Sunday, May 28, 2006

Assorted Blog Things, Wherein One Party Calls the Other "Crazy!"

Debates on the HPV vaccine, natural childbirth, homebirth, with a common thread of people needing more information, from medical evidence to better understanding of statistics to informed consent. Check out the comment threads on the birth topics - it's interesting how emotional and "mommy war"-esque they become...

  • Moderately Insane: HPV Insanity
  • The homebirth debate blog, with Are natural childbirth advocates honest about pain?
  • White Noise: "Natural" Childbirth-- the Big Lie
  • From the Neonatal Doc blog, more debate over home birth
  • Conviviendo con el Cáncer de Seno

    This website from the University of Wisconsin provides Spanish-language materials on breast cancer, including information about cancer, lists of relevant resources, news, and women's personal stories. The site also features a discussion forum, although you must register to gain access.

    For additional Spanish-language resources, try this version of MedlinePlus.

    Technorati Tags: ; ;
    MeSH Tags: Breast Neoplasms; Health Promotion

    Interview with Lunapads Founder

    Feministing has an interesting interview with Madeline Shaw, founder of Lunapads. Madeline talks about how the reusable menstrual products company got started, problems associated with traditional disposable products, and issues for the future of the company.

    The Lunapads website features products such as reusable pads, panty liners, the Diva Cup non-latex menstrual cup, and items for moms and babies. Testimonals from users are also included, as are a few articles on menstruation and links to additional resources.

    Previous Posts:
    Women's Health News: TamPontificate!
    Women's Health News: More on Alternative Menstrual Products
    Women's Health News: Alternative Menstrual Products

    Technorati Tags: ; ; ; ; ; ; ;

    Friday, May 26, 2006

    Choose Respect

    The CDC's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control has launched the Choose Respect campaign, described as, "an initiative to help adolescents form healthy relationships to prevent dating abuse before it starts." The site features facts and guides for teens on healthy and unhealthy relationships, dating abuse, warning signs, leaving a relationship, safety, and other topics, as well as the Dating Bill of Rights and Responsibilities. It also features an interactive game that allows users to unlock clips and build their own music video by correctly answering questions about dating abuse, and Choose Respect buddy icons.

    Among the statistics provided by the campaign:
  • About one in 11 teens reports being a victim of physical dating abuse each year.
  • About one in four teens reports verbal, physical, emotional or sexual abuse each year.
  • About one in five teens reports being a victim of emotional abuse.
  • About one in five high school girls has been physically or sexually abused by a dating partner.
  • Almost 70% of young women who have been raped knew their rapist either as a boyfriend, friend, or casual acquaintance.
  • Teen dating abuse most often takes place in the home of one of the partners.

    Technorati Tags: ; ; ; ; ;
    MeSH Tags: There is no perfect MeSH entry for dating violence. Possible indexing terms include Adolescent, Violence, Interpersonal Relations, Courtship, and Spouse Abuse. Also try "dating violence"[tiab] AND English[lang]
  • Frontline Program on Sex Slaves

    PBS's Frontline recently aired a film, Sex Slaves, which examined human trafficking (often for sexual slavery) from Ukraine, Hungary, and Moldova. The accompanying website features a discussion forum, information on the profiled countries and interviews with victims and an acquaintance who sold one of the women, interviews with experts Deborah Finding, Victor Malarek, and Mary Cunneen, statistics and relevant links, and links to a chat with the Director published by the Washington Post. Unlike some other Frontline programs, this film cannot be viewed in its entirety online; there is a free complete transcript available on the site.

    Relevant Links:
  • Anti-Slavery International
  • Campaign Against the Trafficking of Women and Girls - Human Rights Watch
  • Campaign to Reduce and Restore Victims of Human Trafficking - US Dept of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families
  • Child Trafficking Digital Library
  • Child Wise
  • Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking
  • The Coalition Against Trafficking in Women
  • Data and Research on Human Trafficking: A Global Survey (PDF) - International Organization for Migration
  • Free the Slaves
  • Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women
  • Hiding in Plain Sight: Practical Guide to Identifying Victims of Trafficking in the U.S.
  • HumanTrafficking.org
  • iAbolish American Anti-Slavery Group
  • Polaris Project
  • The POPPY Project
  • The Protection Project - Foreign Policy Institute at The Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies
  • Trafficking in Human Beings - United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
  • Trafficking in Persons Report: 2005 - U.S. Department of State

    Previous Posts:
    Women's Health News: The Hidden Slavery in America

    (via Feministing)

    Technorati Tags: ; ; ;
    MeSH Tags: MeSH has no specific term for slavery or trafficking; articles on the topic are indexed under "Human Rights" and "Social Problems." See ("Human Rights"[MAJR] OR "Social Problems"[MAJR]) AND (slaves[tiab] OR slavery[tiab] OR trafficking[tiab]) AND "English"[lang]
  • Thursday, May 25, 2006

    Diseases of Poor Women

    A commentary in Tuesday's New York Times raises the issue of whether poor women will have access to the forthcoming cervical cancer vaccines, stating:

    "In the United States, cervical cancer has slipped to eighth in the rankings of the incidence of cancers among women, but in the developing world, it ranks second. A study by public health investigators in Mexico reported that an average of 12 women died of cervical cancer there each day.

    Increasingly, cervical cancer will become a disease of poor women who have limited or no access to basic health care, much less vaccines expected to cost $300 to $500 for a series of three shots."


    While unfortunate, poverty is not a new barrier to effective and proper healthcare for women (or men, or children). A PubMed search reveals numerous issues of poverty and women's health, such as access to care, cancer screening, food insecurity, contraceptives, substance abuse, and violence. In less developed nations, the problems of access are even more severe.

    So, assume there is a vaccine that prevents cancer (which there will be shortly). Will it only be available in developed countries? Will any groups step forward to deliver it to impoverished regions worldwide, such as has been done with other vaccines? What are the ethical responsibilities related to this development?

    Related Links:
  • Women's Health 2005 - Population Characteristics - U.S. women in poverty data
  • Women's Health Fuelling Poverty - BBC News, 10/12/2005
  • Health, United States, 2005
  • Projects: Poverty Reduction - International Center for Research on Women
  • Health Care: Low Income - Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
  • WHO: Poverty - World Health Organization

    Previous Vaccine-Related Posts:
    FDA Committee Recommends Approval of HPV Vaccine
    HPV Vaccine Moves Closer to Approval
    Status of HPV Vaccine and Cervical Cancer Prevention

    Technorati Tags: ; ; ;
    MeSH Tags: Papillomavirus, Human/immunology; Poverty; Uterine Cervical Neoplasms/prevention and control; Vaccination
  • Resources Related to Sexual Orientation and Health

    At the MLA Conference, fellow Pittsburgher (academically, at least) Mary Jo Dorsey delivered a presentation on her research into whether gay and lesbian health information online was being inappropriately blocked at academic health/library facilities. She noticed the problem while attempting to build this webpage of sexual orientation health issues, and subsequently did a small survey that found the same was happening at ~20% of other institutions who responded. Check out the page from the Richard M. Johnston Health Sciences Library for Mary Jo's compiled links to useful resources related to LGBT health.

    Mary Jo also handed out a few Rainbow Caduceus pins, part of a campaign organized by the American Medical Student Association - if you see one, it indicates that you have found yourself an LGBT-friendly clinician (or medical librarian!)

    Technorati Tags: ;
    MeSH Tags: Bisexuality; Homosexuality; Transexualism (which is used rather inadequately to also include the transgender concept)

    I'm Back...

    ...from the conference in Phoenix, where the "dry heat" really doesn't make up for the 103 degree temperature. Posts at the other place while I was away:
  • Transformation Begins with a Single Step...
  • Netsymposium?
  • Leadership and Professional Development Program
  • Swimming with the Sharks

    I'm hoping to add something on the NLM Update and Legislative Update, belatedly, in the next day or so. Big thanks to the Krafty Librarian for setting up the blog, and to my partners in crime, Jen and I. Martinez.

    I saw some interesting presentations, and will have some related posts here in the coming days.
  • Sunday, May 21, 2006

    Leaving on a Jet Plane

    I'll be away next week for the Medical Library Association's annual conference in Phoenix, so posts here may be slim or nonexistent. For any librarian-types, you can catch up with the conference, me, and a couple of colleagues here, at the Krafty Librarian's MLA Blog 2006. If you'll be there and want to meet up, send me an email.

    Technorati Tags: ; ;
    MeSH Tags: Librarians; Library Associations; blog* (keyword)

    More Babies Born Preterm, Sometimes Due to Mother's Choice

    The Washington Post has an article today, "As Babies are Born Earlier, They Risk Problems Later." According to the piece:

    "The percentage of babies born slightly early has been increasing steadily for more than a decade and is now at an all-time high. So many babies are being born a few weeks early -- more than 350,000 annually -- that the average U.S. pregnancy has shortened from 40 weeks to 39."

    "The increase is driven by a combination of social and medical trends, including the older age of many mothers, the rising use of fertility treatments and the decision by more women to choose when they will deliver. At the same time, medical advances are enabling doctors to detect problem pregnancies earlier and to improve care for premature babies, prompting them to deliver more babies early when something threatens their lives or those of their mothers."

    "Although most of these babies fare well and face far less risk than very premature infants, researchers have begun to realize that they are nevertheless more prone to short-term complications, such as problems breathing and feeding, and jaundice. And because so many are being born each year, even a small increased risk translates into thousands of sick babies. Studies are also starting to suggest that these children may tend to not develop as well as full-term babies, leading to behavioral, learning and other difficulties."

    "Nearly 9 percent of all babies delivered in the United States were born late-preterm in 2003, according to the most recent federal data. That is up from 7.6 percent a decade earlier and the highest since the government started tracking such births -- and translates into about 50,000 more of these babies each year."


    The piece talks about several risk factors for preterm birth, including maternal obesity, fetal complications, fertility treatments resulting in multiple gestation, etc. Here's the kicker, though:

    "But some specialists question whether the increase in Caesareans and inductions is the reason for the drop in stillbirths. And they worry that too much of the increase may be due to women hastening delivery for nonmedical reasons -- they want to make sure their mother will be in town, their husband has a business trip pending, or they are just fed up with being pregnant.

    'It's a common request,' said Mark Lollar, an obstetrician in San Ramon, Calif., who routinely honors such requests for the wives of professional athletes so their husbands can be present. 'I have no problem arranging that for them.'

    Lollar and other obstetricians insist that they make sure that the fetus is at least 38 weeks old. "We never compromise the mother or the baby's safety," Lollar said.

    Other experts, however, say it can be difficult to calculate the precise gestational age of a fetus.

    'If a woman comes in late in the pregnancy and only has one ultrasound, you can have an error of up to two weeks, which can be significant,' Tonse said."


    The piece goes on to address the issue of whether a week or two miscalculation in gestational age can cause significant developmental and other complications. Typically, I'm all for women's reproductive choice. But are the obstetricians agreeing to what seem to be very selfish requests doing both the parents and the babies a disservice by weighting scheduling issues more heavily than medical concerns? When a woman has chosen to have a baby, is it ethical for her, and her obstetrician, to make this kind of decision? Are physicians on the hook for malpractice if they agree to such a request and get it wrong? I have a hard time understanding how convenience wins out against possibly developmental and physical delays, but I've never been a parent. I'm sure it's a touchy issue, and I'd be very interested in what Linda of the Women's Bioethics Blog and some of my midwife readers have to say about it. I tend to be in agreement with the husband, who reacted to the story by saying, "Babies have been telling women they want to come out for a very long time. They may not be able to do much else, but they know when it's time to get out of that uterus." Okay, so some babies don't always get it right, but I think you get the point. What say you?

    Resources:
  • Premature Babies - MedlinePlus
  • March of Dimes: Prematurity
  • Premature Infants - JAMA Patient Page
  • A Primer on Preemies - Nemours Foundation
  • Premature Birth Complications - American Pregnancy Association

    Technorati Tags: ; ;
    MeSH Tags: Infant, Premature; Obstetric Labor, Premature; Premature Birth
  • Shocking Medical News of the Day

    "Frat, Sorority Members at High Alcohol-Linked Injury Risk"

    From the story on the National Women's Health Information Center website:
    "The study also found that 60 percent of fraternity/sorority members reported getting drunk weekly, compared with 32 percent for other students, and 78 percent of fraternity/sorority members believed that getting drunk was OK, compared with 52 percent of other students.

    Fraternity/sorority members who reported getting drunk at least weekly were five times more likely to fall from a height and 2.5 times more likely to suffer a burn than other students. They were also twice as likely to suffer at least one injury and more than twice as likely to injure someone else.

    Female pledges and members who got drunk weekly had more than twice the risk of being sexually assaulted than other students who did not get drunk at least weekly."


    Okay, there's nothing funny about alcoholism, injury, or sexual assault. What's really funny is the headline, which is sort of a no-brainer. Sometimes, folks, medical research just confirms what we all know using common sense.

    The bottom line: When you're drunk, you are more likely to hurt yourself or others. And fraternity/sorority kids drink a lot. But you knew this already, didn't you?

    Technorati Tags: ;
    MeSH Tags: Alcohol Drinking

    Saturday, May 20, 2006

    Want Better Access to Medical Research?

    Pending legislation would make taxpayer-funded research freely available to the public:
    "The bipartisan Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006, introduced on May 2, 2006 by Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Joe Lieberman (D-CT), would require that US Government agencies with annual extramural research expenditures of over $100 million make manuscripts of journal articles stemming from research funded by that agency publicly available via the Internet. The manuscripts will be maintained and preserved in a digital archive maintained by that agency or in another suitable repository that permits free public access, interoperability, and long-term preservation. Each manuscript will be freely available to users without charge within six months after it has been published in a peer-reviewed journal."
    The bill is expected to increase access to non-classified research from the following agencies:
  • Department of Agriculture
  • Department of Commerce
  • Department of Defense
  • Department of Education
  • Department of Energy
  • Department of Health and Human Services
  • Department of Homeland Security
  • Department of Transportation
  • Environmental Protection Agency
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration
  • National Science Foundation

  • Frequently Asked Questions (about the bill) - Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC)
  • The Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006 - Information Today, Inc.
  • Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006 - The Alliance for Taxpayer Access
  • Cornyn Bill Would Improve Taxpayer Access to Federally Funded Research - website of US Senator John Cornyn, a sponsor of the bill
  • NIH Public Access - National Institutes of Health, which previously instituted a voluntary policy for access to federally-funded research
  • Bill Seeks Access to Tax-Funded Research

    Technorati Tags: ; ; ; ;
    MeSH Tags: Access to Information/legislation and jurisprudence; Information Dissemination; Publishing; Research Support
  • FDA Committee Recommends Approval of HPV Vaccine

    The FDA's Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committe voted unanimously on Thursday that Merck's Gardasil vaccine to protect against certain types of HPV infection (and, by extension, cervical cancer) is safe and effective for women ages 9-26. The targeted HPV strains are thought to be responsible for about 70% of cervical cancers worldwide. The disease kills 290,000 women worldwide each year (3,500 in the U.S.), and it is estimated that approximately $1.7 billion is spent in the U.S. each year on cervical cancer treatment. The advisory document is not yet up on the FDA website - see the resources below for additional information. A final FDA approval decision is expected by June 8. One hurdle to vaccination is the anticipated cost of the vaccine, which may be in the $300-$500 range.

    Sources:
    Technorati Tags: ; ; ; ; ;
    MeSH Tags: Papillomavirus, Human; United States Food and Drug Administration; Uterine Cervical Neoplasms/prevention and control; Vaccines

    Friday, May 19, 2006

    A Blog Anniversary

    Today is the one-year anniversary of the creation of Women's Health News. I was inspired to create it by 1) wanting to experiment with blogging, but needing a focus, and 2) an excellent class on women's health I took in Vanderbilt's graduate nursing school that provided said focus. It has been an interesting experience, and one I look forward to continuing. I hope that some of the information provided has been useful to you at some point along the way.

    Thursday, May 18, 2006

    Rules of Engagement

    It seems you should be careful what you wish for. I have long lamented the lack of good comment threads on this blog. Now I have a couple of anonymous, drive-by commenters in response to the "You Poke It, You Own It" post. They were:
    Anonymous said...
    cry me a river feminist

    Anonymous said...
    I agree with what anonymous said. "cry me a river" come on is it really a surprise that this commercial is on the air? Listen sex sells and always will so instead of getting mad about this fact of life embrace it and be happy to be the object (a woman) of every mans desire. unless you are a bunch of fat ugly women i guess if that were the matter you need something to be unhappy about
    (Update: this one came back and signed in - thanks!)
    I haven't posted a list of rules for this blog, until now. I prefer not to turn off anonymous comments, because I don't want to add a hurdle for the people who leave me interesting information in the comments, or who genuinely want/need to preserve their anonymity. However, if you're going to come by and drop your bad attitude all over the place, please have the courtesy of owning up to it. As I said in the comments to that post, "Snark is welcome, but you should 1) be able to back it up intellectually 2) be willing to claim it."

    General principles:
    1) See the Snark Rule, above.
    2) No name-calling (and "feminist" is not an insult).
    3) Differing opinions are welcome. Insults and dismissiveness for their own sake are not.
    4) This is a blog about women's health. It is intended to alert people to interesting developments in medical research, online information resources, events, opportunities for involvement, and the like. As such, I prefer to maintain a civil community of readers/commenters. It is not a place for you to purge whatever issues you have with women and feminists. Hostile, foul-mouthed, and spam comments will be deleted at my discretion.

    44% of Women in Survey Report Intimate Partner Abuse

    A study published in the current issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine examines the results of a survey conducted in Washington State/Northern Idaho that asked 3,429 adult women about their lifetime experience of intimate partner violence. English-speaking women aged 18 to 64 who had attended a general health clinic for 3 years or more were surveyed via telephone. According to the piece, "Intimate partner violence was defined as physical, sexual, or psychological violence between adults who were present and/or past sexual/intimate partners in heterosexual or homosexual relationships. Intimate partners were defined as current or former spouses, nonmarital partners, or dating partners in relationships longer than 1 week. Partnerships could include relationships without sexual involvement."

    Women were asked about numerous violence-related criteria, and among the findings were:
  • The women who responded were unusual in that they don't fit the "common knowledge" profile of domestic violence victims. 87.5% had at least some college education, 80.7% were employed, 35.2% had a household income >$75,000, and 82.6% were white. People often think of domestic violence as more frequently affecting more vulnerable populations than those surveyed for this study. Translation: violence can affect all kinds of women
  • 66.2% had been neither physically or sexually abused as a child, and 81.7% had not witnessed intimate partner violence as a child (it is sometime assumed that those experiencing domestic violence are continuing a pattern established in childhood)
  • In the last 12 months, 5.8% of women had experienced physical abuse, forced sex, unwanted sexual contact, threats/anger, and/or controlling behavior. iIn the past 5 years, 11.7% had experienced one of these things. In their adult lifetimes, 44% of respondents had experienced one of these forms of abuse.

    I was a little skeptical about the threats/anger and controlling behavior categories, because the paper doesn't put a fine definition on them, and these seem more subjective than being hit or raped (not to suggest they don't have an impact on victims). I would have liked to see the entire survey alongside the article, including how these questions were framed. Regardless, threats/controlling was not the only form of abuse reported by most women - 92.3% experienced threats/anger along with another form of abuse, as did 82.3% of those reporting controlling behavior.

    Now the more encouraging news:
  • 79+% of women reported only 1 abusive partner for each category of abuse
  • Years encompassed by abuse and number of occurrences of abuse also trended toward the low end.
    These suggest that perhaps while more women than expected are experiencing abuse in a lifetime, in many cases it is not chronic abuse (i.e., many women are getting out of bad situations).

    The study provides more detailed breakdowns of demographic, incidence, and abuse data in table form.

    Nice safety feature: at the beginning of the phone survey, women were instructed to say "I don't want vinyl siding" and hang up if they felt in danger from being overheard.

  • Press release from the Center for Health Studies, which conducted the study
  • CNN/Reuters coverage
  • Feministing says, "I wish I could say I am suprised by these stats, but it is still difficult to hear and see. The researchers say this is potentially a nation-wide epidemic. We have been saying that for years."

    Previous related posts:
    Women's Health News: Support the Relief Fund for Gulf Coast Sexual Assault Victims
    Women's Health News: Sexual Abuse: Thoughts and Resources

    Additional Resources:
    Checklist for Leaving an Abuser
    Domestic and Intimate Partner Violence
  • Wednesday, May 17, 2006

    Women's Health-Related Gadgets

    Via Medgadget:
    Prototype case for oral contraceptives that alerts the user to take a pill at a designated time every 24 hours, from Yanko Design.

    New email service supports breast cancer education and research - the site is a little light on details, but you can find out more at BreastCancerMail.com. Their charity partner is BreastCancer.org, (not a site I've heard of or seen previously) which provides breast cancer information online.

    HPV Vaccine Moves Closer to Approval

    The FDA's Vaccines And Related Biological Products Advisory Committee will meet tomorrow to discuss the safety of and efficacy of Gardasil, Merck's vaccine to protect against human papillomavirus (HPV), an important cause of cervical cancer. The draft agenda is online, along with briefing documents, and FDA and consultant rosters for the meeting. The final briefing document (PDF) provides a considerable amount of information on HPV infection and Gardasil. According to the CNN article, the committee will make a recommendation with regards to approving the vaccine, and an FDA decision is expected by June 8.

    (See previous post for additional background on the vaccine, HPV, and cervical cancer)

    Note: Blood Donor Eligibility

    You can't donate blood if you've had an MMR in the past 4 weeks. Lots of people are getting updated on this vaccine, particularly in light of the recent mumps outbreak. You may not be informed that you can't donate until after you've read the initial form, done the bp, temp, finger stick, and the self-screening. If you don't know exactly when it was, and it could possibly have been less than 4 weeks, you'll have to wait until the next drive. Save yourself some time, and read the eligibility guidelines beforehand. Doh.

    Top 10 Reasons to Give Blood
    Top 10 Excuses for Not Giving Blood

    Tuesday, May 16, 2006

    For-Profit Milk Banking

    Marketplace ran a story today, "Breast Milk for Sale? which addresses milk facilities which operate on a for-profit basis. The Human Milk Banking Association of North America is a non-profit milk banking association - according to the piece, it manages to process donated milk for ~$3 an ounce. In contrast, Prolacta Bioscience, the country's first for-profit milk banking processor, plans to sell collected milk to hospitals at a price of $3/milliliter. For those of you who think gas is expensive, what Prolacta is proposing would be selling milk to hospitals at a rate of ~$11,356 per gallon (quite a bit more than the $384 it costs HMBANA for the same gallon).

    Also from the story:
    "Prolacta is establishing a network of 10 non-profit milk banks based in hospitals and birthing centers across the country. The centers collect and send the breast milk exclusively to Prolacta to be processed and sold to hospitals. But some women who contacted the national milk banks said it wasn't clear in their literature, on their consent form or on the Web sites that the donated milk would ultimately be sold by Prolacta for a profit. Prolacta's Elena Medo says the company makes no effort to hide the fact it's a for-profit concern and no attempt is made to disguise this from the mothers who donate... While Prolacta isn't paying the donating mothers for their milk, the company is paying the network of hospitals and birthing centers up to $2.00 for every ounce of breast milk they procure exclusively for Prolacta."

    The piece did not have any discussion of the ethical implications of this situation, which could be seen as incentivizing physicians to coerce donations in order to obtain money for their employers. Prolacta declined to identify the list of participating hospitals for Marketplace. However, Prolacta's website contains this list of milk banks; a quick check of the first website listed suggests that these are in fact at least a partial list of the milk banks partnered with the company. Among them is the Natchez Trace Maternity Center based in Waynesboro, TN. As an alternative, HMBANA provides a list of locations in their network.

    Said Nancy Wright, neonatologist at the Sharp Mary Birth Hospital for women in San Diego, "I think they are setting up a huge collection network. My only concern is are we going to be diverting milk from the existing not-for-profit sector, and I think that's a possibility."

    The bottom line: If you want to donate milk and have it go through a non-profit organization, ask questions about the facility before donating.

    (See this previous post for additional milk bank information)

    Technorati Tags: ;
    MeSH Tags: Milk, Human; Milk Banks

    Air Force Supports Breastfeeding

    According to Air Force Instruction 44-102 (PDF) on Medical Care Management, issued May 1, 2006,
    4.15. Breastfeeding and Breast Pumping
    4.15.1. AF members shall be authorized 15-30 minutes every 3-4 hours to breast-pump. This should be allowed for approximately 12 months after delivery.
    4.15.2. The obstetrician or PCM shall annotate on an AF Form 422 that the member wishes to breast pump and makes a request for a room or office that provides adequate privacy for breast pumping be designated to allow AF members to pump. The AF member must supply the equipment needed to breast pump and store the breast milk.
    4.15.3. The obstetrician, pediatrician or PCM shall annotate on an AF Form 422 a recommendation for deployment for those AF members who choose to exclusively breastfeed, i.e. the infant does not take formula at all.
    34 AFI44-102 1 MAY 2006
    4.15.4. Breastfeeding/breast pumping AF members may participate in field training and mobility exercises. Decisions to continue to breast pump must be made by the patient, in collaboration with obstetrician or PCM, supervisors, training instructors and the MDG/CC in regard to having a place to safely express and store breast milk.

    Also,
    4.21.1. Every breastfeeding infant shall have an evaluation 48-72 hours after discharge from the hospital to include weight, formal breastfeeding evaluation, encouragement and instruction as recommended in the AAP statement Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk (1997).

    You Poke It, You Own It?

    Perhaps it's a tenuous connection, but I think we can squeeze this into the women's health blog based on the "you poke it" double entendre and what it suggests about women's sexual autonomy. I saw a new Miller Lite commercial during 24 last night. It featured several men sitting around a table, discussing whether it's appropriate to carry beer bottles to the table from the bar by putting your fingers inside the bottle. The men come to a consensus that this is a gross practice, and concoct a "Man Law" of "You poke it, you own it." This elicits an enthusiastic response, and the men repeat the catchphrase multiple times. I agree with Pandagon - the whole premise is a setup to let the characters cheerfully proclaim that "You poke it, you own it." The entire point seems to be to suggest the same rule in application to women. Disgusting. I almost prefer the old T&A beer commercials. In those, a beautiful woman was something you might obtain if you drank the right manly beer, who was objectified from afar in most cases. Now comes Miller Lite with the declaration that if you stick something in it, it's yours. Apparently, it's supposed to be funny. Ugh.

    Click "Talk To Us" at the bottom of this page to send Miller Lite your reaction. You can also call their Consumer Response Center at 1-800-MILLER 6. If you'd like to avoid SABMiller brands, here is the complete list.

    Update: You can watch the Man Laws commercials online

    Contraceptive Use and Discontinuation

    A study in the May 2006 issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology surveyed women on their contraceptive use. Conducted in Atlanta,
    "Women between the ages of 18 and 45 years who were using any method of birth control were approached while waiting for their appointment (n = 413), and those who agreed to participate signed an informed consent form and filled out a short, baseline questionnaire (n = 369 by September 2004). OC users were invited to participate in a longitudinal study, in which the women were requested to fill out five 1-week diaries, in which they recorded daily information on whether they took their pill, the exact time they took their pill, and if they engaged in sexual intercourse. Women who agreed to participate received a coupon for a free movie rental for each diary they completed and mailed back to the study personnel."
    Despite the incentive, only 98 women returned at least 1 diary. According to the methods section, "Nonrespondents and women who declined to participate were less educated (25.0% attended graduate school vs 40.8% of respondents) and more likely to be of black race/ethnicity as compared with respondents (36.7% vs 19.4%). Respondents and nonrespondents did not differ by age (65.3% vs 65.0% <30 years), weight (44.9% vs 42.3% <150 lbs), or marital status (54.1% vs 56.7% single)."

    Some of the findings:
  • "Of the 369 women who were initially recruited into the CHIC Study, the majority were 26 to 35 years old (mean: 29.3), single, and highly educated (Table I). Most participants were of race/ethnicity white or black (48.8% and 40.9%, respectively) and nearly half had BMIs in the overweight or obese range (mean BMI = 27.2). The most popular method of contraception was OCs (39.6%), followed by male condoms (21.4%), and tubal ligation (7.6%). The majority of women were not dual method users (75.6%); however, among those women who did use an additional method, male condoms were the most popular method."
  • "Ninety-one women had never used another form of birth control before beginning their current method. Many of these women chose effective methods to protect themselves from unintended pregnancy: 52.8% OCs; 24.2% male condoms; 4.4% injectables, transdermal patch, or vaginal ring; 2.2% intrauterine device (IUD); 2.2% withdrawal; and 14.2% diaphragm or other unspecified methods."
  • "Among women who reported using condoms before starting their current method of contraception (n = 76), women discontinued the use of this method for the following reasons: 22.4% not having sex, 6.6% trying to get pregnant, and 71.1% for other reasons... The vast majority of these women indicated that they were now using a more effective method of birth control (71.1% OCs, 6.6% injectables or transdermal patch)."
  • "Among the 128 who reported using OCs just before switching to their current method, 22.7% discontinued the use of OCs because they were not having sex, 14.1% were trying to get pregnant, and the remaining 63.3% discontinued OCs for other reasons."
  • "Many of these women changed to another reliable form of birth control after discontinuing OCs (32.8% a hormonal method, 11.7% sterilization). However, 10.2% started to use the withdrawal method as their primary method of birth control."
  • "On average, women had sexual intercourse 1.5 times a week. Of note, 26.4% of women had sexual intercourse on days they missed pills just before or after their placebo week. Women who miss pills immediately before or after the placebo week resume some normal follicular development, and may be at risk of pregnancy"

    The authors' commentary:
  • "it is alarming that the vast majority of women who discontinue the use of OCs switch to a less effective method of contraception."
  • "Perhaps clinicians need to engage their patients in more discussion on why they are discontinuing the use of an effective method of contraception, such as OCs."

    Based on this study, it seems that clinicians may need to have more explicit conversations with women to help them choose contraceptives based on their needs, the effectiveness of different methods, lack of effectiveness of withdrawal, and appropriate and consistent use. Have you ever read the insert for oral contraceptives? I have a masters degree, and I still find portions of it confusing. The women in this study were largely educated as well. The rate of unintended pregnancy is very high in this country, and some simple outreach by clinicians and/or pharmacists may help reduce confusion and better empower women to take control of their reproductive years.
  • Sunday, May 14, 2006

    Happy Mother's Day!

    Happy Mother's Day, Mom! My mom rocks, and she knows it. For the rest of you: 20-something years ago, my little 5-foot-nothing, half-Korean mom gave birth to me, an 8lb 10 oz girl, two weeks late, vaginally, with no drugs. That in itself deserves an award. However, she proceeded to breastfeed and cloth diaper me, and both of my parents sacrificed so mom could stay home with me most of the time. Thanks go to my mom for this, as well as instilling in me a wonder about the world, a love of reading, a penchant for spicy food, and a good dose of backbone. Mom, if you read this, I think these things probably make up for the bad knee, asian flush, and my general packrat tendencies.

    Some favorite mom memories:
  • Once, I was blowing bubbles with gum, and asked my mom how it worked. Mom responded, "How do you think it works?" I think you probably anticipated all the "how"s and "why"s and taking apart and putting together of household objects an appliances that would follow, but you asked it anyway. Thank you (and you're welcome for putting together the lawnmower).
  • In an attempt to keep me, at about 3 or 4 years old, occupied, my parents asked me to write down all the words I knew. Being a very literal child, I included all the swear words I knew. You wouldn't be wrong to guess that my mom was more than a little upset. However, that was my first lesson in considering the context in addition to the imperative.
  • Us riding in grandpa's Caddy to go get my childhood immunizations. Remember grandpa's promise of ice cream if I didn't cry? I still count train cars as they pass by.
  • I had a bottle of bubbles and bubble wand, and wanted to play inside. Mom strictly forbade me to blow bubbles in the kitchen. I did it anyway while you were out of the room, and the soapy slickness on the linoleum floor caused me to fall and hit my head on the cabinet. I sat there on the floor for a minute, weighing the conflict of being hurt and wanting my mom versus the trouble I was about to be in. I realized then that 1) Mom was right sometimes and 2) there might be reasons, on occasion, why I shouldn't do things.
  • In middle school, I had that awful math teacher who gave us tons of homework and never graded any of it. Mom marched right into the principal's office, showed him the half-foot stack of ungraded papers, and promptly had me switched to another teacher. If she hadn't, I might not understand any math beyond that level, because that teacher was that terrible. And you know how I love the math.
  • Okay, I don't actually remember this, but it's funny. The cloth-diapering thing? I was fairly observant. Once, my parents had me all dressed up to go who knows where, complete with ruffly white bonnet on my noggin. They were ready to go, and realized they couldn't find my toddling self. They discovered me dunking said bonnet up and down in the toilet, where I proclaimed, "I'm cleaning it, Mommy!" Because that's how you empty cloth diapers.

    True confessions for Mother's Day, both related to bodily functions:
  • Remember when the awful first grade teacher called and said I had "had an accident on the playground?" Uh, it was actually that she forbade us to go to the bathroom without permission, and also refused to let me interrupt the remedial reading group to ask for permission. Somewhere in the conflict, I "had an accident on the playground."
  • The first time I went away to camp, I actually passed out on the concrete cafeteria floor on the first afternoon. I don't think they called to tell you. I think it was the heat and the running around and the hunger. I regained consciousness thinking I had been asleep in bed at home, and proceeded through the line to get my camp-issued mush and jello. I never told you about it so that you would let me go to camp in subsequent years, which you did.

    Love you, Mom!
  • Friday, May 12, 2006

    Reminder: National Women's Health Week May 14-20

    National Women's Health Week begins on Mother's Day. To find a local event or health screening, select your state and browse a list of events. In Nashville, there will be presentations on topics such as breast cancer, relationships, nutrition, and reproductive health. May 15th is also National Women's Check Up Day, so go get yourself one.

  • Press release from the Office of Women's Health
  • Health information

  • March of Dimes to Help Pregnant Women, Mothers and Babies in Hurricane-Stricken Areas of Gulf Coast

    The March of Dimes has been raising money to send mobile healthcare vans to serve the women and babies of the Gulf Coast region. According to a news release on the project:
    "Three new March of Dimes mobile health care vans will soon bring much-needed medical services to pregnant women, mothers, and babies in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and other areas of Louisiana devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. These Mom & Baby Health Care Center vans will provide up to 20,000 medical visits for women and children, including prenatal and well-child care, in the first three years of operation. The March of Dimes vans are made possible by a gift of $3 million from the people of Qatar. An additional $750,000 has been contributed by the Office of Minority Health and by generous individual donors."
    You can contribute to the cause online.

    Quick Stories on Women's Health

    There is more news out there than I have time to summarize individually, but I wanted to make these links available.

    Feministing has covered a number of women's health-related stories recently:
  • NPR on Cecilia Fire Thunder - May 8th All Things Considered piece on Fire Thunder's plan to open an abortion clinic on tribal land, circumventing the state's recent abortion ban
  • Conference on STDs Gets Bullied Into Abstinence-Only Hell - apparently Rep. Mark Edward Souder (R-Ind.) put pressure on the organizers of the 2006 STD Prevention Conference to change the panel and add two abstinence-only advocates.
  • Pink Bats for Mother's Day - Major League Baseball players swinging pink bats to raise breast cancer awareness, (see MLB's announcement and pics of the bats)
  • Happy Anniversary, Birth Control!
  • Doctors Support Emergency Contraception with New Initiative - ACOG initiative to encourage advance procurement of emergency contraception, mentioned in this previous post
  • Colombia (somewhat) Legalizes Abortion
  • Catholic School Teacher Fired for Using Infertility Treatment
  • Kansas Gives Out Breastfeeding Cards - with the message "A mother may breast-feed in any place she has a right to be," and a number to call to report incidents to the contrary.
    AND...
  • The Motherhood Manifesto - from the comments, it looks like some folks have the same questions I do

    The Kaiser Network also has some great summaries of women's health policy-related news:
  • Senate Democrats Block Health Bill They Say Could Have Reduced Insurance Coverage Requirements, Including for Contraceptives and related, Sens. Reid, Rodham Clinton Argue Health Bill Would Decrease Women's Access to Contraceptives - this is the HIMMA bill - see previous post for links to bill text and status
  • Experts at Federal Meeting Call for Accelerated Research Into Causes of Potentially Fatal Bacterial Infections After Pregnancies, Medical Abortions
  • Baltimore Sun Examines Merck HPV Vaccine, Reaction From Conservative Groups
  • Researchers, Physicians Discuss Potential Causes of C. sordellii Infections, Safety of Mifepristone, Misoprostol, Ahead of Federal Meeting
  • Rep. Waxman Questions HHS for Allegedly Allowing Change in Content of CDC Conference Panel on STIs, Abstinence Education
  • Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report Highlights Studies Presented at STI Conference
  • Member of Congress Influenced Change in CDC Conference Panel on STIs, Abstinence Education, Organizers Say
  • Thursday, May 11, 2006

    Expect More From Your Government

    ExpectMore.gov is a pretty cool new web tool from the U.S. Office of Management and Budget and other federal agencies designed to "assess the performance of every Federal program and hold ourselves accountable for improvement."

    You can search by keyword/topic, view a list of performing or nonperforming programs, or browse by a specific area (such as health). The record for each program includes a description, rating, bullet points supporting the rating, and improvement plan. Ratings are grouped into Performing (effective, moderately effective, adequate) and Not Performing (ineffective, results not demonstrated).

    A few relevant examples:
  • Human Trafficking
  • Family Violence Prevention and Services Program
  • Domestic HIV/AIDS Prevention
  • Chronic Disease - Breast and Cervical Cancer
  • CDC: Sexually Transmitted Diseases and Tuberculosis
  • Family Planning
  • Office on Women's Health
  • MomsRising and the Motherhood Manifesto

    MomsRising is a new campaign from MoveOn.org that is "is working to build a massive grassroots online resource to move motherhood and family issues to the forefront of the country's awareness, and to provide grassroots support for leaders, as well as organizations, addressing key motherhood issues." MomsRising was founded by Joan Blades and Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, authors of The Motherhood Manifesto.

    While I support the organization in theory (and there are numerous aligned organizations), something about it rubs me the wrong way. The mission statement is a blanket thing a lot people can get behind:
    "There is a silent crisis in America. Mothers and families are in trouble. A full quarter of families with children under six live in poverty, at least 9 million children don't have any health care, and far too many parents can't afford to stay home with sick children. Working toward common sense family-friendly policies like those covered in The Motherhood Manifesto will help all families."
    However, the only real opportunities on the site for getting involved at this time is to 1) provide your contact information; 2) buy the book; 3) buy other stuff from the site; 4) sign the petition, although the petition page itself does not make it at all clear what exact text you're signing onto or who will receive it; 5) take one of a few disparate actions provided by already existing organizations. I know, I know, it's a new group - however, they've been doing a lot of email promotion of the campaign, yet the site left me feeling decidely uninspired. I'm not a mom, but I didn't see any items that I felt would affect real change.

    Elsewhere on the site, there is a petition to media outlets asking them to Stop the “Mommy Wars” and Report on Real Issues, although this is an effort of the Mothers Ought to have Equal Rights group. MomsRising provides little explanation, except to tell us that "all moms are in the same boat." I think that is where my main problem with this site is - are all moms really in the same boat? They may have chosen an issue that too big, too complex, for individuals to form a unified community around.

    MomsRising also uses the M.O.T.H.E.R. acronym from the book to define its purpose. Let's take a look, and ask some questions:
    M - Maternity/Paternity Leave: Paid family leave for all parents after a new child comes into the family.
    Okay, solid idea, but I don't see any discussion on how to fund this.

    O - Open Flexible Work: Give parents the ability to structure their work hours and careers in a way that allows them to meet both business and family needs. This includes flexible work hours and locations, part-time work options, as well as the ability to move in and out of the labor force to raise young children without penalties.
    Can't we give everybody more flexible hours? People who are not parents need/want to care for their own sick parents, volunteer for community service, help with the other children in their family, etc. and these, I think, are fairly equivalent social goods. Advocating only on the behalf of parents may lead to more of the "mommy wars" they want to end.

    T - TV We Choose and Other After-School Programs: Give families safe, educational opportunities for children after the school doors close for the day, including: Create a clear and independent universal television rating system for parents with technology that allows them to choose what is showing in their own homes; support quality educational programming for kids; increase access to, and funding, for after school programs.
    Seriously? You have 6 planks in the platform, and TV is one of them? Aren't there already options (V-chip, turning it off, supervising kids, no tv at all...) to deal with this? Isn't there already a rating system and accompanying technology? I really don't get it, and would have stuck with the after school programs. No thoughts on funding are provided.

    H - Healthcare for All Kids: Provide quality, universal healthcare to all children.
    I'm fine with this, if you actually talk about how to do it, and give people actions to take to move this forward. And don't those mothers need healthcare as well? Again, show me the money.

    E - Excellent Childcare: Quality, affordable childcare should be available to all parents who need it. Childcare providers should be paid at least a living wage and healthcare benefits.
    Again, solid idea in theory, but the wish-list is getting tiring. How would this be arranged? Funded? Who determines who "needs it?" Shouldn't everybody get a living wage and healthcare?

    R - Realistic and Fair Wages: Two full-time working parents should be able to earn enough to adequately care for their family. In addition, working mothers must receive equal pay for equal work.
    Gah. At this point, I'm just so overwhelmed by the complexity of the problems listed and the vastness of possible ways to address the issues that I can't go on.
    You know, maybe the book explains all these things and answers my questions in greater detail, but I really wanted more available and up-front discussion of real, possible solutions and how to bring them about in reality. When people feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of the issues, and see few solutions presented, it's really hard for them to want to dive in. Perhaps I'm just a childless (for now) crank, but I can't get past the feeling that this is a catch-all feel-good thing with very little substance. Perhaps in a few weeks they'll have a more defined presence and stronger identity/ideology. I wish them well in bringing better organization to the effort and clarifying their proposed solutions, because these are important issues.

    Domestic Violence Benefit in Smyrna, TN

    Kathy of the LaVergne, Tennessee blog kindly provided this updated information on the May 24 domestic violence benefit event:
    On May 24, a luncheon to benefit the Domestic Violence agency
    will be held at the Smyrna Town Centre. Money raised is being
    used to build an office in Northern Rutherford County. The cost
    is $25 per plate.

    To get tickets, call 896-7377 or send your money to P.O. Box
    2652, Murfreesboro, TN 37133 (Attn: Smyrna Lunch).

    Bacterial Infection in Medical Abortion Cases May Occur More Broadly, Scientists to Discuss Mechanisms and Safety

    I'm not finding an announcement on the CDC or FDA websites, but according to reports, scientists are scheduled to meet today to discuss the safety of RU-486 and the C. sordelli bacteria that was previously associated with recent deaths of medical abortion patients (see previous post for related and background material).

    From the CNN/AP coverage:
  • "Scientists from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institutes of Health and FDA are meeting Thursday in Atlanta to decide what research is needed to better understand the emerging threat posed by C. sordellii and a second bacterium, Clostridium difficile. The second germ is not linked to the abortion pill but is growing in prevalence in hospitals and nursing homes, and is increasingly resistant to antibiotics."

  • "The risk posed by C. sordellii remains murky. In studies and letters published in the New England Journal of Medicine in December and April, researchers detail eight other women who died of C. sordellii infection after giving birth, vaginally or by Caesarean section. Also counted are two additional deaths following miscarriages and a final death linked to infection during the woman's menstrual period. 'That's 11 other cases that have nothing to do with abortion -- they're other obstetric events,' said Dr. Beverly Winikoff, a women's health advocate who worked to bring the abortion pill to the United States.

  • "The abortion pill might suppress the immune system, which would increase susceptibility to bacteria already present in the vaginal canal, according to a study published last year by Dr. Ralph Miech of Brown University. However, pregnancy naturally suppresses the immune system, too. Dilation of the cervix, whether because of abortion, childbirth or miscarriage, also may let bacteria penetrate deeper into the body, Miech and others have proposed."

  • "In addition to the highly publicized deaths, the FDA said it has received reports of 950 cases of adverse reactions to the pill, including 18 cases of severe infections in women who required hospitalization and antibiotics. Nearly 600,000 women in the U.S. have used Mifeprex since its approval in 2000, according to Danco Laboratories. An estimated 1.5 million other women in Europe have used the drug."


    From the New York Times coverage:
  • "Some scientists say the vaginal insertion may introduce bacteria along with the drug. After examining many studies, the F.D.A. in 2000 approved a protocol that requires women to take misoprostol orally. But abortion providers have instead instructed women to insert misoprostol vaginally. 'The tablets are small, and women don't necessarily know where their vagina begins and ends,' said Dr. Phillip G. Stubblefield, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Boston University. If women are not careful, Dr. Stubblefield said, they can easily drag the tablet across the perineum, between the rectum and vagina, and contaminate the vagina with the bacteria. Other experts dismissed the contamination idea. 'I'm still using the vaginal route,' said Dr. Mitchell Creinin, director of family planning at the University of Pittsburgh."

  • "Dr. James McGregor, a visiting professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Southern California, said RU-486 might make women more susceptible to Clostridium sordellii in part because the drug may inhibit mechanisms that moderate immunity. In cases of toxic shock, the body's immune response becomes lethal."


    From the Washington Post/Reuters coverage:
  • "Dr. Vanessa Cullins, vice president for medical affairs at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said the meeting should not drift into politics.'This meeting ... needs to be focused on the science,' she told Reuters.

    Still, it has drawn the attention of conservative groups who say there is enough evidence to ban the drug.

    'We hope this is just a first step,' Concerned Women for America President Wendy Wright said.

    Dozens of U.S. lawmakers, mostly Republican, back legislation calling for the Mifeprex's withdrawal. Three anti-abortion groups also filed a petition with the FDA in 2002 seeking its withdrawal."
  • Wednesday, May 10, 2006

    Newsflash!

    Teenagers will lie about their sexual activity, particularly to conform to whatever they're thinking at the time or what is expected! And survey respondents - survey respondents will also lie! Especially if they are teenagers! I will rest easy now that this has been discovered. The New York Times is hot on the trail of this shocking development - Patterns of Deceit Raise Concerns About Teenage Sex Surveys

    Actually, the study this is based on looks rather interesting, although I won't have access to the full study until June. An excerpt from the abstract:
    Results: Among wave 1 virginity pledgers, 53% denied having made a pledge at wave 2; after control for confounders, pledgers who subsequently initiated sexual activity were 3 times as likely to deny having made a pledge as those who did not initiate sexual activity (odds ratio [OR]=3.21; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 2.04, 5.04). Among wave 1 nonvirgins who subsequently took virginity pledges, 28% retracted their sexual histories at wave 2; respondents who took virginity pledges were almost 4 times as likely as those who did not to retract reports of sexual experience (OR=3.88; 95% CI=1.87, 8.07).

    Conclusions. Adolescents who initiate sexual activity are likely to recant virginity pledges, whereas those who take pledges are likely to recant their sexual histories. Thus, evaluations of sexual abstinence programs are vulnerable to unreliable data. In addition, virginity pledgers may incorrectly assess the sexually transmitted disease risks associated with their prepledge sexual behavior."
    So seriously, this kind of finding may have an impact when you're talking about teens' reports of abstinence and basing public health/sex ed initiatives on these kinds of surveys. Really, though, is anyone truly shocked that teens would like about their sexual histories, particularly to cover up their own inconsistencies or failure to follow through on their promises?

    Nashville Event Announcement: Loretta Ross at Watkins, 5/11

    I couldn't find this event listing on the websites, so I'm reposting the email annoucement here (sent by Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee website), with added links:
    Internationally acclaimed human and reproductive rights advocate Loretta Ross will be speaking FREE at Watkins College of Art and Design (on Metro Center Boulevard) at 7pm on Thursday, May 11th.

    Ms. Ross, who will be talking about redefining the reproductive rights movement and creating a new vision for reproductive justice, is a founding member and the current national coordinator of the SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Health Collective (www.sistersong.net). She was a national co-director of the 2004 March for Women's Lives, and was the founder and executive director of the National Center for Human Rights Education (NCHRE) in Atlanta, Georgia. Ms. Ross lectures, writes and works frequently on issues relating to reproductive rights, human rights, women's issues, diversity issues, hate groups and bias crimes.

    This event is FREE and open to the public.

    Copies of Ms. Ross' book, Undivided Right: Women of Color Organizing for Reproductive Justice (2004, South End Press) will be available for purchase and autographs.

    Please join us at this great free event! If you have any questions, please contact Keri at 615-345-0952, or email keria@ppmet.org.

    This event is sponsored by Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee and NOW - Tennessee.

    Needle-Free Marrow Donor Registration Opportunity

    From an announcement I received via email:
    "Come be a part of the Thanks Mom! Marrow Donor Recruitment Drive and help offer someone the living gift of life on Saturday, May 13 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Hospital Hospitality House, 214 Reidhurst Avenue (behind Logan’s off Elliston Place).

    The drive will be the first time the buccal swab, a quick q-tip swab inside the cheek, will be introduced in the Midstate as an alternative method for tissue typing.

    The event is being held in honor of two Monroe Carell, Jr. Children’s Hospital patients – Stefany, 7, and Emarie, 3, Williams. In 2004 Stefany received a cord blood transplant for treatment of Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS). Now her sister requires a transplant in hopes of curing her MDS.

    More than 35,000 children and adults are diagnosed with life-threatening blood disorders every year. For many of these patients, a bone marrow transplant is the only chance for survival.

    For more information call Jessica Pasley at 500-3531 or the Hospital Hospitality House at 329-0477."
    The Vanderbilt Reporter also has a story on the event and how it may help increase the number of registered donors. See this previous post for a list of online information resources on bone marrow donation.

    Tuesday, May 09, 2006

    Hang On To Choice

    As Tennessee Guerilla Women and Thoughts of an Average Woman have already reported, pro-choice women from Wellesley College, specifically Wellesley Women for Choice, have been bombarding Governor Bredesen's office with coat hangers bearing the message "Hang On To Choice" in support of Tennessee women's reproductive freedoms. The Hang On To Choice Campaign is intended to encourage the Governor to veto any legislation that would ban abortion. The group's logic is that Tennessee is one of the states where choice is most at risk; indeed, there is quite a bit of relevant pending legislation in the state.

    I'm all for women taking action. My gut reaction to the Wellesley project, however, was one of discomfort. How well will the Governor react to an influx of mail from a liberal, Massachusetts women's college? Does it have any impact? Why aren't TN women doing the same? Is it embarrassing to the pro-choice in TN to be "scooped" on pro-choice activism? Does it matter? Shouldn't these efforts be followed up by some local action? What is Bredesen's response, because I haven't seen one anywhere? I think it's interesting that, while some claim abortion is a state issue, projects such as Hang on to Choice and efforts to support South Dakota women are springing up. I don't have any profound summary of this, it's just something I'm pondering.


    Related: TGW and TOAAW also remind you to get your emergency contraception in advance, to avoid problems such as pharmacist refusals, lack of access to an open clinic, weekends, and other emergencies. This comes on the heels of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists' annoucement of the "Ask Me" program to "aimed at educating women about emergency contraception (EC) and encouraging them to get an advance prescription from their ob-gyn. ACOG developed this campaign to help eliminate the logistical and political barriers that currently exist and make EC largely inaccessible to women." To locate clinics providing emergency contraception in your area, search the Not-2-Late directory. Kudos to those two local bloggers for bringing this to our attention.

    TamPontificate!

    TamPontification (a nightmare of a portmanteau...) is a tampon and menstruation-focused website from the folks at Seventh Generation, a company dedicated to "non-toxic and environmentally safe household products." The site invites women and girls to contribute their thoughts on menstruation, menstrual products, sexuality, and other related topics. There is also a long list of menstrual euphemisms.

    Right now, you can use the TamPontification website to donate tampons and pads to a women's shelter in your state, by selecting your state and click-dragging a little heart graphic. From the website:
    "Women’s shelters in the U.S. go through thousands of tampons and pads monthly, and, while agencies generally assist with everyday necessities such as toilet paper, diapers, and clothing, this most basic need is often overlooked. You and I may take our monthly trips down the feminine care aisle for granted, but, for women in shelters, a box of tampons is five dollars they can’t spare. Here’s some good news: you can help us contribute to rectifying this situation by making a virtual donation below! For each virtual donation, Seventh Generation will send a pack of organic cotton tampons or chlorine-free pads to a shelter in your state."

    As you may know, I personally prefer other alternatives for menstrual care. However, if I were going to buy tampons, they'd be the kind that Seventh Generation or Natracare provide. Regardless of my own preference, it's for a good cause. Go click and donate.

    Contribute to the Creation of "The Vagina: An Owner's Manual"

    Janna Cuneo, a friend of a friend of a friend (don't you love the internet?), works for a family planning clinic in Seattle and is hoping to create an "owner's guide" of sorts on vaginas and women's health. The first phase of her project is figuring out gaps in knowledge, hence a short questionnaire, which is pasted below some information I received via email with more detail.
    "I want to put together a reference for women about their vaginas specifically. Let's call it THE VAGINA: AN OWNER'S MANUAL. I'm dreaming up a reference that gives us all a first place to start looking or asking for more information. I think it should be organized by experience, aka a chapter on 'Smells coming from the vagina' or 'Fluids coming from the vagina' or 'when it looks angry on the outside.' I think it should have good solid information about the whys and hows, but references so women can go more in depth if they choose, but don't get overwhelmed by the Merck Manual definitions at first glance. These are my preliminary thoughts. I realize, however, that this project won't work without an accurate idea of where all of our gaps in information are/were. Hence the questionaire below."

    Janna asks that you be "be brutually, tact-lessly honest and forthcoming" in your responses, which you can email to vaginabookproject at hotmail dot com. Feel free to forward this around to the other women in your life.

    The Questions: (with my answers, to get you started)
    1) What do you wish you knew sooner about your vagina?
    When everything would happen - hair, periods; what should and should not come from there

    2) What do think is missing from a young woman's education about her
    reproductive health?

    Alternative menstrual products, masturbation, lesbian health, clear info on risks/benefits/efficacy of numerous contraceptives, what rights women have as minors with regards to reproductive health and physician care in general (confidentiality, information that can be given to parents, etc.)

    3) What is your number one worry about your vagina (vague or specific)?
    That somebody will call my "vulva" my "vagina." :P

    4) What is your number one complaint about vaginal care you have recieved?
    Lots of women still don't know that they shouldn't douche.

    5) If you will have/have had a daughter, what would you/have you thought was the most important info to pass on about the vagina?
    Oh, so many things - up front info on periods, infections, STDs, hygiene, alternative menstrual products, etc. What to do in emergencies such as sexual assault. How to perform a self-exam so you can see your own stuff. :)

    6) Do you think a project like this is useful/necessary/worth my time? Why or why not?
    Yes, if the target audience and the approach are carefully selected to fill in existing holes in the available material

    7) What would you do if this was your project? What should I focus on?
    I might extend it to be "The Vulva: An Owner's Manual." I would look at as many existing similar manuals (print and online) as I could get my hands on, and try to figure out what is missing.

    8) What types of information (charts, definitions, essays, statistics,
    diagrams) do you find useful and readable when you are trying to learn about your health?

    Definitions. Images. Flowcharts to help decide when urgent or self-care is appropriate. Information that helps me know what to expect.

    9) What do you think you still don't know enough about in terms of your vaginal well being?

    10) Open space for general peanut gallery commentary!

    11) What is your age?

    Confidentiality:
    "Just so you know, your name will never be attached to this in any public forum unless you want it to be, this is all very private. My background in all this is as a labor support doula (like a birth coach) for low-income women giving birth, and as a medical assistant in an abortion clinic. I've been working in women's clinics for the last three years, and hopefully some day I'll get myself together and go to grad school for midwifery. Some day."

    Some other things you might want to ponder as you respond: (based on my own thoughts so far)
  • Is there an age group, such as pre-teens or teens, or other subset of women that is excluded by other existing products such as Our Bodies, Ourselves?
  • Is there a specific focus this should take to fill existing gaps in readability, tone, comprehensiveness, frankness, or some other factor?
  • Safe Motherhood Champions Awards Announced

    The American College of Nurse-Midwives and the White Ribbon Alliance For Safe Motherhood are announcing their 2006 Safe Motherhood Champion Awards. According to the ACNM's press release, "The award recognizes an individual and a group or organization for their work aiding pregnant women, new mothers, and infants affected by Hurricane Katrina." The awards are as follows; see the press release for details on the efforts of each award winner:

    Group Awards:
    March of Dimes
    Baton Rouge Woman's Hospital
    Louisiana Office of Public Health and Maternal Health
    Family Road of Greater Baton Rouge
    Baton Rouge General and Earl K Long Hospitals

    Individual Award:
    Cheri Johnson, RN, Director of Maternal-Child Services at Baton Rouge General Medical Center

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    MeSH Tags: Maternal Health Services