Category Archives: Reproductive Health

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Starting Period Early ‘Linked To Higher Heart Disease Risk In Later Life’

Women who started their period before the age of 12 may have a heightened risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke in later life, a study has found.

Experiencing an early menopause, pregnancy complications and having a hysterectomy were also linked to an increased risk of the disease, the research published in the journal Heart revealed.

Responding to the study’s findings, Christopher Allen, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said further research is needed to understand why this link exists.

He also urged women to look after their heart health and take advantage of free NHS health checks where possible.

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is an umbrella term for all the diseases of the heart and circulation including coronary heart disease, angina, heart attack, congenital heart disease and stroke.

Coronary heart disease and stroke can be caused by the same problem – atherosclerosis, where the arteries become narrowed by a gradual build-up of fatty material.

According to the BHF, coronary heart disease kills more than twice as many women as breast cancer in the UK. 

Previous research has suggested that certain reproductive risk factors may be linked to an increased risk of heart disease or stroke, but the findings have drawn mixed results. 

In a bid to clarify any potential associations, researchers analysed data from the UK Biobank, a large population based study of more than half a million men and women up to the age of 69, who had been recruited between 2006 and 2010.

Participants filled in questionnaires on their lifestyle, environment and medical history, which included a wide range of reproductive factors. They also took tests to assess their physical and functional health, and provided urine, blood, and saliva samples.

The health of 267,440 women and 215,088 men – none of whom had cardiovascular disease when they signed up for the study – was tracked up to March 2016 or until they had their first heart attack or stroke, whichever came first.

During a monitoring period spanning around seven years, 9,054 cases of cardiovascular disease were recorded, a third (34%) of which were in women. This included 5,782 cases of coronary artery disease (28% women) and 3,489 cases of stroke (43% women).

Findings

Analysis of the data showed that:

  • Women who had started having periods before the age of 12 had a 10% increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease than those who had been 13 or older when they started.
  • Women who went through the menopause early (before the age of 47) had a 33% increased risk of cardiovascular disease, rising to 42% for their risk of stroke.
  • Previous miscarriages were associated with a higher risk of heart disease, with each miscarriage increasing the risk by 6%.
  • Stillbirth was associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease in general (22%) and of stroke in particular (44%).
  • Hysterectomy was linked to a heightened risk of cardiovascular disease (12%) and of heart disease (20%). And women who had had their ovaries removed before a hysterectomy were twice as likely to develop cardiovascular disease as those who hadn’t had these procedures.
  • Young age at first parenthood seemed to be another risk factor, with each additional year of age lessening the risk of cardiovascular disease by around 3%. The link between the number of children and cardiovascular disease was similar for men and women, suggesting that social, psychological, and behavioural factors may be more important than biological ones.

The researchers noted that the study was observational, so no firm conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect. Nevertheless, the study was large, and the researchers were able to account for a range of potentially influential factors.

“More frequent cardiovascular screening would seem to be sensible among women who are early in their reproductive cycle, or who have a history of adverse reproductive events or a hysterectomy, as this might help to delay or prevent their onset of [cardiovascular disease]” they advised.

BHF’s Christopher Allen told HuffPost UK: “Further studies are needed to better understand if and how a women who starts her period before the age of 12 has a higher risk of heart disease in later life, along with the impact of other factors such as early menopause, pregnancy complications and hysterectomies.

“It’s important that women of all ages look after their hearts, and those over 40 take advantage of the free NHS health checks which cover your risk of cardiovascular disease.

“If you are worried about your reproductive history and heart disease then speak to your GP.”

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The Online Abuse Of Women Isn’t ‘Trolling’, It’s An Expression Of Misogyny

I can’t believe this is happening again…

These were the words running through my mind as I entered the police station. While I had been here once before, for the most part I didn’t even bother going to the police because I didn’t see the point. But this was the worst it had ever been.

It was that same day I had learned about the website. It had been found by a family member; this site created by men whose stated objective was to ruin my life.

Once I knew what I was looking for, the page was easy to find. My photograph was at the top, alongside an invitation to members of the online community:

“I have found the perfect target. This c*** needs to feel our full wrath. Are you up for it? Are you prepared to take down a militant feminazi?”

Scrolling down the page I found the names of both friends and family members, complete with links to their social media accounts. Phone numbers. My home address (fortunately, outdated). Photos – of me, my parents and even my children. Before me was a smattering of captured moments apparently taken from the Facebook pages of my relatives; family events, picnics, me smiling with my parents outside a production of Les Miserables. Memories now tinged with a sick feeling, tainted by being reproduced in this context.

“Find her children and make their life a living hell,” said one commenter. ”Best way to get a woman is through her children.”

It didn’t end there. Next were the pornographic photos of me, with my face superimposed over a series of pornographic images depicting various sex acts. The caption read, “Send this to her sons.”

I read a long thread in which they discussed their potential plans for me. These included plans to hack into my personal email account to find ‘dirt’ on me. Hacking my social media accounts for the purpose of wrecking my reputation. Ejaculating on my photo. Or even swatting – a potentially deadly ’prank’ in which harassers make a false report of a hostage situation or a bomb threat, resulting in armed police showing up at the target’s house.

As I read what these men had in store for me, the lengths they were willing to go to in order to silence women like me, it became clear this wasn’t just ‘trolling’. They were strategising on how to get me raped or seriously hurt.

“Let’s send a pack of feral n*****s/ rapists to her house,” suggested one. (Keep in mind at this time they thought they had my address.) Others agreed long term operations would be the most effective and discussed ways to provoke specific religious, ethnic and extremist groups. “We need a demographic that will react violently.”

I’ve been on the receiving end of these sustained and organised campaigns for years. In that time, I’ve come to see that the deliberate and targeted abuse of women on the internet, often downplayed as trolling, is nothing less than an open expression of misogyny.

Women’s experiences in online spaces – particularly those of us who express feminist sentiments – are often characterised by sexist harassment and abuse. We are called bitches, whores and worse; we endure uninvited sexual comments and images, messages encouraging us to suicide, threats of violence and rape and appraisals of our bodies from men contemplating how rapeable we are.

The men who targeted me made plans to ejaculate on my photo, they turned me into porn and reduced me to masturbatory material. None of this was intended to be ‘empowering’ or a celebration of female sexuality, rather, it was a statement of utter contempt for women. The intention is to degrade and humiliate female targets, to inflict shame, as Susan Hawthorne writes in ‘Dark Matters: a novel’. Through the sexual humiliation of women, men assert their dominance and send a clear message that there will be repercussions for those women who forget their place.

A few months ago, I was contacted by a journalist who was interested in exploring the online abuse of women. I sent her some examples of the abuse, threats and images that had been directed to me over the past few years. When we spoke the following day, she confided that the content I had shared with her literally gave her nightmares.

As predicted, the police said they could do very little and referred me on. There would be no consequences for these men, no investment of police time or resources. The best I could hope for was for the website to be taken down, which after several months it finally was.

The men who doxed my family, posted pictures of my children, turned me into pornography and discussed ways to get me raped, believe that women can be intimidated and threatened into silence. I won’t be.

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Abortion Rights Campaigners ‘Incredibly Disappointed’ Maria Caulfield Is New Tory Chair For Women

Abortion rights campaigners say they are “incredibly disappointed” Maria Caulfield has been made Conservative vice chair for women in Theresa May’s cabinet reshuffle.

The Lewes MP said she was “delighted” with the job, which will see her serve alongside newly-installed party chair Brandon Lewis and vice chair James Cleverly.

But termination provider BPAS said it was dismayed at the appointment, as Caulfield has previously spoken out against the decriminalisation of abortion.

In a blog post on her website, Caulfied said the legislation proposed by Labour’s Diana Johnson “completely neglected the rights of the unborn child”.

“More must be done to effectively combat the dangerous liberalisation of abortion, which hides under the premise of championing women’s rights, but does this at the expense of negating the protection of unborn children,” she wrote.

Johnson wanted to see a change in the law that would prevent women who accessed drugs for medical termination online from being prosecuted.

She said: “I wonder if any of us truly believe that those women, in such difficult circumstances, really should be seen as criminals. Let me be clear that decriminalisation will not mean deregulation.”

In reponse to Caulfield’s appointment, the Hull North MP told HuffPost UK: “I am very disappointed that the PM has appointed Maria Caulfield to the role of vice chair of the Conservative Party with responsibility for women.

“This role should be held by someone promoting the equality of women and ensuring the laws Parliament enacts do not discriminate against women.

“It is particularly concerning that last year Ms Caulfield spoke strongly against my proposal to update the 1967 Abortion Act to ensure that a Victorian criminal law no longer covered women seeking abortion – despite strong support from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the British Medical Association and the Royal College of Midwives.”

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It Took Me Over Six Years To Get A Mumbod. Never Take Your Body And The Amazing Things It Can Do For Granted!

Hi, I’m Jasmine, and I tried for nearly six years to get pregnant. At one point in the journey, I was told that I had less than a 1% chance of having my own biological child. After multiple IUI and IVF treatments, we became pregnant with my now-2-year-old daughter, T. I remember those years of trying and thinking constantly of the ‘what ifs’ in life. My biggest ‘what if’ was: “What if I am never be able to experience what it’s like to be pregnant and become a mother?” I would look on at others’ growing bellies with envy and wonder what it must feel like to go through such a transformation. I knew if I was ever able to become pregnant one day I would cherish every moment and never take it for granted.

I was beyond overjoyed when I did get pregnant after my 3rd IVF attempt. When I found out that I was pregnant, I knew I wanted to cherish every single moment of it, especially because I did not know if I would ever get a moment like this again. Having one baby was a 1% miracle – I could not expect to be so lucky as to have another one! I did not want to take anything for granted. So I started taking a photo nearly every day of my pregnancy as a way of embracing the changes my body was going through. This is the result:

A post shared by Pregnant Belly Movie Maker (@pregmo.app) on

My belly grew and grew, larger than I ever imagined it could. Of course, I felt big and awkward at times, but what was most unexpected was that I had never felt so empowered, confident and proud of my body. It was not the flat stomach that I had longed for all those years but this beautiful rounded belly, complete with glorious little kicks from the inside. It is a beautiful thing.

As I sit here writing this, I am currently 32 weeks pregnant with baby #2 (miracles do happen more than once!), so pregnancy is very much in my thoughts and day to day life right now. I can’t help but smile as I feel the baby kicking inside as I type. This is one of the best moments I have experienced in my life, the simple feeling of a little kick inside to remind me that we are capable of making our own little miracles.

Our bodies are such amazing things and we should always be proud of them. I think of our pregnancy bodies as showing how strong and powerful we are. Imagine, YOU are creating a little person inside your own body. Yes, your body is getting bigger and it changes constantly pre and post baby, but that is something we should embrace and be proud of. More importantly, I remember all those years of trying to get to this moment of having a mumbod. A mumbod has made me the happiest I have ever been.

A post shared by Pregnant Belly Movie Maker (@pregmo.app) on

When I shared the movie afterwards, I received so many messages asking me how I created it and how they could make one themselves. This is when I decided to create an app that would allow anyone and everyone to create their own movie. It truly is such a special thing to have, and I wanted everyone to be able to easily create their own visual documentation of this powerful time.

HuffPost UK Parents has launched ‘Mumbod’, a new section to empower mums and mums-to-be to feel confident about their bodies pre- and post-baby. We’d also love to hear your stories. To blog for Mumbod, email ukblogteam@huffingtonpost.com. To keep up to date with features, blogs and videos on the topic, follow the hashtag #MyMumbod.

 

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One-Third Of Councils Close Contraceptive Care Services After Spending Cuts

Around one-third of councils in England have been forced to cut services delivering contraceptive care as a result of cuts to public funding.

Figures compiled via Freedom of Information requests by the Advisory Group on Contraception (AGC) show 53 of 152 councils have closed some services provided by clinics, forcing women to travel further to get help.

When asked about plans for the current year, eight further councils confirmed cuts to local services. Of the 51 councils that provided year-on-year data, half have cut their allocated budget for contraception for the financial year 2017/18.

Some 32 local authorities closed contraceptive services in 2016-17, a rise on the 12 that halted offering services a year earlier.

The AGC said “without doubt” the cuts would mean a rapid increase in unplanned babies and more abortions, and that the most vulnerable were at the biggest risk.

The London Borough of Barking and Dagenham reported reducing the number of community service sites from three to one. Women in Bristol saw a number of contraceptive clinic sessions replaced with online services.

Jo Baxter, who was wrongly told by her GP that longer term methods were only “appropriate” for women in long-term relationships, had no accessible community clinic in her area, and lived without contraception for two years.

She said: “It’s crazy in this day and age that women have to fight so hard to get the contraception they want. Family planning clinics should be seen as core community services, but I found it impossible to find one that could help me. If I had got pregnant, it would have been devastating.”

Council have been forced into making deep cuts as a result of seven years of austerity, with many struggling to protect essential services, including road repairs, parks, children’s centres, waste collection, leisure centres and libraries. Public health budgets have also diminished.

Local councils have had responsibility for commissioning contraceptive services since 2013, funding services that provide long acting reversible contraception, which is recognised as the most effective method of birth control.

The AGC, an expert group made up of clinicians and campaigners, presented its Cuts, Closures and Contraception report to the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare’s annual conference on Thursday.

Dr Anne Connolly, a GP in Bradford and member of the AGC, said: “Cuts and closures to contraceptive services will mean more women will struggle to get the contraception they want.

“Often these cuts disproportionately affect the most vulnerable women in society. Without doubt, this will mean more unplanned babies and more abortions. It is deeply frustrating to feel like we are going backwards.”

Labour MP Paula Sherriff, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Women’s Health, said: “These findings show that, once again, women’s health issues are being side-lined.

“Contraception should be a core service in every community and it’s extremely worrying to hear that it’s getting harder for women to get the method they want.”

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Joss Whedon gets real about losing Planned Parenthood in new short film

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In real life, there aren’t superheroes who save us from doom or injustice. 

Instead, we look to Hollywood directors like Joss Whedon to transform those comic book fantasies into a spectacle for the small screen (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) or large screen (The Avengers). 

SEE ALSO: Cutting Planned Parenthood funding is a great way to punish poor women

But now Whedon is tackling a real-life threat that could endanger millions of Americans. On Wednesday, he debuted a short film illustrating what might happen if Planned Parenthood shutters clinics across the country. 

It would sound far-fetched if the House hadn’t recently passed a healthcare bill that proposes revoking Planned Parenthood’s federal funding for one year. If that provision becomes law, it would mean low-income women couldn’t use Medicaid to access routine services from Planned Parenthood — and it would be a devastating financial blow to the nonprofit health care provider.  Read more…

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