First Stroke Guidelines for Women Created

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February 10th, 2014

Hormonal changes caused by pregnancy or birth control are factors in the third leading cause of death for females, the American Heart Association reports

The American Heart Association outlined Thursday its first ever guidelines for primary care provider sand OBGYNs developed specifically to prevent women’s strokes, the third leading cause of death for U.S. women, and the fifth leading cause for men.

Stroke risk factors for both men and women include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking, but certain hormonal changes can reportedly increase a woman’s risk.

“If you are a woman…your risk is also influenced by hormones, reproductive health, pregnancy, childbirth and other sex-related factors,” said Cheryl Bushnell, M.D., M.H.S., author of the new scientific statement published in the American Heart Association journal Stroke.

According to the guidelines, women with a history of high blood pressure before pregnancy are at risk for preeclampsia, a blood pressure disorder that occurs during pregnancy. Preeclampsia doubles the risk for stroke and increases the risk for high blood pressure four-fold, according to the guidelines.

The combination of high blood pressure and birth control use can also raise a woman’s risk for stroke. Migraines with aura, diabetes, depression, and emotional stress, which occur more frequently among women, are also contributing factors.

Are you ‘normal’ in bed?

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February 7th, 2014

By Ian Kerner, CNN contributor

Ian Kerner, a sexuality counselor and New York Times best-selling author, writes about sex and relationships for CNN Health. Read more from him on his website, GoodInBed.

(CNN) — How does your sex life measure up? That’s the central premise of “The Normal Bar,” a new book by Chrisanna Northrup and sociologists Pepper Schwartz and James Witte.

Based on the responses of an Internet survey of some 70,000 people, “The Normal Bar” endeavors to ease people’s concerns about their sexual relationships by providing readers with an idea of what’s “normal” for most couples — from how often they have sex, to how sexually adventurous they are, to how they romance each other outside the bedroom.

“It isn’t about a 98.6 kind of normal — just the normal of exceptionally happy couples (gay and straight) and what we can learn from them,” Schwartz says.

One juicy nugget — 86% of all men and women are intrigued by having kinky sex. “This just goes to show that both men and women want to be kept on their toes,” says Patty Brisben, sex educator and entrepreneur. “I can’t think of any couple who would be ‘satisfied’ with predictable sex for the same reason people don’t watch the same movie every weekend: There’s no mystery, no excitement.”

Admittedly it’s hard to resist checking out how we match up to other people between the sheets. “Couples that come into my practice with complaints about their sex life are often comparing themselves to a rather unrealistic and fictitious standard,” Dr. Sue Varma says. “They have grown up watching Hollywood flicks believing that bedroom passion should be spontaneous.”

Adds social psychologist Justin Lehmiller, “Almost all couples, both heterosexual and same-sex, worry about how their relationship stacks up. This naturally leads us to compare our relationships to those of other couples.”

It may be natural, but is that comparison healthy? It depends, say experts.

“It’s tempting to think that statistics about how often other people have sex can tell you how often you should be having sex,” explains Emily Nagoski, a sex health educator. “But other people’s sex lives have nothing to do with yours. Experiencing sex differently doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong, it just means you’re doing it differently.”

On the other hand, the quest to keep up with the Jones’ sex life can have its perks, too. Although comparison “can be destructive if you think of the ‘norms’ as being ideals to strive for, it can also be empowering if it makes you feel that your experience has been validated and that you are less alone,” says Margie Nichols, a sex therapist and pioneer in her work with the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community.

“Because kink and open relationships are more common among lesbian, gay and bisexual people, these couples face more options and choices, something that can add a layer of complexity to a couple’s sex life as well as more freedom.”

Comparison may even inspire you to amp up your sex life a bit. For instance, “The Normal Bar” authors found that 48% of men want their female partners to be more romantic — and that the No. 1 thing they want more of is communication, not sex.

“Responses like these might encourage some women to raise the bar on how they talk and act in the bedroom,” sex educator Jamye Waxman says.

The survey results call into question stereotypes that men compartmentalize sex and emotions, says Jean Malpas, a psychotherapist in New York.

“Men are often described as rigidly separating sex and feelings,” he says. “However, many straight, gay or bisexual men I encounter in my clinical practice appreciate meaningful sexual intimacy. They often long for a sexuality anchored in the complicity and playfulness of their romantic relationship.”

One of the goals of “The Normal Bar” is to get couples talking about their sex lives and trying new things. It’s an experience that Nagoski sees reflected in her own work as a college sex educator.

“By the end of the semester, my students know they’re normal, but not because their quantity, quality or frequency of sex falls within some statistical range, compared to other people,” she says. “They feel normal because they understand how varied people are, how many different ways there are to be ‘normal,’ and that the real measure for ‘normal’ is mutual consent and satisfaction.”

Did You Take Your Multivitamin Today?

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February 3rd, 2014

Many of us in the healthcare field have preached for decades that people should not rely on vitamins in pill form to meet the recommended doses of vitamin intake. Instead, we’ve urged our patients to get their nutrients from the foods we eat.

Now, however, a certain population of women may have an important reason to take multivitamins. New research data, which were extracted from the Women’s Health Initiative Clinical Trials and the Women’s Health Observational Study, show that older women with invasive breast cancer—cancer that has spread outside of the breast duct—may gain a new advantage from taking a multivitamin each day; in fact, these vitamins may reduce the risk that their breast cancer will recur.

Wow.

That’s right. This research, recently published in the journal Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, suggests that multivitamin/mineral supplements may help older women who develop breast cancer to survive their disease.

Multivitamin/mineral supplements are the most commonly consumed dietary supplements among adults in the U.S. They usually contain small amounts of 20 to 30 vitamins and minerals, often at levels reaching 100 percent of U.S Recommended Dietary Allowances or less. The manufacturers of these products recommend that people take one pill daily.

A comparison of those who took a multivitamin and those who didn’t

Fortunately, these two studies were large enough so that the results of this new vitamin-and-mineral research were valid.

During the extensive study period, 385 of the women diagnosed with breast cancer during the study were using supplements. The vast majority of these had been taking the supplements prior to being diagnosed. A comparison of mortality rates revealed that the women with invasive breast cancer who took multivitamins/mineral supplements were 30 percent less likely to die from their cancers than were the women with invasive breast cancers who hadn’t taken any supplements.

Could merely taking these supplements explain the difference in these statistics? Well, the researchers then also looked at all the other potential possibilities such as smoking history, race, ethnicity, age, depression, diet, alcohol use, physical activities, age at diagnosis of breast cancer, and diabetes. And after considering all these other factors with due diligence, the scientists concluded that the supplement usage was what made the difference in the mortality rates.

But you still must eat nutritious foods!

Now, here comes my regular caveat: Please don’t interpret these research results to mean that you can stop eating a healthy diet and rely solely on a supplement pill to assure that you are getting the nutrients you need. Instead, consider clipping a coupon for a multivitamin from the Sunday paper this week and start taking one, especially if you are over age 50, have had breast cancer, and have a chance of recurrence.

There isn’t research yet to determine if taking this pill prevents breast cancer in those not diagnosed, but research is certainly underway to try to decipher this as well.

©1996-2014, Johns Hopkins University. All rights reserved. Disclosure: The information provided here is compiled by The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine with editorial supervision by one or more of the members of the faculty of the School of Medicine pursuant to a license agreement with Yahoo! Inc. under which the School of Medicine and its faculty editors receive licensing fees and payment for services rendered within the scope of the License Agreement. Johns Hopkins subscribes to the HONcode principles of the Health on the Net Foundation.

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How to Talk to Your Kids About ‘Sexting

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February 3rd, 2014

Sexting refers to sending texts with inappropriate (i.e., sexual) messages or pictures of people naked or performing sexual acts. In a recent study published in the February 2014 issue of Pediatrics, scientists surveyed 410 students in the 7th grade and found that 22 percent of them had “sexted.” The study also found that kids who had sexted may be more likely to actually engage in other sexual behaviors.

Sexting has serious consequences

  • School. Schools take sexting seriously. Being suspended or expelled can result. It will go on the “sexter’s” record, which may affect job or college acceptances.
  • Criminal charges. It is a crime in some states. Police may get involved in other cases as well.
  • Social/emotional consequences. It can be hurtful, even to the point of social isolation, for the person who has sent pictures and sometimes even for the person receiving the messages.

What can parents do?

  • Talk to your child. As with all aspects of social media and technology, talk to your children about sexting and what it is. Explain that it is never acceptable. As soon as you hand your child a digital device, be it a phone or a tablet or a computer, you should begin the discussion that sending or receiving inappropriate pictures is never okay, nor is sending explicit sexual messages. Discuss that it is not funny and can get them into a lot of trouble. Remind children that messages that get sent can be seen by anyone and can’t be taken back.
  • Monitor. Again, from day one with a digital device, make it clear to your child that having that device is a privilege and not a right. Along with that privilege, your child should be aware that you have the right and responsibility to monitor your child’s activities on the device. You should always know the passcodes to all of their devices.
  • Minimize temptations. A lot of sexting occurs under peer pressure when groups of kids are together. Collecting cell phones at parties or at sleepovers and so forth may help.
  • Discuss the news. There is no shortage of incidents involving teens and sexting in the news, as well as news about the negative consequences that resulted. Bring these evens to your child’s attention and discuss.
  • Network. Discuss these issues with the school and other parents. Schools can do workshops for both parents and kids. Other parents sometimes have advice or experiences to share that can be helpful.
  • Learn. Kids are way more tech-savvy than their parents. Take the time to learn about the sites they are using and how they work. It may actually be a great way to spend time with your child because most kids get pretty excited to teach adults how to navigate the digital world.

©1996-2014, Johns Hopkins University. All rights reserved. Disclosure: The information provided here is compiled by The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine with editorial supervision by one or more of the members of the faculty of the School of Medicine pursuant to a license agreement with Yahoo! Inc. under which the School of Medicine and its faculty editors receive licensing fees and payment for services rendered within the scope of the License Agreement. Johns Hopkins subscribes to the HONcode principles of the Health on the Net Foundation