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 Nicole Dubowitz
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
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.
By Meagan Morse
I’ve never confined myself to traditional gender roles. In fact, I take active pleasure in defying them, and have since before I realized that’s what I was doing. When I was in elementary school (and, to be honest, still to this day) I loved to flex my biceps and prove myself stronger than the boys who interpreted my slight frame as a sign that I was weak. I was proud to be the “best man” at my brother’s wedding; and if the men I date don’t like that I ask them out, buy them flowers, and serenade them beneath their bedroom windows, then they aren’t worth my time.
A recent assessment found 20% of seniors receive an “inappropriate” prescription, including drugs with higher complication rates than equally effective alternatives; drugs that are insufficient to treat the patient’s problem; and drugs that are under-, over-, or mis-prescribed. The 19 studies analyzed assessed prescriptions for seniors living on their own (i.e., not in assisted living facilities or nursing homes, where the rate has been found to be even higher). The four most commonly inappropriately prescribed medications were, the pain-reliever propoxyphene (Darvon); the beta-blocker doxazosin (Cardura); the antihistamine Diphenhydramine (Benadryl); and the antidepressant amitriptiline (Elavil, Endep, Vanatrip). Seniors are more likely to take multiple medications, so inappropriate prescribing increases the risk of harmful drug interactions and serious side effects. The authors recommend using electronic decision-making tools to track patients’ medical histories and medications, detect inappropriate prescriptions, and avoid dangerous drug interactions.
PLos ONE, August 2012
Ezra joined the Network last summer as our Membership Coordinator, and is responsible for ensuring the smooth administration of NWHN’s membership services. Ezra has focused on data entry, database management, direct marketing to organizational members, and customer service for over 10 years. Ezra has worked at progressive feminist and LGBT non-profit organizations in the DC metropolitan area since 2001, including the National Organization for Women, the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) Pro-Choice America, the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
By Rachel Walden
Autism’s cause is the subject of fierce, emotionally charged, and often unscientific debate. The current medical view is that many interacting genes play a role in autism spectrum disorders (ASD), possibly in concert with environmental factors.i Over the years, many alternative theories have been proposed outside of the literature on reputable scientific research. Probably the most well-known is the now-discredited vaccine theory,ii which suggested that immunizing children — especially with the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine —caused autism. Although the MMR theory is now known to have been based on fraudulent (and since retracted) research,iii it’s caused parents a lot of confusion and anxiety over the last few decades.iv
By Keely Monroe
By Kira S. Jones
If you’re a person living with a disability, you may find it relatively easy to arrange for help to brush your teeth, shower, get dressed or eat a meal. But what about your sexual needs? What happens when you need help to have sex, or to masturbate? Sexuality is so intimate, it’s hard to imagine how you might ask for this kind of assistance. To be honest, it’s a conversation most abled-bodied people aren’t even sure how to begin.
By Turner Willman