Category Archives: Female Reproductive System

Abortion foes dive in clinic dumpsters for discarded records

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Dumpster-nonBy Charles Ornstein ProPublica
This story was co-published with NPR’s Shots blog.

The scene in front of abortion clinics is often tense, with clinic workers escorting patients past activists waving signs and taking photographs.

But increasingly, another drama is unfolding out back. There, abortion opponents dig through the trash in search of patient information.

Using garbage as their ammunition, anti-abortion activists who have sometimes been accused of violating abortion seekers’ privacy are turning the tables. They claim it’s the clinics that are violating patients’ privacy by discarding medical records in unsecured ways.

“Everybody acts like the abortion clinics are this bastion of protection for women’s privacy, and they’re like the chief offenders of just dumping this stuff willy-nilly,” said Cheryl Sullenger, senior policy advisor at Operation Rescue, an anti-abortion group based in Wichita, Kansas. “It’s so hypocritical.”

Abortion rights groups counter that while a small number of clinics have improperly disposed of records, the vast majority take strict precautions to protect patient privacy. It’s far more common, they say, for abortion opponents to trespass on private property or try to break into locked dumpsters.

PHOTONiteowlneils at the English language Wikipedia under Creative Commons license Continue reading

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Are you pregnant?

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Pregnancy: A Touchy Subject In Employee Wellness Assessments

“Are you pregnant?”

PregnancyBy Julie Appleby
KHN

It’s a topic employers generally avoid, since the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 prohibited sex discrimination on the basis of pregnancy.

But women’s advocates fear these long-standing protections could be undermined by some workplace wellness programs.

That question and “How old were you when you first became pregnant?” are both included in a health risk assessment offered to some clients of Audax Health, a wellness firm.

“How old were you when you first became pregnant?”

Similar queries are posed in health risk assessments offered by other wellness programs, say consumer groups, including the National Women’s Law Center.

“These are questions they should not ask,” because of the potential for discrimination, said Emily Martin, vice president and senior counsel for the NWLC,  in a letter to the Obama administration asking for a ban on such questions in wellness programs. Continue reading

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Fetal tissue attack is latest tactic in long GOP fight against Planned Parenthood

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Logo_plannedparenthoodBy Julie Rovner
KHN

Republican calls to defund Planned Parenthood over its alleged handling of fetal tissue for research are louder than ever. But they are just the latest in a decades-long drive to halt federal support for the group.

This round of attacks aims squarely at the collection of fetal tissue, an issue that had been mostly settled — with broad bipartisan support —  in the early 1990s. Among those who voted to allow federal funding for fetal tissue research was now-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

McConnell made no mention of his previous position when he announced that the Senate would take up a bill to cut off Planned Parenthood’s access to federal funds before leaving for its summer break. The first vote on the bill is expected as soon as Monday. Continue reading

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States reluctant to regulate fertility services

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IVF egg thumbBy Michael Ollove
KHN

The Utah legislature took a step last week into territory where state lawmakers rarely tread.

It passed a law giving children conceived via sperm donation access to the medical histories of their biological fathers. The law itself stirred no controversy. The oddity was that the legislature ventured into the area of “assisted reproduction” at all.

Assisted reproductive technology (ART) helps infertile couples to conceive. Compared to many other industrialized nations, neither the U.S. nor state governments do much to oversee the multibillion-dollar industry.

“The United States is the Wild West of the fertility industry.”

“The United States is the Wild West of the fertility industry,” Marcy Darnovsky, executive director of the Center for Genetics and Society said, echoing a description used by many critics of the regulatory environment surrounding ART. Continue reading

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Low-cost, long-acting contraceptives cut teen pregnancy, abortion rates

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A diagram showing a hormonal IUD in the uterusBy Lisa Gillespie
KHN / OCTOBER 1ST, 2014

Teenage girls who are given access to long-acting contraceptives such as IUDs or hormonal implants at no cost are less likely to become pregnant, according to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine released Wednesday.

The findings come just two days after the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that health providers should consider IUDs and implants first when discussing contraception choices with teen girls.

Young women with access to these methods at no cost were almost five times less likely to get pregnant, five times less likely to give birth and four times less likely to have an abortion.

Although there are not as many teenage pregnancies as there once were — rates have been cut by more than half since 1991 — they still pose serious public health issues because of the costs associated with child birth and public assistance for young mothers.

These pregnancies can also stunt education and income opportunities for teenage moms.

Each year, 750,000 teenage girls become pregnant, and 80 percent of those pregnancies are unintended. Continue reading

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Women’s health – week 52: Vulvodynia

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From the Office of Research on Women’s Health

tacuin womenVulvodynia is chronic (long-term) pain or discomfort of the vulva. The vulva is the area of the female genitals surrounding the vaginal opening and includes the labia, the vestibule, and the perineum.

Some women refer to it as “the pain down there” or as “feminine pain.”

Women with vulvodynia often experience burning, stinging, irritation, rawness, or stabbing pain in their genitals, with no apparent explanation.

As many as 18 percent of women will experience symptoms consistent with vulvodynia.

The pain or discomfort can be chronic or intermittent, and generalized or localized to one area
of the vulva. Some women also report itching.

For many women, sexual intercourse, inserting tampons, or wearing clothes are very uncomfortable or painful. Continue reading

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Women’s health – week 50: Uterine Fibroids

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tacuin womenFor the Office of Research on Women’s Health

Uterine fibroids 

Uterine fibroids are very common in women of childbearing age. Fibroids are noncancerous tumors that grow within the wall of the uterus.

Fibroids may grow as a single tumor or in clusters. A single fibroid can be less than one inch in size or can grow to eight inches across or more.

Most fibroids grow within the wall of the uterus.

Fibroids are described based on where they grow: Continue reading

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Women’s health – Week 45: Sexually transmitted infections

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tacuin womenFrom the Office of Research on Women’s HealthSexually

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs): also commonly called sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), are infections you can get by having sex with someone who has an infection. Continue reading

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Women’s Health – Week 44: Puberty

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tacuin womenFrom the Office of Research on Women’s Health

Puberty is the set of physical changes that occur when a person becomes sexually mature. Puberty usually occurs between ages 10 and 14 for girls and ages 12 and 16 for boys.

In girls, the first sign of puberty is often breast development. Other signs are the growth of hair in the pubic area and in the armpits. Sometimes acne appears and, eventually, menstruation begins. Continue reading

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Women’s Health – Week 43: Endometriosis

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tacuin womenFrom the Office of Research on Women’s Health

Endometriosis occurs when tissues that are like the lining of the uterus grow on surfaces of organs in the pelvis or abdomen. Endometriosis may affect a woman’s ability to become pregnant. The two most common symptoms of endometriosis are pain and infertility.

Symptoms can include:

Continue reading

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Women’s Health – Week 42: Overview of the Reproductive System

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tacuin womenFrom the Office of Research on Women’s Health

Overview of the reproductive system A healthy reproductive system is an important part of a woman’s overall health.

Your reproductive health is influenced by many factors – these include age, lifestyle, habits, genetics, medicines, and exposure to chemicals in the environment.

The female reproductive system contains two main parts: internal and external. Continue reading

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Women’s Health – Week 40: Pregnancy, exercise and weight

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tacuin womenFrom the Office of Research on Women’s Health

Exercise It is a good idea to start a regular exercise program before you become pregnant, and continue to be physically active throughout your pregnancy.

Ask your health care provider about the level of exercise that is safe for you. Regular, moderate-intensity physical activity during pregnancy may:

  • Help your baby to grow to a healthy weight.
  • Reduce the discomforts of pregnancy, such as backaches, leg cramps, constipation, bloating, and swelling.
  • Lessen your risk for gestational diabetes(diabetes during pregnancy, see Week 18).
  • Improve your mood, energy level, and sleep.
  • Help you have an easier, shorter labor, recover from delivery faster, and achieve or maintain a healthy weight.

Follow these safety tips for activity during your pregnancy: Continue reading

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Women’s Health – Week 36: Pelvic Floor Disorders

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tacuin womenFrom the Office of Research on Women’s Health

The term pelvic floor refers to the group of muscles and connective tissue that form a sling or hammock across the opening of a woman’s pelvis.

These muscles and tissues keep all of your pelvic organs in place so that the organs can function correctly.

A pelvic floor disorder occurs when your pelvic muscles and connective tissue in the pelvis is weak due to factors such as genetics, injury, or aging. Continue reading

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