women's health

When Heather Woock was in her late 20s, she started researching her family history. As part of the project she spit into a tube and sent it to Ancestry, a consumer DNA testing service. Then in 2017, she started getting messages about the results from people who said they could be half-siblings.

"I immediately called my mom and said, 'Mom, is it possible that I have random siblings out there somewhere?'" Woock says. She remembers her mom responded, "No, why? That's ridiculous."

Teri Hines was in her mid-40s when she started to notice that her body was changing.

Her period became irregular and more intense. "It increased in frequency, it increased in intensity and it increased in duration," she says.

She began to have hot flashes, gained weight and her energy levels took a nosedive.

"I just did not have the energy to do the things I wanted to do," she says, like the long morning walks she loved to take with her dogs, or planning solo travel.

Researchers have conducted a controversial study that involved paying dozens of young women at a hospital near Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, to get artificially inseminated so their embryos could be flushed out of their bodies and analyzed for research purposes.

The study showed that embryos created that way appear to be as healthy genetically as embryos created through standard in vitro fertilization. Physically, the embryos appear to, possibly, even be healthier, the study found.

"Crazy," "hysterical," "overreactive," "hormonal." These are stereotypes many women still have to fight to be taken seriously. And that fight can be especially challenging because so many women do face very real symptoms such as bloating, headaches, irritability and mood changes — often on a monthly cycle.

Lily Oppenheimer / WLRN

South Florida women who have waited months for an available OB-GYN appointment can blame a growing gynecologist shortage across America. 

Healthy Start of the Florida Keys

If you live in the Florida Keys, there are some real challenges to having a baby. If you want to go to a hospital, you have two options. One is at mile marker 5 in Key West. The other is to go all the way to on the mainland in Homestead. And if you’re a new patient with Medicaid, it gets even harder.

WLRN recently spoke with Arianna Nesbitt, executive director of the Florida Keys Healthy Start Coalition. That's the nonprofit that works with pregnant women and families with young children to keep young kids in the Keys healthy and safe.

Brittney Crystal was just over 25 weeks pregnant when her water broke.

It was her second pregnancy — the first had been rough, and the baby came early.

To try to avoid a second premature birth, Dr. Joy-Sarah Vink, an obstetrician and co-director of the Preterm Birth Prevention Center at Columbia University Medical Center, arranged for Crystal to be transported by ambulance from her local Connecticut hospital to New York City, where Vink could direct her care.

Women tend to have more youthful brains than their male counterparts — at least when it comes to metabolism.

While age reduces the metabolism of all brains, women retain a higher rate throughout the lifespan, researchers reported Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The Flow Down / Courtesy

It is a taboo topic and there are thousands of ways to describe it: “It’s that time of the month,” “I’m on my rag,” or “It’s mother nature’s week,” and that is just to name a few.

I'm talking about periods, or the menstrual flow. 

Last year, 50,000 women worldwide were killed by intimate partners or family members — a figure that translates to 1.3 per every 100,000 women, according to a global study on gender-related killing of women and girls released this month by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

Break the data down by continent, and the highest rate is in Africa at 3.1 victims per 100,000 females, with rates in descending order of 1.6 in the Americas, 1.3 in Oceania, 0.9 in Asia and 0.7 in Europe.

Catherine Guthrie already knew a lot about breast cancer when she found a lump on her left breast at age 38.

A women's health journalist, Guthrie had written about breast cancer patients' experiences and had followed the latest treatment innovations. But all of that research could not have prepared her for living through breast cancer — and the choices she would have to make about her body.

A new study of women with ovarian cancer shows that ignorance about the condition is common among patients in all 44 countries surveyed. And that ignorance has a cost.

When she was in graduate school for public health, Niasha Fray found a job she loved: counseling women with breast cancer about sticking to their treatment.

She offered what's called "motivational interviewing," a type of therapy intended to help women overcome obstacles keeping them from taking their medications — which can have unpleasant side effects

"They had just given up so much of their lives, so much of their bodies, so much of their family," Fray says. "They wanted to get back to life as usual."

The trauma of sexual assault or harassment is not only hard to forget; it may also leave lasting effects on a woman's health. This finding of a study published Wednesday adds support to a growing body of evidence suggesting the link.

The woman arrived at the emergency department at Huntington Hospital on New York's Long Island after she was hit by her boyfriend during an argument. Her situation raised concerns among the medical staff, which had recently been trained to be on the lookout for signs of sex trafficking.

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