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Some of our most popular posts from October 2016


Women's Health News  - Four of our top stories 

Making eggs from stem cells achieved in mice

A women’s eggs are laid down when she is a fetus and she is born with all of the eggs she will produce.  The number and quality decline as we age, which causes age-related infertility and finally the menopause. There is a huge debate about whether there is a special type of cell in the ovary that could potentially make new eggs but research is ongoing.

Scientists have tried to use stem cells to make ‘artificial eggs’ which could potentially increase a woman’s fertility.  Yesterday an important paper was published in Nature which shows that in the mouse, scientists from Japan have been able to take various types of stem cells and make functional eggs which resulted in live offspring.  They have been able to recreate the entire process of oogenesis (the making of an egg from a very immature cell to a fully mature egg) in a dish.

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A world without Down's syndrome?

The field of fetal medicine has spent the last thirty years developing technology to identify Down’s syndrome pregnancies.  A new test, non invasive prenatal testing (NIPT), has just been made available in the UK on the NHS.  T

Sally Phillips, actress and comedian (she stars in the comedy Miranda and Bridget Jones’s Diary) has made a documentary currently showing on BBC iplayer called A World without Down’s Syndrome. Sally has a 12 year old son with Down’s syndrome and she has made the programme as she wants to make sure women are informed about what it is like to be the mother of a Down’s syndrome child. She is worried that the development of NIPT may lead to an increase in the number of Down’s syndrome pregnancies that are aborted. 


Women suffering from loss of sexual desire should be offered testosterone

Testosterone is a vital male hormone that is responsible for the development and maintenance of male attributes. Women also have testosterone, but in much smaller amounts. Testosterone is an androgen and one of the main purposes of androgens is to be converted into the female hormones called estrogens.

The menopause happens if estrogen levels fall. One of the side effects is loss of sex drive but now doctors in the UK propose to subscribe testosterone to women to suffer from this. This is a new approach and there are not even licensed testosterone products for women.

Dr Nick Panay, from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, told a GPs’ conference the hormone could also improve women’s energy and mood.

But he complained that since there were no licensed testosterone products for women, who need much lower doses than men, he had to prescribe the hormone “off-label” which he found “frustrating”.

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Young girls increasingly ask doctors about genital cosmetic surgery

Girls as young as 15 in Australia are increasingly asking their GPs about genital cosmetic surgery and admit they are concerned that their genitals don’t look “normal”.

Lead author of the study, Dr Magdalena Simonis from the University of Melbourne’s department of general practice said she believes fashion, online pornography, perceptions of beauty, as well as Brazilian waxes were playing a major role in women’s dissatisfaction with and concern about their genitals.

More than half the GPs surveyed in the study suspected psychological disturbances in their patients requesting labiaplasty such as depression, anxiety and body dysmorphic disorder.

More than 1,500 labiaplasties were performed in Australia in 2013, representing a threefold increase in the procedure over the previous decade despite there being no increase in genital abnormalities.

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Features  - Two of our top features 

Ten things we wished sex education had covered

By Emily Magnus

I recently had a lunch with friends, and as twenty somethings we were all reflecting on sex education we wish we had received during our teens. This gave me the idea to put together a list that could be used to help debunk some myths, answer some awkward questions and open the floor to some sex tips!

  1. Not every penis is 9” long

Yes, some of them are. But the UK average penis size is around 5” erect. In our experience, a lot of teenage men boasted about having very large penises, something that we found quite odd, as most women don’t like the idea of something that large going somewhere that seems so little! However, depending on your own physiology, your comfort level for penis length and girth can vary greatly. Chances are you will not have a problem, but lubricants and plenty of foreplay can help when faced with something unexpected.

Chinese traditional foot binding

The tradition of Chinese foot binding was a status symbol in China.   It was classed as the epitome of beauty.   There are several stories as to the origin, which started in the 10th Century.  One story is that there was an empress who was born with club feet so she wanted deformed feet to become a status symbol.

Millions of Chinese women went through the torment and pain of having their feet crushed and bound to give feet that were ideally just 3 inches long.  The process started when they were young children.  The feet were soaked in herbs and blood to soften the feet.  The four small toes were broken and pushed under the sole.  The feet were then bound in bandages which were tightened every day for two years to make the feet smaller.  The feet had to stay bound for the womans entire life and the pain stayed throughout.  15% of girls with bound feet died during the process because their circulation was cut off or due to other complications.

These feet are called Lotus feet.

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Discussion of the day - Lets get talking

Pain relief in labour, yes or no?

In December, the Royal Society of Medicine are holding a meeting titled: Work of the devil or heaven sent – pain relief in labour.  The evening hopes to tackle the questions  – have you ever been told that epidurals are unsafe or can harm you or your baby? Have you been told that it’s “always best” to labour naturally? And will include a debate: This House believes that abolishing pain does not have a negative impact on labour.

On the UK NHS web site it says ‘Labour can be painful”.  Has anyone had a labour that is not painful? I think it should say ‘Labour will be painful’.

Hopefully women will be fully informed about their options so they can make an individual choice and write a birth plan.

The main pain relief options are:

Position and movement, water birth, TENS machine, gas and air, pethidine, epidural, alternative therapies.


Will you have the flu vaccine?

In most people flu will only result in mild side effects such as soreness at the injection site or a mild fever but in vulnerable people it can cause severe illness such as bronchitis and pneumonia and even death.   

Rarely someone can get an allergic reaction.  You do not get flu from the flu vaccine as the viruses that are used to make the vaccine are dead.

Millions of people worldwide will have the flu vaccine.  A new flu vaccine is made each year as the flu virus is constantly changing.  “Since the flu virus frequently drifts in its genetic composition, you have to reformate the vaccine, and this is one of the reason that people have to [get a flu shot] on an annual basis,” said Dr. William Schaffner, a preventive medicine and infectious disease expert at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.

But there is a lot of controversy around the flu vaccine.

Do teenage girls dress too sexy?

It seems that teenage girls are dressing more sexy than when I was a teenage girl.  My son went to a party recently and one girl was wearing a tiny pair of shorts and a bra, a normal bra.  She was wearing less than the girls in this photo.  Does it matter what they wear?

You can buy padded bras for 8 year old girls.  Shorts that show their bums.

But what about peer pressure?  If their friends are dressing like this, are girls under pressure to dress in the same way?  Maybe they feel powerful to dress in this way and see the effect they have on boys?  It can make them popular.

And what about their parents?  Surely a parent has a say in what a young teenager is wearing?  I have seen one parent put very revealing photos of her daughter on Facebook, so she obviously feels that it is OK.  And if parents stop their daughters going out dressed in a sexy way, there is always the chance that their daughter will change clothes when she gets to her friends house!


Would you have a preventive mastectomy?

Finding out you are at high risk of developing breast cancer leads to difficult question and decisions. One such question is whether to have preventive (prophylactic) mastectomy.

Preventive mastectomy is surgery to remove one or both breasts in order to reduce the risk of developing breast cancer. According to the American National Cancer Institute, prophylactic mastectomy in women who carry a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation may reduce the risk of developing breast cancer by 95%. In women with a strong family history of breast cancer, prophylactic mastectomy can reduce the risk of breast cancer development by up to 90%.

Being identified as high risk doesn’t mean you are certain to get breast cancer. It means is that your likelihood of developing the disease is several times higher than that of an average-risk woman.

Angelina Jolie had a mutation in the BRCA1 gene that gave her elevated risk of breast and ovarian cancers. 


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