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Women’s Health

When Men Get Pregnancy Symptoms

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For their part, the men I spoke to who had Couvade symptoms did not believe that they were actually about to have a child. Instead, they described being at sea with their own mind and body, with no one to turn to. The psychologist Grünberg did not believe that there was a professional who could help him, so he set up his own self-help groups. Another man I spoke to in the UK, Scott Mair, had difficulties leading up to the birth of his seven children. During pregnancy and after the birth of his wife, he suffered from abdominal pain and back, shoulder and neck fatigue. He was tired and lost his appetite. He was admitted to the hospital and increased his use of pain medication. Mair said he was with an excellent doctor, but he did not link these symptoms to his fatherhood experience. It was only after the particularly traumatic birth of his seventh child that he sought help and found someone to hold a workshop on postpartum depression for fathers.

Years ago, a friend’s husband told me that when his wife was born there were no resources for him in the hospital: no food, no place to sleep, no one talked to him. I thought he was selfish, apparently upset that the woman’s pregnancy wasn’t just about him. But looking back, I think he was complaining about something real: society told him he had no place in the family.

However, with the development of Couvade research, the syndrome is being redefined. Brennan believes the stigma around him changes with the role of fathers. “In recent years there has been an increased interest in the syndrome and the importance of men playing a more active role in their partner’s pregnancy and preparation for it,” he said. “In fact, those with the syndrome are now generally perceived as being empathetic towards their pregnant partners.”

Some researchers now hypothesize that the more a father is involved in bringing up children, the more his mind and body could change. Lee Gettler, an anthropologist at the University of Notre Dame, has studied fathers all over the world. He told me that he suspects that changes in men’s testosterone levels when they become fathers depend in part on cultural norms of fatherhood. Robin Edelstein, a University of Michigan psychologist who studied hormones and fatherhood, has also wondered if these hormonal changes occur in a feedback loop. In her research, the fathers who were most involved in childcare had the lowest testosterone levels, and she proposed to me the theory that the longer fathers attended childcare the longer their testosterone levels could decrease.

When talking to researchers, I was impressed by the growing awareness and awareness of postpartum depression in men. Although Brennan told me the symptoms are advancing into the postnatal period, he is careful not to lump them together with Couvade, but almost everyone else I’ve spoken to saw the transition to fatherhood holistically. In a way, this shift in attitudes seems to reflect what is happening in maternal health care, albeit with a long way to go: a gradual growing consideration not only of pregnancy but also of the postpartum period.

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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