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Women’s Health

Color-Changing Tampons and Pads Could Help You Detect Yeast Infections

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The central theses

  • Researchers from India are testing color-changing menstrual products to help women self-diagnose yeast infections.
  • The products are designed to help women in low-income and rural communities where there are barriers to treatment.
  • Experts say products that make menstrual blood and vaginal discharge easier to test could result in earlier and more accurate diagnosis of common health problems in women.

Vaginal yeast infections are common around the world. Three out of four women will experience the infection at least once. But in areas where women have limited access to health care and information about menstrual health, these infections can create disproportionate problems.

To address these issues, a team at the Manipal Institute of Technology in India is developing tampons and pads that can detect Candida albicans – a fungus that commonly causes vaginal yeast infections. The researchers published their results in ACS Omega magazine earlier this month.

“I was amazed to hear that women in rural communities still consider disclosing yeast infections to family members, even doctors, as taboo,” said lead study author Naresh Kumar Mani, PhD, assistant professor of biotechnology at the Manipal Institute of Technology of Sehr Well.

Mani’s research group is exploring ways to make economical tools – those that can be made cheaply – that can be incorporated into hygiene products. His team has developed a chemical solution that can be applied to threads and fibers. This solution causes products to change color when they interact with the fungus or other pathogens. The “smart” tampons and pads can be used to test for urinary tract infections and vaginal yeast infections.

Diagnosing and Treating Yeast Infections

Yeast infections are most commonly caused by the yeast Candida albicans. Symptoms include white curd-like vaginal discharge and a burning sensation in the vagina and vulva.

These infections can affect the quality of sex life and a woman’s physical and emotional health. In addition, fungal infections in immunocompromised people can spread faster throughout the body and lead to serious consequences.

“Candida albicans is usually considered a harmless pathogen,” says Mani. “People have no symptoms until the disease progresses into the late stages. And people are reluctant to undergo invasive diagnostic procedures. But for immunocompromised people it leads to a catastrophe. ”

Yeast infections can usually be treated with over-the-counter products. These are available in the form of vaginal inserts, tablets or creams with special applicators.

But in communities at high risk for these infections and low incomes, the authors say that testing laboratories are often absent or overloaded, and cost is usually a limiting factor when people make a diagnosis.

“This inequality is most pronounced in developing areas where the lack of substantial public relations work and existing social taboos lead to feelings of shame and guilt,” the study authors write. “The lack of reliable, fast and inexpensive instruments for discreet self-diagnosis of urinary tract infection is a significant problem that affects a large proportion of vulnerable people.”

Anna Villarreal, CEO and Founder of LifeStory Health, Inc., tells Verywell that this is a common problem throughout women’s health. While care may be more accessible in countries like the United States, there are still large discrepancies in the way vaginal infections and UTIs in women are studied and discussed.

“There is not enough information and communication about some of these diseases, so people could feel ashamed of very simple and common diseases,” says Villarreal.

What that means for you

Until these types of products are available, diagnosis of yeast infections is best done by a health care provider. Here you can learn more about the types of tests that are used to diagnose these infections.

How the menstrual products work

Cellulose-based materials such as thread and paper form the basis of the research team’s tampons and sanitary towels. Threads, like those from tampons, contain a lot of binders and hydrophobic substances that repel water.

However, to be useful, tampons and pads must be very absorbent. Therefore, manufacturers remove the hydrophobic substances through a process called mercerization. This makes the fibers in the sanitary towels and tampons more absorbent.

Many manufacturers use an acidic solution in this process. However, in order to accurately test the pH of vaginal discharge and other fluids that may interact with the special pads and tampons, the research team had to use a more neutral solution.

They opted for a heptane wash, which preserves the pH of the body fluid and allows the product to react when it detects an enzyme secreted by the fungus. The reaction causes the pillow or napkin to change color from white to pink.

In this first study, the researchers tested the hygiene products with simulated vaginal discharge and found that they were highly effective at detecting the presence of C. albicans in the samples.

Care of rural communities

The study shows that the hygiene products treated with this heptane wash can detect the presence of the C. albicans fungus within 10 minutes of contact. This is much faster than sample testing in a clinical setting, which can take anywhere from 24 to 72 hours. The products are also expected to have a long shelf life and high stability.

In settings such as rural India, where testing facilities and health clinics are widely dispersed and far from women’s homes, a clinical test can take days and hours to complete.

“That is not economically viable and burdens people financially,” says Mani. “This cannot replace conventional diagnostic procedures, but it can complement physicians as an instrument for localizing pain.”

Creating opportunities for women to self-diagnose can help them feel more comfortable, seek help, and could have important implications for those facing poorer infection outcomes.

“If we send this to primary health care or low-resource settings and run social awareness programs and educate them, it can potentially reduce a taboo among women and they can also use it as a home test kit,” Mani says.

The future of “intelligent” hygiene products

In the next stages of research, the team tries to make the tests more sensitive and conduct studies to consider other potential causes of yeast infections.

These hygiene products currently cost between 22 and 28 cents per item to manufacture. Mani hopes to lower the cost of the product through additional government funding and mass production. He expects to launch it in the next three to four years.

Aside from C. albicans, Mani says, colorimetric testing technology could be used to diagnose various infections and even detect antibody levels. Villarreal’s LifeStory company develops self-diagnostic tests that detect certain proteins and biomarkers such as hormones in menstrual blood. She says they are working on ways to detect diseases that are common in women, such as breast cancer, diabetes, and lung cancer.

She hopes researchers will focus more on understanding women’s health and preventing common diseases.

“The biggest challenge is that there is too little research and too little knowledge about diseases,” says Villarreal. “Women are often overlooked when going to the doctor and I think it just takes a long time to get diagnosed … At the end of the day, the hope is that people will work on solutions and that women will have access to them . “

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Women’s Health

Lack Of Female Inventors Hinders Women’s Health Innovation

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Image: Shutterstock

New research published in Science points to a gender imbalance in R&D that has implications for women’s health. It is an important step in showing how inequality in the labor market can lead to inequality in the product market.

Why are women’s diseases, anatomy, or needs generally overlooked by inventors? New research points to a gender imbalance in R&D affecting those who benefit from invention.

Professors Sampsa Samila of IESE Business School, Rembrand Koning of Harvard Business School, and John-Paul Ferguson of McGill University analyze more than 430,000 U.S. biomedical patents filed between 1976 and 2010 and point to missed opportunities who reveals this pattern. Your paper “Who are we inventing for? Women’s patents are more focused on women’s health, but few women can invent anything, ”is published in the journal Science.

Today only about 13% of US patent inventors are women. But this study showed significant progress over the years: in 1976 only 6.3% of biomedical patents were from women’s teams, compared to 16.2% in 2010. There is evidence that this 10 percentage point increase has resulted in significantly more innovation affecting women’s health.

There is also evidence that women, who currently make up about 35% of STEM researchers, are no more likely to be in the ranks of patented inventors for several reasons – including gender bias in the labor market and in making decisions about which R&D opportunities are valuable are deemed to be prosecuted by managers.

“The results effectively show that inequality in the labor market could lead to inequality in the product market,” explains IESE Business School Prof. Samila. “In other words, discrimination in the labor market affects not only those affected, but affects society as a whole, as the contributions of the disadvantaged are absent.”

The good news is that breaking down barriers for disadvantaged groups should help fuel innovation and economic growth. “Perhaps there are still many unused market opportunities for women that could in turn improve women’s health,” the co-authors state.

Innovation inequality
There is anecdotal evidence of progress made by women inventors. For example, entrepreneur Surbhi Sarna pulled out of her own fear of ovarian cancer to invent a better cancer detection tool. Another, Dr. Patricia Bath, invented a more precise treatment for cataracts, which affect women more often than men. This new research backs this with a systematic analysis of data that finds that all-female inventor teams are 35% more likely to focus on women’s health than all-male teams. Interestingly, male inventors focus their patented innovations less often on male or female health issues than their female counterparts.

While inventor teams with some women also follow a sex-focus pattern, the pattern is “strongest for purely female invention teams, lasts for decades and is even present in narrow areas of invention”, as the co-authors summarize. This last point “indicates that the link between inventors and inventions is both the result of women working in more women-centered research areas”. [e.g., gynecology] and female inventors identify opportunities for women to invent, regardless of their field of activity [e.g., ocular surgery procedures]. “

Prof. Samila thanks for funding this project from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 799330.

Click here to view Forbes India’s comprehensive coverage of the Covid-19 situation and its impact on life, business and the economy

[This article has been reproduced with permission from IESE Business School. www.iese.edu/ Views expressed are personal.]

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Women’s Health

Britney Spears has every right to be angry — at all of us

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On Wednesday Britney Spears told a judge she was “traumatized” and “angry” because she cannot make important decisions about her life and called for the abolition of a judiciary conservatory.

Under the Conservatory, her father, Jamie Spears, has been in control of her private life since 2013 (except during a hiatus in 2019 due to his health problems). He also controlled their finances until February when an asset management company was named co-curator of such decisions.

Of all the disturbing things about this situation, one of the most troublesome is that we even know about it.

On Tuesday, the New York Times released details from confidential court records showing that Britney Spears has long opposed the agreement. She said she was subsequently admitted to a mental health facility against her will, forced to perform with whoever she was allowed to date with a 104-degree fever, and was even prevented from changing the color of her kitchen cabinets. At the hearing, she also said she was given the drug lithium and forced to remain on birth control, touring and performing against her will. This lack of autonomy is appalling.

One of her father’s attorneys told People earlier this year, “Britney knows that her daddy loves her and that he’s there for her when and when she needs him, just as he has always been – conservatory or not.

There are so many annoying elements here that it is difficult to decide where to start unpacking them all. But, first, in the case of adults, conservatories are established when a person is not considered competent to make decisions that serve their own interests. This suggests that Spears continues to suffer from serious problems. Of course, it’s hard to imagine that she has no problems considering how she’s been sexualized by the media and followed by paparazzi.

But there is also reason to believe that the conservatories were overly controlling. After all, Spears released four albums during the time of this arrangement, including two that sold platinum; served as a judge on two television shows; and reportedly earned $ 138 million performing in Las Vegas. NPR notes that “these accomplishments do not exactly match the typical profile of someone unable to take care of themselves.”

And in November, Spears’ attorney said she stopped working and will not go back to work while her father controls her career. That alone suggests that the conservatory is not working for them.

But there is something more disturbing: the fact that we even know about it. The Conservatory itself, and whether it remains the right course of action or ever was, is about Spears’ mental health and finances. These are issues that you – and every woman (and man) – should have the right to keep private. In the United States, the right to privacy regarding these concerns is so clear that the Freedom of Information Act specifically excludes private medical records and financial information from government disclosure.

Reporting by the Times and other news outlets is not illegal, but it is difficult to understand the public interest served by digging up suggestive details about a woman’s personal life.

While Spears has asked for her testimony to be made public, after all she has endured, it’s understandable that she would want a chance to tell her side of the story. As she said on Wednesday, “By keeping this on for so long, it’s not good for my heart. It worries me that I can’t be heard. I have the right to use my voice.”

The world just has no right to know all of these things about Spears. But of course the public and the media love to obsess and judge the most intimate details of women’s lives in public. As Jill Filipovic (a CNN Opinion contributor) noted in her book “The H-Spot: The Feminist Pursuit of Happiness”, men simply do not face the same “jeweler’s loupe control” in “every life decision they make”.

Since Spears is an artist, we should judge her by her art. The fact that every fan, reporter, and media commentator believes it is their right to be informed about and meddle in Spears’ most personal affairs is a disturbing type of interference that doesn’t change much from the nature of the Conservatory itself is different.

For that reason, even the documentary released earlier this year by the New York Times – which portrays the #FreeBritney activists’ opposition to the conservatories and suggests that the media and music industry are responsible for many of the star’s problems – so disturbing. “I didn’t see the documentary, but I was embarrassed about what I saw, the light they put me in … I cried for two weeks,” Spears wrote on Instagram.

Put yourself in Spears’ shoes. The fact that she has struggled with a setup that has such great control over so many aspects of her life is horrible enough. Nor should she have to think about how her pleading before a judge before the court of public opinion will turn out to be. These matters should be treated confidentially.

What happens to Spears also sends a troubling message to other women: that we cannot rely on privacy when dealing with the legal system. No wonder, then, that other women often fail to turn to the courts when faced with their own daunting problems, from rape to revenge porn.

No one has the right to intrude into the personal health and financial details of women’s lives, even when they are in the public spotlight. These days, it’s not just a judge who should look carefully at what Spears is facing. Fans and reporters also need to think carefully about how they treat women in public so that in the future they won’t find out, like Spears singing, that they did it all over again.

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Contraception, Planned Parenthood dominate debate as Missouri Senate returns to Capitol • Missouri Independent

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Senator Bob Onder, a Republican from Lake St. Louis (photo courtesy Missouri Senate Communications).

If state lawmakers approve Governor Mike Parson’s proposed restrictions on Planned Parenthood’s participation in state medical funding, it would cost the organization no money.

Legislators are back in session this week because they failed to raise supplier taxes earlier this year important to Medicaid funding following a push by Conservatives in the Missouri Senate who decided to prevent Planned Parenthood from receiving taxpayers’ money through the Medicaid program

As a concession to these senators, Parson’s request for a special session to renew taxes included a provision that would discourage Planned Parenthood from becoming a vendor for the uninsured women’s health program. This $ 11.5 million program provides family planning services to low-income women who would otherwise not qualify for Medicaid.

But Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri and Planned Parenthood Great Plains “are not receiving government-funded reimbursements under the uninsured women’s health program,” Angie Postal, vice president of education, public policy and community involvement for Planned Parenthood of the St Louis during a conference call with reporters on Wednesday morning.

The special session started shortly after noon on Wednesday. The goal of the legislature is to have a bill passed and ready for signature by Parson by next Wednesday, the last day of the state financial year.

The focus of the measures will initially be on the State Senate, where a bill to extend supplier taxes will be presented died early in the morning the last day of this year’s regular meeting. Senate leaders plan to debate and vote on the bill on Friday and Saturday, with House measures expected to follow early next week.

During the regular session, the abortion policy failed to expand taxes when lawmakers tried for the first time in 30 years to use them as a vehicle to pass borders some contraceptive medications and devices and to rule out planned parenthood Providing services to every Medicaid customer.

Service provider taxes, known as federal reimbursement lump sums, have been used since 1992 to fund a significant portion of the Medicaid program in Missouri. According to the figures quoted by Parson on Monday, taxes on hospitals, nursing homes and other providers are to provide US $ 591 million as direct support and to provide the state with US $ 1.5 billion in federal matching funds in the coming fiscal year.

Without renewal, taxes will expire on September 30th.

The impasse became more and more frustrating for Parson at the beginning of the financial year. On several occasions in the past few weeks, an agreement among the Republicans seemed near.

On Monday, Parson presented the General Assembly with an ultimatum, called for an agreement that would allow swift adoption by July 1st. Without them, he would cut $ 722 million from the state budget for the coming year.

“For those who want to move the goalposts again,” said Parson on Monday, “you know that you and you alone have this.”

However, the opening of the session could not suppress the republican power struggles.

sen. Bob under, talk about KCUR on Wednesday morningParson said he was trying to thwart its efforts to prevent Planned Parenthood from providing Medicaid services, noting that the governor’s public statements were praised by Senate minority leader John Rizzo, D-Independence.

“The governor is doing exactly what an abortion advocate like Senator Rizzo wants to do, which is to put the money into Planned Parenthood,” said Onder, R-Lake St. Louis.

Rather than restricting the provisions aimed at planned parenting to the health program for uninsured women, the ban should be as broad as possible, Onder said in an interview with The Independent.

“We should defuse Planned Parenthood throughout the Medicaid program,” said Onder, “not just in the health program for uninsured women.”

What it means

Healthcare providers and reproductive rights advocates say that attempts by Republicans to define common forms of birth control as drugs that promote abortion are contrary to medically recognized science.

The proposed bills would exclude contraceptives such as intrauterine devices, better known as IUDs, and several contraceptives from reimbursement under the state Medicaid program “if they are used to induce an abortion”.

One of the drugs is levonorgestrel, which is also used in many long-term contraceptives.

The association of drugs and IUDs with abortions is medically inaccurate and misleading, said Colleen McNicholas, chief medical officer for Planned Parenthood for the St. Louis and Southwest Missouri area.

The full list of prohibited drugs includes mifepristone and misoprostol, levonorgestrel, ulipristal acetate – sold under the brand name Ella – “and other progesterone antagonists”.

Mifepristone and misoprostol, alone and together, are widely used to induce abortion in early pregnancy.

IUDs and emergency contraceptives work to prevent pregnancy – not terminate it, medical experts said in interviews with The Independent and in an online press conference Wednesday.

Even Onder, a doctor, found that IUDs prevent pregnancy, not terminate it. During his appearance on KCUR, he said that Parson’s call read “after the word IUD” for “abortion”.

“Honestly, IUDs are not used for abortions … This language, which is still discussed and written as we speak, is not going to ban IUDs for birth control or really anything else,” Onder told KCUR, and later added, “After At the current state of the language there is probably no reason to even include it.

Emergency contraceptives such as Plan B or Ella are usually taken as soon as possible, but no more than five days after sexual intercourse. They work to delay ovulation, the release of an egg from an ovary. If a person’s body has already started this process, the contraceptives would not be successful in preventing pregnancy, McNicholas said.

In addition to preventing ovulation, other forms of contraception, such as IUDs or hormonal birth control pills, can help change the environment around the uterus, making it more difficult for sperm to reach and fertilize an egg.

Missouri law defines life as from the moment of conceptionwhich the law outlines as “the fertilization of a woman’s egg by a man’s sperm”. But pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg is implanted in the lining of the uterus, McNicholas said.

“What matters is that there are certainly ideological thoughts about when to begin pregnancy, but timing of pregnancy is out of the question in the medical community,” McNicholas said.

Combining birth control with abortion-inducing drugs is thought to create confusion and uncertainty, said Michelle Trupiano, executive director of the Missouri Family Health Council, Inc.

“The concern about language is that it is left to non-healthcare professional interpretation and could have a deterrent effect on healthcare professionals and the use of IUDs as it creates uncertainty that people are not really sure what it is is. “and is not allowed,“ said Trupiano.

Elizabeth Allemann, the medical director of the Missouri Family Health Council Inc. and a family doctor with her own practice in Columbia, said she was particularly concerned about legislators’ access to emergency contraception, which the sooner it is taken and, in some cases, the more effective it is States offered to victims of sexual assault.

“Lifting barriers for emergency contraception means taking them off the table,” said Allemann.

Ultimately, restricting access to birth control would likely lead to more unwanted pregnancies, in addition to higher costs for the state, families and the birth of babies, Allemann said.

“And what we do know is that unwanted pregnancies are much more dangerous,” said Allemann. “There is a much higher risk of complications, premature birth, stillbirth, and maternal complications, including maternal death.”

Senate meeting

The special session opened on Wednesday in the Missouri Senate with the submission of three bills – one that extends taxes for five years, one that includes contraceptive language and the prohibition of planned parenting as stated in Parson’s appeal, and one that all of this combined in a single bill.

That alone was enough to arouse suspicion among Republican lawmakers, who were the strongest proponents of introducing the restrictions.

“The last time we discussed it, I had the impression that we were going to make an invoice,” said Senator Paul Wieland, R-Imperial and sponsor of the original language on contraceptives.

The draft bills are heard in the Senate Approval Committee, which passed extension laws in its regular session without any language targeting contraception or planned parenting. If the Senate receives a bill that meets the terms of Parson’s appeal, Onder can see a scenario in which further changes are ruled out.

“It would be a grotesque abuse of Senate rules to throw something like that out of order,” said Onder.

The decision would be challenged, and he warned other senators that Missouri Right to Life would evaluate the vote.

Rizzo offered a bill that would extend taxes by five years. He said all other issues should be set aside.

“This has given us the best return on our investment when it comes to health grants in the state of Missouri,” said Rizzo.

The timing of trying to block birth control and attack planned parenting is suspect, said Senator Brian Williams, D-Ferguson.

The resignation of US Senator Roy Blunt has created opportunities in Republican areas. Several state senators are planning to run in the 4th Congressional District, which US MP Vicky Hartzler is giving up to run for Blunt’s seat.

“I think it’s about political ingratiation,” said Williams. “I think it’s the people who want to make headlines about politics.”

Republicans dismissed this claim, arguing that President Joe Biden’s administration is seeking to repeal the Hyde Amendment preventing Medicaid from paying for abortions and that the Missouri Supreme Court should use its language on spending bills aimed at planned parenting has deleted.

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