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Women’s Health

Fatigue and headache aren’t part of ‘being a woman’. They can be signs of low iron

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The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that a third of all women of childbearing age are anemic, and 40 percent of pregnant women are also iron deficient.

Without enough iron, our bodies cannot produce enough hemoglobin in red blood cells to carry oxygen around the body. As a result, an iron deficiency can lead to quality of life-impairing symptoms such as tiredness, headache, dizziness, poor concentration and shortness of breath. While some may show signs of iron deficiency, others may show no symptoms depending on the degree of the deficiency. These symptoms can significantly affect a person’s daily life, with greater risks for pregnant women.

Realizing the dangers, frequency, and symptoms associated with iron deficiency is one factor in addressing the iron deficiency problem, which is often dismissed as a problem by women. A study recently published in Blood Advances found that half of the participants were low in iron, with one in four being severely iron deficient. However, the study, which enrolled 44,552 pregnant women, found that 40 percent of participants never had their iron levels checked, while women with a lower socioeconomic background were less likely to be tested or treated. Symptoms of fatigue, headaches, and shortness of breath are often introspectively dismissed as problems simply related to the territory of pregnancy or “being a woman”. If left untreated, however, iron deficiency can lead to complications that could otherwise be easily prevented and treated.

“Iron deficiency and anemia during pregnancy are associated with adverse maternal and fetal outcomes, including neurocognitive deficits in children born to mothers with iron deficiency,” says Dr. Aoibhe O’Driscoll of Blackrock Medical Center, Women’s Health Clinic and Menopause Specialist in Cork. “Iron deficiency during pregnancy is associated with several complications. Most developed countries have a national iron screening program for pregnant women to ensure early detection and intervention to reduce risks associated with iron deficiency. Unfortunately, iron screening is not routinely performed in the general population, mainly for reasons of cost. “

The need for iron in pregnancy to support the developing fetus, the growing placenta, and the increased blood supply needed to maintain the pregnancy requires better access to regular screenings during and after pregnancy.

While it is an easily treatable condition, it is not uncommon for women to accept the symptoms of iron deficiency and live with them for years before seeking treatment

“Regardless of the national iron screening programs during pregnancy, an ideal opportunity to repeat the screening is the six-week routine exam to find out how the pregnancy or breastfeeding affected iron levels,” says Dr. O’Driscoll. “This would be invaluable in assessing who needs iron supplementation, which could help avoid iron level issues in subsequent pregnancies.

“Once a woman has inadequate iron levels during pregnancy, the dietary sources of iron are insufficient to replenish the level and oral iron supplementation is required. Therefore, I would suggest that women focus on iron to reduce the risks associated with inadequate iron levels associated with folic acid supplementation, as both play key roles during pregnancy. “

Since iron deficiency has been identified as a result of the challenges of pregnancy, it is often also due to menstrual loss, with an estimated 2.1 billion people living with iron deficiency as a result. It is the leading cause of anemia in women of childbearing age worldwide. While it is an easily treatable condition, it is not uncommon for women to accept the symptoms of iron deficiency and live with them for years before seeking treatment. As such, women enter pregnancy already with an iron deficiency.

The most common symptoms of anemia

New data suggests that 64 percent of women have heavy periods and are more likely to experience symptoms such as fatigue and exhaustion due to iron deficiency as a result. However, since only 33 percent of the participants are of the opinion that too little iron contributes to tiredness and exhaustion, the knowledge gap regarding the importance of iron intake becomes clear. Iron deficiency anemia due to heavy menstruation is common in a third of menstruating women. According to a survey of 2,400 women commissioned by the makers of Active Iron, 71 percent of participants recognized fatigue and exhaustion as a symptom caused by the menstrual cycle. Surprisingly, however, a third believe that “it can’t do anything to make a difference” about the symptoms resulting from their periods and the potential for iron deficiency.

“Women of childbearing potential are at greater risk of inadequate iron levels due to monthly menstrual blood loss. Pregnant women and women with a restricted diet, endurance athletes and those with oral iron intolerance also belong to the higher risk category. These common lifestyle factors contribute to inadequate iron levels and so would indicate that the prevalence of iron deficiency is much higher in women, ”says O’Driscoll.

The average woman spends nearly ten years of her life menstruating

“People present in primary care with symptoms of inadequate iron levels such as TATT,“ always tired ”, low energy, or frequent heavy periods or restricted diets on a daily basis, and then it is clinically appropriate to test for them. Inadequate iron levels are often treated with high-dose oral iron, which can cause gastrointestinal side effects such as constipation and nausea in most women. For many, this intolerance leads to poor adherence and unsuccessful treatment. When choosing an iron supplement, it is important that it is stomach-friendly and yet highly absorbable. “

Dr. O’Driscoll says she is surprised to learn that so many Irish women are suffering symptoms of iron deficiency. “I’ve seen firsthand in my practice that treating inadequate iron levels has alleviated symptoms. The average woman spends nearly ten years of her life menstruating, which is a considerable amount of time during which she feels less than at her best. That really has to change. “

Fatigue and exhaustion are the symptoms of menstruation that women are most likely to accept as part of life. Dr. However, O’Driscoll recognizes that simple lifestyle and diet changes as well as routine supplementation can help replenish iron levels, provide sustained energy, and alleviate the common side effects of iron deficiency that can include extreme fatigue.

With iron deficiency anemia remaining a globally underrated condition affecting women, growing awareness of the causes, risks, and options available will encourage women to seek advice and help in managing low iron levels. When health care professionals support efforts to close the awareness gap, iron deficiency anemia can be targeted, resulting in better outcomes for women.

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Women’s Health

Dubai’s Arab Health to examine why women had fewer babies during Covid-19 pandemic

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Obstetrics and gynecology experts will meet at the Arab Health Summit in Dubai this month to discuss why women have decided not to have babies because of the pandemic.

The Arab Health Obstetrics and Gynecology Conference will discuss trends in women’s health, including the impact of Covid-19 on reproduction and fertility.

dr Human Fatemi, medical group leader at ART Fertility Clinics in Abu Dhabi, said the pandemic has caused people to reconsider their plans to have children.

As an infertility specialist, I would not worry about Covid-19 and pregnancy

dr Human Fatemi, Medical Group Leader of ART Fertility Clinics

“The pandemic has definitely shifted the desire to become parents and the desire to have a child,” he said.

“For some patients, especially women with reduced ovarian reserve and aging, the pandemic will significantly affect their ability to have children.

“As an infertility specialist, I would not be concerned about Covid-19 and pregnancy. The key message is to maintain hygiene, wear masks, ensure social distancing and be careful. If you have a reduced ovarian reserve and want to get pregnant, don’t delay.”

Several research results show a direct link between the pandemic and women’s desire to have children.

According to research by the United Nations Population Fund, public health crises and economic shocks have long been recognized as conditions that alter reproductive behavior.

Data from the US, Europe and East Asia show sharp falls in births as of October 2020 compared to the same months last year, suggesting that Covid-19 has caused short-term fertility declines in many countries.

Research from the Australian Institute of Family Studies shows that one in five Australian women changed their baby plans because of the pandemic, and one in seven women said it likely affected when they would have children, with most study cohorts ( 92 percent) decided to delay pregnancy.

This was supported by a study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, which reported the link between the pandemic and births in 22 high-income countries and found particularly sharp declines in southern Europe – Italy (-9.1 percent), Spain (-8.4 percent) and Portugal (-6.6 percent).

But doctors said the research doesn’t prove there’s a greater risk for pregnant women. You should follow precautions and deliver babies safely.

dr Kiran Mehndiratta, a specialist obstetrician and gynecologist at NMC Specialty Hospital Abu Dhabi, told The National in May 2020 – during the peak of the first wave – that pregnant women are not at increased risk compared to others.

However, she added, it is important to know that pregnant women’s immunity is reduced to ensure the baby is not rejected by the mother as half of its genes come from the father.

That means people with pregnancy complications like diabetes or high blood pressure, which are known risk factors for severe Covid-19, could also be at higher risk.

Most of the “very small number” of pregnant women who die at NMC Specialty Hospital, where Dr. Mehndiratta works who tested positive for Covid-19 were also asymptomatic.

“Only a few of them gradually developed a cough,” she said.

This supports theories that suggest pregnant women are no more vulnerable to the effects of Covid-19 than others.

The Obstetrics and Gynecology Conference is a regular feature of Arab Health, taking place from 24th to 27th January at the Dubai World Trade Centre.

The conference will host several key sessions on fertility, reproduction and Covid-19, including a session on ‘Covid-19 and the Fetus’, presented by Prof Asma Khalil, who specializes in Obstetrics and Maternal-Fetal Medicine at St George’s University Hospital specializes. London. A session on ‘Covid-19 and the impact on fertility’ will be given by Dr. Johnny T Awwad, Executive Chairman of Women’s Services and Head of Reproductive Medicine at Sidra Medicine & Research Centre, Qatar.

Updated January 19, 2022 2:27 p.m

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Women’s Health

Menopause brings an onslaught of changes to women’s bodies. Why don’t we talk about it?

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Menopause affects 50 million women in the United States, especially when they are at the peak of their careers and personal relationships. It is usually diagnosed 12 months after a woman’s last period.

Menopause begins around age 51, on average, and brings with it a serious drop in estrogen levels that affects the body from head to toe, says Dr. Somi Javaid, a board-certified gynecologist and founder of HerMD, a growing chain of health clinics in Cinncinati specializing in menopause and sexual health.

She explains that women experience hot flashes, trouble sleeping and memory, increased anxiety and depression, dry skin, weight gain, joint problems, decreased sex drive, vaginal dryness, problems with orgasm, and no menstrual cycles for 12 straight months. And in the months or years leading up to menopause — a period known as perimenopause — there’s still some bleeding, and estrogen levels still drop, but not as much.

People don’t talk much about menopause because it’s a generational thing, says Sally Mueller, a former Target executive and now co-founder and CEO of wellness company Womaness.

“I’m 57, my mother hasn’t talked about her menopause. And so the baby boomers and even Gen Xers really grew up being uncomfortable talking about it because their moms didn’t talk about it. And I see it really, really changing with millennials. Millennials are breaking every taboo and starting to open the conversation, so thank goodness.”

Despite the physical symptoms, women at this stage feel confident, have wisdom to share, and feel empowered and creative, Mueller points out.

hormone replacement therapy

According to Javaid, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is safe for millions of women and can effectively address many of the symptoms mentioned above, as well as other hidden problems such as bone loss and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Timing is important with HRT. “When hormones are prescribed within the first five years of menopause, they are actually cardioprotective. As for the increased risk of breast cancer, yes, if you have an estrogen receptor or progesterone receptor positive tumor, you can definitely accelerate growth. However, we still haven’t proven that HRT actually causes the cancer cells to start in the first place. But for patients who have a history or a strong family history, or who have genetic mutations such as BRCA, we do not recommend hormone replacement therapy for them.”

Does HRT help women become younger again? Javaid says that in her 20 years of clinical practice, women have said their skin changes, acne disappears, and joints hurt less.

“Yes, patients are seeing a return or resolution of some of their ailments. But I want to be clear: I’m not going to take a 51-year-old patient and make her 21 again. But they definitely feel better.”

There are now non-hormonal options, such as radiofrequency treatments and CO2 lasers, that are used for vaginal dryness, Javaid points out.

Start early – learn and adapt

It’s important to understand that menopause can lead to longer-term health effects, and many women aren’t informed until they’re already through menopause, Mueller says. “It would be a much easier transition if they were educating themselves even in their 30s and early 40s.”

Javaid says she begins educating her patients in her 30s. “I always tell my patients: nobody knows your body better than you do. If your provider is not listening to you, you need another provider. … I truly encourage women to live their best life, to understand what’s going on with them, and to seek the care that fits both their choices and their lifestyle. I think the sooner they find out about this, the better they will do with their healthcare.”

Javaid says women need to eat differently, too, and she’s a big proponent of intermittent fasting to lower insulin levels, which helps with weight gain during menopause.

Also, turn to weight loads to counter osteoporosis and do pelvic floor strength training to maintain sexual function and stay continent, she adds. “We don’t want to pee on ourselves when we’re exercising, coughing, or laughing with friends.”

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Women’s Health

Do advanced therapies have a place in women’s health?

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Lehr participated in a biotech showcase session titled “Women’s Health: Progress and Innovation Continue to Generate Investor Interest.” The panel included executives from Context Therapeutics, EndoCyclic Therapeutics, Gennev, iSono Health and Univfy.

What is women’s health?

Defining women’s health seems deceptively simple, but there are many definitions, according to Biotech Showcase panelists. For some companies and investors, it is defined by certain diseases, such as hormonal diseases or diseases that affect women differently than men. For others, the term is limited to just breast cancer.

An evolving term – femtech – has emerged to refer to technologies focused on women’s health. Panelists explained that the classification helped increase visibility and make investors (traditionally a male-dominated space) intrigued and motivated to explore and learn more about the category. Ultimately, the committee called for more female investors.

Recently, femtech-focused companies and products have emerged. But according to Lehr, the innovations of this group are only incremental improvements. What the industry needs are logarithmic changes that catalyze a massive step forward toward healing.

One such innovation that has the potential to create that logarithmic jump is immunotherapy, Lehr said. Investors are already interested in this space, and getting investors to invest in female cancer immunotherapy could be transformative.

Advanced therapies for women’s cancer

Lehr explained that Context Therapeutics is a mission-driven company dedicated to women’s oncology. The company strives to develop products that improve the quality of life for women living with cancer.

The Company’s lead candidate is Onapristone Extended Release (ONA-XR), a progesterone receptor antagonist that inhibits the progesterone receptor by binding to chromatin, which in turn downregulates cancer stem cell mobilization and blocks immune evasion. The progesterone receptor is a ligand-activated transcription factor that promotes progesterone-dependent cancers such as ovarian, uterine (endometrial) and breast cancer.

These cancers hijack progesterone to stimulate cancer cell proliferation, metastasis, regeneration and immune evasion. ONA-XR is currently being evaluated in four Phase II studies and the Company expects to report results from these studies in 2022.

Context is also developing Claudin 6 bispecific, an anti-CD3 x, anti-Claudin 6, antigen bispecific monoclonal antibody that redirects T cell-mediated lysis to malignant cells that express Claudin 6. Claudin 6 is a target for a tight junction protein and is particularly enriched in ovarian and endometrial tumors. The combination of precision medicine and immunotherapy aims to attack tumors directly without damaging normal tissue.

As excitement and innovation in the field continues to grow, Lehr and other Biotech Showcase panelists expressed optimism about near- and long-term progress in bringing advanced therapies and transformative technologies to the women’s health sector.

Do you have a unique perspective on your research related to women’s health or femtech? Contact the publisher today to learn more.

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