Category Archives: Female Reproductive System

Even as birth rates fall, teens say they are getting less sex education

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By Michelle Andrews
Kaiser Health News

Teenage girls are catching up to teenage boys in one way that does no one any good: lack of sex education, according to a recent report.

The proportion of teenage girls between the ages of 15 and 19 who were taught about birth control methods declined from 70 to 60 percent over two time periods, from 2006-2010 and 2011-2013, the analysis of federal data found.

Meanwhile, the percentage of teenage boys in the same age group who were taught about birth control also declined, from 61 to 55 percent.

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“Historically there’s been a disparity between men and women in the receipt of sex education,” said Isaac Maddow-Zimet, a coauthor of the study and a research associate at the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health research and advocacy group. “It’s now narrowing, but in the worst way.”

The study, which was published online in the Journal of Adolescent Health in March, analyzed responses during the two time periods from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Survey for Family Growth, a continuous national household survey of women and men between the ages of 15 and 44.

In addition to questions about birth control methods, the study asked teens whether they had received formal instruction at their schools, churches, community centers or elsewhere about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), how to say no to sex or how to prevent HIV/AIDS.

Overall, 43 percent of teenage girls and 57 percent of teenage boys said in the most recent time frame that they hadn’t received any information about birth control before they had sex for the first time. Continue reading

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Study Finds HPV Vaccine Has Lowered Number Of Women With Disease

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The HPV vaccine has lowered the number of women with HPV, a sexually transmitted disease that can lead to cancer, according to a study in the journal Pediatrics. NPR’s Audie Cornish talks to Dr. Joseph Bocchini from Louisiana State University to get his read on the results.

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CDC warns of the danger of drinking while pregnant

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From the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Alcohol and Pregnancy

Why Take the Risk?

An estimated 3.3 million US women between the ages of 15 and 44 years are at risk for exposing their developing baby to alcohol because they are drinking, sexually active, and not using birth control to prevent pregnancy, according to a new CDC Vital Signs report.

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The report also found that 3 in 4 women who want to get pregnant as soon as possible do not stop drinking alcohol.

  • Alcohol use during pregnancy, even within the first few weeks and before a woman knows she is pregnant, can cause lasting physical, behavioral, and intellectual disabilities that can last for a child’s lifetime. These disabilities are known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs). There is no known safe amount of alcohol – even beer or wine – that is safe for a woman to drink at any stage of pregnancy.
  • About half of all pregnancies in the US are unplanned and, even if planned, most women will not know they are pregnant until they are 4-6 weeks into the pregnancy when they still might be drinking.

Every woman who is pregnant or trying to get pregnant – and her partner – want a healthy baby. But they may not be aware that drinking alcohol at any stage of pregnancy can cause a range of disabilities for their child.

It is critical for healthcare providers to assess a woman’s drinking habits during routine medical visits; advise her not to drink at all if she is pregnant, trying to get pregnant, sexually active, and not using birth control; and recommend services if she needs help to stop drinking.

For this Vital Signs report, scientists from CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities analyzed data from the 2011–2013 National Survey of Family Growth, which gathers information on family life, marriage, divorce, pregnancy, infertility, use of birth control, and men’s and women’s health.

National estimates of alcohol-exposed pregnancy were calculated among 4,303 non-pregnant, non-sterile women aged 15–44 years.

A woman was considered to be at risk for an alcohol-exposed pregnancy if she was not sterile, her partner was not known to be sterile, and she had vaginal sex with a male, drank any alcohol, and did not use birth control in the past month.

Women can:

  • Talk with their healthcare provider about their plans for pregnancy, their alcohol use, and ways to prevent pregnancy if they are not planning to get pregnant.
  • Stop drinking alcohol if they are trying to get pregnant or could get pregnant.
  • Ask their partner, family, and friends to support their choice not to drink during pregnancy or while trying to get pregnant.
  • Ask their healthcare provider or another trusted individual about resources for help if they cannot stop drinking on their own.

Healthcare providers can:

  • Screen all adult patients for alcohol use at least yearly.
  • Advise women not to drink at all if there is any chance they could be pregnant.
  • Counsel, refer, and follow up with patients who need more help.
  • Use the correct billing codes so that alcohol screening and counseling is reimbursable.

FASDs are completely preventable if a woman does not drink alcohol during pregnancy.

Continue reading

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Trying to conceive after a pregnancy loss — NIH

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Blue Pregnant BellyFrom the National Institutes of Health

A pregnancy loss, also called miscarriage or spontaneous abortion, is the unexpected loss of a fetus before the 20th week of pregnancy. After such a loss, many doctors recommend that couples wait at least 3 months before conceiving again.

The World Health Organization recommends waiting at least 6 months. However, there’s little evidence to support such delays.

At a Glance

  • Researchers found no evidence to support the idea that couples should wait for 3 months after an uncomplicated early pregnancy loss before trying to conceive.
  • For those who are emotionally ready, the common recommendation to wait at least 3 months after a loss may be too conservative.

A research team led by Dr. Enrique Schisterman at NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) investigated the link between how long couples waited after an early pregnancy loss before trying to conceive again and their success in achieving live births.

The team analyzed data from a trial that took place from 2007 to 2011. The trial’s primary goal was to evaluate the effect of daily low-dose aspirin on reproductive outcomes in women, ages 18 to 40 years, with a history of pregnancy loss.

The participants were followed for up to 6 menstrual cycles and, if they became pregnant, until the outcome of their pregnancy was known. The investigators examined data from more than 1,000 of these women.

Their analysis excluded women with pregnancy complications known to require longer follow-up care. Results were published online on January 7, 2016, in Obstetrics & Gynecology.

The researchers found that more than 76% of the women began trying to conceive within 3 months after losing a pregnancy. Compared to those who waited longer, this group was more likely to become pregnant (69% vs. 51%) and to have a pregnancy leading to a live birth (53% vs. 36%).

The investigators didn’t find any difference in the risk of pregnancy complications between the groups.

“Couples often seek counseling on how long they should wait until attempting to conceive again,” Schisterman says. “Our data suggest that women who try for a new pregnancy within 3 months can conceive as quickly, if not quicker, than women who wait for 3 months or more.”

“While our data show no basis for delaying attempts at conception following a pregnancy loss, couples may need time to heal emotionally before they try again,” says first author Dr. Karen Schliep. “For those who are ready, our findings suggest that conventional recommendations for waiting at least 3 months after a loss may be unwarranted.”

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California, Oregon pharmacists to be allowed to prescribe birth control | The Seattle Times

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nuvaring contraceptiveIn the next few months, women in California and Oregon will be able to obtain hormonal contraceptives like pills, patches and rings by getting a prescription directly from the pharmacist, a more convenient and potentially less expensive option than going to the doctor.

Source: California, Oregon pharmacists to be allowed to prescribe birth control | The Seattle Times

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Birth centers boost deliveries while easing labor pains

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At the Greenville Health System Midwifery Care and Birth Center in Greenville, S.C., women get a plush king size bed, a giant tub and cloth swing to assist them with labor. The room has hardwood floors, mood lighting and high tech sound systems. The center is located in a medical park across the street from the main Greenville hospital (Photo by Phil Galewitz/KHN).

At the Greenville Health System Midwifery Care and Birth Center in Greenville, S.C., women get a plush king size bed, a giant tub and cloth swing to assist them with labor. The room has hardwood floors, mood lighting and high tech sound systems. The center is located in a medical park across the street from the main Greenville hospital (Photo by Phil Galewitz/KHN).

By Phil Galewitz
KHN

GREENVILLE, S.C. — Kristen Shorey gave birth to her second baby this summer in a marble-lined bathtub surrounded by LED candles and rested afterward on a queen-size mahogany bed. She received no pain killers, never saw a doctor and was home with her newborn son, Rowan, seven hours after birth.

Dana Schrenk, 31, and husband Jon Ruth, 36, at Baby & Co new birthing center - partly owned by Wake Med - in Cary, North Carolina on September 15, 2015. Schrenk tried to use the tub to deliver her baby, but she was born on the bed. Baby & Co runs a chain of five outpatient birthing centers in Colorado, Tennessee, Arkansas and North Carolina (Photo by Phil Galewitz/KHN).

Dana Schrenk, 31, and husband Jon Ruth, 36, at Baby & Co new birthing center – partly owned by Wake Med – in Cary, North Carolina on September 15, 2015. Schrenk tried to use the tub to deliver her baby, but she was born on the bed. Baby & Co runs a chain of five outpatient birthing centers in Colorado, Tennessee, Arkansas and North Carolina (Photo by Phil Galewitz/KHN).

It was nothing like the hospital experience where she had her first son two years agoshe said. In fact, the June birth wasn’t in a hospital at all but at the Greenville Midwifery Care & Birth Center She delivered with help from a midwife instead of an obstetrician. Shorey, 25, labored in a water-filled tub rather than a small bed while hooked up to intravenous tubes and a fetal heart monitor — her 27-year-old husband, Taylor, by her side.

“This was the most empowering experience of my life,” she said. Continue reading

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Standard treatment better than potential alternative for unexplained infertility

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Clomiphene more effective than letrozole for achieving pregnancy,  study finds

From the National Institutes of Health

IVF egg thumbTreatment with clomiphene, a standard therapy for couples with unexplained infertility, results in more live births than treatment with a potential alternative, letrozole, according to a study of more than 900 couples conducted by a National Institutes of Health research network.

The study authors undertook the comparison because earlier findings had suggested that letrozole might achieve as many live births as other treatments, but result in fewer multiple pregnancies.

Moreover, a 2014 study by the same network found that letrozole was more effective than clomiphene for achieving pregnancy in women with another infertility disorder, polycystic ovary syndrome. The study appears in the New England Journal of Medicine. Continue reading

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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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