This week, Shruti Pinnamaneni and the brilliant team at Reply All did that thing they do so well: they took the slender thread of a story—in this case, a person suffering from a mysterious medley of ailments—and followed that thread to surprising and fascinating places. Hope, the story’s protagonist, tells a gutwrenching tale of going to different doctors for second and third and fifth and eighth opinions, receiving over and over the same diagnosis of anxiety-induced migraines, being prescribed again and again treatments that alleviate none of her pain.
And then, late in the story, there’s a particularly thought-provoking moment. Dr. Lisa Sanders, the Yale University School of Medicine internist whose New York Times column inspired the hit show House, says to Hope, “I bet neither of the primary care doctors you went to see were women.”
When I read Joe Fassler’s brutal account of the time no one believed his wife was having an emergency, I thought of Hope, and Dr. Sanders’s bet. Thousands of people are reading that story as I write, and I suspect these accounts resonate much more widely. Do you have stories like these? Hello@theatlantic.com.
In many parts of the world, women are having more Cesarean sections than medically necessary. Recent abuses of pregnant women in Brazil have sparked a small, vocal movement of activists who want mothers to have more say in the delivery room.
Social class may play a significant role in how likely middle-aged African-American or Asian woman are to suffer bone fractures. New research suggests that a higher education level was associated with decreased fracture incidence among non-white women.
The good news: More people survive stroke now than 10 years ago due to improved treatment and prevention. The bad news: Women who survive stroke have a worse quality of life than men, according to a study published in the Feb. 7 online issue of the journal Neurology.
A strong sensation of pressure—what some have described as an elephant sitting on one’s chest—can be one of the red flags that someone is experiencing a heart attack and should seek immediate medical assistance. But if you are a woman, waiting to feel this type of pain may be a mistake. Fifty percent of the time a woman has a heart attack, there will be no chest pain involved, explains Dr. Liliana Cohen, a board-certified cardiologist with Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical Group.
"Results from qualitative research of postmenopausal women with vulvar and vaginal atrophy (VVA) show that they recognize the significant physical, emotional and psychological consequences of untreated dyspareunia (painful sex) yet they continue to suffer because of misperceptions about the condition and a general lack of understanding about treatment options.
Many women continue to experience pain during sex because they mistakenly believe VVA to be a sexual consequence of aging instead of the true medical condition that we know it to be," said Dr. Kingsberg, who is also Professor of Reproductive Biology and Psychiatry at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. “Although they characterize their symptoms in medical terms – severe pain, sensitivity and soreness that lasts for days, and vaginal bleeding and irritation – they perceive these symptoms to be part of a sexual problem that is not supposed to be discussed with, and managed by, a health care professional. This may help explain why VVA remains underdiagnosed and undertreated, with only 7 percent of women who experience symptoms treated with prescription therapy.”"
Emotion should be seen as a sign of health, not disease.
"WOMEN are moody. By evolutionary design, we are hard-wired to be sensitive to our environments, empathic to our children’s needs and intuitive of our partners’ intentions. This is basic to our survival and that of our offspring. Some research suggests that women are often better at articulating their feelings than men because as the female brain develops, more capacity is reserved for language, memory, hearing and observing emotions in others.
These are observations rooted in biology, not intended to mesh with any kind of pro- or anti-feminist ideology. But they do have social implications. Women’s emotionality is a sign of health, not disease; it is a source of power. But we are under constant pressure to restrain our emotional lives. We have been taught to apologize for our tears, to suppress our anger and to fear being called hysterical."
El Salvador's strict abortion laws mean a woman can be charged with homicide for suffering a miscarriage. But a high-profile case that drew global condemnation may prove a catalyst for change, reports Claire Provost
With all the accusations, heated debate, and ugliness incited by the tweets and articles in the Dylan Farrow vs. Woody Allen battle, I think the only question that really matters is: Can this help anyone else? We should operate on the premise that it must. First, we should evaluate ourselves...
The abortion rate has fallen again. It’s at its lowest level since 1973, the year Roe v. Wade was handed down. What’s causing the decline? Should we be happy about it? Can we learn anything from it?
The answer to the first question isn’t entirely clear. But the answers to the next two are yes and yes. Pro-lifers are right that the decline is a good thing. And pro-choicers are right that what’s causing the decline—and will keep it going, if we’re smart—is women making these decisions on their own.
The numbers were reported Monday by two researchers from the Guttmacher Institute. They show a 13 percent drop in the abortion rate from 2008 to 2011, continuing a long-term decline that seemed to have stalled. Some pro-lifers don’t believe the numbers. But the National Right to Life Committee does, and is happy to take credit for them. According to NRLC President Carol Tobias, the decline
shows that women are rejecting the idea of abortion as the answer to an unexpected pregnancy. This latest report from Guttmacher shows the long-term efforts of the right-to-life movement to educate the country about the humanity of the unborn child and to enact laws that help children and their mothers are having a tremendous impact.
Pro-choicers don’t buy this spiel. They say the abortion rate is down thanks to contraception. Planned Parenthood points out that alongside the abortion decline, “births were also down,” demonstrating “the importance of affordable, accessible birth control.” Slate’s Amanda Marcotte agrees.
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