Tuesday, October 25, 2011

That burning sensation: How to prevent UTIs

Some of us know that feeling all too well: you feel like you need to pee all the time, it burns like a futhermucker when you do, and your pee is looking a little funky. Yup, ladies, you got yourself a urinary tract infection, or UTI for short.

Other than giving your regular doc or lady parts doc a call so you can treat it, you also want to NEVER have to have one again, right? I mean, they are terrible.

Here are some tips for you:
1) Drink plenty of water. Keep your self hydrated and pee often.
2) Pee after sex. Like as soon as you can. Peeing flushes out the nether bacteria that you can get from well, each other's nethers.
3)Wipe front to back. Yes, ladies, you've heard it often, you'll hear it again. Front to back. Not the other way around.
4) Cranberry juice or pills are your friend. I recommend keeping cranberry pills by your bed, so you can easily take one after some nether rubbing. Cranberries keep your urine acidic which makes it unfriendly to bacteria.

Happy urinary tracts make for happy ladies!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Can too much of a good thing be bad for you? The deal with soy

Recently a friend asked for some healthy eating tips, and specifically what to do about eating soy. Is it good for you or is it evil? Since I thought it was an excellent question, I figured I would share my findings on the matter.

First of all, soy is a great yummy source of protein and has been linked to reducing the risk of heart disease, osteoporosis, and cancer! Soy has a group of plant estrogens (yes, the hormone. I'll get to that in a bit) called isoflavones. And these isoflavones, namely genestin and daidzen (who comes up with these names?!), are the good stuff that protects your health.

But before you start eating soy with every meal, remember how I said that soy has estrogen? Yeah, well not quite the estrogen that your body produces, but a phytoestrogen, a plant produced compound that mimics the estrogen found in your body. And as you can imagine, pumping your body full of hormones probably isn't the best idea. Animal studies have shown that consuming large quantities of isoflavones develop liver, thyroid and reproductive problems. EEK!

What to do? Asian cultures eat plenty of soy and they are known for their longevity, so what gives? The difference is that they eat WHOLE foods - tofu, edamame, tempeh, and miso - not the super processed stuff that is found in our supermarkets like soy dogs, ice cream, and cookies. These processed foods extract the soy protein isolate and aren't filled with all the good stuff that you can get from soy.

Eating soy in moderation is indeed good for your health. Just make sure it is in whole form, not too much (a serving or two a day), and definitely don't take any isoflavone supplements (again, processed soy is bad). If you are pregnant or at risk for developing estrogen sensitive tumors like breast and ovarian cancer, try not to eat to much soy in any form. In our veggie household, we eat soy (tempeh or tofu) as a staple in our dinner probably twice a week, and I try to buy other "meatless" options that are veggie or gluten based instead of soy. My veggie friend switched from soy milk to almond milk (especially when trying to conceive and pregnant), and for those that are lactarded (such as myself), lactose free milk is a great alternative.

So go ahead, have that edamame with your lunch!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

How to feel your boobies: The art of the self breast exam

It's October which means cooler weather, pumpkin picking, and boobs. Yes, boobs. October is breast cancer awareness month, and I figured I would remind you lovelies how to check your breasts every month.

First of all, get to know your boobs well. That way, if anything changes, you will notice. Secondly, you should give yourself a good feel up once a month - just after your period ends, on day 6 of your cycle (day 1 is the first day of your period).

Checking yourself out in the shower is probably the easiest since you are in there naked to begin with, hopefully on a regular basis. Use the pads of three fingers to basically "finger walk" up and down your boob like a little lawnmower. Make sure you not only check your boob itself, but also around your boob from your armpit to your collar bone and your underboob, as well as your nipple.

What are you supposed to be feeling for? Any lumps, but also skin puckering, a change in size or shape, redness or swelling, and any liquid from your nipples (this might be best to check out of the shower). You find anything funky - give your lady parts doctor a ring right away.

Lovers of ladies, you too can help with this cause as you are often quite familiar with the breastscape of your lady love. You feel anything weird or unusual - alert your lady and make sure she gets it checked out.

Spread the word - check out checkyourboobies.org for more info!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

icontraception: if we spent as much money and time on contraception as we did on phones

With the frenzy of the new iphone release and the death of Steve Jobs, it has been making me wonder what we could do if we focused our efforts on reproductive health as much as we do on our phones. After reading this great article on RH Reality Check, it made me realize just how far behind we are on contraceptives. 

Truth be told, around 70 percent of women are using contraception methods that have been around since the 1950s. Yes, the Nuvaring and the patch are new additions to the mix, but for the most part the underlying premise is the same. It is as if we were still using this:
as our phone. Technology changes, and people demand more stuff in small packages. So why can't we do the same with our contraception?

How great would it be to have a simple to use birth control method that also protected you from STDs and didn't smell like rubber? What about a birth control that didn't pollute our waterways with estrogen? What if MEN could also take a pill for contraception? Even better, what if you could go into a store and just buy yourself some birth control off the shelf, right next to the condoms and cough medicine? 

And really, why not hope for these things, ask for these things? As Kirsten Moore of RH Reality Check pointed out:it was the synergy of consumer demand and technological innovation that gave us these incredible little devices. Isn’t it about time we did the same for contraception? Why should our smart phones be sexier than sex?"

Just my rambling for the day...would love to hear your thoughts as well!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Just how bad is HPV?

HPV, or Human Papilloma Virus, has been making media headlines for the last few years with the advent of the Gardisil vaccine against it. But just how common is HPV? And how bad is it really?

Now, there are more than 40 strains of HPV and some are more "high risk" than others. HPV strains 16,18,52, and 59  are considered to be linked with abnormal PAP smears and cervical cancers. These strains of HPV are associated with 99% of all cervical cancer cases.

First things first, HPV is a sexually transmitted infection. Despite the vagueness of the television commercials, you get HPV from having sex, either vaginal, anal, or oral. You can even get it by having your nether parts touch an infected nether part.

Most people don't know they have HPV, since in most cases (90%) there are no signs or symptoms. Some people with HPV get genital warts or very rarely throat warts. Since HPV is known to cause abnormal pap smears and is a precursor to cervical cancer (and also cancers of the vulva, vagina, penis, anus, and oropharynx) many people associate HPV with cancer.

According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control), about 20 MILLION people are infected with HPV with about 6 million new cases each year. Apparently 50% of sexually active folk will get HPV at some point in their lifetimes. Yup, it is that common. But not all of these HPV infections are the high risk strains. In fact, only 15% of infections were the high risk type, although 24% of women had two different types of HPV detected and 15% had three subtypes.

There is no treatment for HPV itself, and in most cases, your body's immune system will clear up an HPV infection (or at least make it dormant or undetectable) in about two years. So the best thing to do is to prevent it in the first place. If you are between the ages of 11 and 26, go on and get either Cervarix or Gardasil, vaccines that protect against the types of HPV that cause most cervical cancers.Gardasil works for boys and men who are 9 through 26 years old. If you are older, make sure to get regular pap smears which can detect HPV or an HPV DNA test. If you are having sex, make sure you are using condoms from start to finish. Since condoms still only cover a portion of the infected areas they don't fully protect against HPV, so choose your partners wisely.

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