Lyme Disease, one of summertime’s biggest health risks, is on the rise. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports incidences of Lyme Disease surpassed those of HIV in 2009. This is sad news given that a few simple safety precautions can greatly reduce your risk for contracting this serious illness. More
Author Archives: Jessica Firger
Sad news to report: Summer is half over. I’m certain many of you have been slacking off on your farmer’s tan and barefoot beach walking. If you’re like me you still haven’t tried out that low-cal popsicle recipe you tore out of Family Circle while waiting at your dentist’s office. Sadly, before we all know it, we’ll be itching our way to Christmas in boiled wool sweaters. More
For all our chronic gripes about our monthly flow—pain, mood swings, excessive bloating, pimples—a period missed often signals a serious change in the body. Pregnancy is, of course, the most common cause for a cycle change, but there’s a bevy of reasons why your monthly bill may be a no-show. As you review our list of 12, it’s worth noting that they’re interconnected. In Western medicine, we often forget that the body is one constantly moving machine and that one malfunction can throw the whole thing off. When seeking diagnosis and treatment for irregular menses, it’s best to start with your PCP or gynecologist. After that, he or she may recommend that you visit a specialist such as a reproductive endocrinologist, a neurologist, a nutritionist, or even a psychiatrist or psychologist. You may not be preggers, but here are 12 reasons why you may save on tampons this month: More
My life was made possible by the recall of an intrauterine device. It was the mid-1970s and my older sister had been born a few years before. My mother, bleary-eyed, blissful—and definitely not ready for a second kid—went to the gynecologist and, like many women at the time, was introduced to a piece of plastic shaped like a small bug or a fish, her free pass to a life without worries about birth control for the new few years.
Everything was fine—wonderful, in fact—until her gynecologist informed her that the Dalkon Shield had been recalled. It turned out her carefree birth control method also had a proclivity to cause ectopic pregnancies and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).
“Please don’t take my IUD,” my mother pleaded with her doctor. “I love my IUD.” (Seriously, that’s what she said.) The doctor apologized, removed it, and one year later she was expecting me. More
Most women experience a noticeable change in their menstrual cycle at some point in their lives. Fluctuations of hormones, the ominous “change of life,” and of course, pregnancy, are the most common culprits.
Even still, many women claim that a missed or late period is simply due to stress, and believe it or not, this is often true; typical stressors can actually cause Aunt Flo to skip her visit or show up very late to the party. Clinically, this condition is known as hypothalamic amenorrhea.
“Stresses may include physical stress for athletes, emotional stress, severe chronic diseases, and nutritional issues or eating disorders,” says Dr. Sharon Lahiri, an endocrinologist at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. “This disorder is associated with low estrogen levels.” More
Get this: According to a recent study in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 25% of Americans taking an antidepressant have not received any clinical diagnosis. More and more, people are getting treated for a mental health problem that may not exactly exist, or more likely, are receiving medication for the wrong condition.
Over the last few decades, the booming pharma industry has given us a myriad of pills to choose from in order to chase the blues. For those trying to decide on which one, it’s important to see a psychiatrist — the doctor who traditionally prescribes psychotropic medications — because other doctors may not be quite up to speed on the nuances of the various meds currently on the market.
“There’s a movement among primary care physicians to do more screening for depression,” says Dr. Gerald Hurowitz, assistant professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University College of Medicine, who runs a psychopharmacology and neuropsychiatry private practice in New York City. “But sometimes the diagnosis is not accurate.” Dr. Hurowitz says that oftentimes, clinical depression may actually be bipolar depression, which may require a different kind of medication all together. More
Remember the Epilady? One of my friends actually (and very recently) purchased this torture device from the 80s and reported that the pain from its use was comparable to her recent childbirth experience.
For many women, hair removal is, well, a hairy situation. Ask almost any woman who has ever worn a skirt or a bathing suit and she’ll most likely recite a litany of woes: The bloody knicks and stubbles from razors, the rotten-egg stench of depilatory creams, the blinding sting of waxing, or the slow and steady agony of tweezing.
As a dark-haired, fair-skinned maid, I could go on and on. But usually I don’t. I just take a break when winter arrives, embrace my inner gorilla, and then pray that some day I’ll get a book advance large enough to allow the luxury of regular laser treatments. More
Beginning in nursery school, I was always the girl in the back row of all boys in the class photo. I was sturdy, strong, and very tall — built much more like the active, rough males than my willowy, fragile female classmates.
At just a smidge under 5’11” — the short side for tall women — I’ve suffered plenty of discomfort and humiliation in life thus far. Pants are often too short on me, and one wrongful wash of a new shirt sends it to my pile of items to give to shorter female friends. Movie and airplane seats usually have next to no legroom for me, and I find myself persistently, though accidentally, kicking others underneath restaurant tables. Sometimes my dates have to reach up high to properly say goodnight.
I own just one pair of heels. They are simple, polished, shiny, and black. At two inches high, most women of normal stature wouldn’t even consider them to be heels. They stay in my closet unless by some unfortunate reason I need to wear a suit; then I put them on. The suit is often worn to a job interview or an important meeting and I make an excellent, capable impression by tottering — and one time tripping — in my rookie heels. This means that most of the time I just stay in flats that are as flat as possible. It’s safer for everyone. More
There’s this disturbing story about a woman who took her multivitamin and it came out the other end looking exactly as it did when it was in the bottle. (No, this not a personal story about me wrapped up in a fake urban legend.)
However, I admit that for years, whenever I stopped in a GNC or took a stroll down vitamin row at my local drugstore, I’d become so paralyzed with confusion and anxiety, I worried that I might be using up vital nutrients.
I’d stare at the calcium chews and think: “there’s osteoarthritis in my family.” During flu season I wondered if I should geek myself up with vitamin C and zinc. I invested hope in the purported wonders of B-12 when I felt run down and lethargic.
Then I’d usually leave the pharmacy empty-handed. Well, except for that candy bar and can of Coke Zero. More
Vanessa Giacoppo was completing her final year of college when her health took a nosedive. The once vibrant and slim 26-year-old now barely recognized herself.
“I felt like I had mono. I was sleeping all the time,” says Giacoppo. “At one point, my mother wondered if I was pregnant because I’d gained so much weight.” There were other problems, too. She was eating more than usual; her skin was very dry; and her hair and nails were brittle.
So Vanessa went to the doctor and had the full battery of tests. The blood work revealed that while she wasn’t producing enough thyroid hormones (known as T3 and T4), her thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) was elevated.
The labs pointed to a disease known as Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, an autoimmune condition in which antibodies attack the gland as if it’s a foreign object, thus causing inflammation. The inflammation makes it difficult for the thyroid to produce sufficient amounts of hormones that are vital to the body’s ability to function properly. Hashimoto’s Disease is the leading cause of hypothyroidism.
It’s believed that as many as 10% of American women suffer from a thyroid hormone deficiency. Vanessa’s blood work was a no-brainer, but hypothyroidism still goes undetected for many more women. More
January is National Cervical Cancer Screening Month. That’s something to celebrate, right? I speculum (I mean, speculate) that some of you have been putting off that annual exam for a while. But before you head over to your gyno and put your feet up (in stirrups), here’s a little primer/reminder on how and why getting into that unflattering annual position is so important.
Much to the chagrin of most women, the speculum instrument is likely to be stuck in a gynecological time warp for some time. However, the good ol’ pap smear technique sure has come a long way.
The odd and slightly gross name for this standard test comes from both Georgios Nicholas Papanikolaou – the Greek doctor who invented it in the late 1920s – and the test procedure: Back then the doc would take a swab and literally smear it on a slide to be looked at under a microscope. (Hey, didn’t we do that in high school chem class?) More
Recently, a man I had been dating for four months dumped me. Yes, that’s just a short-term relationship, but things had moved fast. We talked—almost weekly—about visiting the other coast so I could meet his family and childhood friends, and eat numerous burritos the size of my cranium at his favorite San Francisco taquerias. I’d already introduced him to both of my parental units.
I was falling in love; apparently he was not.
He delivered the news one night in a dark, packed bar—the kind of bar you must shoulder your way through to get to the bathroom or the front door, where it’s easy to accidentally take someone else’s coat when you do finally find that front door. More
I have what I like to call Jew-y schizophrenic hair. My maternal Eastern European genes blessed me with the kind of tresses that turn into a big ball of frizzy fluff when there’s any hint of humidity in the air. In its alternate state — usually on frigid winter days — my hair tends to sit there, drab and limp. I’ve got the kind of mane that needs extra strong taming and super-duper shimmer and shining power. For years, most lotions and potions have failed me.
But then I met John. In one full swoop, this dashing Brit could take away all my frizz and grief. He made me shine. Each morning in the shower, John gave me what I needed, so I’ve stayed committed to him for years.
It wasn’t until recently that I began to question John’s intentions. More
Ever since the crafting hobby went all hipster and began to consume the free time of mommy bloggers and third-wave feminists, I’ve been trying to muster up some interest in macramé, felt, and alpaca yarn. The allure of this trend still eludes me, but for wackadoo actress, author, and comedienne, Amy Sedaris, crafting is simply an extension of her reinvention schtick.
A few years ago, Amy made us eager to immediately procure a crockpot when she authored her first book, I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence. However, it seems that all this time she may have been dying to answer the question of how best to entertain yourself when the guests finally go home.
Her newest tome, Simple Times: Crafts for Poor People, will instantly make you an expert insider of “outsider” art, with instructions on how to make everything from a toupee doorknob to a rusty nail wind chime. More