing sexual and reproductive health care.
By Amy Laskowske
When I was 19, I was blindsided by getting an osteoporosis diagnosis. The first images that came to my mind were of an unhealthy woman, who was not knowledgeable about her health, and who was sickly looking. At the time, I was a successful runner just beginning an exciting career as a Division I collegiate athlete. I was a good student and was conscious about my health because my success as a student-athlete depended on it! But, I also prioritized my immediate goals and short-term success over my long-term health. I ignored the advice to do “everything in moderation” — and had to deal with the consequences.
January 1, 2013, marked a new day in preventive health services coverage for many women! The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires that all new private insurance plans cover key women’s preventive health services without additional costs like co-pays. This rule applies to new plans, as well as to on-going insurance plans’ new coverage periods. Because most plans’ coverage periods start at the beginning of the calendar year, many women gained access to these important services without co-pays in January.
By Rachel Walden
The National Women’s Health Network has long argued for stricter regulation and elimination of direct-to-consumer (DTC) drug advertising due to its tendency to overstate drugs’ benefits and understate risks in order to increase pharmaceutical companies’ profits. A Kaiser Family Foundation analysis found that every $1 the pharmaceutical industry spends on DTC advertising yields $4.20 in drug sales, and that DTC ads are responsible for 12 percent ($2.6 billion) of the total growth in drug spending in 2000.i
There seems to be no limit to what you can use a smart phone for these days! A new app gives people a way to share their sexually transmitted infection (STI) status through what the developer calls “safe bumping.” Mobile users can touch (“bump”) their mobile phones together and instantly exchange information about their STD status. The MedXcom app also encourages users to get STD tests; allows your doctor to post that a person is STD-free on the app; and provides a way for people with an STD to track their treatment plan, medications, and appointments.
On Thursday, October 18, NWHN supporters gathered at Elizabeth’s on L in Washington, DC for the 5th Annual Barbara Seaman Awards for Activism in Women’s Health. This year’s theme was Celebrating Changemakers, honoring two women who have qualitatively transformed the way social justice is done.
By Nicole Dubowitz
By her early 30s, bone disease had deteriorated Katie Korgaokar’s hip so, in 2006, she had surgery to get a DePuy ASRTM metal-on-metal prosthetic hip replacement. The new metal hip prosthesis had been hailed as an innovation that would be more durable, and enable Katie to have more mobility, than a traditional plastic prosthesis. In 2010, however, the ASRTM hip device was recalled when it was found that the metal’s wear and tear released toxic metal debris into patients’ bodies. Katie had to have a painful surgical procedure to replace her hip with a non-metal device. What Katie didn’t know when the ASRTM model was recommended to her was that her surgeon had received over $600,000 in consulting income from DePuy, which may have influenced his decision to use that particular type of hip replacement.i
By Cindy Pearson
Shortly before the end of 2012, in one whirlwind 24-hour period, I got a chance to talk to both President Obama and to Kathleen Sebelius, the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Both of these opportunities came during holiday parties: one at the White House and one in HHS’s DC headquarters.
By Debra L. Ness
They call us the “Sandwich Generation,” which sounds kind of nice. After all, who doesn’t like a good sandwich? But that phrase obscures a reality that virtually every woman either faces today or will face tomorrow: caring for herself while simultaneously looking after her children, parents, in-laws and, sometimes, grandparents. All this while coping with a challenging economy and a health care system that fails to consistently deliver high-quality, well-coordinated care.
By Brittnee Hawkins
In our health care system, too often, decisions and power are automatically placed in doctors’ hands, rather than in patients’. At the beginning of my college career, this was certainly true for me: I would never think to challenge my doctor or ask questions; instead, I would take her for her word. She had the medical degree. She had my best interest in mind. She knew what test to do…and how to interpret my results. How could I do this on my own? I didn’t become an active participant in my sexual and reproductive health until my doctor incorrectly told me that I had tested positive for a sexually transmitted infection (STI).
40th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade
Forty years ago, when a woman realized that she needed an abortion, her ability to get a safe procedure depended on where she lived and how much money she had.
Forty years later, with abortion legal in all U.S. states thanks to the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, a woman can much more easily get a safe procedure.
But not always – many women face the barriers like medically unnecessary procedures imposed by state legislatures.
By Charlea Massion and Adriene Fugh-Berman
We all know that some pharmaceutical companies put their own corporate profits ahead of patient safety. But, those companies don’t have a lock on this behavior — here’s an example of a medical device company that has also compromised patient safety.
Almost 80 percent of teenage pregnancies in the US are unplanned, and most of these are the result of failure of or lack of contraception – so it’s a good thing women have access to Emergency Contraception (EC)! The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) just released a policy statement that EC is safe and effective for teens and that pediatricians should make sure that sexually active girls have advance prescriptions in case they need EC. Hopefully AAP members will heed this call and make sure that teens have EC on hand.
By Kate Ryan and Amy Allina
Heart-shaped pubic patch? Take it all off? Vajazzle it with sequins? Deodorant? Bleach? Cosmetic surgery? There’s an astounding range of products and services available these days for changing the appearance of female genitals. Take to the Internet and you’ll find both discussion and debate about these practices. The discussion includes pros and cons of various techniques; reviews of, shall we say, stylists and practitioners in your area; and DIY (do-it-yourself) instructions and tips. The debate often comes down to two questions: is it feminist? And, is it harmful to your health?
By Cindy Pearson, NWHN's Executive Director
Can you imagine swimming the English Channel? I certainly can’t. I used to enjoy running long-ish road races when I lived in Southern California, but there’s no comparison between jogging for 2-3 hours and swimming through open water for over 14 hours. But, in 1926, a young woman named Trudy Erdele had the courage to try what no woman had ever accomplished. Erdele was a skilled swimmer who won medals in the 100- and 400-meter events at the 1924 Olympics. She knew she was strong and could see a race through to the end – when the race was in an indoor pool and was over in a few minutes. How did she know she could complete a swimming challenge that was over 20 miles long…when she couldn’t see the finish line (land) for most of the way?
Hot flashes, the most common symptom of menopause, are probably the one that aggravates women the most. While some women never have hot flashes and others have mild or infrequent hot flashes, some women experience dozens each day. Severe hot flashes can make it difficult to get a full night’s sleep, which, in turn, affects women’s mood and concentration, and can cause other physical problems.