September 2013

Perspectives from the 7th annual Oncofertility Conference

Screen shot 2013-09-26 at 3.04.58 PMOncofertility is a multidisciplinary field of experts coming together to provide fertility options to cancer patients.  The multidisciplinary nature of the field was on display during our 7th annual Oncofertility Conference in Chicago, Illinois.  During the course of the conference, we saw presentations from international scientists, Northwestern program leaders, social workers, surgeons and reproductive endocrinologists (to name a few).

Treating Vulvavaginal Atrophy

Menopause is known for its hot flashes, the sweats, weight gain, and mood changes. But what about vaginal dryness?

Vulvovaginal atrophy commonly occurs during menopause, and its symptoms include irritated tissue, lack of lubrication, pain with urination, and pain with intercourse. These symptoms of vulvovaginal atrophy occur in as many as 45% of post-menopausal women. And yet, the majority of post-menopausal women feel uncomfortable discussing their symptoms with their healthcare providers.

Vulvovaginal atrophy significantly affects many women, altering their relationships and quality of life. In recognition of this, the North

Syrian health system in crisis

A group of more than 50 physicians and other healthcare professionals have signed an open letter calling on all parties involved in the Syrian conflict to stop targeting medical facilities and to permit medical care to continue without interference. In the letter, published online in the Lancet, the writers noted that 15,000 doctors have fled the country and 37% of the country’s hospitals have been destroyed, and that many areas of the country are completely without any health care.

Source:  Medpage Today

Unintended pregnancy in the US higher than other developed countries

The Guttmacher Institute, a non-profit organization that works to advance reproductive health, released a report in September on the state of unintended pregnancy in the United States. The organization estimates that currently, around 49% of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unintended. This is higher than the rate of unintended pregnancy in many other developed countries. For this study, an unintended pregnancy is considered a pregnancy that is either mistimed or unwanted.

The Science of Sequestration

Last Tuesday’s New York Times article painted an unpleasant picture of the state of scientific research due to cutbacks with the sequestration. The $1 trillion in budget cuts have significantly slowed research momentum, which could lead to major setbacks in the health world. Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, described 2013 as the “darkest” year to date for the agency, whose budget is suffering and distributing smaller numbers of grants than ever.

Male and female cells can behave differently!

Even at the most basic molecular level sex matters—and it’s not just about hormones.   Did you know that muscle stem cells from female mice regenerate new muscle faster than cells from male mice?  And cells from male and female mice respond to stress differently.  Yet most researchers who use basic cell cultures in their work do not even identify the sex of the cells they use.

Considering Probiotics???

You might have noticed “probiotics” listed on the label of your yogurt. Maybe you’ve seen probiotic pills on store shelves next to vitamins or other supplements.

Probiotics are live microbes, such as bacteria, similar to those found naturally in the human body. We tend to think of microbes as harmful, but certain kinds are good for us and help the body to function properly.

Probiotics are found in some foods or are taken by mouth as dietary supplements. Probiotics also come in other products, such as creams.

Women Today Living Longer Than Ever

A recent report from the World Health Organization showed that life expectancies for women over 50 are increasing around the world.  Women are living longer now than they did 40 years ago, thanks to medical advances and more sanitary living.  While all countries showed life-expectancy improvements, some improved less than others.  The AIDS epidemic in South Africa, the collapse of the Soviet health system in Russia, and the increased cases of lung cancer and diabetes in Mexico are a few instances of slower improvement rates.