Health Info

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Signs and Symptoms of Normal and Abnormal Periods

Published May 26, 2017 by teacher dahl

abnormal period

From time to time, every woman likely suspects that her menstrual cycle is abnormal for one reason or another. However, often what we think is an abnormal period is actually normal menstruation.

It’s important to know when you are having an abnormal period because it can be a symptom of a health issue that needs attention, including pregnancy, uterine cancer, and uterine fibroid tumors. So the question becomes, how do you know when you’re experiencing abnormal periods?
Abnormal Bleeding During Periods
You may be experiencing an abnormal period, abnormal uterine bleeding, or an abnormal menstrual cycle if the time between your menstrual cycles is longer than 21 to 35 days, or your period lasts longer than a week. If you need to change tampons or sanitary pads after only one or two hours because they’re saturated, this is a red flag (no pun intended!) as well.

For girls under 11 and post-menopausal women, any vaginal bleeding should be treated as abnormal and prompt a call to your healthcare provider.

When Menstrual Cramps Are Abnormal
While it’s normal to experience a small amount of cramping during your period, it’s not normal to experience severe menstrual cramps. If you suddenly begin having severe cramps you should be evaluated by your health care provider to determine the cause of the increased pain you experience during your period.

  • Some young women have more intense cramping during the first few years after their first period.
  • This typically decreases with age and after childbirth.
  • If you are over 16 and haven’t had a period yet, consult your health care provider to determine the cause and be sure and ask about the possibility of polycystic ovarian syndrome or PCOS.

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Period Symptoms That May Seem Abnormal But Usually Aren’t
The best thing to do when you suspect that you’re experiencing abnormal bleeding or menstrual cycles is to consult with your healthcare provider.

However, sometimes what appears to be an irregular symptom actually isn’t. For instance, blood clots, which are actually pieces of tissue in your vaginal discharge may look a little scary the first time you notice them. But this is no cause for alarm; blood clots such as these are perfectly normal.

Skipping periods or having irregular periods for the first few years of menstruation also is normal for many girls and young women.

If you’re extremely active you may skip a menstrual cycle or two from time to time. This is another normal occurrence among women who regularly participate in intense sports or other activities.

 

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Things to Remember About Menstruation
Here are some basics every woman should know to help determine if you’re having an abnormal period.

Normal menstrual bleeding lasts about 5 days.
The typical amount of blood lost during menstruation is about 2 to 8 tablespoons, although it may seem like more than that.
The average menstrual cycle is 28 days from the first day of one month’s period to the first day of the net month’s period. However, anywhere from 21 to 35 days between periods is considered a normal menstrual cycle.
If you’re ever unsure whether unusual bleeding or other menstrual symptoms are abnormal, you should talk to your healthcare provider. Finding irregularities with your menstrual cycle before they turn into serious problems is just one more reason regular exams are advised for women of childbearing age.

So much can vary from month to month and from woman to woman, that having a healthcare provider who knows you and your cycle is important for your health and your peace of mind.

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Weight Watchers Diet

Published May 3, 2017 by teacher dahl

Weight watchers main frame

Overview
The aim: Losing weight while living healthier.
The claim: You’ll drop up to 2 pounds weekly.

The theory: There’s more to weight loss than counting calories – if you make healthier choices and behavior changes, you’ll feel better while losing weight. The Weight Watchers Beyond the Scale Program, launched in late 2015, is designed to help people eat better, move more and shift their mindset. The program assigns every food and beverage a Smart Points value, based on its nutrition (higher amounts of saturated fat and sugar increase the point value; higher amounts of protein bring the point value down).

Choices that fill you up the longest “cost” the least, and nutritionally dense foods cost less than empty calories. So if you’re wavering between a cup of lobster bisque soup or a chicken salad sandwich – both 380 calories – the sandwich is the smarter choice. A backbone of the plan is multi-model access (via in-person meetings, online chat or phone) to support from people who lost weight using Weight Watchers, kept it off and have been trained in behavioral weight management techniques.

With Beyond the Scale, Weight Watchers members lost 15 percent more weight in their first two months following the new program, the company says, compared with those who followed the previous program.

How does Weight Watchers Diet work?

weight watcher 1
DOS & DON’TS
Do: Load up on fruits and veggies.
In late 2015, Weight Watchers introduced its new Beyond the Scale program, which emphasizes three components: eating healthier; fitness that fits your life; and learning skills and techniques that help you shift your mindset.

The new Smart Points food plan guides members toward an overall eating pattern that is lower in calories, saturated fat and sugar, and higher in protein. However, you can eat whatever you want – provided you stick to your daily Smart Points target, a number based on your gender, weight, height and age. You can find the points values of more than 290,000 foods on the mobile app or desktop food database.

Weght watcher's recipe

Don’ts

Processed choices like bologna usually have higher point values due to calories and saturated fat. Fresh fruits and most vegetables carry zero points, so you can eat as many as you need to feel full. That’s because they tend to be low-calorie and nutrient-dense, so they’re more filling than, say, a candy bar. (Fruit juice, dried fruit and starchy vegetables don’t count as freebies, since they’re more calorie-dense for the same serving size.)

The company offers thousands of recipes, each with a SmartPoints value, to show how it fits into your eating plan. If you’re preparing a dish that’s not listed in the database, you can calculate the points value ingredient by ingredient, using your mobile app or through the company’s website. Vegetarians, gluten-free eaters and people with other dietary preferences can also easily find items and recipes tagged for them.
Fit Points, a new metric to help you track activity, was introduced in late 2015. Every member has a personalized Fit Points goal based on an initial assessment, and FitPoints can be earned anytime, anywhere – from cleaning the house to walking the dog. Whether you want to get active and don’t know where to start or are ready to take it to the next level and run a 5K, the program helps members uncover fun and easy ways to move more. Plus, Weight Watchers syncs with popular activity apps and monitors, including FitBit, Apple Health, Jawbone, Withings and Misfit.

The Weight Watchers Beyond the Scale program also aims to help those attempting to lose weight while living healthier get in the right frame of mind. The program offers skills and techniques in areas such as mindfulness and self-compassion to help individuals gain greater self-awareness to make different choices and stay motivated to achieve their goals.

Weight Watchers isn’t only about what you eat and making lifestyle changes; support is also a big component. Though you can choose to follow the plan online only, company-funded research found that those who attended Weight Watchers meetings and used the mobile app/online tools lost nearly eight times more than those who tried to lose weight on their own.

What happens during those 30-minute get-togethers?  In a group format facilitated by a Weight Watchers leader who has lost weight on the program and kept it off, members discuss both their scale and non scale victories and problem-solve with others in similar situations. If in-person meetings don’t appeal to you, you can do the program totally online. All who follow Weight Watchers have access to an online feature that allows them to chat with an expert familiar with the program at any time, 24/7. Customized support and action plans are also available through a phone-based personal coaching program.

Vegan Diet

Published April 17, 2017 by teacher dahl

vegan 1

 

Overview

The aim: Depends, but may include weight loss, heart health and diabetes prevention or control.
The claim: Going vegan could help shed pounds and fend off chronic diseases.
The theory: You can cook up a perfectly healthy, meat- and dairy-free menu that supports weight loss and reduces the risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

How does Vegan Diet work?
While vegetarians eliminate meat, fish and poultry, vegans take it a step further,excluding all animal products – even dairy and eggs. (Vegans are often animal rights activists who don’t believe in using animal products for any purpose.)

So say goodbye to refried beans with lard, margarine made with whey and anything with gelatin, which comes from animal bones and hooves, too. Fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes will be your staples.
Say Goodbye to Animal Products too.

animal products

Exactly how you shape your diet each day is up to you, but you’ll typically aim for six servings of grains, likely from bread and calcium-fortified cereal; five servings of legumes, nuts and other types of protein, such as peanut butter, chickpeas, tofu, potatoes and soy milk; and four daily servings of veggies, two servings of fruit and two servings of healthy fats, such as sesame oil, avocado and coconut, according to an American Dietetic Association guide. There’s also no need to give up dessert: Vegans can eat baked goods (cupcakes and cobbler, for example) made without butter, eggs or albumin.

How much does it cost?
It’s moderately pricey. Fruits, vegetables and soy products – which should be filling your cart if you’re doing it right – are generally more expensive than heavily processed foods like white bread, sugary cereals and sweets. But bypassing the butcher will help keep the tab reasonable.

Will you lose weight?
Likely. Research shows vegans tend to eat fewer calories, weigh less and have a lower body mass index (a measure of body fat) than their meat-eating counterparts. If you’re doing it right – i.e., eating lots of fruits, veggies and whole grains – you’ll likely feel full on fewer calories than you’re allowed each day. With that “calorie deficit” and a little physical activity, you’re bound to shed pounds. How quickly and whether you keep them off is up to you.

Here’s what several key studies have to say about veganism:

  • In one study, 99 participants with Type 2 diabetes followed either a vegan diet or a diet based on American Diabetes Association guidelines. After 22 weeks, the vegans lost an average of 13 pounds versus 9 in the ADA group, according to findings published in 2006 in Diabetes Care. If you’re overweight, losing just 5 to 10 percent of your current weight can help stave off some diseases.
    In another study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 1999, researchers tracked 45 people: 20 meat-eaters and 25 vegans who’d been following the approach for an average of 12 years. Body mass index was appreciably lower among the vegans, nine of whom had a BMI of below 19, the researchers found; a BMI below 18.5 suggests a person is underweight.
    More than 60 overweight, postmenopausal women were split into two groups: Half followed a vegan diet, and the other half followed a National Cholesterol Education Program diet (low in fat and dietary cholesterol). After a year, vegan dieters lost more weight than did the NCEP group: 10.8 pounds compared with 3.9 pounds. The pattern held up after two years, when the vegans still weighed 6.8 pounds less than they did when the study began, compared with 1.8 pounds for the NCEP group, according to findings published in 2007 in Obesity.

    In a study published in 2014 in Nutrition, researchers followed a group of 50 overweight or obese adults for six months. They found that those on a vegan diet lost significantly more weight than those on other plans, including vegetarian, semivegetarian and omnivorous – by about 4.3 percent or an average of 16.5 pounds. The study authors suspect that’s because the vegan dieters were focusing on high-fiber foods, which help you feel full for longer, and their diets were low in fat and likely had fewer calories.

    Vegan
    How easy is it to follow?
    How difficult is the idea of a turkey-free Thanksgiving and morning cereal without the milk? Be mindful that healthy veganism requires planning, especially if you’re a newbie.

  • Convenience: When you want to cook, there’s a recipe somewhere that’ll suit your taste buds. Still, veganism takes some work and creativity. It’s up to you to plan meals around plant protein rather than animal protein.
  • Recipes: Limitless. Vegan magazines, books and websites abound, offering suggestions for every meal and cuisine.
  • Eating out: Doable, but options may be limited. Garden vegetable soup and steamed veggies make good appetizers. Entree salads are your best bet, but don’t forget to hold the bacon bits, croutons and cheese. For dessert, go with fresh fruit.
  • Alcohol: Only certain types of alcohol are vegan-friendly. Some wines, for example, are filtered through gelatin, egg whites and isinglass, made from fish bladders. Check which brands are OK on Barnivore, a guide to alcoholic beverages for vegans.

 

  • Fullness: Nutrition experts emphasize the importance of satiety, the satisfied feeling that you’ve had enough. If you’ve built a healthful vegan diet around fiber-packed veggies, fruits and whole grains, you shouldn’t feel hungry between meals.
  • Taste: You’re preparing the food – if it doesn’t taste good, you know who to blame. Try reinventing your favorites: Go for black-bean instead of steak burritos, or if chicken stir-fry is your thing, use tofu instead of poultry. And consider replacing turkey meatballs or the meat in spaghetti sauce with white beans. There are lots of dessert options, too, including raspberry lavender cupcakes, gingerbread pumpkin seed brittle, cherry-berry peanut butter cobbler and poppy seed scones. (Often, treats are made using nondairy milk, soy or coconut creamer, flaxseeds, chickpea flour, vegan cream cheese, and even vegan sprinkles.)

    variety

Health & Nutrition
Veganism can conform to a healthful eating plan, but it takes work, and the risk of insufficient amounts of key nutrients like calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B-12, zinc and iron is real. That worried experts a bit, but they still gave the diet a respectable score.

What is the role of exercise?
Veganism only has rules on what you can and cannot eat, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t exercise. No matter the diet, the more you move, the quicker you’ll see the pounds come off – and you’ll reduce your risk of developing diabetes, heart problems and other chronic diseases. Adults are generally encouraged to get at least 2 1/2 hours of moderate-intensity activity (like brisk walking) each week, along with a couple days of muscle-strengthening activities. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers tips to get you started.

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Vegan Diet Recipes
Sample Menu
Here’s a day of meals for a vegan on a 1,500-calorie diet, adapted from a sample menu published in the Vegetarian Journal.
Breakfast
Orange-vanilla smoothie
1 slice whole wheat toast with 2 tablespoons almond butter
Lunch
2 whole wheat tortillas with 1 cup kidney beans, 1/4 cup avocado and salsa, chopped tomatoes and lettuce as desired
Steamed kale with 1 teaspoon flax oil
1 cup calcium-fortified soymilk
Dinner
Tofu and snow pea stir-fry
1/2 cup brown rice
1/2 cup watermelon cubes
Snack
1 cup calcium-fortified soymilk
3/4 cup unsweetened breakfast cereal

plate of veggies

Are there health risks?
If you create a sensible plan, you should be safe. But if you have a health condition, check with your doctor before going vegan.

Vegans often don’t get enough calcium, which can cause weak bones that break easily, according to a study published in Pediatric Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism in 2010. And in a 2009 report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition on the health effects of a vegan diet, researchers warned that vegans often don’t get enough vitamin D, vitamin B-12 and zinc. They’re also often low in the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, which are important for brain, eye and cardiovascular health. Supplements might be necessary.

A 2016 study by a Mayo Clinic review team found that some poorly planned vegan diets could lead to a deficiency of vitamin B-12, vitamin D, calcium, iron, protein and omega-3 fatty acids. A lack of some of these nutrients can have implications for bone strength, anemia, neurological disorders and other health problems. The clinic review team recommends that physicians observe their patients who eat vegan diets to makes sure they have adequate blood levels of calcium, ferritin, iron, vitamin B-12 and vitamin D.

Does it have cardiovascular benefits?
It could. An eating pattern heavy on fruits and veggies, but light on saturated fat and salt, is considered the best way to keep cholesterol and blood pressure in check and heart disease at bay.
• A 2016 study by researchers at the University of Florence in Italy found people who ate vegan and vegetarian diets showed a significant decrease in risk of heart disease and total cancer. The study found that people who ate vegan and vegetarian diets reduced their risk of ischemic heart disease by 25 percent, and people who consumed a vegan diet decreased their risk of total cancer by 15 percent.

• In a 12-year study that compared 6,000 vegetarians with 5,000 meat-eaters, researchers found that vegans had a 57-percent lower risk of ischemic heart disease than the meat-eaters.

• In the 2006 Diabetes Care study mentioned in the weight loss section, researchers concluded that vegan diets have a lipid- and cholesterol-lowering effect, likely because they eliminate dietary cholesterol (plant products are cholesterol-free) and are low in saturated fat.

• On your way to becoming vegan but can’t give up animal products cold turkey? Research finds those who simply eat a higher proportion of plant-based foods than animal-based foods have a 20-percent lower risk of dying from a cardiovascular disease, such as heart attack or stroke. But there’s evidence that taking it a step further and going all-in vegan may provide additional protection against high blood pressure and death related to cardiovascular disease.

Can it prevent or control diabetes?
It appears to be a good option for both.

Prevention: Being overweight is one of the biggest risk factors for Type 2 diabetes. If going meat-and-dairy-free helps you lose weight and keep it off, you’ll stand a better chance of staving off the disease. Some research has linked veganism with a lower diabetes risk.

Control: Vegan diets are healthful for people with diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. And because there are no rigid meal plans or prepackaged meals, you can ensure that what you’re eating doesn’t go against your doctor’s advice.

• In the 2006 Diabetes Care study mentioned above, which involved 99 people with Type 2 diabetes, both a vegan diet and an ADA-dietary guidelines diet improved control of blood sugar levels. However, the benefit was more profound in the vegan group. Researchers also found that vegan diets may have a beneficial effect on hemoglobin A1C levels, a measure of blood sugar over time. After 22 weeks, the vegans decreased their hemoglobin A1C levels by 0.96 percentage points, compared with 0.56 among the ADA dieters. And 43 percent of vegan dieters reduced the number of diabetes medications they were taking, while just 26 percent of the ADA group did.

Vegan Diet Do’s & Don’ts

Do: Have about six servings of grains a day. Whole-wheat bread, quinoa and calcium-fortified cereal are good sources.
Do: Have dessert.
But it needs to be made without butter, eggs or albumin. Tofu cheesecake is a popular choice
Don’t: Eat any animal products.
That even includes dairy, gelatin and eggs.

Reference: Mayo Clinic

5 Foods to Add to your Diet for Better Blood Pressure

Published April 14, 2017 by teacher dahl

fresh fruits

 

Sometimes, the hardest part of starting a healthier diet isn’t finding the willpower to change your habits, but thinking of new foods to eat. This is particularly true if your previous diet was largely made up of junk foods and snacks.
Do you need help starting on the healthy eating path? Try adding these five foods to your daily diet (in the servings recommended below) to lower your blood pressure and improve your overall health:
Fresh fruits, such as oranges, apples, bananas, watermelon, pineapples and more. Fresh fruits are packed with vitamins and minerals. If you eat canned fruit or drink fruit juice, make sure you choose a natural option that doesn’t contain any extra sugar. Consume 4-5 servings of fruit daily

 

milk
Low-fat (or no-fat) dairy products such as milk, yoghurt and cheese contain large amounts of protein and calcium. This makes them essential for muscle and bone health. Consume 2-3 servings of low-fat dairy foods daily.
Almonds, lentils, kidney beans and other legumes are wonderful sources of fibre and protein. Many nuts are also wonderful sources of healthy fats and phytochemicals – substances that prevent cardiovascular disease. Try to eat one serving of nuts or lentils daily.

lean meats
Lean meats such as chicken breast, tuna, salmon or beef steak are wonderful sources of protein and iron. If you like to consume red meat, choose cuts that contain as little fast a possible. Choose a small portion that can fit inside your palm; fill the rest of your plate with complex carbs and vegetables.

carbs
Complex carbohydrates such as brown rice, whole-wheat bread and pasta or cereal. Complex carbohydrates are a wonderful energy source that results in steady energy and alertness throughout the day. Consume about six servings of complex carbs per day; more if you’re exceptionally active.

Study Reveals That Starting Work Before 10am Is Ruining Your Health

Published January 15, 2017 by teacher dahl

early

In case anyone was after confirmation, yes – early mornings suck. They especially suck on weekdays when you have to go into your crappy job on your crappy salary on the crappy train in the crappy rain.

But until society collapses and we no longer need to invest our time in exchange for money in order to survive on this god damn earth, I guess we’ll just need to bite the bullet and go to work.

Considering the average person spends roughly 30 per cent of their life at work, does it not make sense to want to spend it in the least pain possible? Enter science.

Science has your back. Not only has it proven that drinking wine before bed will help you lose weight, it backed it up with proof that eating cheese every day is good for you.

And for its final act: science is pushing for a 10am start on work days, comparing 9am starts to ‘torture.’

less-sleep
The study out of Oxford University found that forcing staff to start work before 10am is making employees ill, exhausted and stressed. Before the age of 55, the circadian rhythms of adults are totally out of sync with the average 9-5 working hours, posing a serious threat to employees’ performance, mood and mental health.

Study author Dr Paul Kelley says sleep deprivation is particularly damaging on the body’s physical, emotional and performance systems.

“Your live and your heart have different patterns and you’re asking them to shift two or three hours. This is an international issue. Everybody is suffering and they don’t have to,” Kelly said.

And despite contrary belief, no – you cannot change your circadian rhythms.

“We cannot change our 24-hour rhythms,” said Kelly. “You cannot learn to get up at a certain time. Your body will be attuned to sunlight and you’re not conscious of it because it reports to hypothalamus, not sight.”

Just one week with less than six hours sleep each night leads to 711 changes in how genes in your body function. Lack of sleep impacts performance, attention and long term-memory, and can also lead to exhaustion, anxiety, frustration, anger, impulsiveness, weight-gain, risk-taking and high blood pressure.

grid

So when you’re forced to wake up or go to work earlier than what your body wants to, your sleep deprivation is putting your body under a huge amount of stress, and “sleep deprivation is a torture.”

Your move? Maybe don’t (actually, just don’t) accuse your boss of torturing you, but instead raise the topic of coming into work a bit later and back it up with the potential benefits like higher quality work, a greater work ethic and an improved mood.

This article originally appeared on Men’s Health.

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Running Slows Development of Osteoarthritis: Study says

Published January 9, 2017 by teacher dahl

couple-running

Everybody believes running can leave you sore and swollen, right? Well, a new study suggests running might actually reduce inflammation in joints.
“It flies in the face of intuition,” said study co-author Matt Seeley, an associate professor of exercise sciences at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. “This idea that long-distance running is bad for your knees might be a myth.”
Seeley and his colleagues reached their surprising conclusion after analyzing the knee joint fluid of several healthy men and women between the ages of 18 and 35. The researchers looked for signs of inflammation in chemical markers before and after a 30-minute run and found little difference.

warm-up
“What we now know is that for young, healthy individuals, exercise creates an anti-inflammatory environment that may be beneficial in terms of long-term joint health,” lead author Robert Hyldahl said in a university news release. Hyldahl is an assistant professor of exercise science at BYU.
The researchers said the study suggests running could actually delay development of degenerative joint diseases like osteoarthritis.
“This study does not indicate that distance runners are any more likely to get osteoarthritis than any other person,” Seeley said. “Instead, this study suggests exercise can be a type of medicine.”

 

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Normal for Women to Experience Sexual Decline Around Menopause

Published November 5, 2016 by teacher dahl

libido-pix

 

New research suggests that menopause is linked to a reduction in sexual function for most women, although race/ethnicity does play a factor in the magnitude of the decline.
Investigators from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center discovered women experience a notable decline in sexual function about 20 months before and one year after their last menstrual period, and that decrease continues, though at a somewhat slower rate, over the following five years.
The study, published ahead of print in the online issue of Menopause: The Journal of the North American Menopause Society, also found that various factors that frequently co-occur with menopause have less direct influence on declining sexual function than menopause itself.

signs
“Sexual functioning in women declines with age, and there has been much debate about how much this is due to menopause, aging, or other physical, psychological or social factors,” said the study’s lead author, Nancy Avis, Ph.D.
“Our findings support that menopause has a negative effect on sexual functioning in many women.”
Additionally, the study found that women who have a hysterectomy before the onset of menopause do not experience a marked decline in sexual function immediately before undergoing the procedure but do so afterward, for as long as five years.
The researchers based their findings on information collected from 1,390 participants in the federally funded Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN), which began in 1996.
These women, who were between the ages of 42 and 52 at the time of enrollment in the study and who had a known date of final menstrual period during their participation, responded to questionnaires dealing with various aspects of sexual function — including desire, arousal, satisfaction, and pain — between one and seven times over the course of the study.
The researchers analyzed 5,798 of these self-assessments (4,932 from the 1,164 women in the natural menopause group and 866 from the 226 women in the hysterectomy group) and tracked the changes in the respondents’ scores on the sexual-function questionnaires. They correlated the scores relative to either their final menstrual period among women who experienced a natural menopause or the hysterectomy.
Notably, in the natural menopause group, the researchers found that race/ethnicity played a major role in the decline of sexual function. They discovered African-American women experiencing a significantly smaller decline and women of Japanese descent experiencing a much greater decline when compared with white women.
“Sexual functioning is an important component of women’s lives. More than 75 percent of the middle-aged women in the SWAN study reported that sex was moderately to extremely important to them when the study began,” Avis said.
“It is important for women and their health care providers to understand all the factors that may impact women’s experience of sex in relation to both the natural menopausal transition and hysterectomy, and we hope our findings will contribute to better understanding in this area.”

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