C.D.C. Investigating 14 New Reports of Zika Transmission Through Sex

February 24th, 2016

Health authorities in the United States said they were investigating 14 new reports of the Zika virus possibly being transmitted by sex, including to pregnant women. If confirmed, the unexpectedly high number would have major implications for controlling the virus, which is usually spread by mosquito bites.

Scientists had believed sexual transmission of Zika to be extremely rare. Only a few cases have ever been documented. But if all the women in the cases the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is examining test positive for the virus — as two women already have, and four others have done in preliminary lab tests — officials believe there is no way other than sex that they could have contracted it.

The specter of so many cases — all in the continental United States — brings fresh complexity to the medical mystery of Zika. The virus is suspected to cause birth defects and a rare condition of temporaryparalysis.

Will climate change cause more complex effects on sexual and reproductive health?

February 8th, 2016

 Published: February 4, 2016

The Zika viral epidemic represents a perfect storm of climate change, disease, sexuality and reproductive health. In 2009, I was deeply interested in the effects of climate change worldwide. I work for a regional organisation and I was studying trends which I thought would impact women’s health and rights.

Disasters – both natural and climate change induced were one of these trends. Three key events stood out in my memory; the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the 2008 Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar and the 2010 Pakistan floods. These incidents affected the partners we work with on the ground, and many had rushed in to deliver aid. A number of partners talked about the need of access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services, occurrences of sexual violence, and of course the need for camps to be set up in a manner that suited the needs and realities of women. One of the activists in my circle told me that after the tsunami, women who had tubal ligation in Tamil Nadu, had fought for and won the right to reverse tubal ligation, because they had lost their children in the tsunami. I was often on the lookout for such interesting angles to sexual and reproductive issues during the times of disaster.

In 2009, I read an Oxfam briefing paper which posited that the greatest impact of climate change will be on people’s health. This seemed to reiterate all the experiences I had with partners. This paper also talked about a particular health challenge – the increase in water-borne, insect-borne, vector-borne diseases due to increases in temperature and rain, and the inability of health and municipal services to be able to plan and manage these changes.

In Malaysia, we have seen year-on-year drastic increases of dengue, and it helped me connect this issue with the larger, little explored connection with climate change. Even in my country, health personnel often attribute it to different things such as; newer, pesticide-resistant mosquitoes and lack of civic consciousness of citizens. However, this was an interesting angle, and of course I could also pick up on the regional stories of dengue and Chikungunya in the Philippines, Indonesia and India.

Naturally, when the first stories of Zika surfaced, these three connections came foremost to my mind.

The first stories revealed that the virus was first reported in May in Brazil, there was an increase in the births of babies with microcephaly – around 3700 to 4000 between October and now. Many were aghast because this spike of babies with microcephaly puts stress on health services, families and communities – and even on educational services. Since the Zika virus manifests itself in indiscernible ways, women may not know that they have contracted the virus, if pregnant – until they deliver. A week ago, I was sitting on a panel in an international conference – when the astonishing news broke that the solution El Salvador presented was that women must avoid pregnancy till 2018 due to the potentially dangerous Zika virus.

Just yesterday, the first case of the sexual transmission of Zika has been recorded in Texas. But in 2013 itself, the possibility of sexual transmission of Zika had been published in medical journals by looking at the case study of an infected person in Tahiti. Some attribute the fast spread of Zika due to dual transmission modes.

It is equally interesting to consider that the largest outbreak is occurring in a region, which has highly restrictive abortion laws and access to contraceptives including condoms is limited due to socio-religious norms.

Many years ago, I wrote a proposal which posited this hypothesis: an undue burden will be placed on women who live in countries which face climate change and have fundamentalist policies (influenced by religion, and do not recognise sexual and reproductive rights) because they will be denied access to essential services. This viral epidemic is one such example.

A comprehensive approach is needed to combat diseases such as these.


One, access to dual-protection methods (pregnancy prevention and safe sex) is essential.

Two, access to comprehensive maternal health services: ante-natal scans to enable early detection, access to pregnancy termination (as a choice), and safe delivery and neo-natal care (as a choice).

Three, understanding that as time goes by, climate change will only cause more complex effects on sexual and reproductive health, and in order to cater for this we need policy, programme and paradigm change, which enables individuals and couples to be able to make decisions about their bodies and lives.

In the longer run, in order to create more resilient societies, which can cope with the multifarious effects of climate change, it would be essential to recognise the rights and agency of individuals and couples. We must further ensure that community systems are built with this perspective in mind. To stop this now, we have to start this now.

Latest Studies Show Testosterone Therapy Safe, Beneficial

December 17th, 2015

It is normal for testosterone to decline as a man ages, about 1% per year once a man has reached middle age. Most men never notice the drop. But some middle-aged and older men feel symptoms when their level has reached a certain point. Symptoms include a decline in sex drive, a lack of energy, moodiness, erectile dysfunction, an inability to lose weight, and in extreme cases loss of muscle and bone mass. Some clinicians call this age-related hypogonadism. Others deny that the condition even exists. Practitioners in the first camp had been prescribing testosterone replacement therapy (TRT).Lots of their patients said it has rejuvenated them, restoring their energy, giving them a more positive attitude, and returning their sex drive to them.


Two previous studies have shown an increase in cardiovascular events associated with TRT. The fear was that an increase in testosterone would ramp up red blood cell production, leading to atherosclerosis or blood clots, the fear being one may get lodged in an artery. It could cause a heart attack or stroke if this occurs in a blood vessel leading to the heart or the brain. But now ever more comprehensive studies are showing just the opposite that TRT is safe and in many cases beneficial.

Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston just finished up a three year study on TRT, led by Shalender Bhasin, MD. Bhasin’s team found no increased risk of blood clots among older men with low to borderline low testosterone. A large, observational study soon to be published in the European Heart Journal actually showed a decreased risk of heart attack and stroke in conjunction with TRT. In March of this year, the FDA placed warning labels on TRT products about the risks. Now the agency is urging pharmaceutical companies to chip in on a comprehensive study to determine what if any risks exist. For those men experiencing the symptoms associated with low testosterone, it is advised that you speak to a doctor or an urologist, perhaps even an endocrinologist. There may be several conditions which have these exact same symptoms. So it is important to have a licensed doctor determine the cause.

What’s in your pad or tampon?

November 18th, 2015

About 70% of all American women use tampons. On average, a woman will use between 11,000 and 16,000tampons in her lifetime.

In fact, tampon-like devices have been used since ancient Rome, where women fashioned devices out of wool to absorb menstrual flow. Rolls of grass were used in parts of Africa, and Hawaiian women used ferns.

But what is actually in a modern-day tampon and pads?

Generally, tampons are blends of cotton and rayon, along with synthetic fibers, but each manufacturer’s products are different and considered proprietary.

Consumer groups in the United States have been wanting to know more since the 1980s. A growing environmental movement and awareness about toxic shock syndrome prompted women to ask what was in these products because manufacturers weren’t required to fully disclose what goes into a tampon or pad. That’s because they are regulated and approved as medical devices by the Food and Drug Administration and full disclosure is not required.

Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney of New York has introduced legislation nine times since 1997 that would require manufacturers to be more transparent and disclose the complete makeup of tampons, pads, and other feminine hygiene products. She wants companies to clearly label not only the fabrics used, but also any contaminants, fragrances, colorants, dyes and preservatives. Her bill directs the National Institutes of Health to look at the health effects of these products, because, she says, there is little research in this area.

But her bill has failed to move beyond the floor, every time.

 Demands for more transparency


 Last month, members of the consumer group Women’s Voices for the Earth dressed up as boxes of tampons and pads and protested in front of Procter & Gamble’s corporate headquarters. They held up signs that said, “My uterus loves accurate labels.”

According to market research group Euroshare, P&G is the largest manufacturers of feminine products, with 44% of the United States market share. Women’s Voices for the Earth wants manufacturers such as P&G to fully disclose what goes into tampons, sanitary pads and wipes.

“Our concerns of the care products … was out of the lack of ingredient disclosure,” said Alexandra Scranton, director of science and research for Women’s Voices for the Earth. The group has been leading a two-year campaign it calls “Detox the Box.

When the group tested P&G’s Always pads, it found the sanitary napkins emitted chemicals, like styrene, chloroethane and chloroform. The World Health Organization classifies styrene as a carcinogen. And the EPA says short-term exposure to high concentrations of chloromethane can have neurological effects. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says high levels of exposure to chloroethane can result in lack of muscle coordination and unconsciousness.

However, all the levels are accpetable under federal regulations. In a statement, Women’s Voices for the Earth said, “While the levels of the toxic chemicals emitted by Always pads were relatively low, their presence warrants health concerns for women.”

Tonia Elrod, a P&G spokeswoman, said the company hasn’t seen the complete study, but pointed out that these are naturally occurring chemicals found in the ambient air, and that the study did not measure the composition in their product.

Tucker Helmes, executive director of the Center for Baby and Adult Hygiene Products, an industry trade group, said there should be no concern about these chemicals. “There is more styrene in strawberries than there is in the air sample they measured in this study,” said Helmes.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which regulates the industry, reviews all designs and materials. In May, the organization addressed concerns, responding to Internet allegations, which alleged that tampons are contaminated by asbestos and dioxin, which can lead to toxic shock syndrome.

The agency said, “The available scientific evidence does not support these rumors.”

 Manufacturers release more information

 In the past few weeks, both P&G, maker of Always pads and Tampax tampons, and Kimberly-Clark, maker of Kotex tampons and pads, have published additional information on their websites.

But microbiologist Philip Tierno of the New York University School of Medicine said that’s not enough. “Even if they list some ingredients, they may not be listing all of them.”

Tierno was one of the scientists who helped discover the link between toxic shock syndrome and tampons in the 1980s. He connected TSS to the synthetic materials that were used in superabsorbent tampons at the time.

The FDA says those synthetic products are no longer used in tampons sold in the United States.

“Those fibers amplified the bacteria staph, if a toxigenic strain was present,” Tierno said. About 20% of people naturally have the bacteria staph. At the height of the TSS scare in 1980, there were 890 cases reported to the CDC.

According to voluntary reports to the CDC, the number of TSS cases since 1998 has varied between 138 to as low as 65 in 2012.

But Tierno said there are still products using viscose rayon, which he called “the best of the four bad ingredients.”

 ‘A lot of dioxin’

 Rayon is a synthetic made from sawdust and a byproduct of it is dioxin, which the EPA says is likely carcinogenic. The FDA says that trace amounts of dioxin are not of concern for human health and that rayon tampons don’t have higher incidences of TSS.

“Sure, one tampon is trace,” said Tierno, “but consider the menstrual lifetime of a woman. They use approximately 12,000 tampons in a lifetime. That means 12,000 exposures of dioxin … five, six, seven times a day. That’s a lot of dioxin absorbed directly through the vagina. It goes directly into the blood.”

“Vaginal tissue isn’t like other skin. It’s covered in mucous membranes, it’s very permeable. It’s a direct route to your reproductive organs. We need to be really careful of these products,” said Scranton, of Women’s Voices for the Earth.

Bob Brand, spokesperson for Kimberly-Clark, said “Kimberly-Clark’s U by Kotex tampons are manufactured by a process that is both chlorine and dioxin-free. However, since dioxins can be found in the environment, Kimberly-Clark regularly tests for dioxins to ensure the safety of our products.” P&G said it also used a similar process.

And while companies are required to track their dioxin levels, neither company would offer to make those measurements public when asked.

 ‘Our products are safe’

 “Our member companies take into consideration lifetime use of these products, the materials they are made from, and the body areas they contact as part of their rigorous safety assessments,” said Helmes of the industry trade group.

But what may be of greater concern, said both Tierno and Scranton, are ingredients like “superabsorbent foam,” found in pads, or “fragrance” that doesn’t list any other details.

“We want to know what ‘flexfoam’ is made of. Is it rayon or cotton or both? What are the ‘fiber finishes’?” asked Scranton.

“Every single product contained in a tampon has to be researched. We already know the fibers contain dozens (of chemicals), polyester contains hundreds of chemicals. It’s not just a fiber you put in the vaginal vault,” said Tierno.

And the concern is not just for TSS, they say, but for adverse and allergic reactions. The FDA does catalog such complaints. Since 2014, there have been 270 claims made about tampons, and 12 claims about pads.

The complaints allege everything from TSS to the products breaking apart to allergic reactions.

Elrod of Proctor & Gamble stated plainly, “Our products are safe. That’s the foundation of everything that we do. We’re working with university scientists, FDA. Women can use our products safely.”

Brand of Kimberly-Clark said “Nothing is of greater concern to Kimberly-Clark than the quality of our products and the well-being of the consumers who use them. “

The FDA says women should choose a tampon with the minimum absorbency they need, and should consult their doctors.

The FDA requires manufacturers to provide labeling on packaging about the signs of TSS, and how to minimize risk.

By Nadia Kounang, CNN

Men’s Health Thursday: Sex Must Last For Hours And 9 Other Lies Porn Tell

September 22nd, 2015

Have you ever considered the fact that if real life were anything like porn, we won’t ever get anything done because we’d be so caught up with spending much time into giving in to our sexual desires.

The truth is real life is nothing like what you see in pornographic movies simply because movies are nothing but ‘make-believe’. Thinking that you can have sex for hours on end is the biggest lie yet told by pornography. Sex never goes that long as the actors are either on performance enhancing drugs and/or several editing of the film tapes are done. Men in the real world are nothing like porn actors and by the time you’re done with this article, you’d agree that the myths surrounding porn are nothing but lies.


Men love facials

Again and again you’d see male actors in porn movies ejaculating on the face of their partners which may be cool sometimes except when you have to stroke yourself for a couple of minutes while the lady waits. The lie that she enjoys it is preposterous as no woman wants your murky fluid all over her face and neither do you want her staring at you while you make weird faces as you ejaculate.


Men want to have five girls at once

Have you watched those crazy porn videos when a man has about five women trying to jump on him all at once? How’s that even possible when you only have one penis? The truth is you wouldn’t even know what to do with so much pile of bodies all around you if you ever find yourself in such situation.

Men want to have sex with every uniformed person

Ok, this one might be a little bit true but if you do find yourself in a hospital and need some urgent medical attention, the paramount thing on your mind would be to have a health care professional attend to you in a way that you’d become healthy rather than have someone trying to have you jerk off.

All men are handsome

Every porn actor is usually hotter than normal real men you encounter on a daily basis. We all have hair in weird places and even if we pay considerable attention to our physical appearance, we still eat junk food and quite a number of us don’t care how our abs look like.

All men have large penises

Like seriously? This may not be a full lie but it does grave injustice to the actual size of male penises. Not everyone is as huge down there. More so, it’s not the size that matters but how you make use of what you have, right?

READ: NEW STUDY: Porn Stars Are Healthier Than Other Women

Men are always horny

Pornography seems to portray men as crazy, horny and sexual bulls. Porn movies make you believe that if you want a one-night stand, all you have to do is order for food and the delivery man comes in handy. Or you could just take a stroll outside and hookup with any horny girl. In reality, men aren’t on the lookout for sex 24/7. Sometimes we wish it were that way, but that would be exhausting and dangerous.

Blowjobs are always involved
Porn makes you believe that every sexual encounter must involve blowjobs. From lame conversation to three seconds of boob mashing, then five minutes of blowjobs (simply because the man has to be excited and ready to go before sex), followed by a lot of vagina penetration which the girl is totally into simply because the blowjob was a major turn-on for her. That’s just what they make you believe sex is and everyone seems cool with that except the normal cool dudes out there.

Do it everywhere
Porn makes you believe you can have sex everywhere and at anytime without a care of what anybody thinks. You’d have to be a fool to believe this is possible in reality and if you do, you’d probably have a date with law enforcement agents or better still stomach the embarrassment of being a subject of public ridicule.

READ: 7 Things Men Do In Private That Women Will Never Know

Shove it anywhere
Don’t ever believe that cliché that porn portrays that the sex feels good because you’re creating lots of friction by putting your penis in a tight grip of muscles. No! Vaginas maybe gaping chasms which you can easily penetrate but the portrayal by pornography that you can penetrate from every angle without resistance is a façade. There are angles through which you porn makes you believe you can penetrate that will do more harm than good to you and your partner.

Change positions at least 5 times
Yes. You can have sex from an array of sexual positions but believing you can have them all at once is false to say the least. You’d probably be so caught up with having sex with your partner from a particular position that by changing positions, you interrupt the normal sexual flow.

The moral of all of this is: Learn to do things at your own pace without the bearings of a pornographic material acted by people on performance enhancing pills.