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Women's Health Education Program WHEP Blog: Archive

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Advocacy

Dr. Rodriguez-Trias: Advocate for Ending Sterilization Abuse
In the scope of women’s reproductive rights in the United States, a topic that is often overlooked is the country’s history of sterilization abuse. Minoritized women in the U.S. have historically been more likely to be sterilized than other women, often without their knowledge or consent. One aspect of the women’s health movement in the 1970s was to address these injustices, and this fight was led by Helen Rodríguez Trías, MD. Read more. (July 17, 2023)

Arunachalam Muruganantham
Husband. Visionary. Social entrepreneur. One of 2014 Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World. Recipient of the Padma Shri (the fourth highest civilian award) from the government of India in 2016. Subject of the 2018 short film “Period. End of Sentence.” as well as the critically and commercially successful 2018 Bollywood film “Pad Man” starring Bollywood star Akshay Kumar. Read more. (June 16, 2023)

Barriers to Breastfeeding
“Breast is best” is a common phrase used to promote breastfeeding. However, providers should still be cognizant of the barriers to breastfeeding and the shame that mothers may feel when they are unable to or prefer not to breastfeed. Read more. (May 31, 2023)

iPLEDGE: An Ineffective Program, Impeding Effective Care
Isotretinoin, more commonly known by its brand name Accutane, is an approved therapy for the treatment of severe acne with unrivaled efficacy. However, its use can cause profound birth defects in a developing fetus. Because of this, the United States Food and Drug Administration created the iPLEDGE program in 2006 to remove the risk of fetal exposure to isotretinoin by ensuring patients are not pregnant or at risk of becoming pregnant while on a prescribed course of the medication. Read more. (May 25, 2023)

No Paid Parental Leave for Americans
Paid parental leave is a benefit of employment that almost seems intuitive; it lets parents in the workforce care for themselves and their newborn following delivery, reducing financial insecurity and stress during those times. The United States remains the only industrialized, modernized country that does not have a paid family medical leave program. While the U.S. has implemented the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), this only affords unpaid leave and has strict eligibility requirements, often excluding those most in need, exacerbating existing health disparities. Read more. (December 5, 2022)

Roe v. Wade
In January of 1973, the U.S Supreme Court sided with “Jane Roe” in Roe v. Wade’s pivotal declaration of existing anti-abortion law as an encroachment of several personal freedoms outlined in the Constitution. Most notably, legislature protecting privacy and due process appear in the Fourth, Fifth, and 14th Amendments. Specifically, the 14th Amendment reads that “no state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” Read more. (March 20, 2023)

Size-Inclusive Medicine: A Response to AAP’s Guidelines for the Treatment of Children and Adolescents with Obesity
We are a grassroots advocacy organization of medical students across the country, focused on making health care more equitable for patients in larger bodies. We join the physicians, eating disorder professionals, and community members who raise concerns regarding the AAP’s most recent clinical guidelines, “Clinical Practice Guideline for the Evaluation and Treatment of Children and Adolescents with Obesity.” (kevinmd.com) Read more. (March 9, 2023)

Reproductive Justice on the PA Ballot in 2022
On June 24 2022, the United States Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right for a woman to choose a safe medical procedure that grants reproductive freedom and justice. Reproductive justice is defined as the “human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities.” The Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health decision to overrule Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey set back reproductive justice to 1973 in 13 states that passed trigger laws. Read more. (February 3, 2023)

Restriction on Abortion Care Amplifies Health Disparities and Suffering
Reproductive rights including abortion care have been protected for the last 50 years. However, in June of 2022 the landmark Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization ruling was reversed by the U.S. Supreme Court. The implications of such policy signify that individual states have full authority to regulate abortion policy in any way they deem fit. Read more. (January 31, 2023)

The Underrepresentation of Women Physicians in Cardiology
In cardiology, women comprise only 18% of fellows, less than 15% of practicing general cardiologists, and less than 5% of interventional cardiologists. This is a stark difference to the patients they serve, with recent estimates indicating that more than 50% of women in the United States above 40 years old suffer from cardiovascular disease. Read more. (January 9, 2023)

Inclusivity in Chestfeeding
Gender identity is often fluid, and individuals who identify as transmasculine can still have the desire to chestfeed and carry their own child in their uteruses. Birthing parents who do not identify as a woman exist and they may not resonate with terms like "breastfeeding" or "mom." Language is powerful, as it can cause harm people and trigger feelings of gender dysphoria. But on the other hand, it can empower and help people feel more included. Read more. (January 19, 2023)

What Legal Rights Do Pennsylvania Minors Have to Reproductive Care?
As the national landscape of reproductive health care evolves, health care providers must stay abreast of local and state laws, and patients should know what rights they have. Health care providers to minors in Pennsylvania may encounter questions or concerns about what types reproductive of health care their patients can receive confidentially and independently. Read more. (November 7, 2022)

Women in Medicine Month
Being a woman in medicine means different things to different people. For some, it means finding their own niche in a historically male-dominated field. For others, it means providing comfort and care to other women in their most desperate times of need. For most, it means being able to inspire future generations to pursue whatever they dream of, free of the shackles of labels, discouragement and doubt. Read more. (September 12, 2022)

Debunking MD Misconceptions about Breastfeeding
As an MS4, I thought I was ready to excel in my Women’s Health in the Community: Breastfeeding Elective at St. Christopher’s Center for the Urban Child. It turns out that I had to learn even faster than I usually do. As the trained lactation consultants went through common breastfeeding myths with me that afternoon, I realized that I had believed every single one of them. At another hospital, one without lactation consultants, a doctor might even be counseling their patients wrong. In order for us to counsel our patients correctly, we must first debunk those misconceptions that we hold for ourselves. Here are the biggest ones that have fundamentally changed how I will practice medicine. (September 8, 2022)

The Impact of Structural Racism on Black Women's Health
Medical and technological advancements over the last century have resulted in substantial improvements in health for people of all genders in the United States. However, Black women continue to have poorer health outcomes and higher mortality rates than other U.S. women. According to Black Demographics, despite being younger (36.1 years) on average than U.S. women overall (39.6 years), Black women have a higher prevalence of acute and chronic health conditions, including heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, obesity, stress and pregnancy-related morbidity (Chinn et al. 2021). (July 7, 2022)

The Shadow Pandemic: Violence Against Women and Girls
In the shadows of COVID-19, there was another pandemic arising, that unfortunately was masked by the pressing nature of the COVID pandemic. This is now termed the “Shadow Pandemic”: the increasing rates of violence against women and children since the onset of COVID-19 pandemic. (May 19, 2022)

Breastfeeding in Public – It’s Up to Mom’s Comfort, Not Yours
Feeding your baby is a natural and wonderful way to not only keep baby healthy and happy, but for you to bond with your newborn. So why has breastfeeding in public become such a large issue? (April 20, 2022)

The Importance of Medicare for All for Women
When discussing health care access, one of the key features of the system that is often overlooked is the coverage of care for those assigned female at birth. First and foremost, women normally should have a separate physician from a primary care provider that addresses complex conditions such as polycystic ovarian syndrome, dyspareunia, breast health and more. These conditions are often chronic, underdiagnosed and therefore undermanaged. Then there are the added obstetrical costs that need to be covered for those who choose to have a child. (April 11, 2022)

A Quick Dive into Transgender Fertility and Barriers to Quality Care
Transgender individuals face unique health care difficulties surrounding family planning and fertility preservation. Clinical treatment for transgender individuals includes puberty suppression, gender-affirming hormone therapy or gender-affirming surgical procedures. It is recommended for clinicians to discuss family planning with all transgender patients, and ideally these patients should see fertility specialists prior to starting gender-affirming treatment. (April 6, 2022)

Medication Abortion
Yesterday, the federal government lifted a major ban on access to abortion care. Now, patients will be allowed to receive abortion pills by mail. Medication abortion is a common method available to women up to 10 weeks of gestation. (February 24, 2022)

Unwanted Pregnancies: Outcomes for Children
It has been shown that unintended pregnancies in the United States account for half of the pregnancies each year. The rates of unintended pregnancies vary based on the relationship status with the highest among those who are unmarried but cohabiting. There are two categories of unintended pregnancies: mistimed and unwanted. The former describes a pregnancy that has occurred earlier than desired, while the latter refers to the situation when a woman wanted no children at all. (February 18, 2022)

COVID 19 in Pregnancy: A Greater Risk to Our Vulnerable Population
As a fourth-year medical student applying to the obstetrics and gynecologic field, it’s weird to think that the laboring moms I’ve been there with through cervical checks, final big pushes and post-partum well wishes have never actually seen my entire face. Losing that face-to-face connection with people is just another of those harsh realities we’ve encountered with the COVID-19 pandemic continuing through the end of 2021. The innumerable losses we’ve had since spring of 2020, unfortunately, have stretched to our pregnant population as well. (February 8, 2022)

Atrophic Vaginitis in Trans Men: A Topic Unexplored
Transmasculine people on testosterone may experience atrophic vaginitis. It is thought to be due to the suppressive effects of testosterone on estrogen, leading to an estrogen-deprived state that appears to be similar to the experience of many post-menopausal cis women. Atrophic vaginitis is a reflection of poor skin barrier function and low tissue resilience, and is associated with bacterial vaginosis (BV). (January 25, 2022)

Disparities in Maternal Vaccination Rates of Tdap and Influenza Vaccine and COVID-19 Takeaways
Maternal vaccination with influenza and Tdap (tetanus toxoid, reduced diphtheria toxoid and acellular pertussis) are recommended and administered to pregnant people to reduce the risk of severe illness for themselves and their babies. However, despite these recommendations, vaccination rates are low and racial disparities exist. (January 19, 2022)

COVID-19: The Virus Exposing and Widening the Health Care Gaps Experienced by Transgender Individuals and What We Can Do to Close Them
As a society and especially as health care providers we need to recognize the vast discrimination that transgender and gender nonconforming individuals face not only in everyday life but also in the medical setting. Transgender individuals are a high-risk population for mental and physical health problems, due to the numerous structural, economic and individual barriers that this population faces. (January 5, 2022)

Intimate Partner Violence
Intimate partner violence (IPV) has many definitions. For this discussion, consider the website Medscape’s definition: victimization of a person with whom the abuser has or has had an intimate, romantic or spousal relationship. Forms of violence are varied and can include physical assault, psychological abuse, stalking, cyberstalking, financial and sexual abuse. (December 9, 2021)

Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault on College Campuses
In light of recent cases such as the violence and assault committed on a college student at the University of Delaware in October 2021, the topics of domestic violence and sexual assault are rising again. Rightfully so. (November 10, 2021)

COVID 19 Vaccination in Pregnancy
According to the CDC, pregnancy is known to increase the risk for COVID-19 patients of severe illness, ICU admission, mechanical ventilation, adverse events (preterm birth) and death1. This is in addition to the increased risk of complications with experienced by COVID-19 patients with underlying health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, advanced age and cardiovascular disease. (November 8, 2021)

LGBTQ+ History Month: Implementing Advocacy into Medical Practice
LGBTQ+ History Month provides ample opportunity to celebrate the many strides queer folks have made, and to continue honoring those triumphs. It wasn’t until 1982 that the City of Philadelphia amended the Fair Practices Act, the city’s anti-discrimination policy, to include LGBTQ+ folks. Although the queer community has made vast progress over the years, queer health disparities continue to persist. Health care professionals are given the privilege and responsibility of upholding equity in practice, and this includes advocating for the safety and inclusion of LGBTQ+ patients. (October 27, 2021)

It's Common But Not Healthy to Hate Your Body...
Medical professionals are regular people, too, which means we struggle with the same problems that everyone else does. For me, I struggle with my weight. Really, I struggle with my self-image, a very common issue for many people. Thousands of dollars of medical education has taught me that its actually not healthy to hate your body. (October 21, 2021)

Let’s Talk Health Literacy
This year Drexel has its first club focused solely on promoting health literacy throughout the community. This club, Health Literacy & Community Partners, is founded on the idea of bridging the gaps in patient-doctor communication. Through studies and patient encounters it has been shown that health literacy is a social determinant of health and a major foundation in preventive health. Thus, at this year’s Community Health Fair we are launching our “Let’s Talk” campaign. We aim to spread knowledge through easy-to-navigate resources focused on preparing for doctor’s visits and “things to tell your doctor.” (October 6, 2021)

The Challenges of Being a Woman in Medicine and Why It Is Essential to Keep Pushing
The question “Are you sure about that?” is one that I became all too familiar with. As an Indian girl with dreams of becoming a physician, I was constantly asked this question, and with each additional time, the words became heavier and scarier. At one point in my life, I was sure about my decision – when I used to dress up in my dad’s white button-down and use my play stethoscope to diagnose my family members, my decision was unwavering and resistant to any doubts. (October 4, 2021)

Tea and Sex - More Similar Than You Think
There is a brilliant video created by a police department in the U.K. that explains the concept of sexual consent in terms of making someone a cup of tea. If you offer to make someone a cup of tea and they don’t want a cup of tea, you should just not make them a cup of tea. You should not get annoyed that they don’t want tea, and you most definitely should not force them to drink the tea. (September 22, 2021)

CDC Approves Use of COVID-19 Vaccines in Pregnant People
As I write this blog post, the City of Philadelphia has entered their second day with the newly reinstated mask mandate: Masks are required in all indoor spaces regardless of vaccine status. Businesses may require proof of vaccination if they choose. Citizens of Philadelphia are encouraged to receive a two-dose course of either Moderna or Pfizer-biotech vaccines if they have not done so already. (September 17, 2021)

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

About Helen Brooke Taussig, MD
Helen Brooke Taussig, MD, was a visionary physician who is considered the founder of pediatric cardiology. Born in 1898, she would go on to have a prolific career in medicine at a time when few women were afforded the opportunity. Read more.

Women in Medicine: Dr. Patricia Bath
The 20th century marked an era where there was a substantial increase in the number of women entering the medical field and the number of female physicians making significant contributions to society. One such physician was Patricia Bath, MD, an innovative ophthalmologist, and scientist who invented laser cataract surgery. Read more.

Stories From the Wards: A Woman in Medicine
It seems that almost every woman in every medical field has an anecdote about being mistaken For another member of the health care team, or about having their medical decision-making undermined by either a patient or a colleague. As a medical student with only a little over a year of clinical experience under my belt, I too have these stories. Read more. (February 17, 2023)

The Underrepresentation of Women Physicians in Cardiology
In cardiology, women comprise only 18% of fellows, less than 15% of practicing general cardiologists, and less than 5% of interventional cardiologists. This is a stark difference to the patients they serve, with recent estimates indicating that more than 50% of women in the United States above 40 years old suffer from cardiovascular disease. Read more. (January 9, 2023)

Inclusivity in Chestfeeding
Gender identity is often fluid, and individuals who identify as transmasculine can still have the desire to chestfeed and carry their own child in their uteruses. Birthing parents who do not identify as a woman exist and they may not resonate with terms like "breastfeeding" or "mom." Language is powerful, as it can cause harm people and trigger feelings of gender dysphoria. But on the other hand, it can empower and help people feel more included. Read more. (January 19, 2023)

Women in Medicine Month
Being a woman in medicine means different things to different people. For some, it means finding their own niche in a historically male-dominated field. For others, it means providing comfort and care to other women in their most desperate times of need. For most, it means being able to inspire future generations to pursue whatever they dream of, free of the shackles of labels, discouragement and doubt. Read more. (September 12, 2022)

The Impact of Structural Racism on Black Women's Health
Medical and technological advancements over the last century have resulted in substantial improvements in health for people of all genders in the United States. However, Black women continue to have poorer health outcomes and higher mortality rates than other U.S. women. According to Black Demographics, despite being younger (36.1 years) on average than U.S. women overall (39.6 years), Black women have a higher prevalence of acute and chronic health conditions, including heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, obesity, stress and pregnancy-related morbidity (Chinn et al. 2021). Read more. (July 7, 2022)

Cancer Screening in Transgender Individuals
Cancer screening guidelines have largely contributed to reduced cancer mortality in recent medicine. Mammograms, colonoscopies and Pap smears have aided in early detection and treatment. However, the guidelines set by the United States Preventative Services Task Force and American Cancer Society are limited to cisgender individuals. There are not currently any clear guidelines about cancer screening in transgender individuals. Read more. (May 4, 2022)

Breastfeeding in Public – It’s Up to Mom’s Comfort, Not Yours
Feeding your baby is a natural and wonderful way to not only keep baby healthy and happy, but for you to bond with your newborn. So why has breastfeeding in public become such a large issue? Read more. (April 20, 2022)

The Importance of Medicare for All for Women
When discussing health care access, one of the key features of the system that is often overlooked is the coverage of care for those assigned female at birth. First and foremost, women normally should have a separate physician from a primary care provider that addresses complex conditions such as polycystic ovarian syndrome, dyspareunia, breast health and more. These conditions are often chronic, underdiagnosed and therefore undermanaged. Then there are the added obstetrical costs that need to be covered for those who choose to have a child. (April 11, 2022)

Atrophic Vaginitis in Trans Men: A Topic Unexplored
Transmasculine people on testosterone may experience atrophic vaginitis. It is thought to be due to the suppressive effects of testosterone on estrogen, leading to an estrogen-deprived state that appears to be similar to the experience of many post-menopausal cis women. Atrophic vaginitis is a reflection of poor skin barrier function and low tissue resilience, and is associated with bacterial vaginosis (BV). (January 25, 2022)

COVID-19: The Virus Exposing and Widening the Health Care Gaps Experienced by Transgender Individuals and What We Can Do to Close Them
As a society and especially as health care providers we need to recognize the vast discrimination that transgender and gender nonconforming individuals face not only in everyday life but also in the medical setting. Transgender individuals are a high-risk population for mental and physical health problems, due to the numerous structural, economic and individual barriers that this population faces. (January 5, 2022)

LGBTQ+ History Month: Implementing Advocacy into Medical Practice
LGBTQ+ History Month provides ample opportunity to celebrate the many strides queer folks have made, and to continue honoring those triumphs. It wasn’t until 1982 that the City of Philadelphia amended the Fair Practices Act, the city’s anti-discrimination policy, to include LGBTQ+ folks. Although the queer community has made vast progress over the years, queer health disparities continue to persist. Health care professionals are given the privilege and responsibility of upholding equity in practice, and this includes advocating for the safety and inclusion of LGBTQ+ patients. (October 27, 2021)

The Challenges of Being a Woman in Medicine and Why It Is Essential to Keep Pushing
The question “Are you sure about that?” is one that I became all too familiar with. As an Indian girl with dreams of becoming a physician, I was constantly asked this question, and with each additional time, the words became heavier and scarier. At one point in my life, I was sure about my decision – when I used to dress up in my dad’s white button-down and use my play stethoscope to diagnose my family members, my decision was unwavering and resistant to any doubts. (October 4, 2021)

The Female Athlete Triad
Athletes who menstruate are at high risk for developing decreased energy availability, menstrual dysfunction and low bone mineral density, a phenomenon known as the female athlete triad. People socialized as women in American society inherently face pressure to be lean. Athletes socialized as women face additional pressure for their bodies to look and function a certain way to excel in their sport. (September 17, 2021)

Reproductive Health

Dr. Rodriguez-Trias: Advocate for Ending Sterilization Abuse
In the scope of women’s reproductive rights in the United States, a topic that is often overlooked is the country’s history of sterilization abuse. Minoritized women in the U.S. have historically been more likely to be sterilized than other women, often without their knowledge or consent. One aspect of the women’s health movement in the 1970s was to address these injustices, and this fight was led by Helen Rodríguez Trías, MD. Read more. (July 17, 2023)

Deciding Where to Deliver: At home or at the hospital?
Pregnant people in the United States have many options when it comes to planning what their labor and delivery experience looks like. Common options include home delivery, various types of delivery centers and the hospital. In the United States and other western countries, hospital deliveries have largely become the default. Each option comes with its own benefits and downsides. Read more. (January 24, 2023)

Arunachalam Muruganantham
Husband. Visionary. Social entrepreneur. One of 2014 Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World. Recipient of the Padma Shri (the fourth highest civilian award) from the government of India in 2016. Subject of the 2018 short film “Period. End of Sentence.” as well as the critically and commercially successful 2018 Bollywood film “Pad Man” starring Bollywood star Akshay Kumar. Read more. (June 16, 2023)

Barriers to Breastfeeding
“Breast is best” is a common phrase used to promote breastfeeding. However, providers should still be cognizant of the barriers to breastfeeding and the shame that mothers may feel when they are unable to or prefer not to breastfeed. Read more. (May 31, 2023)

iPLEDGE: An Ineffective Program, Impeding Effective Care
Isotretinoin, more commonly known by its brand name Accutane, is an approved therapy for the treatment of severe acne with unrivaled efficacy. However, its use can cause profound birth defects in a developing fetus. Because of this, the United States Food and Drug Administration created the iPLEDGE program in 2006 to remove the risk of fetal exposure to isotretinoin by ensuring patients are not pregnant or at risk of becoming pregnant while on a prescribed course of the medication. Read more. (May 25, 2023)

The Role of Doulas in Addressing Black Women’s Maternal Mortality
The maternal mortality ratio (MMR) in the United States has approximately doubled in the past two decades while the global MMR has decreased nearly 40%1. This is a troubling statistic as the U.S. has the highest rate of maternal mortality in the developing world. Read more. (May 17, 2023)

A Deep Dive Into Long-Acting Reversible Contraception
Long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) can be a great option for pregnancy prevention. LARC options include hormonal intrauterine devices (IUDs), copper IUDs and hormonal subdermal implants. Other than surgical sterilization, LARCs are the most effective option for preventing unintended pregnancy. Read more. (May 10, 2023)

Benefits and Concerns of Water Births
Water births are when labor and/or delivery occurs in a warm body of water, usually a birthing tub or pool. The earliest account of a water birth was in 1805, in which a woman had been laboring for hours and went for a bath for the purpose of relaxation. She then gave birth into the water and the baby survived. What are the proven benefits of water births, and are there risks? Read more. (February 20, 2023)

Telehealth Abortions
Patients who undergo a medication abortion are using medications to end a pregnancy. Typically, two medications — mifepristone and misoprostol — are administered in succession. Read more. (March 6, 2023)

Reproductive Justice on the PA Ballot in 2022
On June 24 2022, the United States Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right for a woman to choose a safe medical procedure that grants reproductive freedom and justice. Reproductive justice is defined as the “human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities.” The Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health decision to overrule Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey set back reproductive justice to 1973 in 13 states that passed trigger laws. Read more. (February 3, 2023)

Restriction on Abortion Care Amplifies Health Disparities and Suffering
Reproductive rights including abortion care have been protected for the last 50 years. However, in June of 2022 the landmark Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization ruling was reversed by the U.S. Supreme Court. The implications of such policy signify that individual states have full authority to regulate abortion policy in any way they deem fit. Read more. (January 31, 2023)

Pain Management With IUD Placement
As a medical student on clinical rotations, I have witnessed many office gynecologic procedures such as pap smears, IUD insertions and even colposcopies and endometrial biopsies. With IUD insertion specifically, I am always surprised by the wide range of patient reactions to what the provider usually describes as “a small pinch.” Some people tolerate these procedures well while others are visibly tearful and in a lot of pain. IUDs are an extremely effective and reliable form of birth control, but it is possible the pain of insertion deters some from utilizing this method. Read more. (February 6, 2023)

Inclusivity in Chestfeeding
Gender identity is often fluid, and individuals who identify as transmasculine can still have the desire to chestfeed and carry their own child in their uteruses. Birthing parents who do not identify as a woman exist and they may not resonate with terms like "breastfeeding" or "mom." Language is powerful, as it can cause harm people and trigger feelings of gender dysphoria. But on the other hand, it can empower and help people feel more included. Read more.(January 19, 2023)

Substance Use Disorder During Pregnancy
Substance use during pregnancy is a public health concern as it can harm both the mother and the fetus. It is estimated that 8.5% of all pregnant women in the U.S. use substances during the pregnancy (Smith, 2020). Substance use during pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of low birth weight, birth defects, neonatal mortality and long-term developmental issues (Louw, 2018 and Oni, 2021). Because of the possible health risks of using substances during pregnancy, physicians should have an understanding of this issue. Read more. (October 21, 2022)

What Legal Rights Do Pennsylvania Minors Have to Reproductive Care?
As the national landscape of reproductive health care evolves, health care providers must stay abreast of local and state laws, and patients should know what rights they have. Health care providers to minors in Pennsylvania may encounter questions or concerns about what types reproductive of health care their patients can receive confidentially and independently. Read more.(November 7, 2022)

Debunking MD Misconceptions about Breastfeeding
As an MS4, I thought I was ready to excel in my Women’s Health in the Community: Breastfeeding Elective at St. Christopher’s Center for the Urban Child. It turns out that I had to learn even faster than I usually do. As the trained lactation consultants went through common breastfeeding myths with me that afternoon, I realized that I had believed every single one of them. At another hospital, one without lactation consultants, a doctor might even be counseling their patients wrong. In order for us to counsel our patients correctly, we must first debunk those misconceptions that we hold for ourselves. Here are the biggest ones that have fundamentally changed how I will practice medicine. Read more.(September 8, 2022)

Benefits of Breastfeeding for the Parent
We often hear of the multitude of health benefits breastfeeding has for a baby. This is likely one of the most motivating factors for people to breastfeed. However, there are also several important health benefits for breastfeeding parents. These benefits include both short-term and long-term influences on a person’s health. Since being a parent to a newborn baby requires a lot of giving, it is empowering for patients to be aware that making the decision to breastfed can also be for themselves and their own health. (May 16, 2022)

Is Social Freezing Really Beneficial?
A new trend is spreading across Silicon Valley: In 2014 Apple and Facebook made headlines by offering to cover oocyte freezing for its employees as a part of health benefits. The move gained a lot of publicity and brought the tricky conversation of parenthood and the workforce back to the forefront. (May 9, 2022)

Breastfeeding in Public – It’s Up to Mom’s Comfort, Not Yours
Feeding your baby is a natural and wonderful way to not only keep baby healthy and happy, but for you to bond with your newborn. So why has breastfeeding in public become such a large issue? (April 20, 2022)

A Quick Dive into Transgender Fertility and Barriers to Quality Care
Transgender individuals face unique health care difficulties surrounding family planning and fertility preservation. Clinical treatment for transgender individuals includes puberty suppression, gender-affirming hormone therapy or gender-affirming surgical procedures. It is recommended for clinicians to discuss family planning with all transgender patients, and ideally these patients should see fertility specialists prior to starting gender-affirming treatment. (April 6, 2022)

Female Physicians and Infertility
One in four female physicians struggle with infertility, almost double the rate of the general public. When I first read this, I was truly shocked and scared. Somehow, I tried to justify to myself that it was not real, and that I had only read one research article and maybe there was sampling bias. However, the more I delved into the topic, the more research I found supporting it and the more stories I found of female physicians detailing their struggles with infertility. (March 29, 2022)

New Conceptions of Contraception: What Is Phexxi?
If you have been watching a streaming service with ads in recent months, then there is a good chance an ad has popped up with Annie Murphy (Alexis Rose from Schitt’s Creek), promoting a new form of birth control approved on the market: Phexxi. Produced by Evofem Biosciences, Phexxi is a vaginal gel composed of lactic acid, citric acid, and potassium bitartrate. Approved last year, Phexxi is being marketed as a non-hormonal alternative to traditional hormonal oral contraceptives. It works by altering vaginal acidity directly before a sexual encounter to prevent sperm from being able to travel to and fertilize an egg. (March 14, 2022)

Birth Control
Birth control is an important decision that is often accompanied by many questions. There are several options available, each with risks and benefits. Thus, it is important to know all information in order to choose which method is best for you. (March 7, 2022)

Medication Abortion
Yesterday, the federal government lifted a major ban on access to abortion care. Now, patients will be allowed to receive abortion pills by mail. Medication abortion is a common method available to women up to 10 weeks of gestation. (February 24, 2022)

Unwanted Pregnancies: Outcomes for Children
It has been shown that unintended pregnancies in the United States account for half of the pregnancies each year. The rates of unintended pregnancies vary based on the relationship status with the highest among those who are unmarried but cohabiting. There are two categories of unintended pregnancies: mistimed and unwanted. The former describes a pregnancy that has occurred earlier than desired, while the latter refers to the situation when a woman wanted no children at all. (February 18, 2022)

COVID 19 in Pregnancy: A Greater Risk to Our Vulnerable Population
As a fourth-year medical student applying to the obstetrics and gynecologic field, it’s weird to think that the laboring moms I’ve been there with through cervical checks, final big pushes and post-partum well wishes have never actually seen my entire face. Losing that face-to-face connection with people is just another of those harsh realities we’ve encountered with the COVID-19 pandemic continuing through the end of 2021. The innumerable losses we’ve had since spring of 2020, unfortunately, have stretched to our pregnant population as well. (February 8, 2022)

Caring for a Child with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome
During pregnancy, certain drugs and medications can cross the placenta and get into a baby’s blood. After a baby is born, when they are no longer exposed to these drugs or medications, they may show signs of withdrawal. Drugs that babies may experience withdrawal from include: OxyContin, Percocet, methadone, buprenorphine or Subutex and street drugs such as cocaine, crack, ecstasy, heroin, or speed. Babies may also experience withdrawal from some mediations used to treat anxiety and depression. (February 4, 2022)

Disparities in Maternal Vaccination Rates of Tdap and Influenza Vaccine and COVID-19 Takeaways
Maternal vaccination with influenza and Tdap (tetanus toxoid, reduced diphtheria toxoid and acellular pertussis) are recommended and administered to pregnant people to reduce the risk of severe illness for themselves and their babies. However, despite these recommendations, vaccination rates are low and racial disparities exist. (January 19, 2022)

Risk of Hormonal Contraceptive Failure with Drugs Used for Reversal of General Anesthesia
When people go into surgeries, they are typically aware of the common side effects of surgery and medications used for general anesthesia such as nausea, vomiting, sore throat, dry mouth, and muscle aches. These side effects are routinely discussed with patients prior to signing informed consent paperwork. (January 19, 2022)

COVID 19 Vaccination in Pregnancy
According to the CDC, pregnancy is known to increase the risk for COVID-19 patients of severe illness, ICU admission, mechanical ventilation, adverse events (preterm birth) and death1. This is in addition to the increased risk of complications with experienced by COVID-19 patients with underlying health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, advanced age and cardiovascular disease. (November 8, 2021)

Endometriosis
Endometriosis is the presence of endometrial tissues outside the uterine cavity. This estrogen-dependent disease has its highest incidence in women aged 25-29 years and affects about 10% of reproductive-age women. In women with pelvic pain, 70-90% have endometriosis. Similarly, women who struggle with infertility are found to have endometriosis 21-40% of the time. Women are at a 6-fold increased risk of endometriosis if a first-degree relative is diagnosed with a severe form of the disease. (October 25, 2021)

CDC Approves Use of COVID-19 Vaccines in Pregnant People
As I write this blog post, the City of Philadelphia has entered their second day with the newly reinstated mask mandate: Masks are required in all indoor spaces regardless of vaccine status. Businesses may require proof of vaccination if they choose. Citizens of Philadelphia are encouraged to receive a two-dose course of either Moderna or Pfizer-biotech vaccines if they have not done so already. (September 17, 2021)

What to Expect During an Infertility Workup With a Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility Specialist
For many couples, getting pregnant and giving birth is a joyous process. However, for the one in eight couples who deal with infertility, it can be a stressful and upsetting time. Infertility is defined as an inability to get pregnant after one year of unprotected sex. For people with ovaries over 35 years old, the time frame is decreased to six months of unprotected sex. (August 8, 2021)

Sexual Health

Pain Management With IUD Placement
As a medical student on clinical rotations, I have witnessed many office gynecologic procedures such as pap smears, IUD insertions and even colposcopies and endometrial biopsies. With IUD insertion specifically, I am always surprised by the wide range of patient reactions to what the provider usually describes as “a small pinch.” Some people tolerate these procedures well while others are visibly tearful and in a lot of pain. IUDs are an extremely effective and reliable form of birth control, but it is possible the pain of insertion deters some from utilizing this method. Read more.(February 6, 2023)

HPV Vaccination
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most prevalent sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the United States; approximately 14 million Americans become infected each year. Although HPV most often presents asymptomatically and clears without major clinical consequence, it can persist and progress to anogenital warts, precancers or even cancers of the cervix, other anogenital tract and oropharynx. In the United States, over 40,000 cancers are diagnosed each year in both men and women that are attributed to HPV infection. In women, HPV is thought to be linked to greater than 90% of cervical cancer cases and approximately 70% of vaginal and vulvar cancers. Read more.(November 15, 2022)

New Conceptions of Contraception: What Is Phexxi?
If you have been watching a streaming service with ads in recent months, then there is a good chance an ad has popped up with Annie Murphy (Alexis Rose from Schitt’s Creek), promoting a new form of birth control approved on the market: Phexxi. Produced by Evofem Biosciences, Phexxi is a vaginal gel composed of lactic acid, citric acid, and potassium bitartrate. Approved last year, Phexxi is being marketed as a non-hormonal alternative to traditional hormonal oral contraceptives. It works by altering vaginal acidity directly before a sexual encounter to prevent sperm from being able to travel to and fertilize an egg. Read more.(March 14, 2022)

Why Does Sex Hurt? What Can You Do About It?
Did you know that one in five college-aged women experience pain with sexual intercourse? In fact, nearly three out of four women have pain during intercourse at some point during their lives.1,2 Does this mean that its normal and should be tolerated? No. Read more.(February 10, 2022)

Atrophic Vaginitis in Trans Men: A Topic Unexplored
Transmasculine people on testosterone may experience atrophic vaginitis. It is thought to be due to the suppressive effects of testosterone on estrogen, leading to an estrogen-deprived state that appears to be similar to the experience of many post-menopausal cis women. Atrophic vaginitis is a reflection of poor skin barrier function and low tissue resilience, and is associated with bacterial vaginosis (BV). Read more. (January 25, 2022)

Endometriosis
Endometriosis is the presence of endometrial tissues outside the uterine cavity. This estrogen-dependent disease has its highest incidence in women aged 25-29 years and affects about 10% of reproductive-age women. In women with pelvic pain, 70-90% have endometriosis. Similarly, women who struggle with infertility are found to have endometriosis 21-40% of the time. Women are at a 6-fold increased risk of endometriosis if a first-degree relative is diagnosed with a severe form of the disease. Read more. (October 25, 2021)

Vaginitis
Vaginitis is defined by a combination of any of the following symptoms: abnormal vaginal discharge, abnormal odor, itching, burning and irritation. While this condition can cause embarrassment, it is very common, and most women have at least one episode in their lifetime. Vaginitis occurs due to an imbalance of healthy bacteria and change in vaginal environment because of age, sexual activity, hormonal status, immunologic status and underlying disease states. Vaginas commonly have normal physiologic discharge, which for most people is clear to white, not associated with discomfort or itching, and will vary in quantity throughout the menstrual cycle. “Normal” discharge varies from person to person. Read more. (November 12, 2021)

Tea and Sex - More Similar Than You Think
There is a brilliant video created by a police department in the U.K. that explains the concept of sexual consent in terms of making someone a cup of tea. If you offer to make someone a cup of tea and they don’t want a cup of tea, you should just not make them a cup of tea. You should not get annoyed that they don’t want tea, and you most definitely should not force them to drink the tea. Read more. (September 22, 2021)

Wellbeing

Arunachalam Muruganantham
Husband. Visionary. Social entrepreneur. One of 2014 Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World. Recipient of the Padma Shri (the fourth highest civilian award) from the government of India in 2016. Subject of the 2018 short film “Period. End of Sentence.” as well as the critically and commercially successful 2018 Bollywood film “Pad Man” starring Bollywood star Akshay Kumar. Read more. (June 16, 2023)

What Every Woman Should Know About Ovarian Cancer
Cancer is a condition in which cells within the body rapidly grow out of control. The type of cancer is determined by the site where it began, regardless of whether it has spread. There are six main types of female reproductive cancers including vulvar, vaginal, cervical, uterine, fallopian and ovarian. Ovarian cancer is the second most common reproductive cancer and the deadliest gynecological tumor in the Unites States. Read more. (December 19, 2022)

HPV Vaccination
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most prevalent sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the United States; approximately 14 million Americans become infected each year. Although HPV most often presents asymptomatically and clears without major clinical consequence, it can persist and progress to anogenital warts, precancers or even cancers of the cervix, other anogenital tract and oropharynx. In the United States, over 40,000 cancers are diagnosed each year in both men and women that are attributed to HPV infection. In women, HPV is thought to be linked to greater than 90% of cervical cancer cases and approximately 70% of vaginal and vulvar cancers. Read more. (November 15, 2022)

The Impact of Structural Racism on Black Women's Health
Medical and technological advancements over the last century have resulted in substantial improvements in health for people of all genders in the United States. However, Black women continue to have poorer health outcomes and higher mortality rates than other U.S. women. According to Black Demographics, despite being younger (36.1 years) on average than U.S. women overall (39.6 years), Black women have a higher prevalence of acute and chronic health conditions, including heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, obesity, stress and pregnancy-related morbidity (Chinn et al. 2021). Read more. (July 7, 2022)

The Shadow Pandemic: Violence Against Women and Girls
In the shadows of COVID-19, there was another pandemic arising, that unfortunately was masked by the pressing nature of the COVID pandemic. This is now termed the “Shadow Pandemic”: the increasing rates of violence against women and children since the onset of COVID-19 pandemic. Read more. (May 19, 2022)

Anorexia Nervosa: Understanding the Definition, Treatments and Challenges to Eating Disorder Recovery
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Edition-5 (DSM-5) is the most recent publication by American Psychiatric Association to guide in the diagnosis and classification of mental health disorders. The DSM-5 contains sets of diagnostic symptoms grouped into disorders, which assists clinicians and researchers with effective diagnosis and treatment. Read more. (September 7, 2022)

Benefits of Breastfeeding for the Parent
We often hear of the multitude of health benefits breastfeeding has for a baby. This is likely one of the most motivating factors for people to breastfeed. However, there are also several important health benefits for breastfeeding parents. These benefits include both short-term and long-term influences on a person’s health. Since being a parent to a newborn baby requires a lot of giving, it is empowering for patients to be aware that making the decision to breastfed can also be for themselves and their own health. Read more. (May 16, 2022)

Cancer Screening in Transgender Individuals
Cancer screening guidelines have largely contributed to reduced cancer mortality in recent medicine. Mammograms, colonoscopies and Pap smears have aided in early detection and treatment. However, the guidelines set by the United States Preventative Services Task Force and American Cancer Society are limited to cisgender individuals. There are not currently any clear guidelines about cancer screening in transgender individuals. Read more. (May 4, 2022)

Practicing Self Compassion in Times of Stress: Good for Your Mind and Body
We have all heard the hashtags (#TreatYourself) and ad campaigns to promote self-love, and its benefits on our emotional and mental well-being. However, the effects of stress on mental well-being have never been more pertinent. With the rising stresses of the COVID pandemic, researchers have found that women have been especially susceptible to the mental health consequences. Studies show women are almost three times as likely as men to report suffering from significant mental health consequences, including anxiety, loss of appetite, insomnia and trouble completing everyday tasks1. The practices of mindfulness and self-compassion have often been employed by counselors and practitioners as a method to manage stress. (April 26, 2022)

The Importance of Medicare for All for Women
When discussing health care access, one of the key features of the system that is often overlooked is the coverage of care for those assigned female at birth. First and foremost, women normally should have a separate physician from a primary care provider that addresses complex conditions such as polycystic ovarian syndrome, dyspareunia, breast health and more. These conditions are often chronic, underdiagnosed and therefore undermanaged. Then there are the added obstetrical costs that need to be covered for those who choose to have a child. (April 11, 2022)

Why Does Sex Hurt? What Can You Do About It?
Did you know that one in five college-aged women experience pain with sexual intercourse? In fact, nearly three out of four women have pain during intercourse at some point during their lives.1,2 Does this mean that its normal and should be tolerated? No. (February 10, 2022)

Women and Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a very common GI condition that is classically associated with chronic or recurrent abdominal pain and/or discomfort and associated changes in bowel habits. The type of IBS is categorized as IBS with diarrhea, IB with constipation or IBS with mixed bowel habits. The symptoms can range from mild to disabling. With IBS, these symptoms are present without any visible sign of damage or disease in the digestive tract. This syndrome is a type of functional gastrointestinal disorder, also known as disorder of gut-brain interaction. (December 17, 2021)

Cancer Screening for Women
About cancer screening for women including cervical cancer, breast cancer, ovarian cancer and other cancers. (December 6, 2021)

Vaginitis
Vaginitis is defined by a combination of any of the following symptoms: abnormal vaginal discharge, abnormal odor, itching, burning and irritation. While this condition can cause embarrassment, it is very common, and most women have at least one episode in their lifetime. Vaginitis occurs due to an imbalance of healthy bacteria and change in vaginal environment because of age, sexual activity, hormonal status, immunologic status and underlying disease states. Vaginas commonly have normal physiologic discharge, which for most people is clear to white, not associated with discomfort or itching, and will vary in quantity throughout the menstrual cycle. “Normal” discharge varies from person to person. (November 12, 2021)

Endometriosis
Endometriosis is the presence of endometrial tissues outside the uterine cavity. This estrogen-dependent disease has its highest incidence in women aged 25-29 years and affects about 10% of reproductive-age women. In women with pelvic pain, 70-90% have endometriosis. Similarly, women who struggle with infertility are found to have endometriosis 21-40% of the time. Women are at a 6-fold increased risk of endometriosis if a first-degree relative is diagnosed with a severe form of the disease. (October 25, 2021)

It's Common But Not Healthy to Hate Your Body...
Medical professionals are regular people, too, which means we struggle with the same problems that everyone else does. For me, I struggle with my weight. Really, I struggle with my self-image, a very common issue for many people. Thousands of dollars of medical education has taught me that its actually not healthy to hate your body. (October 21, 2021)

The Female Athlete Triad
Athletes who menstruate are at high risk for developing decreased energy availability, menstrual dysfunction and low bone mineral density, a phenomenon known as the female athlete triad. People socialized as women in American society inherently face pressure to be lean. Athletes socialized as women face additional pressure for their bodies to look and function a certain way to excel in their sport. (September 17, 2021)

Women in Medicine

About Helen Brooke Taussig, MD
Helen Brooke Taussig, MD, was a visionary physician who is considered the founder of pediatric cardiology. Born in 1898, she would go on to have a prolific career in medicine at a time when few women were afforded the opportunity. Read more.

Women in Medicine: Dr. Patricia Bath
The 20th century marked an era where there was a substantial increase in the number of women entering the medical field and the number of female physicians making significant contributions to society. One such physician was Patricia Bath, MD, an innovative ophthalmologist, and scientist who invented laser cataract surgery. Read more.

Dr. Rodriguez-Trias: Advocate for Ending Sterilization Abuse
In the scope of women’s reproductive rights in the United States, a topic that is often overlooked is the country’s history of sterilization abuse. Minoritized women in the U.S. have historically been more likely to be sterilized than other women, often without their knowledge or consent. One aspect of the women’s health movement in the 1970s was to address these injustices, and this fight was led by Helen Rodríguez Trías, MD. Read more. (July 17, 2023)

Women in Medicine Month
Being a woman in medicine means different things to different people. For some, it means finding their own niche in a historically male-dominated field. For others, it means providing comfort and care to other women in their most desperate times of need. For most, it means being able to inspire future generations to pursue whatever they dream of, free of the shackles of labels, discouragement and doubt. Read more. (September 12, 2022)

 
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