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Lyme disease can be frightening because of its power to cause damage to any organ of the body, including the nervous system, heart, brain and joints. Like so many other diseases, catching it at its earliest stage before the microbe, transmitted by a tick bite, has had a chance to enter your bloodstream gives you the best chance of recovery. 

But it can be tough to diagnose Lyme disease because its early symptoms, like headaches and body aches, fever, fatigue and a stiff neck, are often erroneously attributed to other health problems. And that telltale bullseye rash is not always present (although it is seen in about 75 percent of infected people). Read more about Migraines and Lyme Disease.

Most people who are diagnosed early and are treated quickly with a round (or sometimes two) of antibiotics will improve rapidly and completely. But since Lyme disease doesn't always show up on the blood tests until you've had it for a few weeks, you may not always get treated at the earliest stage of the disease. 

And tests are not always reliable either, especially in the early stages of Lyme. That's why many health care professionals will look at your medical history and symptoms and might start treating you anyway. 

Yet, even if you are bitten by a deer tick—which is the size of a pinhead and difficult, if not impossible, to spot—you won't necessarily contract Lyme disease. A deer tick is a blacklegged tick that has fed on a small rodent. That rodent has to carry bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi, or B burgdorferi, the most common illness carried by ticks in the United States. For the bacteria to spread to your blood, the tick must be attached to your body for 24 to 36 hours. 

Unfortunately, many who are bitten never know it, because they neither feel the bite nor see any evidence of the tick.   

You're more at risk if you spend a lot of time outdoors gardening or hiking, especially in areas where Lyme disease is more prevalent (it was first reported in 1977 in Old Lyme, Connecticut—hence its name). Having a pet who may bring infected ticks home and walking in high grasses also ups your risk. If you find a tick on your skin, remove it immediately with tweezers, then wash thoroughly with soap and water. 

Once the bacteria has spread—and depending how far it has spread—Lyme disease is no longer in its early stages, and both the symptoms and the treatment can be more complicated. If you're experiencing joint swelling or other neurological problems like numbness or weakness, further testing may be done (fluid may be drawn from a swollen joint or spine).  

The disease is still treatable with antibiotics but rather than oral antibiotics, they'll be infused directly into a vein (intravenously) so that they can get right into your bloodstream to work more quickly. Usually this IV treatment is given for two to three weeks, but it can take longer. 

This all might sound scary, but the good news is that Lyme disease is curable, although some people's symptoms can persist after the treatment is complete. Known as post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome (PTLDS), the muscle or joint aches or other neurological complications symptoms won't improve with long-term use of antibiotics but will usually improve over time.   

The best offense against Lyme disease is a good defense. Staying mindful of where you're walking and working while outdoors and using an insect repellent containing a minimum of 20 percent DEET, plus treating your clothing with repellents containing 0.5 percent permethrin can go a long way toward repelling the potentially dangerous ticks. Also, wearing light-colored long-sleeved shirts and long pants can make the dark ticks more visible if they attach to your clothing.

To see areas of the country where Lyme disease is more prevalent, click here. 

Click here to see more details about signs and symptoms. 

Click here for a Q&A with a tick. 

 

 

 

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Try this fruity twist on traditional guacamole.

Prep Time: 10 Min
Cook Time: 0 Min
Ready In: 10 Min

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 avocado, mashed

  • 6 strawberries, finely diced

  • 1/2 mango, finely diced

  • 1/2 lime, juiced

  • Salt to taste

Directions:

  1. Mash avocado in a bowl.

  2. Stir in diced strawberry, mango and lime juice. Add salt to taste.

Serving suggestion: Serve with cucumber chips or regular chips.

Nutritional Information:

Amount per serving: Total Fat: 5 g; Carbohydrate: 7 g; Fiber: 9 g; Protein, 1 g.

Recipe courtesy of Heather McConochie of The Positive Thread. Heather is a former ER nurse who is passionate about nutrition and helping others live their best lives through eating whole, natural foods. She has just released her book of 30 Sultry Summer Recipes.

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How to Treat a Sunburn1.99 MB

When I think about how I (and so many other boomers) mistreated our skin when we were younger, I cringe.

Sun reflectors, baby oil mixed with iodine, endless hours spent lying prone at the hottest time of the day, waiting for the burning rays to penetrate our skin and make us tan and look better.

Better???

Or burned, in my case and so many others with pale skin.

And now we see the fallout of sun worship: premature aging, lines and wrinkles, age spots and, at its worst, skin cancers.

Add the sun to that growing list of "if only I'd knowns."

Even though we now have the benefit of knowing how harmful too much sun exposure can be, and we have ways to protect ourselves, sunburns still happen. Guilty as charged? Here's what you can do:

  • Get out of the sun. Yes, it may sound obvious, but as soon as you feel a sunburn, you need to seek shade and avoid further sun until your skin has healed.

  • Cool it down as quickly as possible. Just like with any type of burn, apply a cool compress (a frozen bag of peas is great to keep on hand!) as soon as possible to ease the sting and draw heat out of the burn. Taking frequent cool showers and baths using cool water helps, too. But don't take a bubble bath, which could be irritating. Instead, mix in some baking soda or about one cup of vinegar, which can help soothe inflamed skin. Something like this from Aveeno, which contains oatmeal, can help, too.

  • Keep your skin moist. Once it's burned, damage has already set in. Applying the moisturizer right after a shower or bath to damp skin will help lock that much-needed moisture in.

  • Best moisturizers to apply include those with ingredients like aloe vera or soy. This one by Burt's Bees contains soothing ingredients like aloe and coconut oil. Plain petroleum jelly works, too. Stay away with products ending with "caine" like benzocaine or lidocaine; these can be irritating or cause allergic reactions.

  • If your sunburn is so bad that it blisters, don't pop the blisters. They are nature's way of repairing your skin. The fluid in the blister contains growth factors, in fact, that help the skin heal. Once the blisters pop, don't pull off the remaining skin—it's there to protect the tender skin underneath. Keep the skin covered with petroleum jelly to protect it while it continues to heal.

  • Drink plenty of water to replace the fluid the sunburn draws away from your skin and your body. Eating water-rich foods, like watermelon, honeydew and cantaloupe will supply lots of hydration as well. I'm currently obsessed with this watermelon water—it's so, so refreshing, especially on a hot summer day.

Remember, there is no such thing as a "healthy tan." Even darker-skinned folks who never burn can still suffer the effects of too much sun exposure. As soon as the sun hits your skin, it begins to create changes that you cannot see.

Be careful out there, and always protect your skin with sunscreen, which needs to be applied about 20 minutes before going out and after two hours of sun exposure. Hats, sunglasses and clothing all contribute further to protecting yourself.

This post originally appeared on mysocalledmidlife.net.

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For women, a hysterectomy—an operation to remove the uterus—is one of the most frequently performed surgical procedures in the United States. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, approximately 3.1 million hysterectomies were performed from 2000 through 2004, which is about 600,000 per year.

Hysterectomies are commonly performed at the onset of certain cancers to prevent spreading of the disease, but there are other reasons as well.

Often, other options are available to help treat a health condition besides a hysterectomy. For example, hormonal birth control or an intrauterine device might be able to help treat heavy vaginal bleeding or endometriosis. Whether or not you have an alternative to hysterectomy depends on you the individual and what your problem is.

Sometimes hysterectomy is the best solution. By learning as much as you can about hysterectomy, you and your health care provider can make the best decision about whether the procedure is right for you.

The most likely candidates for hysterectomies are women who are done having children, have tried other less-invasive ways to treat their problems and have no major reasons that the surgery would be harmful. Most hysterectomies are performed in a minimally invasive way. That means less pain and faster recovery.

Here are a few reasons you may need a hysterectomy.

You have invasive cancer of the uterus, cervix, vagina, fallopian tubes and/or ovaries.
Hysterectomy is often necessary and lifesaving when you're diagnosed with invasive cancer. The procedure may involve removing the ovaries and fallopian tubes, as well as the uterus.

You have the BRCA gene.
Hysterectomy may reduce the chance of developing certain types of ovarian cancer, says the American Cancer Society. That's because most ovarian cancer develops in the fallopian tubes and travels into the ovaries. Because a hysterectomy cuts into the tubes, or in some cases removes the tubes, the risk of developing ovarian cancer drops. So, some people get a hysterectomy if they know they have the BRCA gene. People with BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes are more likely to develop breast and ovarian cancers at younger ages than those who don't have these mutations. About 1.3 percent of women in the general population will develop ovarian cancer sometime during their lives, says the American Cancer Society. By contrast, it's estimated that about 44 percent of women who inherit a harmful BRCA1 mutation and about 17 percent of women who inherit a harmful BRCA2 mutation will develop ovarian cancer by the age of 80.

You have adenomyosis, sometimes considered a type of endometriosis.
Here, the endometrial tissues that line the uterus grow into the muscles of the uterus. The uterus tries to fix itself by contracting. But as the condition progresses, it loses its ability to contract. Since the issues are within the muscular area of the uterus, a hysterectomy can help with the condition. If you take out the uterus, you've taken out the condition. Symptoms include severe cramping, pain during sex and heavy menstrual bleeding. Women can first try hormonal birth control bills or an intrauterine device (IUD) to help control the condition. If those treatment methods don't work, a hysterectomy may be recommended.

You have heavy menstrual bleeding.
The surgery will end heavy bleeding that can't be stopped in other ways. You'll likely try hormonal medicine, a progesterone IUD or less invasive surgical treatments before resorting to a hysterectomy.

You have an unmanageable infection.
If you have severe, recurrent or untreatable pelvic infection, a hysterectomy may be your best option.

You have an unplanned hysterectomy right after a cesarean delivery.
A cesarean hysterectomy is when the uterus is removed right after a C-section. Certain complications of C-section, usually connected to severe bleeding when other methods to stop the bleeding have not worked, may mean the doctor has to remove the uterus to save the mother's life. This situation is very uncommon. Though the risk of a hysterectomy is higher after a cesarean delivery, bleeding requiring a hysterectomy may happen even after a seemingly normal vaginal birth. The procedure can be lifesaving, especially when bleeding can't be controlled by simpler measures.

You have a planned cesarean hysterectomy.
This is done only when there's a serious need for a hysterectomy for reasons unrelated to pregnancy. The mother's health must also be good and her blood count high.

You have placenta accreta.
This condition is when the placenta grows too deeply into the uterine wall. It's especially common in women who had a C-section in the past and whose embryo during a later pregnancy implants in the area of the C-section delivery scar. If placenta accreta is suspected, the diagnosis can often be made before delivery by ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging. Unfortunately, almost all cases require a hysterectomy to save the mother's life. Surgery helps prevent the potentially life-threatening blood loss that can happen if there's an attempt to separate the placenta. Since the chances of this happening tend to increase with each C-section a woman has, some women try to have a vaginal birth after a previous C-section to reduce their risk of placenta accreta or a hysterectomy.

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Prevention August 2018

In the August issue of Prevention Magazine, reporter Sandy M. Fernandez sheds light on the findings from the recent HealthiHer survey that was launched in partnership with HealthyWomen and GCI Health. The article, which includes quotes from HealthyWomen CEO Beth Battaglino, discusses how women are happy to be in charge of their families’ health care, but often do not make the time for their own health screenings. The article includes several tips and strategies women follow in order to focus on self-care.

The Side Effects of Caregiving

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Aired Sunday, July 15th and Podcast Aired Monday, July 16th.

HealthyWomen CEO Beth Battaglino was interviewed for a segment on local New Jersey radio station Magic 98.3FM for its Community Outreach program. On the segment, Beth discussed the importance of HealthyWomen, including some of the most pressing issues for women today such as self care, aging and sexual health.  She also spoke about two of HealthyWomen’s ongoing initiatives HealthiHer and KeepTheCare.

Listen to the interview.

Monday, July 16, 2018
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If you like "wellness travel," you'll want to book a personal or girls' getaway to Le Monastère Des Augustines, located in the historic wings of the Hôtel-Dieu de Québec monastery. I had an opportunity to visit this 17th-century cloister during the 2018 Women in Travel Summit in Quebec City this spring. 

Women of Head and Heart
The monastery, which offers retreat packages and holistic health programs, follows in the heritage of the Augustinian Sisters who devoted themselves to caring for the body and soul. The sisters founded the first hospital in Quebec City.

Tourisme Manager Marie-Eve Perron told us about the Augustine Sisters as we toured the monastery's museum. "The Augustine Sisters arrived in 1639. This was their home. They cared for the sick and were always dedicated to healing," said Marie-Eve. "While there were 250 sisters in 1950, today there are only 10 to 12 sisters here. They gave all their artifacts to Quebec City, and many volunteers helped curate the materials for display,"

The museum includes artifacts from the old apothecary.

A Sacred Place to Stay

In the back of the restored building is the lodging, where focus is on enjoying peace and quiet. The stairway leading up to the rooms dates to 1757. There are just 64 rooms—half are authentic cells where the sisters lived. The furniture is from the 19th century. It's like staying in a museum. There are single beds in the rooms, and bathrooms are shared. The rooms are very reasonably priced from $84 to $104 per person double occupancy. 

The staircase dates back the 1700s.

There are no televisions, and they offer "sleeping bags" for mobile devices. Mindfulness is a priority, as is letting go of technology.

There are contemporary rooms available for sharing, too, with two beds and a private bath. These rooms are more modern but still simple. There is purposefully nothing on the walls to capture the attention.

Lodging is simple to allow time for reflection.

Daily activity classes feature yoga, meditation and tai chi. In addition, the monastery hosts 100 special programs each year, including concerts and retreats. (Note: The prayers and singing are about well-being, not religious offerings.)

To support their social mission, the monastery welcomes family caregivers and offers low-cost accommodations for families of the sick. Compassionate meditation retreats are provided as well for medical students, as a place to take care of themselves.

The Role of Food and Nutrition
Food and nutrition play a big part in the wellness program at the monastery. Lunch is the heaviest meal and light dinners are served early to facilitate better digestion.

Vegetable salads are nutritious and delicious.

Just as the sisters took their meals in silence until 2012, guests are encouraged to take their breakfast in silence, to go inward in the morning. "To the sisters, a balanced life is a balance of action and contemplation," said Marie-Eve.

Our group was so impressed with the restaurant that we stayed for lunch. It was very reasonably priced and included a delicious salad bar, entree, wholesome dessert and a selection of unique herbal teas. They allow outside guests, but you need to make reservations. I would definitely go back to the monastery for lunch. It was so good, so good, so good.

Time for Yoga and Meditation
Before dining on a healthy meal, we had a yoga class in the downstairs vault. It's part of the museum and the place where soldiers were hidden during the war.

Our instructor, Marjolaine, led us in a restorative yoga class as she talked about healing the body and soul. I found the rhythm of my breath and quickly calmed down.

Instructor Marjolaine gave us an inspiring yoga class. She talked about the importance of relaxation and how to trigger the breaks we need to relax—including yoga and meditation. Some of her other teachings included:

  • "Yoga is about mindful conscious movement. Bring more presence in your movement.
  • "Yoga is about breathing. Breathing consciously can have a profound effect on our body."
  • "In what state of mind do I eat? Same when I prepare. What do I put in my body?"
  • "What sound track do we put into our system?"

Yoga classes are held in the downstairs vault.

 

"Meditation is concentration or focus on our breath. When we stop and meditate, it's like brushing our brains. Make brushing your brain become as important as brushing your teeth. Brush your teeth for 2 minutes and brush your brain for 2 minutes," said Marjolaine. "Be in the present moment. The more we practice meditation, the more we can see our thoughts and nourish the good ones and let the bad ones go."

Marjolaine gave us a relaxation breath to practice three times a day: Inhale through the nose to a count of five and exhale through the nose to a count of five. You do this breath six times in a minute.

"If you practice this breath for three times each day, you will see benefits," Marjolaine told us.
"We have a fantastic pharmacy within us. And breathing is part of that."

Try this breath and LMK if it works for you.

Are you ready to book a retreat to Le Monastère Des Augustines? This boomer girl definitely wants to go back.

Namaste.

This post originally appeared on aboomerslifeafter50.com.

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Matcha is all the rage now. Matcha lattes, shots, teas and desserts can be found everywhere from coffee shops to health stores.

But this green tea powder has been around for centuries. Preparing and serving matcha has been part of the traditional Japanese tea ceremony for more than 1,000 years. Samurai warriors drank the tea before going into battle to reap its energizing properties. And Zen Buddhist monks drank it to be able to meditate while staying alert.

Matcha is a type of green tea. Green tea is made by steeping leaves in hot water. Then you toss them before you take your first sip. But with matcha, you're drinking the actual leaves.

To make matcha, dried green tea leaves are ground into a super-fine powder. The powder is whisked with warm water to create the light, fluffy matcha tea. Since you're drinking the whole leaf of the tea plant, you get a stronger mix of antioxidants and nutrients than you do with traditionally prepared green tea.

So, what's the deal with this trendy yet pricey tea with an earthy and grassy taste that's so desirable? Learn more and decide if you want to jump on the magical matcha bandwagon.

Matcha can benefit your blood sugar. As long as you're enjoying unsweetened versions, you're good to go. (If you're used to using sweeteners and creams with your coffee, you may want to add flavoring, though it really doesn't need to be sweetened.) However, when matcha is in juices, frozen yogurt, ice cream, pasta sauces, desserts and salad dressings, it can contain a lot of sugar, as well as fat-filled ingredients that can spike your blood sugar. Check the ingredients on the label.

Matcha can help you stay awake and boost your energy. Matcha contains a natural substance called 1-theanine, which triggers a sense of alertness. Compared to the caffeine buzz from coffee, you get more of an alert-calm sensation. So, you have feelings of relaxation rather than drowsiness. Look for caffeine-free versions if you want to drink it before bed. Also note that the higher the price, the higher the quality. So, cheaper teas are probably mixed with matcha and have less caffeine. The best quality matchas are bright green—the greener the matcha, the better.

Matcha may lower your risk of heart disease. Research shows that people who drink unsweetened teas are less likely to develop cardiovascular disease later in life. It can also help fight other chronic diseases like obesity. It's also rich in polyphenols, which have been linked to heart disease protection. To add some matcha to your day, try these Matcha Almond Chocolate Chip Sable. This variation on chocolate chip cookies incorporates matcha green tea powder to give them a boost of healthy antioxidants.

Matcha can help prevent aging. Matcha is rich in catechins, a class of plant compounds in tea that act as natural antioxidants. Catechins look for harmful free radicals in your cells, preventing tissue damage in your skin. (Of course, no single beverage—or food, for that matter—can prevent aging.)

Matcha can help with weight loss. The concentration of EGCG, a super-potent nutrient found in green tea, may be as much as 137 times greater in matcha tea. EGCG can increase the breakdown of fat and block the formation of new fat cells. And if you regularly drink juice, soda and sugary beverages, switching to calorie-free matcha will do wonders for your waistline. But if you're already an avid fan of water, sparkling water, unsweetened coffee and tea, you'll need to do a little more to lose weight. Check out the best teas to drink for weight loss.

Words of caution

  • Stick with one to two cups per day since more matcha isn't always better. Drinking too much matcha may lead to health issues like lead contamination or decreased iron absorption.
  • Avoid dietary supplements that claim to have green tea extract of matcha. Those products aren't evaluated by the government for safety, so other ingredients in them can interact with medications you're taking.
  • If you're pregnant or breastfeeding, consult your health care provider, who will likely tell you to avoid drinking it.
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Julie Rovner, Kaiser Health News
July 10, 2018

What would the U.S. look like without Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case that legalized abortion nationwide?

That's the question now that President Donald Trump has chosen conservative Judge Brett Kavanaugh as his nominee to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Reversing the landmark case would not automatically make abortion illegal across the country. Instead, it would return the decision about abortion legality to the states, where a patchwork of laws are already in place that render abortion more or less available, largely depending on individual states' political leanings.

"We think there are 22 states likely to ban abortion without Roe," due to a combination of factors including existing laws and regulation on the books and the positions of the governor and state legislature, said Amy Myrick, staff attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights, which represents abortion-rights advocates in court.

"The threat level is very high now," Myrick said.

Kavanaugh never opined on Roe v. Wade directly during his tenure on the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. In his 2006 confirmation hearing for that position, though, he said he would follow Roe v. Wade as a "binding precedent" of the Supreme Court — which lower-court judges are required to do.

Abortion opponents are buoyed by the pick.

"Judge Kavanaugh is an experienced, principled jurist with a strong record of protecting life and constitutional rights," said a statement from Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser. She spearheaded support for Trump in his presidential campaign after he promised to appoint to the Supreme Court only justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade.

Kennedy, by contrast, was a swing vote on abortion issues. He frequently sided with conservatives to uphold abortion restrictions. However, in key cases in 1992 and 2016, he sided with liberals to uphold Roe's core finding that the right to abortion is part of a right to privacy that is embedded within the U.S. Constitution.

Even now, with Roe v. Wade's protections in place, a woman's ability to access abortion is heavily dependent on where she lives.

According to an analysis by the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive-rights think tank, 19 states adopted 63 new restrictions on abortion rights and access.

At the same time, 21 states adopted 58 measures last year intended to expand access to women's reproductive health.

Since 2011, states have enacted nearly 1,200 separate abortion restrictions, according to Guttmacher, making these types of laws far more common.

As of now, four states — Louisiana, Mississippi and North and South Dakota — have what are known as abortion "trigger laws." Those laws — passed long after Roe was handed down — would make abortion illegal if and when the Supreme Court were to say Roe is no more.

"They are designed to make abortion illegal immediately," said Myrick.

Another dozen or so states still have pre-Roe abortion bans on the books.

Some have been formally blocked by the courts, but not repealed. Those bans could, at least in theory, be reinstated, although "someone would have to go into court and ask to lift that injunction," said Myrick.

States could simply begin enforcing other bans that were never formally blocked, like one in Alabama that makes abortion providers subject to fines and up to a year in jail.

At the same time, Myrick said, "there are 20 states where abortion would probably remain safe and legal."

The Path To The High Court

Several major challenges to state abortion laws are already in the judicial pipeline. One of these will have to get to the Supreme Court to enable a majority to overturn Roe v. Wade.

"It's not a question of if, it's a question of what or when," said Sarah Lipton-Lubet, vice president for reproductive health and rights at the National Partnership for Women and Families.

The cases fall into three major categories.

The first — and most likely type to result in the court taking a broad look at Roe v. Wade — are "gestational" bans that seek to restrict abortion at a certain point in pregnancy, said Lipton-Lubet.

Mississippi has a 15-week ban, currently being challenged in federal court. Louisiana enacted a similar ban, but it would take effect only if Mississippi's law is upheld. Iowa earlier this spring passed a six-week ban, although that is being challenged in state court, not federal, under the Iowa Constitution.

The second category involves regulations on abortion providers.

One pending case, for instance, involves an Arkansas law that would effectively ban medication abortions. Finally, there are bans on specific procedures, including several in Texas, Arkansas and Alabama that would outlaw "dilation and evacuation" abortions, which are the most common type used in the second trimester of pregnancy.

Myrick and Lipton-Lubet agree that there is no way to predict which abortion case is likely to reach the high court first.

The case that's actually closest to the Supreme Court, noted Myrick, is a challenge to an Indiana law that would outlaw abortion if the woman is seeking it for sex selection or because the fetus could be disabled. A federal appeals court found that law unconstitutional in April.

Many analysts also agree that even with the court's likely philosophical shift, Roe v. Wade might not actually be overturned at all.

Instead, said Lipton-Lubet, a more conservative court could "just hollow it out" by allowing restrictive state laws to stand.

"The court cares about things like its own legitimacy," said Myrick, "and how often a precedent has been upheld in the past." Given that Roe's central finding — that the decision to have an abortion falls under the constitutional right to privacy — has been upheld three times, even an anti-abortion court might be loath to overrule it in its entirety.

Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a national health policy news service. It is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation which is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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It's never too late to become physically active.

Exercise can fend off many chronic diseases and help prevent immobility, which become more prevalent with age.

And a new study published in JAMA Psychiatry finds that physical fitness in middle age helps lower the risk of depression later in life and also death from cardiovascular disease. Those conditions are intertwined: They're both common in older people, and rates of depression are high in people with cardiovascular illness (particularly stroke). Additionally, people with depression have worse outcomes if they're afflicted with cardiovascular disease.

But for many of us, exercising is challenging. But you may not need as much exercise as you think. Research finds that even if you've been sedentary for longer than you care to remember, just walking a mile a day can significantly cut your risk of heart disease and cancer—almost as much as for those who've been exercising for years.

Knowing how to sidestep some common mistakes can keep you from quitting.

1. You think you need to go to a gym.

You don't need a gym to get fit. The forces of gravity (which create resistance) combined with your own body weight can keep you in fighting shape. You can do resistance training such as squats, push-ups and other strengthening exercises right at home. Your body needs six basic movements to stay fit: pushing, pulling, twisting, bending, squatting and lunging. All human movement is a derivation of those primary movement patterns, fitness expert Jeff Halevy told me when I interviewed him recently for an article about menopause and weight gain.

Take a look at these basic bodyweight strength-building exercises from the American College of Sports Medicine. Aside from those, remember that common chores can deliver moderate amounts of physical activity—gardening for 30 to 45 minutes, raking leaves for 30 minutes, walking two miles in 30 minutes or climbing stairs for 15 minutes all count toward movement and fitness.

Learn more about the Benefits of Strength Training As You Age.

2. You're intimidated to go to a gym.

So, you still want to go to a gym, but you don't, because you think you'll be the least fit, the heaviest, the weakest, the fill-in-the-blank. The thing is, we are all there for a common good—to get healthy and fit. Take your mind off all the reasons not to be there. Check your ego at the door and concentrate on yourself and why you're doing what you're doing. As a bonus, zoning in on your personal workout and goals will get you into the groove and give you more energy and personal strength for your own workout. And isn't that precisely why you're there?

3. You give up because the scale isn't moving.

Your main objective for exercising should be for your health, not for your weight. Of course, your metabolism benefits from exercise, and to lose weight you need to eat less and move more. But many people overestimate the calorie burn they get from exercise and think that it gives them license to eat more. Then they eat too much and the whole plan backfires. The real fact is this: You need to burn 3,500 more calories than you take in to lose a pound. The average woman who jogs a nine-minute mile for one hour will burn about 580 calories. You do the math—you may need to eat less, in addition to exercising, if you want to lose weight. Find more Easy Ways to Lower Your Body Mass Index.

4. You get hurt.

If you think you need to go all-in or else it won't count, think again. You need to build up slowly, especially if you're new to exercise. Even if you have been exercising, but you introduce something new into the mix, you can get injured if you're not careful, because you're using different body parts that may not be as conditioned as the ones you've been working. Don't be afraid to make modifications if something is too hard or challenging, otherwise you'll find yourself throwing in the towel before too long.

5. You're investing too much time.

It's not the quantity, it's the quality. You've heard that before, and it pertains just as well to exercise. Spending countless hours on the treadmill gets old (and boring) mighty fast. In fact, all you really need is 20 minutes of moderate cardiovascular movement a day to boost mood, preserve cognitive function and enhance your cardiovascular health, says Halevy.

Still not convinced? Think about this: Exercise not only helps you look better, but it helps you feel better by boosting energy; improving self-image; increasing energy; helping you cope with stress, anxiety and depression; and improving your ability to fall asleep and sleep well. It's also credited with improving your memory, mood and thinking skills.

And don't those all count in a big way toward aging well and living your healthiest life?

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