Blog

The Woodruff Lab contributes to the Women’s Health Research Institute and Oncofertility Consortium blogs. Read the latest information disseminated from these blogs below:  

Science literacy helps answer life’s questions

Understanding science isn’t just important to scientists and health care professionals, a basic understanding of science is critical for all people to participate fully in the national and international conversation.   A recent issue of The Conversation, discusses the importance of science literacy in today’s world whether we are trying to learn the facts about Ebola or wanting to learn what stem cell research is.   Many of our public policies and regulations need to be based on facts and not politics and biased headline reporting.

Sex differences may be found in COPD

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, the third leading cause of death in the U.S., was thought to primarily affect men.   But in recent years, the number of women with COPD has significantly increased and today more women than men die of COPD.  This increase was originally thought to be a latent effect due to the  increase in smoking in women in the 1060′s but new research suggests that some other sex effects may be in play.

Compounded Bioidentical Hormone Therapy under scrutiny

 Unsubstantiated claims, lack of scientific safety and efficacy data, and lack of quality control continue to surround custom-compounded bioidentical hormone products and yet, many women seem to believe that they are somehow “safer” than lab synthesized hormones.   FDA-approved hormone therapy provides tested and regulated therapy without the risks of unregulated and untested custom preparations that often include custom compounded therapies.

Improving Health for LGBT Patients

Feinberg School of Medicine faculty helped create the Association of American Medical Colleges’ (AAMC) first guidelines for medical schools on improving health care for people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT), gendering nonconforming or born with differences of sex development (DSD).

“This resource guide is important because these populations have been historically disproportionately harmed or neglected in the medical system,” said Alice Dreger, PhD, professor of Clinical Medical Humanities and Bioethics at Northwestern University and member of the AAMC Advisory Committee on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Sex Development. “By being a part of this committee I hope I am helping to seed a new generation of doctors who will know how to really help patients in these populations.”

Fireworks fly when sperm fertilizes egg!

Sparks literally fly when a sperm and an egg hit it off. The fertilized mammalian egg releases from its surface billions of zinc atoms in “zinc sparks,” one wave after another, a Northwestern University-led interdisciplinary research team has found. Researchers at Northwestern developed technology that captured images of these fireworks.  According to Dr. Teresa Woodruff, PhD part of the team studying this phenomenon and director of the Women’s Health Research Institute at NU, “The amount of zinc released by an egg could be a great marker for  identifying a high-quality fertilized egg, something we haven’t been able to do.  Once we can, fewer embryos would need to be transferred during fertility treatments.”
View a WGN-TV segment on the new discovery HERE.

Medicine, Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Some women need to take medicines during pregnancy for health problems like diabetes, depression, morning sickness or seizures. Always talk with your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist before taking any medicines, vitamins or herbs. Don’t stop taking your prescription medicines unless your health care provider says that it is OK.


Lots of women need to take medicines while they are pregnant. Learn how you can sign-up for a pregnancy registry to share your experience with medicines.

Prostate cancer treatment often ignores bone health

Men being treated with hormone therapy for prostate cancer are not  always getting bone-strengthening drugs they may need according to a Canadian study reported in a research letter in JAMA.  A potentially serious side effect of the androgen-deprivation therapy often prescribed to prostate cancer patients is an increased risk of bone loss and fracture. Several consensus guidelines recommend bisphosphonate therapy for men receiving hormones but the new study found that the bone strengthening treatment was underused even in men with osteoporosis.

Study supports CVD timing hypothesis in menopause

Early results of the ELITE study find women who started hormone therapy early after menopause saw a significant slowing of atherosclerotic progression, whereas those who waited more than a decade saw no impact on vascular health, supporting the “timing hypothesis”.