Women’s Health

New treatment for endometriosis on the horizon

Andrea Chisholm, MD
Andrea Chisholm, MD, Contributor

A new medication under study modulates the body’s production of estrogen (rather than shutting it off) may provide a better option for women seeking treatment for endometriosis.

Premenstrual dysphoria disorder: It’s biology, not a behavior choice

Andrea Chisholm, MD
Andrea Chisholm, MD, Contributor

Women who experience severe mood changes in the weeks leading to their menstrual periods may have premenstrual dysphoria disorder. Because this condition is not yet well understood, getting a correct diagnosis can be challenging.

Binge drinking continues to rise — particularly among women and seniors

Beverly Merz
Beverly Merz, Executive Editor, Harvard Women's Health Watch

Data from several surveys indicate that the percentage of women who drink has been increasing for decades. The numerous health effects associated with alcohol consumption mean that women should be especially attentive to how much they drink.

Time spent in “green” places linked with longer life in women

Elizabeth Pegg Frates, MD

Greenery might do more than just cheer us up. A recent study shows it lowers the mortality rate in women. Green spaces decrease levels of depression and pollution while increasing levels of social engagement and physical activity. If you are lucky enough to be surrounded greenery, get out there and enjoy it more. Even urban areas can increase their greenery by planting more trees and shrubs. See if you can get your community to plant more plants. It will help everyone out in the long run.

Postpartum depression: The worst kept secret

Andrea Chisholm, MD
Andrea Chisholm, MD, Contributor

Postpartum depression carries an unfortunate stigma, as symptoms of depression affect nearly 20% of new mothers. Early detection is key to ensure the best health for not just women, but for their new infants and family members as well. Once diagnosed, there are several treatment options that can support new mothers during a time that can be both joyous and challenging.

Why medical experts say that teens should be allowed to make the abortion decision without telling their parents

Claire McCarthy, MD
Claire McCarthy, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

The belief that teens should have the right to an abortion without parental knowledge or consent is supported by a group of medical associations, and is based primarily on concerns about safety and the medical consequences of requiring that parents be informed.

Cervical cancer screening update: Not your mother’s Pap smear

Andrea Chisholm, MD
Andrea Chisholm, MD, Contributor

Recent research supports the theory the human papilloma virus (HPV) plays a critical role in the development of abnormal cervical cells and cervical cancers. Based on this knowledge, experts believe that many women are being over-screened and treated for abnormal cells that are unlikely to ever become cancerous. Testing for strains of HPV associated with cervical cancer, along with the Pap smear, may do a better job preventing cervical cancer than the Pap smear alone. Guidelines are evolving and that yearly Pap smear may be unnecessary for many women.

The health advantages of marriage

Robert H. Shmerling, MD
Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

People who are married tend to be in better overall health than people who are not, but the reasons for this are not clear. Researchers believe there are a number of possible factors that influence this association, including cortisol levels, mental health, and better health habits.

Your mom was right: “Morning sickness” means a lower chance of miscarriage

Hope Ricciotti, MD
Hope Ricciotti, MD, Editor in Chief, Harvard Women's Health Watch

A majority of women experience some sort of nausea (morning sickness) during pregnancy. Many have speculated that nausea is a good sign that indicates a healthy pregnancy. Until recently, there was little solid evidence to support this belief, but a recent study suggests there is some truth to this old wives’ tale.

Can hormonal birth control trigger depression?

Monique Tello, MD, MPH
Monique Tello, MD, MPH, Contributing Editor

Research from Denmark found an association between the use of hormonal birth control and an increased likelihood of depression. While the risk of depression among women using hormonal forms of birth control was clearly increased, the overall number of women affected was small and was found to be highest in women under 20.