Women's Sexual Health Archive


How does the new vaginal product alleviate pain during intercourse?

Intrarosa, a vaginal insert containing dehydroepiandosterone (DHEA), improves vaginal lubrication to alleviate pain during intercourse.

Screening tests you probably don’t need

Some tests that are widely offered for screening aren't advised for generally healthy people and may lead to unnecessary procedures.

 Image: alptv/Thinkstock

You've probably had more than a few screening tests—blood pressure and cholesterol checks, mammograms, Pap smears, and colonoscopies. However, health fairs and clinics often promote screening tests you might not have had. If you've wondered whether they're a worthwhile investment in your health, the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) can help you. The USPSTF is a panel of primary care physicians and epidemiologists appointed and funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Its role is to develop clinical practice guidelines—recommendations for clinicians about the care of patients with specific conditions. Other health organizations also develop guidelines.

"We've known for some time that there is a wide variation in the way medicine is practiced across parts of the country," says Dr. Mark Aronson, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. "Guidelines are based upon the best available research evidence and practice experience and are meant to give guidance to doctors for best practices."

What is vaginal steaming?

There is no scientific evidence to support vaginal steaming, in which a woman sits over a bowl of steaming herb-infused water.

Ask the doctor: Is placing an IUD immediately after delivery safe?

A long-acting reversible contraceptive inserted or implanted immediately after a woman gives birth is safe, effective, and convenient.

Mobile app reduces stress incontinence episodes in small trial

Women who used Tät, a smartphone app, did more pelvic floor exercises and had greater reductions in episodes of stress incontinence.

Thinking about sex after a heart attack

Frank discussions with a doctor can help heart attack survivors return to sexual activity.

Image: UrosPoteko/Thinkstock

Few things shake your sense of well-being more than a sudden heart attack. When the initial shock wears off, an over-whelming need to get life back to normal as quickly as possible usually takes hold. "Patients always ask me when can they drive again, when can they start exercising, and when can they return to work," says Dr. Donna Polk, a cardiologist at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital. A key issue that seldom gets mentioned, though, is the struggle many heart attack survivors encounter when trying to resume their sex lives.

The same physical changes involved in a heart attack can conspire to diminish sexual enjoyment. Faulty circulation throughout the body, a hallmark of cardiovascular disease, reduces the amount of blood that reaches the sex organs. Men may develop erectile difficulties, and women may not have the blood flow needed for vaginal arousal and lubrication.

Redefining a healthy sex life

Knowing what to expect as you age can make intimacy more enjoyable for you and your partner.

Image: Jacob Ammentorp Lund/iStock

Your sex life doesn't end once you reach a certain age. Older people continue to enjoy active sex lives well into their 70s and 80s, according to a study in the January 2016 issue of Archives of Sexual Behavior. In fact, 54% of men over age 70 report they are still sexually active. Still, older men need to change their mindset when it comes to this next phase of their sex life.

"Our culture has a narrow perspective of what is considered good or 'normal' sex," says Dr. Sharon Bober, director of the Sexual Health Program at Harvard-affiliated Dana-Farber Cancer Center. "Your body and mind change as you age, which means your sex life does, too."

Does taking progesterone reduce miscarriage risk?

A major controlled clinical trial indicates that taking progesterone doesn’t prevent miscarriage in women at elevated risk.

Don’t accept a diminished sex life as a “side effect” of illness

Living with a chronic condition or as a survivor of cancer or a heart attack needn't take a toll on intimate relationships.

Image: Jack Hollingsworth/Thinkstock
Strategically timing when you take pain medication can make sex more comfortable.

Sexual satisfaction is an important part of well-being, yet women who have been successfully treated for cancer or are living with chronic conditions often accept a diminished sex life as a trade-off for being alive. "Women with cancer go through surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation in order to be alive, but once they're through treatment they may not feel as though they are really living to the fullest," says Dr. Sharon Bober, a psychologist at Harvard-affiliated Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Women with cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and arthritis may also feel that their health issues have eroded their intimate relationships.

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