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Archive for April, 2010

I found this testimony the other day:

While stationed on Miramar and living off base with my Marine husband, I received a couple of black eyes that were reported.  I was made to leave my home and move into the barracks without my newborn daughter.  During visitation I had to go to my husband’s residence to see my daughter.  We got into a verbal fight and when I tried to leave he pinned me up against a door breaking my ribs…  I reported it to my command and was told nothing could be done (because) it happened off base. The ER called the police and filed a report.  The next week I went to my husband’s house to pick up my daughter and he sent me back to the ER. This was reported. Finally after much persuasion by the counseling center a board conducted an investigation concluding that there was enough evidence to substantiate that my husband did commit these crimes, level 4 out of 5. No disciplinary action was taken and he was then promoted to CPL and given an honorable discharge at the end of his tour.”

Countless military women and military spouses are victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. It is estimated that rates of marital abuse in the military are two to five times higher than civilian rates of domestic violence. Moreover, one in three women in the military will be sexually assaulted during their tour of duty.

Congresswoman Louise Slaughter has introduced legislation called “The Military Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Response Act” to address this national epidemic and stop the violence against military women and military families.

Among other things, the bill would:

Establish an “Office of the Victims’ Advocate” to facilitate access to services for victims of domestic or family violence, sexual assault, and stalking in the military;

Support crisis intervention services for victims of such violence and provide training on prevention of such violence;

Provide for the employment of a sexual assault nurse examiner, a psychiatrist, and a complimentary clinical team at each DOD military treatment facility; and

Specify circumstances under which military law enforcement officers shall arrest a person for committing domestic violence.

This legislation has been referred to the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security but no action has been taken on it.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

Go to:  http://www.opencongress.org/bill/111-h840/show and indicate your support for the bill.

Go to:  http://www.opencongress.org/people/representatives and determine who your Member of Congress is.  Then, email him or her and ask them to “co-sponsor” this bill.

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A few weeks ago, I was asked by the owners of this website to start providing content for the “Keep Women Healthy” blog.  That sounded simple enough.  Since then, I’ve written about the dangers of tanning machines, abortion and a few other items.  I’ve provided you with facts and figures in an effort to try to keep you up to date on that particular issue.

But I soon found myself getting bored as I just regurgitated a bunch of stuff I found from a variety of sources, stuff that you could no doubt find on your own if you wanted to take the time.  So, I started thinking about how I could make this blog a little different and more useful.  How can we use this page to really help “Keep Women Healthy?”

Then, this morning, over a bowl of Honey Oats cereal (one percent milk- can’t yet make the leap to skim), it hit me.  You see, my background is in political action.  I’ve worked on numerous political campaigns, served as a Legislative Aide on Capitol Hill and am a former lobbyist for a women’s reproductive rights organization.  My experience has taught me that people can influence their government (despite the protestations of the Tea Party and Sara Palin).  You can get things done if you are willing to put in the effort.

So, I’ve decided to use my expertise in political organizing to help “Keep Women Healthy.”

Every day in Washington, D.C., your government is doing something that concerns women’s health.  Or, if they are not doing anything, they could be.  I know it is impossible for you to sort out all of the issues and decide where to put your energy.  You’ve got a life.  That’s where I come in.

In the future, I will use this column to give you some simple ideas.  It may be a suggestion to contact your Member of Congress about a specific piece of legislation.  Or, I may recommend you email the White House to urge the President to take some executive action on some issue.  Maybe the FDA needs to hear from people on a new, woman-friendly drug.

I promise not to overwhelm you.  Personally, I hate it when I get a message (usually in big red letters with lots of exclamation points) from some national organization urging me to do ten things, ten very complicated things.  That just guarantees that I will not do any of them.

So, I will keep it simple.  If we are organized, we can accomplish things.

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Abortion Not Related to Breast Cancer

Abortion Not Related to Breast Cancer

There’s a new study that should be of interest to young women who drink alcohol, especially those who engage in binge drinking.  Are you listening, college kids?

According to the study, which was published in the May, 2010 issue of “Pediatrics,” drinking alcohol increases the risk of getting benign breast cancer. About 80 per cent of breast lumps are benign, but what many people don’t realize is that these benign breast lesions can lead to invasive breast cancer, so the condition is an important marker of one’s risk of getting breast cancer. Researchers believe the connection between alcohol and breast cancer is found in the hormone estrogen because drinking increases estrogen levels.

The study, which was performed by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and Harvard, found that girls and young women who drank alcohol were at higher risk of getting benign breast disease. The study followed almost 7,000 girls between 9-15 years old from 1996 to 2007. It found that a “high consumption” of alcohol was associated with a high risk of benign breast disease. Specifically, girls and young women who drank six or seven days a week were 5.5 times more likely to develop benign breast disease than those who didn’t drink or who had less than one drink per week. Those who reported drinking three to five days per week had three times the risk.

There have been other studies which found that adult women who intact alcohol later in life have a higher risk of getting breast cancer. This study confirms the affect of drinking at an earlier age.

Think about this, girls, before you go to the next frat party.

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Abortion Chlamydia

Abortion Chlamydia

Chlamydia is the most frequently reported bacterial sexually transmitted infection (STI).  It is spread through oral, vaginal or anal sex.

Because the cervix (opening to the uterus) of teenage girls and young women is not fully matured, they are at particularly high risk for infection if sexually active.  Even newborns can be infected! During vaginal childbirth, an infected mother can pass Chlamydia to her newborn that can result in complications, including infant pneumonia.

The surest way to avoid transmission of any sexually transmitted infections is to abstain from sexual contact or to be in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested and is known to be uninfected. Latex male condoms, when used consistently and correctly, can reduce, but not eliminate, the risk of transmission of Chlamydia. This means using condoms in all forms of sex: oral, vaginal and anal.

About three quarters of infected women and about half of infected men actually show no symptoms. Those who have reported symptoms say that they appear from one to three weeks after they were exposed to someone with Chlamydia.

In women, the bacteria first infects the cervix and the urethra (urine canal). Women who do have symptoms might have an abnormal vaginal discharge or a burning sensation when urinating. When the infection spreads from the cervix to the fallopian tubes, some women still have no signs or symptoms.  Other women, however, may experience nausea, lower abdominal pain, fever, low back pain, pain during intercourse, or bleeding between menstrual periods. At times, Chlamydia can even spread to the rectum.

Men with signs or symptoms might have a discharge from their penis or a burning sensation when urinating. They might also have burning and itching around the opening of the penis. Men or women who have anal intercourse may get Chlamydia in the rectum, which can cause rectal pain, discharge, or bleeding.  Chlamydia can also be found in the throats of women and men having oral sex with an infected partner.

Even though symptoms of Chlamydia are usually mild or absent, there can be serious complications that cause irreversible damage, including infertility.  One possible complication, Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), if left untreated, can cause infertility or more frequent periods. Severe cases may even spread to the liver and kidneys causing dangerous internal bleeding, lung failure and death.

Chlamydia can be detected in sexually transmitted infection screening and treated immediately with antibiotics.  Indeed, the only sure way for a person who has been at risk for Chlamydia to tell whether they’re infected is to be tested.

After treatment, all sexual partners must be treated again to avoid possible transmission to others and re-contamination of you. Yes, you can get it back from your partner who may not even know they have it!

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Abortion HPV

Abortion HPV

Genital human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection.  There are more than 40 types of HPV that can infect the genital areas of females and males, as well as the mouth and throat.  HPV is not the same as herpes and it can be acquired not just during sexual intercourse, but during any form of sexual activity that entails genital contact.

Most people with HPV do not develop symptoms or health problems because, in 90% of cases, the body’s immune system clears HPV naturally within two years.  However, there are certain types of HPV that can cause genital warts in males and females. More important, however, is the fact that HPV is the leading cause of cervical cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 10,000 women will get cervical cancer this year and over 3,500 of those women will die.

Let’s talk about the symptoms for a second.

Genital warts usually appear as a small bump or groups of bumps in the genital area. They can be small or large, raised or flat, or shaped like a cauliflower. These warts can appear within weeks or months after sexual contact with an infected partner—even if the infected partner has no signs of genital warts. If left untreated, genital warts might go away, remain unchanged, or increase in size or number. They will not turn into cancer.

The problem with cervical cancer is that there are usually no symptoms until it is quite advanced. That is why women should get regular screenings for cervical cancer.  Taking these tests can help you find the early signs of the disease so the problem can be treated early before it turns into cancer.

Now, let’s talk about preventative measures that you can take.

There is a vaccine that can help prevent HPV.  It is called Gardasil.

Gardasil protects you against Squamous Intraepithelial Lesions which are pre-cancerous lesions of the cervix. Specifically, the vaccine prevents diseases caused by HPV types 16 and 18, which are associated with about 70 percent of cervical cancers, and types 6 and 11, which are associated with genital warts.

The vaccine is given in three separate injections over a six-month period. You must complete the entire series of shots. It’s believed that immunity is achieved one month after the last shot and that it remains effective for at least five years.

If you are a woman between 11 and 26, you should get the vaccine.  If you receive the vaccine before becoming sexually active, the vaccine offers the most protection because, if you have had even one sexual partner, you may have already been exposed to HPV.

If you have been sexually active for a while and are under the age of 26, the vaccine may still offer cancer protection.  Even if you have been exposed to HPV, research shows that you may not have been exposed to all four types “covered” by the vaccine. So even if you’ve been exposed to and infected with one, two, or even three types of HPV, you can benefit from the vaccine.

If you have a young daughter, you should begin your daughter’s reproductive health care before she becomes sexually active. This is a wonderful time to talk frankly about issues of puberty and growing up female.  The first reproductive health visit is an ideal time to discuss the benefits of the vaccine and to offer it as a protective vaccination against cancer.

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