Pelvic health concerns in women are common -- yet how the issues impact sexuality and childbearing is not often discussed, according to Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource. The February issue features an overview of pelvic health problems, risk factors, causes and treatment options. The key recommendation is that women should talk to their doctors about pelvic health concerns because several treatment options, including physical therapy, can help. The pelvic floor holds in place the uterus, bladder and rectum. Over time, the pelvic floor may stretch, weaken or become excessively tense. The tension or loss of support can lead to pain, bladder and bowel problems, pain during sexual intercourse and other symptoms. Factors that may contribute to pelvic floor concerns include childbirth, obesity, menopause, stress, straining during bowel movements and older age. Half of women over age 50 experience pelvic floor weakening. Several types of treatment can provide relief for pelvic floor disorders.
Breast cancer rates are declining, but some groups have seen a more significant decline than others, with race, ethnicity and economic background playing a part. According to a new national study, the only significant decline in breast cancer rates occurred among white, non-Hispanic women, 50 and older, who live in affluent countries and who have the kind of tumors that an estrogen-rich environment will nourish. Breast cancer rates declined by as much as 10 percent annually in this group. The study, which appears online and in the April supplement of the American Journal of Public Health, relied on data obtained from 13 U.S. population-based cancer registries for 1992 to 2005, and analyzed trends among 350, 000 cases, looking at race/ethnicity and socioeconomic position, as well as age at diagnosis and breast cancer tumor characteristics. In 2002, the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) study prompted many doctors to stop prescribing hormone therapy when the findings contradicted the previously held assumption that estrogen/progestin replacement therapy would lower a woman's risk of heart disease.
Although a recent study found that sex education emphasizing abstinence "may work better" than other models, "chastity zealots might want to hold off on the celebrations, " Los Angeles Times columnist Sandy Banks writes. She notes that according to the study's authors, the curriculum "was designed to be 'not moralistic'" and "stressed the health risks of sex and taught students how to resist peer pressure." Banks writes that while the curriculum "strikes me as a common-sense approach for kids so young they can imagine getting sick better than they can envision getting pregnant, " what "shocked me most was not that abstinence classes helped delay the start of sex -- but that it was too late for so many of these middle-school students." According to the study, one in four of the study's 12-year-old participants was sexually active before the class began. Other research "suggests that 12% to 20% of middle-schoolers around the country are sexually active, " Banks writes. "These are kids who just finished those embarrassingly blunt fifth-grade classes about penises and ovaries, egg and sperm, body odor and underarm hair, " Bans continues, adding, "Now we find out what they really need is information about oral sex, pregnancy and HIV .
Research conducted by the President of the American College of Sports Medicine and colleagues shows many doctors aren't sure what to tell their pregnant patients about exercise. ACSM President James Pivarnik, Ph.D., FACSM, and colleagues Patricia Bauer, Ph.D., and Cliff Broman, Ph.D., surveyed 93 M.D.s, D.O.s (doctors of osteopathy ) and Certified Nurse Midwives about their knowledge of exercise recommendations for pregnant women. Although nearly all respondents - 99 percent - believed exercise was good for their expecting patients, 60 percent of M.D.s and 86 percent of D.O.s weren't familiar with pregnancy exercise guidelines. The results of the survey were published in the Journal of Women's Health. "Study after study has shown exercise to be beneficial for both mother and baby, but some doctors seem reluctant to trust that body of evidence, " said Pivarnik, author of a 2006 ACSM Roundtable Consensus Statement on the Impact of Physical Activity during Pregnancy and Postpartum on Chronic Disease Risk.
The death toll from the Jan. 12 earthquake in Haiti has risen to 230, 000, Marie-Laurence Jocelyn Lassegue, the country's communications minister, said on Tuesday, the Associated Press reports. She said the new number is only an estimate and it does not include people who had private burials and were buried by family members. The death toll is higher than the previous estimate of 212, 000 and the government says some bodies still have not been counted (2/9). "The new figure gives the quake the same death toll as the 2004 Asian tsunami. It comes as aid groups warned that disease could kill hundreds more in the second phase of the country's medical emergency, " the Telegraph reports (2/10). According to a second AP article, "The second stage of Haiti's medical emergency has begun, with diarrheal illnesses, acute respiratory infections and malnutrition beginning to claim lives by the dozen." The article looks at deaths and health risks since the earthquake. Although there has not yet been an outbreak of infectious diseases, health officials are concerned about epidemics, the news service writes.
The following summarizes recent action on state legislation related to abortion rights and sex education programs. ~ Kentucky: During a rally at the Kentucky Capitol on Wednesday, antiabortion-rights advocates urged lawmakers to support a bill ( SB 38 ) that would require a woman seeking an abortion to undergo an ultrasound and obtain counseling 24 hours before the procedure, the Louisville Courier-Journal reports. The bill passed the state Senate Jan. 25 and is pending in the state House Health and Welfare Committee. In 2009, a similar bill died in the committee after a tie vote (Yetter, Louisville Courier-Journal, 2/4). Meanwhile, advocates for sex education in public schools rallied at the Capitol on Thursday to advocate for a bill ( HB 119 ) that would require a science-based curriculum for teaching sex education, the AP/Lexington-Herald Leader reports. Although the bill does not require that schools teach sex education, it would require that such curricula include age-appropriate, culturally sensitive and medically accurate information ( AP/Lexington Herald-Leader, 2/5).
Also In Global Health News: Pakistan IDPs; HIV And Herpes; Ending FGM; WFP Budget In Afghanistan; Cholera In PNG
U.N. Launches $538M Aid Appeal For Displaced Persons In Pakistan The U.N. launched an international appeal Tuesday, calling for $538 million to provide aid in Pakistan for "hundreds of thousands of people displace[d] by army clashes against the Taliban, " the Associated Press/Washington Post reports (Toosi, 2/9). Agence France-Presse writes: "The appeal focuses on funds needed to implement the Pakistan Humanitarian Response Plan (PHRP) 2010, which the United Nations, international and local aid groups have drawn up with the cash-strapped Pakistan government." Martin Mogwanja, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Pakistan, said, "Considering that the number of IDPs (Internally Displaced People) from Orakzai agency has risen nearly tenfold in the last two months, the emergency in Pakistan seems far from over" (Gilani, 2/9). Herpes Drug That Lowers HIV Virus In Patients' Blood Does Not Reduce Transmission Rates, Study Finds "Treating herpes in people who are also infected with HIV does not reduce the chances that they will pass on the AIDS virus, " according to a study published last week in the New England Journal of Medicine, the New York Times reports.
MAC AIDS Fund Survey Reveals 73 Percent Of Women Unaware Of Their Current HIV Status False Sense Of Security Prevents Most Women From Taking Control
The MAC AIDS Fund (MAF) launched its latest VIVA GLAM campaign, a women's initiative aimed at strengthening the service network and resources available to women living with and at risk of contracting HIV. MAF commissioned nationwide surveys to gauge perceptions of HIV/AIDS and its impact on women through the lens of the American consumer and nation's leading experts. This side-by-side comparison was a crucial step in assessing key areas fueling the spread of HIV/AIDS in women and outlining potential solutions. As a result of the startling finds, MAF is supporting programs in the United States, Canada and internationally with a commitment of more than $2.5 million. The campaign, spearheaded by new VIVA GLAM spokespersons Lady Gaga and Cyndi Lauper will issue a call to action for women to take control of their sex lives. Survey highlights include: -- Seventy-three percent of American women likely don't know their current HIV status. -- Fifty-eight percent of women say they aren't routinely tested for HIV/AIDS because they either were or are in a monogamous relationship.
The Society of Gynecologic Oncologists (SGO) will host its 41st Annual Meeting on Women's Cancer March 14-17, 2010 at the Moscone West Convention Center in San Francisco, California. This year's meeting will feature more than 434 scientific presentations in addition to lectures, workshops, symposia and postgraduate courses that focus on emerging science, clinical trials and treatment advances for physicians and health care professionals in the field of gynecologic oncology. This year's meeting attracted 839 research and clinical trial abstracts submitted from all over the world the most submitted since the Annual Meeting's inception in 1969. The comprehensive, broad range of educational programming offered at the Annual Meeting mirrors the core competencies of gynecologic oncologists -- surgical disease management, medical/oncologic/radio-therapeutic treatment, preventative medicine and scientific research. The meeting traditionally attracts medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, obstetrician/gynecologists, oncology nurses and allied health professionals who comprise the medical care team treating women with gynecologic malignancies.
Endometrial cancer is the most common cancer of the female reproductive tract, representing 6% of all cancers. There is currently no screening method or biomarker to indicate early presence of disease. "It is a very common malignancy that affects women of all ages" comments paper author Dr. Diego Castrillon. The cancer forms from the cells that grow along the inner lining of the uterus, which is called the endometrium, and usually it is diagnosed following patient reports of abnormal bleeding. The normal endometrium is a dynamic place, providing a thick, highly vascularized environment ready to generate a placenta if it is implanted with an embryo. The dynamic and cyclic activity of the endometrium makes it very sensitive to signaling molecules. Early changes in a number of signaling proteins are known to contribute to endometrial cancer in some patients. A major research goal is to understand how signals create cancer cells and to identify places where intervention might shut down the signals that promote cancer cell survival and growth.