Women's Health Only provides information and tips on women's fitness, health, sex, career, relationships, nutrition, weight loss and strength training.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Guiltless Snacking For Weight Loss
Some people believe that skipping meals helps them lose weight. But experts agree that if you frequently miss meals, your metabolism will slow down. With a sluggish metabolism, your body takes longer to burn calories, which means that you won’t lose weight faster. A better approach is to eat smaller, balanced meals with healthy snacks in between. Yeah, that’s right, snacks! You can snack and lose weight. The trick is to choose snacks and portions that will give you the results you want. These tips can help you improve your metabolism and lose weight: 1. Don’t’ wait until you’re ravenous to eat. If you do, you’ll run the risk of overeating. 2. Every day, eat three balanced meals and two or more nutritious snacks. 3. Don’t skip breakfast. 4. Stay active to burn fat and build muscle. 5. Eat fruits and/or vegetables with every meal. They’re low-cal and high-nutrient. 6. Drink plenty of water to keep your body’s complex systems working in tip-top shape. 7. Instead of sodas and other sugary drinks, stick to unsweetened herbal teas (iced or hot) and, of course, water. A glass or two a day of low-fat or skim milk is also fine. 8. Eat small portions of snacks in between meals. 9. Vary your snacks to keep them interesting. Guiltless snacking involves eating foods that are good for you so that you neither deprive yourself nor starve your body while you shed pounds. With the terrific variety of foods available at any grocery store these days, you can make selections that will keep you feeling satisfied while you watch inches disappear from your waist. Guiltless snacks include: * Fresh-cut veggies (carrots, bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, cucumbers, radishes, or a combination of these) * Your favorite cooked vegetable (green beans, asparagus, Brussels sprouts) * Fruit (an apple, orange, grapefruit, banana or nectarine; a cup of strawberries, blueberries, raspberries; melon slices; or a fruit salad) * A mini-salad (such as mixed salad greens with mandarin orange slices and walnuts; make your own dressing with lemon juice and a little olive oil) * A handful of cherry tomatoes * Whole-grain crackers with low-fat cheese or hummus * Whole-grain toast with a slice of tomato * Soft- or hard-boiled egg * Bowl of oatmeal * Half a cup of brown rice (for variety, try adding nuts or raisins) * A handful of nuts (almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts) * Low-fat yogurt (plain is best – add your own fruit) * Whole-grain muffin (half if it’s large) * Oatmeal cookie * Graham crackers The best snacks are natural, organic ones low in sugar and salt. Keep your portions modest; you’re not eating a whole meal, you’re giving your body an energy boost between meals and you’re satisfying your hunger. Drink a glass of water with your snack to help you feel full and stay hydrated. By snacking smart, you can feel full and lose weight. You can stay energized throughout the whole day. Guiltless snacking is good for you! http://www.womenshealthonly.com

Friday, March 31, 2006

By College, Most Women Have Dieted
By College, Most Women Have Dieted Study Shows Eight in 10 College Women Report Dieting at Least Once By Miranda Hitti WebMD Medical News Reviewed By Louise Chang, MD on Thursday, March 30, 2006 More From WebMD Health Drops When Teens Hit 20s Risky Drinking Goes Beyond College Do Thin Models Help or Hurt Women’s Self Esteem? March 30, 2006 — A new study shows that most college women have dieted, regardless of their current BMI (body mass index). The study included 185 women studying nutrition at East Carolina University. Most were white. They had their measurements taken and completed surveys about diet, exercise, and pressure to be a certain weight. The majority — 83% — reported ever dieting to lose or control their weight, including women with normal BMI (body mass index). Almost as many — 80% — reported exercising in the last month to lose or control their weight. But only 19% met exercise standards for weight loss, states the study, published online in Nutrition Journal. “Female college students, regardless of weight status, would benefit from open discussions with health educators to identify healthy and unhealthy diet practices they use,” write the researchers. They included Brenda Malinauskas, PhD, RD, of East Carolina University’s nutrition and hospitality management department. Women Weigh In The researchers measured the women’s height and weight to calculate BMI. They found that 113 women had a normal BMI, 35 were overweight, and 21 were obese. Women who said they had ever dieted to lose or control their weight included 80% of those with normal BMI, 91% of overweight women, and 86% of obese women. The women reported being nearly 16 years old, on average, when they started dieting. The study doesn’t show whether the women were overweight at that age. Regardless of current BMI, the women said they weighed more than their ideal weight. They also estimated that they would be 2% to 6% heavier if they didn’t try to control their weight. When asked who or what pressured them to be a certain weight, most blamed themselves. The media took second place, followed by participants’ friends. Common Practices The five most common weight-related practices for women of all BMI were: * Exercise: 80% * Eating or drinking low-fat or fat-free foods and drinks: 59% * Consciously eating less than they wanted: 51% * Eating or drinking sugar-free foods and drinks: 43% * Counting calories: 40% Unhealthy practices were rarer: * Skipping breakfast: 32% * Smoking cigarettes: 9% * Vomiting: 5% * Using laxatives after eating: 3% It’s not known if the findings apply to other groups of women. http://www.womenshealthonly.com

Thursday, March 23, 2006

New warning on hyperactivity drugs for children
By GARDINER HARRIS THE NEW YORK TIMES GAITHERSBURG, Md. — Doctors and parents should be warned that Ritalin and other drugs for attention deficit disorder and hyperactivity can cause hallucinations in a small number of children, a panel of experts said Wednesday. But the panel members stopped short of recommending a tougher “black box” warning for the medications. They said they hoped that in such cases doctors would stop prescribing the stimulants — instead of using a second drug to treat the hallucinations, which one expert estimated affect two to five out of 100 children taking the drugs. On Feb. 9, a different advisory committee voted 8-7 to recommend that the Food and Drug Administration place its most serious warning label — the so-called black box — on the labels of stimulants to warn that the drugs could have dangerous effects on the heart, particularly in adults. That recommendation grew out of reports that 25 people, mostly children, had died suddenly while taking the drugs. The twin conclusions come more than 50 years after Ritalin was first approved to treat attention deficit disorder and hyperactivity. Since then, stimulants have become among the most widely prescribed medicines in the world. In the United States alone, about 2.5 million children and 1.5 million adults take stimulants. As many as 10 percent of boys between the ages of 10 and 12 take the drugs. In addition to Ritalin, two other stimulants are popular: Adderall and Concerta. The drugs have been studied in hundreds of trials over five decades and have proved to be extremely effective. But they have always been controversial, with some experts charging that they are overprescribed. It is a measure of the difficulty of uncovering the physiological effects of medicines that experts are only now grappling with some of the drugs’ serious, albeit rare, physical and mental effects. Dr. Thomas Newman, an epidemiologist at the University of California-San Francisco who is a member of the pediatric advisory committee, estimated that out of 100 patients who are treated for a year with stimulants, two to five will suffer serious psychotic episodes such as hallucinations. “It’s a small number, but it’s real,” said Dr. Robert Nelson, an intensive care physician at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and chairman of the committee. Dr. Kate Gelperin, an FDA drug-safety specialist, told the committee that the agency had discovered a surprising number of cases in which young children given stimulants suffered hallucinations. Most said that they saw or felt insects, snakes or worms, Gelperin said. She described the case of a 12-year-old girl who said insects were crawling under her skin. Another child was found by his parents crawling on the ground and complaining that he was surrounded by cockroaches. In both cases, the hallucinations disappeared after drug therapy was stopped. The boy’s doctor persuaded his parents to give him stimulants again, and his hallucinations reappeared. FDA officials made clear to the advisory panel that they consider the reports of hallucinations a problem that deserved a label warning. “We were struck by the hallucinations,” said Dr. Rosemary Johann-Liang, deputy director of the FDA’s division of drug-risk evaluation. “We felt it was a drug effect.” The FDA does not have to follow the conclusions of its advisory panels, but it usually does. Dr. Robert Temple, director of the FDA’s office of medical policy, said after the meeting that the agency “will turn quite quickly to implementing the recommendations we’ve gotten.” He added, “The area of uncertainty is what to do about the black-box warning on cardiovascular risks in adults.” After the advisory committee meeting in February, FDA officials said that they had no intention in the near future of placing such warnings on stimulant labels about their potential heart risks. Wednesday’s panel, made up mostly of experts in pediatric medicine and psychiatry, discussed only the potential risks of the drugs among children, while February’s group focused mostly on the risks to adults. The pediatric panel agreed with the earlier group that children who have heart problems probably should not be given stimulants. But most children who die suddenly from heart conditions never knew they were at risk, and most children put on stimulant therapy are not given thorough heart evaluations http://www.womenshealthonly.com
Fitness and fatness predict poor heart health in women
Tue Mar 21, 2006 12:03 PM ET14 By Megan Rauscher NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Women who are otherwise healthy, but have low levels of physical activity and high levels of weight, generally have less favorable heart health than their leaner, more active counterparts, Boston-based researchers report in today’s issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. “The important observations from our study are that even in healthy women both fitness and fatness are very important for heart health,” Dr. Samia Mora from the Center for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention at Brigham and Women’s Hospital told Reuters Health. The message, therefore, for women who want to protect themselves from having a heart attack, the number one killer of women, “is to get out and walk, be active 30 minutes each day most days of the week, and lose those 10 lbs or more if you need to, if you want to protect yourself against heart attack and stroke,” Mora said. More than half of the US population falls short of recommended levels of physical activity and 65 percent are overweight or obese, with women outnumbering men. Both increased body weight and a sedentary lifestyle are strong predictors of heart disease, as well as diabetes and death. Among 27,158 apparently healthy US women, Mora’s team found that lower levels of physical activity and higher levels of body weight were independently associated with adverse levels of nearly all of the 11 lipid and inflammatory biomarkers measured. These biomarkers are related to cardiac risk and may play a role in the development of atherosclerosis, also referred to as “hardening of the arteries.” For example, inactive overweight women had higher levels of potentially harmful C-reactive protein, a blood protein that signals ongoing inflammation, and higher levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol and lower levels of “good” HDL cholesterol. Compared with normal weight women, “women who were overweight or obese had 2 to 10 times increased levels of risk factors that increase women’s risk for heart attack and stroke, such as cholesterol and inflammation,” Mora reported. Women who were physically inactive, whether they had normal weight or elevated weight, also had 5 to 50 percent higher levels of these risk biomarkers, she added. A high body weight was more strongly related to adverse cardiovascular biomarker levels that physical inactivity. However, within body weight categories, physical activity was generally associated with more favorable cardiovascular biomarker levels than inactivity. SOURCE: The Journal of the American Medical Association, March 22/29, 2006. http://www.womenshealthonly.com

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Your Healthy Heart
According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the number one killer of women – but the good news is that cardiovascular disease is, believe it or not, mostly preventable. It’s a matter of making lifestyle choices that can keep your heart healthy. And a healthy heart gives you more energy and stamina to enjoy life to the fullest. Eating Well Add heart-healthy foods to your regular diet. You can’t go wrong by eating more fruits and vegetables, whether they’re fresh or frozen. Even some canned produce is good. Look for low-sodium canned vegetables, and canned fruit packed in juice or water (not heavy syrup). Whole grain foods like oatmeal, brown rice, and even corn on the cob are also great for your heart, as long as you don’t smother them in butter. Other heart-healthy grain foods include whole grain breads and high-fiber breakfast cereals. When it comes to protein, low-fat sources will do your heart good. Choose a slice of skinless chicken breast over fried chicken, for example. If every once in a great while you feel the need to eat bacon, sausage, or a hot dog, go ahead. Just don’t get into the habit of eating these high-fat, high-sodium processed meat products on a regular basis. Choose fish fillets over beef steaks. If you prefer a meatless diet, there are plenty of heart-healthy proteins to choose from, including legumes (peas, beans, peanuts), egg whites, and low-fat yogurts, cheeses, and milk. What you need to do is limit unhealthy fats and cholesterol. By doing so, you’re reducing your blood cholesterol levels, thus reducing your risk of having a heart attack or a stroke. Unhealthy fats tend to be found in butter, margarine, lard, shortening, and even nondairy creamers. Use “healthy fats” instead, such as olive oil or special margarine that’s trans fat-free. Staying Active You don’t have to take up mountain climbing or marathon running to keep your heart in shape. If you’re already doing these activities, good for you! If you’re not, here are several doable options to keep your cardiovascular system in great shape: walking, swimming, jogging, bicycle riding, dancing, jumping, skating, skiing, stair climbing, or working out to an exercise tape.
What you do is your choice. The important thing is to get up and move! This way, your body will get a good aerobic workout, with your heart pumping healthful oxygen-rich blood to all of your muscles – even your heart muscles. Remaining Calm Our feelings and emotions do affect the health of our heart. Anger, stress, hostility, anxiety – all these raise blood pressure and put an unnecessary strain on the heart. When you find yourself getting upset, stop for a moment, take deep breaths, and count to ten. Your body and your mind will relax, and those negative feelings will dissolve. Take time each day to do something calming for yourself. Go for a nature walk. Take a soothing bath. Read an inspiring book. Focus on something positive. By staying calm and upbeat, you’re helping your heart do its job under ideal conditions.
Enjoying Life Recently the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) reported that London researchers discovered that happiness leads to lower levels of stress-inducing chemicals. This, in turn, reduces the risk of heart disease. Bottom line: maximize your happiness to improve your heart health! Whether at work or at leisure, make sure to do something that helps you enjoy life more. Decorate your workspace with photos of people you love and places that stir your imagination. Make time in your day to do what you like, such as a favorite pastime, hobby, or interest. Laugh often. Enjoy life more, and you’ll end up worrying about your heart much less! http://www.womenshealthonly.com

Monday, March 13, 2006

The Healing Power Of Flavonoids
Mom always said, “Eat your vegetables.” She was right, of course. Vegetables and fruits contain not only vitamins, minerals, and fiber, but also beneficial flavonoids that offer you powerful health benefits. These “other” nutrients play a key role in giving fruits and veggies – as well as nuts, legumes, grains, and herbs – their distinct colors and flavors. They also give you an edge against diseases that affect women in every nation. Protection Against Heart Disease The American Heart Association (AHA) reports that heart disease is the number one killer of women globally. To help protect yourself against cardiovascular disease, the AHA recommends that you eat a healthy, balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables. It turns out that certain plant foods are doubly good for your heart because of the flavonoids they contain. Researchers have discovered that a flavonoid called epicatechin helps blood vessels relax, which improves blood flow through your circulatory system and keeps your heart healthier. The good news is that epicatechin is found in cocoa, a powder made from the roasted cacao bean – the key ingredient in chocolate! It’s also found in apples, green tea, and many other plant-based foods. Cancer Fighting Properties Epicatechin belongs to a family of flavonoids called catechins, observed to have both cardiovascular-boosting and anti-cancer properties. You’ll find a rich supply of catechins in grapes, apricots, plums, and berries. Fix yourself a fruit salad, and you’ll be giving your body good, natural medicine. Flavonoids found in citrus fruits, including oranges and tangerines, have been seen in laboratories to inhibit melanoma and lung cancer. One flavonoid in particular, quercetin, shows promise against several types of cancer, including breast cancer. A glass of freshly squeezed orange juice contains high levels of quercetin. Other food sources include blueberries, cranberries, olive oil, and onions. Additional Health Benefits Scientists continue to study flavonoids to pinpoint exactly how they benefit your health. What they’ve discovered so far is just the tip of the iceberg, but already these discoveries are very exciting. They show that flavonoids can: * Lower your risk of stroke * Relieve allergy symptoms * Alleviate symptoms of arthritis * Reduce hot flashes during menopause * Minimize varicose veins * Alleviate eczema and other skin conditions * Offer antibacterial benefits * Help lower cholesterol levels * Work as antioxidants to protect cells Mix And Match Just like with vitamins and minerals, different foods provide you with different types and concentrations of flavonoids. Strawberries, pears, and cherries are high in anthocyanidins, believed to reduce the risk of stroke and heart disease. Grapefruit juice is a good source of hesperetin, known for its anti-inflammatory properties. So a good rule of thumb is to mix and match plant-based foods to get an abundant supply and variety of flavonoids. Simply by adding colorful, tasty produce to your daily diet, you protect your body against disease. It doesn’t get much easier than that. Sprinkle a generous portion of blueberries over your morning cereal. Add strawberries to your salads. Enjoy olive oil and onions in your cuisine. You can even nibble a piece of chocolate now and again knowing that, thanks to its flavonoids, you’re doing your body good. The risks The main risk factors among women are: * Smoking – chemicals in tobacco smoke cause the coronary arteries (which bring blood to the heart muscle) to constrict. This can lead to chest pain or angina; chronic arterial damage may also precipitate a heart attack. As soon as you give up smoking, your risk of heart attack falls, returning to near normal within three to five years. * The contraceptive pill – if you smoke and take the Pill, your risk of heart disease is 30 times higher than normal. * The menopause – the female hormone oestrogen plays an important role in keeping the heart and blood vessels healthy. After the menopause, oestrogen levels fall and the rate of heart disease rises rapidly. * Obesity and lack of exercise. * Diabetes – the risk is seven to ten times greater. * High blood fat/cholesterol levels – especially after the age of 50. All content within WomensHealthOnly.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. WomensHealthOnly.com is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made by a user based on the content of WomensHealthOnly.com website. WomensHealthOnly.com
Heavy heartaches
Affairs There are as many reasons why people have affairs as there are people. But usually an affair is an external sign of an internal desire for change. Something in the person’s life or the relationship isn’t OK – and the affair creates the trigger for change. Affairs aren’t only about sex. In fact, relationship experts maintain that any intimate activity between two people that breaches the trust of a partner constitutes an affair. Here are some common causes of affairs
  • Relationship problems – if you’re unhappy in your relationship you’ll be more tempted to look elsewhere.
  • Boredom – if you’re bored with your life, an affair may seem like an adventure.
  • Low self-esteem – you may need reassurance that you’re attractive and loveable.
Although there are many reasons for affairs, most fall into one of four categories: The boat-rocking affair – when one partner has an underlying dissatisfaction with the relationship. The affair is an unconscious way of drawing attention to the problem and bringing things into the open. The exit affair – when an affair is used to get out of a relationship. Rather than confront the fact that a relationship isn’t working, an affair forces the issue. The thrill affair – the illicit nature of an affair brings with it an adrenaline rush. Add to that the excitement of sex with someone new and the romantic trimmings of a fresh relationship, and it can seem irresistible. The three’s company affair – can go on for years; it can also describe a string of successive affairs. Some people find it difficult to commit to one person; they feel stifled by monogamy and fear putting all their emotional eggs in one basket. Having a third person on the scene can provide an outlet for difficult emotions. Trust is essential for a healthy relationship, and it’s something we often take for granted until it’s gone. If you’re the one that’s had the affair, you’ll need to work hard at reassuring your partner that it’s them you truly love and that you’ve learnt from your mistake. If you’re the one who’s been cheated, you may find yourself asking questions for a long time. But as time passes, you’ll find yourself feeling more secure and confident about your relationship. Trust only takes a moment to break, but much, much longer to rebuild. At first it may feel that your relationship will never recover, but with hard work and patience it can survive. An affair always signals a turning point in a relationship – but it doesn’t have to signal the end. Separation and divorce For most people, it’s a shock when a relationship breaks down. Even if you’ve known for some time that things aren’t working out, the final decision to part will stay with you for a long time. Even once it’s over, it can take months for reality to sink in. During this time it’s common to find yourself fantasising about reunion and reconciliation – or recriminations. What went wrong? Understanding why your relationship failed is the first step towards recovery. Many people get locked into questioning: Whose fault it is? What did I do wrong? How could they do that to me? This is understandable, but a more constructive approach is to focus on the relationship, rather than individual responsibility. It can be more helpful to think about these kind of questions:
  • How were things when we first met?
  • What attracted us to each other?
  • What made our relationship good?
  • How have we changed?
  • What external factors have influenced our relationship?
  • What has stopped us overcoming our differences?
Although the answers may be upsetting, the greater the understanding, the easier it’ll be to let go and move on. During this time you’ll experience many emotions, including anger, sadness, guilt, despair and confusion; you can expect good days and bad days. Holding it together On top of the emotional turmoil that accompanies the end of a relationship, there’s a host of practical issues to address. These might include: The children – providing support and time, access arrangements, childcare, telling the school, seeing in-laws, birthday and Christmas arrangements. Money and property – who lives where, surviving on less income, managing the finances, who gets what in the home, pets. Friends and family – telling parents/siblings/extended family members/friends, deciding how much to say and who should tell whom, maintaining friendships and relationships with in-laws. Personal survival – which friends can support you practically and/or emotionally, how you’ll create space to grieve, whether you might benefit from counselling, building relaxation into your schedule, treats can you reward yourself with when times are tough. This last section is often the most neglected. After a relationship breakdown, many people find themselves struggling with feelings of low self-esteem and self-confidence, and with so many things to organise it can be easy to forget to give yourself time for your own feelings. Be gentle with yourself and gratefully receive all the support you can get from friends and family. Caring through illness The effect of a sudden onset of illness in a relationship has been likened to a bereavement. Once the initial feelings of shock have passed, there may be times of immense anger. There may also be feelings of regret and guilt over what has not been done during earlier years. Gradually, these feelings change into sadness and loss. Many people feel they have to deal with these emotions alone, and may become isolated and resentful. But when couples are able to talk openly, it can be a time when they grow closer. When an illness is diagnosed as terminal, the remaining time together can be a mix of bittersweet moments. There’s also often a sense of urgency to make the most of every moment you have left. Some couples find themselves slipping back to earlier feelings of intense connection, but for others there can be a distressing feeling of growing separateness. In some people, the knowledge that they’ll soon be alone creates the need to begin psychological and emotional distancing. This is usually completely unconscious and a natural response to try to soften the blow of the inevitable ending. (For more, see Terminal illness.) Some couples find that when a partner becomes a patient, the relationship feels more like parent and child rather than equals. Finding ways to adapt to a new model of partnership will help you to ensure your relationship continues to be fulfilling. It’s important that you’re both able to feel a sense of independence and autonomy. The ability to do that will vary enormously depending on your circumstances, and you may have to be creative and enlist the support of others to make that possible. Keeping communication at an adult level – avoiding slipping into childlike exchanges – will also help to maintain a sense of equality within the relationship. Physical intimacy is an important part of most relationships. Some couples think that when one of them is ill or has a disability, they should give up their sex lives, but this needn’t be the case. Many couples enjoy finding new ways to be sensual together and regaining physical intimacy. In fact, the increased creativity required to fit around bodily limitations can make sex better than ever. If you experience sexual problems as a result of your condition or medication, there are a wide range of medical interventions available. Speak to your doctor about appropriate options or you might find some useful information in ‘Where to get help’, below. Love can grow in sickness and in health if you both commit to sharing your feelings (no matter how hard that may feel) and both learn to adapt as circumstances change. And remember, even if you can’t be sexual together anymore you can still be sensual. Touch is an essential part of being human, so take every opportunity to be close. This article was last medically reviewed by Dr Trisha Macnair in August 2005. First published in November 1997. All content within WomensHealthOnly.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. WomensHealthOnly.com is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made by a user based on the content of WomensHealthOnly.com website. http://www.womenshealthonly.com
Communication and conflict
What are you really arguing about? The most common things couples argue about are money, sex, work, children and housework – roughly in that order. Most rows start because of differences of opinion, but with patience and basic communication skills you should be able to negotiate a compromise. Violence or threats of violence are never acceptable in a relationship. If arguments are always aggressive, or you avoid conflict because you’re scared things may get out of control, you need support. You can contact the Women’s Aid helpline free on 0808 200 0247. You can also get further information about domestic violence from our Hitting Home site. If you find the same old issues come up over and over again, or as soon as one issue’s resolved another crops up, then there’s more going on than meets the eye. Below are some common reasons. Sometimes people find they’re fighting battles that have far more to do with the past than the present. Feelings of rejection or betrayal in childhood can create hot buttons that partners press without realising. For example, a partner who’s parent left suddenly in childhood may find themselves overreacting to a hastily arranged business trip. Or a partner who was always forced to do gardening as a punishment when a child may become irrationally angry when asked to mow the lawn. If there are taboo subjects in your relationship that always cause a storm, you need to mention them more often. If you don’t, they can become time bombs. Taboo subjects can include things such as a forgotten birthday or a time when you felt your partner wasn’t there for you. Often it’s something that represents a serious breach of trust such as an affair or a breaking of confidence. Burying old relationship problems is OK, but you have to make sure they’re dead first. Ways to make peace It’s important to accept that arguments are a normal part of relationships. We’re all different and where there’s difference, there will be disagreement. But when arguing seems to be a way of life and leaves you feeling exhausted, hurt or wondering if you want to stay in the relationship, it’s time to call a truce and sort things out. The first step towards doing this is to understand what you’re really arguing about and get an insight into your conflict style. After you’ve looked at both these areas, you can use some of the techniques below to help you sort things out. Some can be done alone; others need your partner’s cooperation. Violence or threats of violence are never acceptable in a relationship. If arguments are always aggressive, or you avoid conflict because you’re scared things may get out of control, you need support. You can contact the Women’s Aid helpline free on 0808 200 0247. You can also get further information about domestic violence from our Hitting Home site. Self-awareness and self-responsibility are the first steps in sorting out and avoiding conflict. It’s impossible to make your partner change, but if you change your behaviour they’ll almost certainly react differently. Assume the best – unless you have evidence to the contrary, always give your partner the benefit of the doubt. Check your conscience – are you arguing because there’s something you’re avoiding, such as apologising, compromising or forgiving? Make sure you’re not fighting to protect your pride. Think about whether you’re being affected by something else – don’t underestimate the power of external circumstances. Are you stressed, tired, hormonal or angry about something else? Be adult – do you tend to slip into behaving like a child, sulking, blaming or being obstinate? Or do you become like a critical parent, condescending, criticising or punishing? An adult is calm and focused, and listens and negotiates. Own your feelings – your partner can’t make you feel something. Your feelings are under your own control. If you’re angry, say “I’m angry because…”, not “You made me angry.” Good communication is vital to making peace. Often arguments go on and on, just because one or both parties feel they haven’t been heard. The tips below will improve your chances of being heard and help you show your partner that you’re listening to them. Listen – this is the most important part of good communication. Listen to your partner, without judging or making assumptions. See Talk and listen for more information. Explore – ask questions to make sure you really understand what your partner is saying. Be willing to look at every angle. Explain – this is the other side of exploring. Be ready to give as much information as your partner needs to understand your point of view. Don’t expect them to read your mind. Empathise – put yourself in your partner’s shoes. Feel what they’re feeling and let them know you’ve taken notice, eg “I understand that you’re feeling upset.” Express – say what you mean and mean what you say. Be clear and to the point. Laugh – this may seem a strange thing to put in an argument, but sensitive use of humour can be a powerful way to diffuse an argument. If there’s a lighter side, use it When there’s violence Domestic violence is not just physical abuse. It can also be psychological or emotional bullying. If you’re worried you may be in an abusive relationship, have a look at the links below: * Assess your relationship with our quick test * Warning Signs * Common things abusers say * Common abusive behaviours If after reading this section you decide that you are, or might be, in an abusive relationship, there’s a lot of information on the rest of this site that will help you to think through your options. Effects on children * Should I talk to my children about the violence? * How might the violence be affecting my child? * Should I tell my child’s teacher about the violence at home? * My son is worried that he’ll be violent because his dad was… * Do girls with violent fathers grow up to attract violent partners? Pregnancy and new baby * My partner started being violent towards me when I became pregnant… Children and your legal rights * I want to leave. Can I take my children with me? * If I go into a refuge without my children, will I be able to get them back? * Will social services take my children if they find out my partner hits me? * My ex-partner wants to see the kids but I’m afraid he won’t bring them back. * My ex-partner wants to see the kids but they don’t want to see him. * I’m planning to leave. What if anything should I tell my kids? * I’m in a refuge with my kids and they want to see their dad Sources of support * What services are there for children in refuges? * What can the health visitor do to help? * What can social services do to help? * What can the GP do to help? * Since leaving I can’t control my kids. Who can help me? * What is the Children Act and how could it affect me and my children? * What could ChildLine and other agencies do for my child? * CBBCand Onion Street This article was last medically reviewed by Dr Trisha Macnair in August 2005. First published in November 1997. All content within WomensHealthOnly.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. WomensHealthOnly.com is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made by a user based on the content of WomensHealthOnly.com website. http://www.womenshealthonly.com
How much sleep do we need? Most adults need between seven and eight hours’ sleep each night, although we’re all different. Some people find they can manage on just three hours. The amount we need reduces as we age. The elderly, therefore, need less sleep and often find their night’s sleep is broken, especially if they’ve taken a nap during the day. Remedies There are many remedies for sleep problems, some more effective than others. The most important thing is to have a good bedtime routine, as this helps to prepare the mind for sleep. Other things you might like to try include: * Going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day, whether you’re tired or not. * Making sure the environment is right for sleep. Your bedroom should be the right temperature and not too noisy. Don’t have a television in the bedroom. * Getting some moderate exercise each day, such as swimming or walking. * Avoiding stimulants such as caffeine in tea and coffee before going to bed. Try a milky drink instead. * Avoiding too much alcohol. This induces unnatural sleep, so although you may fall asleep easily, you’ll almost certainly wake up during the night. * Not eating or drinking a lot late at night – keep supper to the first half of the evening. (An American study looked at what sort of foods people used to get them off to sleep. They found that foods said to increase levels of the brain chemical serotonin might help. The most effective was banana muffins.) * Trying relaxation techniques before going to bed, such as yoga, hypnosis or simply listening to music. If you can’t sleep, don’t lie there worrying about it. Get up again and do something relaxing such as reading or watching television. Some complementary therapies and medicines may also help with insomnia. If your sleep problem persists, see your doctor. He or she may be able to refer you to a local sleep disorder clinic, which will investigate your problem in depth, although there may be a long waiting list. This article was last medically reviewed by Dr Trisha Macnair in August 2005. First published in November 1997. All content within WomensHealthOnly.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. WomensHealthOnly.com is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made by a user based on the content of WomensHealthOnly.com website. http://www.womenshealthonly.com
The consequences Everyone needs a certain amount of stress in order to live well. It’s what gets you out of bed in the morning and gives you the vitality and zest to do all sorts of things, such as sport and presentations. Stress becomes a problem (‘distress’) when there’s too much or too little. A lack of stress means your body is understimulated, leaving you feeling bored and isolated. In an effort to find stimulation, many people do things which are harmful to themselves (such as taking drugs) or society (for instance, committing a crime). Too much stress, on the other hand, can result in a range of health problems including headaches, stomach upsets, high blood pressure and even stroke or heart disease. It can also cause feelings of distrust, anger, anxiety and fear, which in turn can destroy relationships at home and at work. People often feel over-stressed as a result of some event, or trigger. This doesn’t necessarily have to be negative (such as the death of a loved one, redundancy or divorce); it can also be seemingly positive (a new partner, new job or going on holiday). Such feelings can also be acute (as the result of a death or loss of a job) or chronic (coping with long-term unemployment or being in a bad relationship). Stressbusters In order to cope with their stress, many people look to things which are not only ineffective but also unhealthy. Negative stress-management techniques include: * drinking alcohol (it changes your mood, not your problem) * denying the problem (the problem will remain) * taking drugs (including stimulants such as caffeine or pain medication) * overeating (binge-eating, poor diets) * smoking cigarettes Instead of these harmful techniques, why not try one of the following: * Take a nap – 30 to 40 minutes’ downtime will recharge your batteries. * Get a massage – either visit a professional massage therapist or ask a friend or partner to give you an impromptu neck and shoulder rub. * Express yourself artistically – divert your energies into something creative, such as acting, playing an instrument, writing poetry or singing. * Have a laugh – not only will it make you feel better, it will make you look better too. Practise always having a smile on your face. * Be gentle to yourself – we talk to ourselves all the time, even though we’re not aware of it. This ‘self-talk’ determines our attitudes and self-image, so try to change both with a bit of positive chatter. Positive self-talk also promotes favourable body chemistry as it activates the parasympathetic nervous system and causes relaxation. Try these simple positive affirmations. Time management Ask most women what makes them stressed and they’ll tell you it’s not having enough hours in the day. Time is today’s most valuable commodity. We all juggle choices, anxious to please family, workmates and friends – all of whom expect absolute attention to their priorities. But what are your own priorities? What goals do you want to achieve – and what’s most important to you? Try these tips to help you sort them out: Determine your mission – set aside time to think deeply and write about your life and goals. Writing such a ‘mission statement’ is a good way to firm up your opinions about what’s essential to you in life: what you’d like to be and what you’d like to accomplish. Write to inspire yourself, not to impress others. Understand where you spend your time – yes, it’s list-making time. Think how you could best prioritise and itemise the many pressures of your life. Can you categorise your life in neat ‘important’, ‘quite important’ and ‘unimportant’ boxes? Or would a more complex chart suit your life: ‘urgent and important’, ‘important but not urgent’, ‘urgent but not important’ and ‘neither urgent nor important’ perhaps? Think about your life with clarity and the priorities will clarify themselves. And try not to trivialise quiet times, sleep and other (seemingly) unproductive moments – they’re essential for your health. Review your roles – like actors, we play many parts. A clear set of roles will help you create order and balance in your life. Your roles grow out of and contribute to the fulfilment of your personal mission. Identify goals – now it’s time to apply your insight to the next seven days. Begin by identifying a goal for the coming week in each role. These goals don’t necessarily have to be an activity; they can be as simple as determining an area on which you want to concentrate, such as being more patient with your children. Limit yourself – two goals for each role should be achievable. Organise your week – using a week-at-a-glance diary or drawing up your own chart, plan the week ahead. Don’t feel that your can’t deviate from this, however. If you plan an activity and something prevents you from completing it, just adjust your schedule and try to fit it in elsewhere. If you can’t do this without compromising your other priorities, make it the first thing you plan for next week. Evaluate your week – at the end of the first week, take a realistic look at how it went. Where were the big successes? And which scheduling details were less successful? Learn from the last seven days and identify turning points, those times when you consciously decided to prioritise one activity over another. Do your goals need revision? Enjoy success – no schedule absolutely positively guarantees instant success, but remember that you’re in control. Set aside time every week to re-evaluate your goals and roles, so you can close the gap between what’s most important to you and how you spend your time. Spending 30 minutes in this way will reap immediate benefits – inner peace, a balanced life and increased productivity. Finally, celebrate your successes. This article was last medically reviewed by Dr Trisha Macnair in August 2005. First published in November 1997. All content within WomensHealthOnly.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. WomensHealthOnly.com is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made by a user based on the content of WomensHealthOnly.com website. http://www.womenshealthonly.com
Risks for women The more you smoke, the greater your risk. However, just one or two cigarettes a day are more than enough to cause lung cancer. Chronic lung disease is also common among older smokers, destroying busy and active lives. Smoking also increases your risk of heart disease. And if you smoke and take the contraceptive pill, your risk of heart disease is 30 times that of a non-smoker. Smoking affects your skin too. It ages more quickly in smokers, with the early appearance of wrinkles and thinning of the skin. Benefits of quitting The good news is, many of the benefits of quitting smoking are immediate. Food will taste better and your breathing will become easier. Even if you’ve smoked for 30 years, your risk of heart disease will halve within a year of stopping. There are financial benefits of kicking the weed, too. Assuming a packet of 20 cigarettes costs around $3.50 and that you smoke a packet a day, a year’s supply of cigarettes costs you around $1,277.50. In a lifetime of smoking (40 years, if you’re lucky enough to live that long) means sending $51100.00 up in smoke. How to quit
  • Make a plan – decide your quit date, detail how you’ll react to temptations, even make a list of the pros and cons of smoking to keep on track.
  • Get motivated – imagine the Mediterranean beach you could be basking on with all the money saved from kicking the habit, or set your own goal or treat.
  • Get support – from your GP and most importantly from your family and friends.
This article was last medically reviewed by Dr Trisha Macnair in August 2005. First published in November 1997. All content within WomensHealthOnly.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. WomensHealthOnly.com is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made by a user based on the content of WomensHealthOnly.com website. http://www.womenshealthonly.com
Breast Cancer
Symptoms Women, young and old, should practise breast awareness. This involves getting to know what is normal for your breasts in terms of look and texture, so you can spot any changes and get them checked out as soon as possible. In particular, you should look for: * lumps or thickening of the tissue * pain * discharge from the nipple * unusual appearance or sensation * ‘tethering’ of the skin, as if being pulled from the inside Remember, most lumps are harmless, especially if you’re young. But you should still get them checked by a doctor as soon as possible. For a more in-depth look at what it means to be breast aware, take a look at our Breast awareness feature. Causes The exact causes of breast cancer aren’t yet know, but certain risk factors have been identified. They are: * Getting older – 80 per cent of breast cancer cases are in post-menopausal women. * Having no children or children late in life. * Starting your periods early or the menopause late. * Taking HRT. * A significant family history of breast cancer. There have also been suggestions that taking the oral contraceptive pill slightly increases your risk of breast cancer. A genetic link Fewer than one in 20 cases of breast cancer are inherited. About one person in 1,000 carries the genes responsible. If a relative has breast cancer it may just be chance. However, you should be more wary if: * Your relative was diagnosed under the age of 40. * You have a first-degree relative with cancer in both breasts. * You have a male relative with breast cancer. * You have two first- or second-degree relatives on the same side of the family diagnosed with breast cancer under 60, or with ovarian cancer. * You have three first- or second-degree relatives diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancer at any age. It may be worth completing a family health history chart to help you work out patterns of disease that run in your family. If you’re worried, talk to your GP. You may want to think about genetic screening. For more information about the genetic link, see Dr Trisha Macnair’s article on the inherited risks of breast cancer. To find out more about breast cancers caused by specific genetic mutations, take a look at Gene stories. Diagnosis In order to make an accurate diagnosis of breast cancer, doctors must do a thorough examination. This might include a chest x-ray and blood tests. They’ll also need to take a careful look at the lump itself, possibly using an ultrasound, mammogram, needle aspiration and/or needle biopsy. In some cases, more complex tests such as liver or bone scans may be necessary. Some hospitals run ‘one-stop shops’ for breast lumps. These are clinics where all examinations can be done on the spot, with the results coming through the same day. You can usually leave with a diagnosis. Treatment There is no quick cure for breast cancer – if anyone tries to tell you otherwise, be extremely sceptical. From the growth of the first abnormal cell to the end of treatment, breast cancer is a long hard road. Roll your mouse over the pictures to see how long each stage takes. Once a lump is found, rapid diagnosis and treatment is imperative. Three-quarters of breast cancers are detected by women or their partners, but 20 to 30 per cent of these women wait three months or longer before seeing a doctor. This delay can be critical: studies have found that those who wait more than three months before seeking treatment are less likely to be alive five years later than those who seek help immediately (survival rates among the group who delay are as much as 12 per cent lower). Until recently, the gap between referral by a GP and a hospital visit was often more than three months, which was clearly not good enough. In April 1999, the Government ordered that all patients suspected of having breast cancer must be seen by a hospital specialist within two weeks of an urgent referral by their GP. Once diagnosis is confirmed, the exact treatment used, how soon it’s given and how long it takes all depends on several factors including: * the stage of the tumour (how much it has spread) * the type of breast cancer * whether the patient has passed the menopause * whether there are any secondary cancers * the woman’s own wishes Doctors treating breast cancer have a number of options to offer to their patients. Surgery to remove either the lump or the breast (mastectomy) is almost always recommended, followed by an ‘adjuvant’ therapy (this could be a combination of radiotherapy, chemotherapy or tamoxifen) to kill off any stray cancer cells. Patients should also be offered supportive therapies, such as counselling. It’s difficult to pronounce breast cancer cured because secondary breast cancer can appear ten or 20 years later after tiny cells lying dormant in the liver, bones or elsewhere become active. However, if breast cancer is going to come back it usually does so within the first two years, and after five years without disease the chances of a recurrence are very small. All content within WomensHealthOnly.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. WomensHealthOnly.com is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made by a user based on the content of WomensHealthOnly.com website. http://www.womenshealthonly.com
Ovarian Cancer
What is it? There are several different types of ovarian cancer, but by far the most common – accounting for 90 per cent of cases – is epithelial ovarian cancer, or cancer of the surface layers of the ovary. Around 40 to 50 per cent of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer will still be alive five years later. When the disease is caught early, however, survival rates are much higher, although the particular type and severity of the cancer are also important factors. Causes The exact cause of ovarian cancer isn’t clear, but some factors are known to increase the risk. The most important is family history, because the faulty genes that increase the risk of ovarian cancer can be inherited. In particular you may be at increased risk if you have close relatives who’ve had one of the following types of cancer: ovary, breast, colon, prostate or endometrial (lining of the womb). The risk of developing ovarian cancer may also be related to how many eggs the ovary releases. Each time an egg is released (ovulation) the surface of the ovary breaks open and the cells on the surface divide to repair the damage, increasing the chances of a tumour developing. So, having children and breastfeeding may reduce the risk, as may taking the contraceptive pill (as it prevents ovulation). Other possible risk factors include fertility treatment, a high-fat diet and the use of talcum powder in the genital area. Symptoms Symptoms are usually vague, especially in the early stages. Many women have no symptoms at all and the disease is discovered by chance. But early symptoms may include pain in the lower abdomen or side and a bloated feeling. As the disease progresses, it may cause lower abdominal pain, pain during sex, a swollen abdomen, constipation and irregular periods. In the advanced stages of disease there may be loss of appetite, nausea, weight loss, tiredness and shortness of breath. Diagnosis Ovarian cancer is difficult to diagnose and most women have some other explanation for their symptoms. If your GP is concerned that you could have ovarian cancer, he or she will carry out an internal examination and take a blood test. You may then be referred to a specialist who may do further blood tests and an ultrasound scan of the ovaries. Screening for ovarian cancer is currently offered to those at high risk – because of family history, for example – and to those of normal risk who’ve been invited to join a trial. Your doctor can tell you more. Treatment Most women with ovarian cancer are offered surgery to remove the tumour. Many also have chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy. The treatment recommended will depend on the type of ovarian cancer, how far it has spread, the severity or grade of the cancer and how healthy you are. This article was last medically reviewed by Dr Trisha Macnair in August 2005. First published in November 1997. All content within WomensHealthOnly.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. WomensHealthOnly.com is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made by a user based on the content of WomensHealthOnly.com website. http://www.womenshealthonly.com

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Womens Health Only: Cosmetic surgery
Only you can know what you think is right for you, but the most important thing is not to rush into cosmetic surgery. Think carefully about why you want it and what you realistically expect it to do for you. Having a breast enlargement or a face-lift may make you feel better, but it’s unlikely to get you the job of your dreams or rescue a failing relationship. Make sure you see a qualified and experienced surgeon. Talk to your GP first. They’ll know who the local surgeons are, their reputations and you may need a referral letter from your medical professional. Talk to friends who have had similar ops about their experiences and surgeon. The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons can also provide you with a list of qualified surgeons in your area. Remember, cosmetic surgery…
  • Can be very expensive (it’s rarely available on the NHS).
  • Isn’t without risks and complications.
  • Doesn’t always give the results you hope for.
If you have any doubts, don’t go ahead until you’re clear about what you’re doing. Cosmetic surgery can be one of the biggest life changes you’ll ever experience; good luck making an informed decision. All content within WomensHealthOnly.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. WomensHealthOnly.com is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made by a user based on the content of WomensHealthOnly.com website. WomensHealthOnly.com