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Women's Health Archive

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Some healthcare can safely wait (and some can’t)

Published May 20, 2020

Some routine or elective healthcare can safely wait a while, but putting off medical care for certain health conditions or potentially serious problems is risky.

All rise now — just how fit are you?

Published May 6, 2020

Attempting to stand up from a seated position on the floor is a good way to assess your overall fitness. No problem? Do it regularly to track your physical health. Having difficulty? Try these exercises to help you improve your fitness.

Is it time to give up your annual mammogram?

Published May 1, 2020

The question of what age a woman can stop having mammograms does not have a definite answer, but is one each woman must answer based on her circumstances and her feelings about the risks of the procedure versus its benefits.

Take control of rising cholesterol at menopause

Updated May 1, 2020

Here's what the numbers mean — and strategies to lower your cholesterol if it's too high.

For some women who've had normal cholesterol readings all their lives, that changes at menopause. "Going through menopause often results in lipid and cholesterol changes for the worse," says Dr. Samia Mora, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and a specialist in cardiovascular medicine the Brigham and Women's Hospital. Drops in the female hormone, estrogen, are associated with a rise in total cholesterol levels due to higher amounts of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the "bad" cholesterol, and another blood lipid (fat) known as triglyceride. Over time this can raise heart risks, which is a reason for concern, as cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 cause of death in postmenopausal women, says Dr. Mora.

"So, it's especially important to track the numbers in perimenopause and the early years after menopause, as LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol tend to increase," she says.

Breastfeeding may protect high-risk women from diabetes later in life

Updated May 1, 2020

Research we're watching

If a woman has gestational diabetes during her pregnancy, she has a higher risk of developing diabetes later. But a study published February 10 in Diabetes Care found that breastfeeding may help reduce that risk.

The study, which used data from the Nurses' Health Study II, found that the longer a woman nursed her infant, the lower her risk of developing diabetes later in life. The study included more than 4,000 women who had gestational diabetes. Of those women, more than 800 developed diabetes within the next 25 years. Those who breastfed for six to 12 months were 9% less likely to develop diabetes, compared with women who didn't breastfeed at all. Women who breastfed for one to two years had a 15% lower risk of developing diabetes, compared with women who didn't breastfeed. And diabetes risk was 27% lower in women who breastfed for more than two years. This provides another reason that doctors may want to encourage women with gestational diabetes to breastfeed whenever possible.

Why am I getting acne after menopause?

Updated May 1, 2020

Ask the doctors

Q. My skin has been breaking out since I entered menopause. Why is this happening, and what can I do about it?

A. Many women notice changes to their skin at menopause. For some women this means dryness, age spots, or a tendency toward bruising. For others, estrogen levels drop while male hormone levels, such as testosterone, remain the same, which can prompt acne breakouts.

U=U: Ending stigma and empowering people living with HIV

Published April 22, 2020

People living with HIV can suppress the virus by taking medication daily. If the level of virus in a person’s blood is suppressed successfully, research shows that the virus isn’t passed on to others. U=U means “undetectable equals untransmittable.”

COVID-19: If you’re older and have chronic health problems, read this

Published April 1, 2020

Older people who have a chronic medical condition are at increased risk for severe disease and death if they contract COVID-19. Just how old is “older,” what constitutes chronic disease, and how can you lower risks?

Toxic beauty

Updated April 1, 2020

Are your personal care products putting your health at risk?

The average woman uses 12 different beauty products every day — cleansers, conditioners, hair dyes, fragrances, skin care products, scented lotions, nail polish, and makeup, to name a few. Take a quick glance at the labels, and you'll see a cocktail of chemical components.

You might assume that all these ingredients have been tested to ensure that they're safe for long-term use. That's not the case.

Can alternative treatments help with painful fibroids?

Updated April 1, 2020

Ask the doctors

Q. I have uterine fibroids and am experiencing some pain and discomfort from them. Are there any alternative treatments that I can use to help manage my symptoms?

A. If you are experiencing anemia, severe pain, or difficulty with urinating that may be due to fibroids, it's important to seek the advice of a doctor. However, there are some pain management options other than medications or surgery that may help relieve symptoms related to fibroids. These strategies haven't been proven to relieve pain from fibroids, but The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, in a 2017 review of complementary approaches to chronic pain, found they have some promise in helping other types of chronic pain, specifically lower back pain. These include acupuncture, an alternative medicine treatment that uses small needles applied at specific sites on the body to relieve chronic pain; yoga, a type of low-impact exercise that includes a series of postures and breathing techniques; relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing and mindfulness (a practice that encourages staying focused on the present moment); tai chi, originally practiced as a form of self-defense, which incorporates slow, deliberate movements and deep breathing exercises; and massage performed by a massage therapist.

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