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womens health

For most women, vaginal products are a part of their daily hygiene routine, and we use them thinking that are especially designed to protect us from infections and other inconvenience that comes with being a woman. 

However, according to a new study, these products could actually be detrimental to our health. 

Published by the University of Guelph in the journal BMC Women's Health, the research conducted on Canadian women revealed that those who use these products are three times more likely to experience some type of vaginal infection.

In some cases, women actually purchased the products to address an existing vaginal concern.

"While research has shown douching can have negative impacts on vaginal health, little was known about the dozens of other products out there," said psychology professor Kieran O'Doherty, the study's lead investigator.

Vaginal hygiene products have been used by 95 per cent of Canadian women, with the most commonly used products including anti-itch creams, moisturisers, lubricants, and feminine wipes. The results connected certain products with specific infections.

"The study does not establish whether it is the products causing the infections or whether women are using the products in an attempt to address the infection," said O'Doherty. "However, the results do provide important evidence for strong correlations that need further research."

For example, women who used gel sanitisers were eight times more likely to have a yeast infection and almost 20 times more likely to have a bacterial infection.

Women using feminine washes or gels were almost 3 ½ times more likely to have a bacterial infection and 2 ½ times more likely to report a urinary tract infection.

Participants using feminine wipes were twice as likely to have a urinary tract infection, and those using lubricants or moisturisers were 2 ½ times as likely to have a yeast infection.

"These products may be preventing the growth of the healthy bacteria required to fight off infection", O'Doherty added.

Pelvic inflammatory disease, cervical cancer, reduced fertility, ectopic and pre-term pregnancies, and bacterial and sexually transmitted infections are among the problems related to an abnormal vaginal microbiome.

Before anymore research can confirm these findings, we might just stick to a good old soap…

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A pilot study has found encouraging results regarding ovarian cancer, namely, that a personalised vaccine for this particular type of cancer can nearly double the two-year survival rate.

This personalised vaccine reprogrammed the immune cells of the cancer patients so that they recognised the women's tumours and could thus combat cancerous cells.

The study involved 25 women and was published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

78 percent of the women given the vaccine, along with immunology drugs, have survived for two years. Only 44 percent of women survived for two years when they were just given immunology drugs.

In order to make the vaccine, immune cells from the patient's blood were exposed to cells from the woman's tumour in order to train them to identify and then initiate an attack against cancerous cells.

The senior author of the study, Dr. Lana Kandalaft, told the Telegraph, “The patients who received the vaccine mounted an immune response against their own tumours.”

As well, the more anti-cancerous cells the patients' bodies produced after the vaccine, the longer the women survived.

Dr. Kandalaft explained: “Ovarian cancer is a silent killer which when diagnosed is usually in its advanced stage.

“A combination of chemotherapy and surgery is usually the standard of care in the primary setting, but 85 percent of patients recur and are left with few other curative options.

“It was demonstrated that about 55 percent of ovarian cancer patients have a spontaneous immune response, and this response actually correlates with better overall survival in these patients.”

After one year, all of the women who received the vaccine were still alive. Only 60 percent of the women who just received the immunology drugs were still alive at one year.

Dr. Kandalaft said that rolling out these personalised vaccines should be fairly straightforward, as the immunology drugs used alongside them are commonly used to treat ovarian cancer.

"We aren't giving patients any completely new drugs in combination with this personalised vaccine," she said.

"Bevacizumab and cyclophosphamide are routinely used to treat recurrent ovarian cancer. All we did was add the vaccine. This means that we should be able to easily integrate this personalised immunotherapy into the current standard of care for recurrent ovarian cancer."

This pilot study's results are welcome news, considering that ovarian cancer is the sixth most common cancer among British women. More than 7,400 new cases are diagnosed in the UK each year.

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Listen, it's not the most pleasant of conversations, but should we really be embarrassed to talk about what's going on down in our private department?

A recent survey conducted by Bayer found that 69 per cent of women are embarrassed to talk about their intimate health with a GP or pharmacists, and 18 per cent of women won't even talk about it with a close friend or sister.

To further that, 11 per cent don't talk about their intimate health to anyone at all.

The survey, of over 1,000 Irish women, was carried out as part of the #BeVConfident campaign, which aims to lift the taboo surrounding women's intimate health and common conditions, such as thrush and bacterial vaginosis.

And it's clearly needed, because 96 per cent of respondents are crying out for more education for girls at a young age.

The age at which Irish women learned about intimate health varies dramatically, with 9 per cent of women only learning about intimate health when aged 18 or older. This compares to one third of women who learned about it between the ages of 10 and 12.

When asked to rate their female health education, responses varied widely from poor (15 per cent), excellent (17 per cent), very good (33 per cent ), good (31 per cent) and non-existent (3 per cent).

The survey also found that one-third of women “tend to self-diagnose using google”, and 13 per cent of women surveyed “wait until symptoms disappear” when experiencing intimate health problems

However, it seems like our Irish mammies know best, with 55 per cent of females being educated about these issues by their mothers.

That wasn't the only source of knowledge though, as 52 per cent of women received education at school, while 30 per cent learned about female health issues online or in magazines.

Image result for tampons

And while we love to go shopping for magazines, we're not too keen when it comes to buying female health treatments in the pharmacy.

45 per cent of women are embarrassed to buy vaginal treatments, which we can understand, but what really struck us was that some women are still embarrassed to buy sanitary towels and tampons. 

Even though the number is low, 11 per cent of respondents are embarrassed when buying sanitary towels, and 9 per cent are embarrassed buying tampons.

Yes, we rather be buying Gucci loafers, but unlike the glorious footwear, every woman needs female sanitary products.

Another striking revelation is how many women said their reason for not feeling confident is their appearance, which came in at 68 per cent.

Other reasons for not feeling confident include, workplace performance (8 per cent), family background (8 per cent) and relationship status (6 per cent).

38 per cent described themselves as confident "sometimes, but not often."

We feel like everyone needs to hop on the #BeVConfident campaign, because every woman has to go through these issues.

Be open and educated, but more importantly, be confident. You got this, girl.

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Natalie White never really struggled with her weight during college.

However – like a lot of people – she found it more difficult to keep fit and trim once she started working.

“When I graduated, I picked up a management job that required me to be at work at 4am and work 55 hours a week,” she explains.

Obviously, I was very tired. Since I was exhausted, I never felt like cooking, so I resorted to frozen food, fast food, pretty much anything quick and easy… my exercise habits were non-existent.”

In fact, by the time she turned 30, she packed on about 22.5kg. Then a health-scare at her doctor’s proved to be wake-up call she needed. “I needed to start treating my body better. 

“I started making healthy changes: I stopped smoking, I went vegetarian, and I kept an eye on the foods I was putting in my body. 

“I also left my job to find something that wasn't as stressful or exhausting. However, I still wasn't losing weight.”

Natalie admits that she “could never be one of those super fit people,” but intrigued by friends who entered endurance events, she put name down for the Chicago marathon.

“I had to just do it – so I started training,” she also explains to Women’s Health.

“It took me over seven hours to finish my first marathon, but I finished! It was the best feeling ever. I signed up for another one soon after.”

Still, at that point Natalie weighed some 93kg. “I knew I had to do something different to start losing weight.

“Obviously, training for my second marathon and participating in fitness events, like the Spartan Race, weren't enough to help me reach a healthy weight.”

She turned to classes which championed strength training and weights mixed up with cardio exercises in circuits. “It was like nothing I'd ever done before,” she says of the programme.

“During my first class, I could barely do a pushup or a squat, but the challenge brought out my inner competitor.

“I started going twice a week and worked my way up to four times a week.

“On top of that, I started to do a little research online about what it takes to lose weight and fuel my workouts. I learned that I needed to eat way more protein that I was, and that actually made the biggest difference.

“I started to notice more definition in my muscles, and the weight began coming off.”

Two years after setting out to get in shape and improve her health, Natalie weighs just 74kg – a reduction of close-to 20kg from her heaviest.

Although ultimately she hopes to hover around the 64kg mark, she’s also gone from a UK size 22 to a UK size 12.

 

Along the way, Ms White has clearly learned a lot about her body and diet. And she cites six key tips that help just about everyone achieve similar results…

1) Make life changes: She had to leave a stressful job with long hours – but nothing is worth compromising your health over. Natalie also quit smoking.

2) Don’t get overwhelmed: Natalie has knocked two hours off her marathon time – but her first one took more than seven hours. “I had to just do it – so I started training,” she states.

3) Be patient: She isn’t at her goal weight just yet, but she’s getting there. “By staying patient and being consistent, I don't get discouraged and give up on all the progress I've made,” she says.

4) Look at your diet: You need protein to feed your muscles – so don’t fall into the trap of only going low-fat, or low-carb. Natalia, like a lot of women, wasn’t eating enough protein when she was overweight.

5) Try new workouts: “I love running,” she says, “but if I didn't try the weights classes with my friends, I would have never achieved the results that I wanted or learned that I like to lift heavy things.”

6) Be OK with yourself: “I know I'm not as fast or as strong as some of my athletic friends, but I feel good about what I've accomplished. That success helps me feel confident at the gym and assures me that I'm capable of reaching my weight-loss goal.”

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All women, everywhere are in possession of one – but it seems that a lot of us actually struggle when it comes to saying the word: 'vagina'.

In contrast to male genitalia, of which there are numerous throwaway phrases, women also feel uncomfortable coming up with an 'acceptable' reference for their sex organs.

Even the word 'penis,' somehow seems far more ordinary and everyday. 

According to a survey of 1,000 women and released this week by Ovarian Cancer Action, two-thirds of those aged 18 to 24 would be too embarrassed to even use the word vagina at their doctor’s office.

Which is in contrast to older ladies over the age of 65: just one in ten in that age bracket reported the same thing.

More than half of younger women – 57 percent – would also rather just Google their symptoms than visit their GP to talk about vaginas and vulvas.

Ovarian Cancer Action, a British charity, did the survey to encourage younger women to speak up about their gynecological health. 

In Ireland, ovarian cancer is the fourth most common strain affecting women: more than 300 new cases are diagnosed annually.

Although relatively rare, some of us carry a genetic mutation that makes us more susceptible to developing the disease.

Angelina Jolie earlier this year revealed that she had undergone preventative surgery – having her ovaries and breasts removed – because she was a high-risk candidate. 

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Chrissy Tiegan is quickly becoming the most loved model on the planet, mainly because she shares our absolute obsession with food. 

But how does she still have such a gorgeous figure while eating the loads of food she posts on her Instagram? She works out 5 to 6 times a week.

In an exclusive interview with Women's Health magazine, Chrissy filled us in on the secret to eating lots while maintaining the body you want and it turns out it's all about the exercise for her:  I want to drink champagne and have hearty dinners, so I would rather work out for an hour and be able to do what I want.”

John Legend's other half trains with the A-list celebrity personal trainer Simone De La Rue and it's obviously working as she bares all for the August cover of Women's Health. 

Chrissy is well known for promoting a positive body image to her fans and she got a seriously positive response when after posting a picture of her legs featuring a few faint stretch marks with the caption "strechies say hi."

Just like so many of us, the 29-year-old model has to keep an eye on the amount of carbs she consumes on a daily basis "My family is not naturally thin and we put on weight quickly. I find low-carb works for me. Even when I eat healthy grains like quinoa I keep them to a minimum."

We can totally relate to her difficulty when it comes to get those perfect abs so many celebrities seem to be sporting. She said her tummy is her problem area "I’ve never seen an ab – ever – no matter how many crunches I do.”

She not to happy with her bum either..  “I would love to have a little fat on my sides so I can be sexy, curvy. I’d love a big butt. But I just can’t get there."

Chrissy is currently writing a cook book, along side her mother, which is due to hit the shelves next year. In the mean time, her Instagram will continue to be filled with delicious looking dinners including John Legend's legendary fried chicken, hot and stretchy garlic bread and sweet chilli salmon to name but a few!

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Amanda Byram is on a quest to help women be proud of their bodies – and she’s done this by posing completely nude for the new issue of Women’s Health.

We don’t know about you, but seeing a picture of Amanda’s super toned abs doesn’t make us feel any better about our own!

The Dublin native says she trained for two months so that she could look her best: “I trained hard for this WH shoot. If I was going to be naked, I wanted to feel my very best.

“A year or so before I turned 40 I thought ‘it’s now or never’. I wanted to sculpt a strong body.

“One that would stay healthy and beautiful well into my forties and beyond.

“I cut down on alcohol, gave up on red meat and focused on eating clean.”

All Amanda’s hard work has definitely paid off!

 

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