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Women’s Health

A Vaccine Side Effect Leaves Women Wondering: Why Isn’t the Pill Safer?

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When the Food and Drug Administration stopped using Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine to assess the risk of blood clots in women under the age of 50 last month, many scientists found that birth control pills-related clots were far more common.

The comparison should convince women of the safety of the vaccine. Instead, it has caused anger in some areas – not about the break, but about the fact that most contraceptives available to women are hundreds of times riskier and yet safer alternatives are nowhere in sight.

The blood clots associated with the vaccine were a dangerous type in the brain, while birth control pills increase the likelihood of a blood clot in the leg or lungs – a point that was quickly established by many experts. But the distinction made little difference to some women.

“Where was everyone’s concern about blood clots when we started putting 14-year-old girls on the pill,” one woman wrote on Twitter.

Another said, “If birth control were made for men, it would taste like bacon and be free.”

Some women heard on social media and elsewhere that they shouldn’t complain because they chose to take birth control in order to understand the risks involved. “That only doubled me,” said Mia Brett, a legal history specialist with a focus on race and sexuality at Stony Brook University in New York. “This is such a common response to women’s health care – that we point it out and it gets rejected.”

The stream of anger on the internet was familiar to women health experts. “You should be angry – women’s health just isn’t given equal consideration,” said Dr. Eve Feinberg, a reproductive endocrinologist and infertility specialist at Northwestern University. “There is a great deal of sexual bias in all of medicine.”

Dr. Feinberg and many of the women on the internet recognize that contraceptives have put women in control of their fertility, and the benefits far outweigh the harms. Rebecca Fishbein, a 31-year-old cultural writer, began tweeting about the inadequacy of birth control pills almost immediately after the break was announced.

“Birth control is an incredible invention, thank god we have it,” she said in an interview last month. “I will fight anyone who tried to take it away.”

Contraceptives have also improved over the years, with intrauterine devices and oral options that offer ultra-low estrogen doses. “Overall, it’s incredibly safe,” said Dr. Feinberg. “Everything we do involves risks.”

Dr. However, Feinberg said it was crucial for health care providers to discuss the risks with their patients and coach them on worrying symptoms – a conversation many women said they never had.

Kelly Tyrrell, a communications professional in Madison, Wisconsin, was 37 years old when doctors discovered potentially fatal blood clots in her lungs.

Ms. Tyrrell is an endurance athlete – wiry, strong, and not prone to anxiety. In early 2019, she began to wake up with pain in her left calf. After a particularly bad morning, an urgent care visit revealed that she had high blood levels of “D-dimer,” a fragment of protein that indicates the presence of clots.

She had been on birth control pills for 25 years, but none of the doctors made a connection. Instead, they said that given their age, fitness, and the lack of other risk factors, it was unlikely that their symptoms would stem from a blood clot. They sent her home with instructions to stretch her calf muscle.

When she experienced chest tightness while running in Hawaii after her grandmother’s funeral, doctors said the cause was likely stress and anxiety. In July 2019, she finished a 100 km race in Colorado, assuming that her sore lungs and purple lips were the result of 19 hours of running at high altitude.

But she knew something was seriously wrong on the morning of October 24, 2019 when she became short of breath after walking up a short flight of stairs.

This time, after ruling out heart problems, the doctors scanned her lungs and found multiple blood clots. One had cut off blood flow to part of her right lung.

“I burst into tears immediately,” recalled Ms. Tyrrell. Doctors put her on a blood thinning regimen – and told her never to touch estrogen again. Ms. Tyrrell switched to a copper IUD. Over time, she added, the incident had escalated into sharp anger, which was renewed by the news from Johnson & Johnson.

“Part of my anger was that a drug I was taking to control my fertility was threatening my mortality,” she said. “I’m angry that I wasn’t given better advice about this risk or what to look for.”

Emily Farris, 36, was prescribed oral contraceptives when she was 8 years old to help with migraines. In all of the conversations she has had with her many doctors over the years, “blood clots have never been formed,” she said in an interview.

On Twitter, some critics pointed out that the birth control pack inserts clearly describe the risk of blood clots. “My answer to that is a little incredulous,” said Dr. Farris, a political scientist at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth.

The supplements for most drugs have a long list of possible side effects, which “puts a heavy burden on people trying to sort the medical research to sort out what probability and statistics mean,” she said.

Even with a doctoral degree, “I cannot assess these risks,” added Dr. Farris added. “I think most Americans need someone to translate the legal kind of brochure into real terms.”

This explanation came far too late for Mrs. Tyrrell. Her lungs haven’t felt this way since she was diagnosed, but she can’t be sure whether this is due to continued damage from a previous blood clot, new blood clots to worry about, or simply because of her age. she said and added: “It is never out of my mind anymore. “

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Women’s Health

LGBT health care for the Veteran you are

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Millye is an Army veteran who served in the early 1960s. Cynthia served in the Navy in the 1970s and 80s. Tracey served in the Army, Army National Guard, and Army Reserve through the 1990s and early 2000s.

These veterans, who have served in different branches of service for different decades, appear on the surface just to share their service experience. But if we look further, we can see that there is more to know about these veterans.

Millye and Cynthia identify as transgender and Tracey identify as lesbian. Along with those who identify as gay or bisexual, these identities form LGBT. LGBT stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.

These veterans chose health care through the VA Health System. You have found inclusive and high quality care from supportive providers in VA.

A million veterans

More than a million veterans identify as LGBT or related identities. Many felt pressured to hide their identities, were stigmatized, or felt unsafe when they got out. These situations can increase stress levels and increase the risks to mental health and physical well-being.

Veterans with an LGBT or related identity have higher rates of:

  • Smoking, alcohol problems and drug use.
  • Anxiety, Trauma, and Depression.
  • Sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV infection.
  • Some cancers.

VA encourages veterans to speak to their providers about all aspects of their lives, including their sexual orientation and gender identity.

Conversations and the information you share with your VA provider are confidential, and the information can help your provider tailor their recommendations, ensure you receive all appropriate screenings and exams, and provide you with the best possible care.

Additionally, VA is working to include gender identity and sexual orientation on medical records so that providers can understand the concerns and needs of veterans who identify as LGBT or related identities.

You can also ask staff not to include this information on your medical record. Medically necessary information, such as a doctor’s diagnosis or an anamnesis, must, however, be included.

LGBT care at VA Women’s Health

Women’s Health is dedicated to VA’s mission to be the leader in health care for veterans who identify as LGBT or a related identity and to provide quality care in a respectful environment.

Each VA facility has an LGBT Veteran Care Coordinator (VCC) as well as a Women Veterans Program manager. They help veterans find providers and health services, answer questions, and solve problems they may encounter.

Other resources available are:

  • Virtual Psychiatry: Veterans can connect to a VA mental health provider from the convenience of their home or their nearest VA health facility using a computer or mobile device.
  • Sex-Confirming Hormone Therapy: VA offers sex-affirming hormone therapy and treatment.
  • Substance Use / Alcohol Treatment: VA offers treatment options for substance use problems, including therapy, group programs, and medication.
  • Prevention / Treatment of Sexually Transmitted Infections: VA encourages all veterans of all gender identities to get tested for HIV and other STIs.
  • Cancer screening exams: VA offers all recommended age-appropriate cancer screening examinations.
  • VA Smoking Cessation Resources: VA offers a variety of resources and programs to help veterans quit tobacco.
  • Intimate Partner Violence Support: Female Veterans Program Managers can connect veterans to the resources they need.
  • Infertility: VA is committed to helping veterans overcome challenges that can arise from problems with fertility and conception of a child.

VA encourages veterans who identify as LGBT or related identities to schedule an appointment with their provider or contact the LGBT Veteran Care Coordinator or Women Veterans Program Manager at their local VA Medical Center.

You can hear the stories of Millye, Cynthia, Tracey, and other veterans on Make the Connection.

Alexis Matza is the associate director of the LGBT health program, VA Patient Care Services.

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Women’s Health

Women Carry An Undue Mental Health Burden. They Shouldn’t Have To

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As with so many other global health problems, mental health hits women hardest. Building a more just world means recognizing and closing this gap.

In 2020, Project HOPE began delivering mental health and resilience training to healthcare workers around the world – most of whom are women. (Courtesy of KUN Humanity System +, 2020)

The month of May was the Month of Mental Health Awareness – a movement that takes me back to the time I spent in my home country, Lebanon, after the massive explosion in the port of Beirut in August 2020.

One day when I passed a group of mothers and young children who regularly shared their daily messages and conversations, I couldn’t help but notice the number of signs that these women were suffering from stress and potential mental health problems. One shared her inability to sleep at night, another mentioned her children’s involuntary urination, and another heard glass shattering all the time.

It was then that I realized that in addition to all of the other crises in the country, we were facing a mental health crisis. My eyes opened to the widespread need for high quality mental health services – especially for women and children.

While not widely known, gender can be a determining factor in mental health. Notable gender differences are found in patterns of mental disorders. The most common risk factors that increase a woman’s risk for mental disorders include gender-based violence; lower socio-economic status due to low income and income inequality; a lower social status including subordination; to fulfill the ongoing duty of care for other family members; stressful gender-specific roles; Discrimination; Abuse; and other stressors and life events.

By 2020, depression – which is almost twice as common in women – was predicted to be the second leading cause of the global burden of disability. In addition, women are the largest group of post-traumatic stress disorder, which is directly attributable to the high rate of sexual violence women experience: almost one in five women experiences rape or attempted rape in their lifetime. Not to mention violence, wars and disasters that affect women and children disproportionately.

Clara, 32, was injured in the explosion in the port of Beirut in August 2020, an event that also had a lasting impact on her as a psychologist. “I can never forget what I saw in the hospital,” she says. “It’s going to be a considerable amount [mental] Trauma. “(Firas Itani / Project HOPE, 2020)

In developing countries, there is a large gap in the availability and accessibility of specialized mental health services. Rather than going to mental health specialists, women are more likely to seek psychological support from primary health care facilities when accompanying their children or attending counseling on other health issues. As a result, many mental illnesses are not recognized and therefore not treated. Women often do not feel comfortable revealing certain psychological and emotional burdens because they fear stigmatization, breaches of confidentiality or not being taken seriously.

COVID-19 has threatened the psychological well-being around the world. More and more adults are reporting mental health and drug use problems and experiencing more symptoms of anxiety and depressive disorders. The stressors caused by the pandemic have affected the entire population; however, the effect was greater especially on women and mothers.

Women, the unsung heroes of the pandemic, are under increasing pressure amid this global health crisis. According to reports, the long-term effects of COVID-19 could undo decades of progress for women and place significant additional burdens on them, which could threaten the difficult journey to gender equality.

Unemployment, parental responsibilities, homeschooling or caring for sick relatives are an additional burden on women’s everyday lives during the pandemic. It is also important that we recognize the exponential need for mental support for health workers, and especially health care mothers, who balance both their professional and parental responsibilities. They are the frontline heroes in the fight against the virus, and it is vital to prioritize both their physical and mental health. Recognizing the massive need for this support, Project HOPE is conducting mental health and resilience training courses in various countries around the world aimed at healthcare workers who are responding to COVID-19. More than 75 percent of the healthcare workers taking part in the training courses are women.

More research is needed to understand the mental health problems of certain groups, including women, and to identify protective factors that help maintain their wellbeing. Additional awareness-raising activities are also important to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health, normalize the issue, and encourage support-seeking behavior. The availability of high quality mental health services at the primary health care level has been shown to be the most efficient way of reaching all vulnerable populations who are in need of mental health services most. In terms of policy making, we still have a long way to go in lobbying to improve existing mental health policies and ensure that lawmakers consider mental health a priority. Although the road may be rocky, there is always light at the end of the tunnel.

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Women’s Health

Your Community: Health and wellness resources

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Taking care of your health, both body and mind, plays an important role in determining your quality of life. When you are so busy taking care of others it is easy to forget to take care of yourself. This can happen gradually, and you may not even realize that there is a problem until you reach a breaking point. You may have chosen to just “live with it” and let the problem persist even though treatment options are available. However, this is not always a choice as ignorance of who to turn to or the cost of treatment could be a major obstacle for many. Fortunately, the Johnson County Library has compiled health and wellness resources that will connect you with information and guidance to help you perform at your best.

These health-related and medical resources offer a variety of perspectives on complementary, holistic, and integrated approaches to health care and wellness presented in understandable language. Discover authoritative medical information on medicines, nursing, dentistry, the healthcare system, preclinical science, even veterinary medicine, and more. The resources also cover topics such as cancer, diabetes, drug and alcohol addiction, fitness, nutrition and dietetics, child health, aging, and men’s and women’s health. Find and browse medical encyclopedias, popular reference books, and magazine articles. You will find articles with detailed background guidance on diagnoses and treatments that have helpful descriptive images.

For those seeking healthcare help, resources are available to help the uninsured and underinsured. Find local, affordable health services, including primary care, emergency care, dental care, prescription help, and free helplines. Search a directory that enables caregivers in the greater Kansas City area to find resources for the elderly, including financial assistance, nutrition, legal assistance, health care providers, housing options such as assisted living facilities, and mental health services.

Discover, challenge and train your mind with articles and courses online. Access the world’s largest full-text database on psychology, with full articles from nearly 400 journals. Topics include emotional and behavioral traits, psychiatry and psychology, philosophy, theology, mental processes, anthropology, and observational and experimental methods. There are also convenient online courses. Explore the course catalog to see all the offers and to register for a course. With over 500 online courses on topics such as alternative medicine, health & medicine, personality development, psychology, and self-help, you’re sure to find something that piques your interest and occupies you.

Take care of your mind and body with resources designed for you. Check out the health and wellness resources at jocolibrary.org today.

Johnson County Library – Promoting the community’s collective wisdom

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