Yeast infections aren’t particularly dangerous—but oh, they’re uncomfortable! These infections are irritatingly common, too, afflicting about three-quarters of women at least once in their lives…and some unlucky women get them over and over.
Many people (including many doctors) believe that taking antibiotics boosts a woman’s odds of developing a yeast infection. Ditto for using hormonal birth control, such as the Pill. But: Do the facts support those beliefs? A new study offers some very surprising and specific answers to the question of what does and doesn’t increase yeast infection risk. Read the rest of this entry »
The Truth About “Designer Vagina” Cosmetic Surgery—Labiaplasty, Vaginal Tightening and More
In fact, such surgeries have become increasingly popular—despite the fact that The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) issued a strongly worded statement to members noting that female genital cosmetic procedures are not medically indicated and that there is no documentation of their safety and effectiveness. ACOG even admonished, “It is deceptive to give the impression that…such procedures are accepted and routine surgical practices.”
So when a recent study raised some serious concerns about the quality of information on the Web sites of surgeons who perform genital cosmetic procedures, I figured it was time to revisit the topic. Even if you would never have such surgery yourself, you may have a loved one who would consider it…and who should be duly cautioned about the dangers of the procedures and the sneaky marketing tricks used to sell them.
MEDICINE’S “WILD WEST”
Various operations are offered under the umbrella term of female genital cosmetic surgery, including labiaplasty, clitoral hood reduction, vaginal tightening, hymen repair and more. Such procedures do not come cheap, typically running from $2,500 to $8,000, depending on the procedure and surgeon—costs generally not covered by insurance.
So why are women flocking to have their nether regions redesigned? The study authors cited direct-to-consumer Internet marketing as the force behind the growth in demand and noted that there is scant medical scrutiny of this kind of advertising. Even cosmetic surgeons themselves have said that the current marketing environment is like “the old Wild Wild West: wide open and unregulated.”
To see what kind of information consumers typically get online, the study researchers Googled designer vagina (a familiar if erroneous term in popular culture), looking for private physicians who offer genital cosmetic surgery. Then they analyzed the top five Web sites that Google listed in the US plus the top five in the UK.
Results: The quality of information available for women considering such procedures was poor in most cases and downright inaccurate in some. Examples… Read the rest of this entry »
How Often Should You Wash Your Hair?
Shampoo less, we dare you. About 90% of Americans shampoo daily. One hundred years ago, people only washed their hair monthly, and in the 1950s, it was customary for women to have their hair washed and set once a week at the salon.
A clean head of hair feels fresh and smells great but over-washing can turn one’s healthy locks into a pile of straw. The average person’s hair grows less than half an inch per month so long strands that have been subjected to a lot of shampooing (as well as chemical treatments, blow drying, and the elements), tend to get dried out and dull at the ends and even break off. Dirtier hair-gasp-also holds a style better.
How often you need to shampoo depends on Read the rest of this entry »
The pink ribbons we see everywhere this month make it seem like breast cancer is a woman’s worst nightmare. But, in fact, we know that there is another even more insidious cancer to fear — ovarian cancer. It’s true that this type of cancer is rarer, but it can be more lethal and harder to detect, in part because its symptoms are commonplace and dismayingly vague, including abdominal bloating, digestive difficulties and fatigue. While not as public, researchers are working hard on understanding and beating ovarian cancer, and there is news — some good, some bad. Read the rest of this entry »
FOR AN INSTANT ENERGY SURGE… Read the rest of this entry »
FALSE CLAIMS IN MOISTURIZER ADS
What a smart business move it was for cosmetic and skin-care companies to formulate facial moisturizers that also contain broad-spectrum sunscreen (meaning that they provide UV-A and UV-B protection) to save our vulnerable faces from the sun’s damaging UV rays — the ones that not only cause premature aging of the skin, leaving you with brown spots, lines and wrinkles, but also melanoma, the deadly skin cancer.
Trusting that these products actually will protect you turns out not to be such a smart move, however! A new study tested 29 facial moisturizers that promised to offer broad-spectrum UV protection, ranging in sun protection factor (SPF) from 15 to 50, and found that only a few of these products really did the trick.
Shame on the marketers! I talked to Steven Q. Wang, MD, a dermatologist with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and one of the study’s authors, about how this could be so, and he explained the problem: Most of the moisturizers protect you from UV-B waves — in fact, the SPF number on the label refers only to UV-B — but they don’t protect you from UV-A waves. Read the rest of this entry »
An unusual form of gynecological health treatment is “gathering steam” around the country — pelvic steam baths, also known by the catchier name, vaginal steam baths. Although this is a new idea to most of us here in the US, this traditional therapy has long been used in Korea (where it is called Chai-Yok) as well as in parts of South America (where it is called Bajos). While calling it a vaginal steam bath is definitely attention-getting, it is a misnomer, says Laurie Steelsmith, ND, a naturopathic physician and acupuncturist and author of Natural Choices for Women’s Health. It’s not the vagina, an internal structure, that is the focus but rather the outer genital area, the vulva. Furthermore, these so-called baths are not exclusively for women — men, too, can benefit from sitting over steam… for reasons I will explain.