Women's Sexual Health Archive


Endometriosis linked to increased risk of heart disease

Women who have a history of endometriosis—a risk factor for cardiovascular disease—should take measures to reduce their other cardiovascular risk factors.

Should my daughter have her labor induced?

Ask the doctors

Image: Thinglass/Thinkstock

Q. My daughter is 38 years old and pregnant with her first child. Her due date is in two weeks, and her doctor has recommended that she have labor induced a week early. Why can't she just allow nature to take its course?

A. Having a baby when you're "older" can have some advantages—women may feel more secure with them-selves, their relationships, or their careers. However, expectant moms 35 or older—and their babies—have some increased pregnancy-related risks.

Heart attack survivors can have sex without fear

Sex does not appear to trigger a heart attack or increase your risk for a second one, suggests a study in the Sept. 21, 2015, issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Experts looked at 536 heart attack survivors ages 30 to 70 and evaluated their sexual activity in the 12 months prior to their heart attack. Sexual activity was divided into three categories: less than once a month, less than once a week, and once or more per week.

What you should know about fibroids

These uterine tumors, though usually benign, can cause heavy bleeding, cramps, and pregnancy complications. But there are several good options for treatment.

Fibroids—smooth muscle tumors of the uterus—are common, affecting as many as 75% of women. They are rarely cancerous, and they cause symptoms in only about 20% of the women who have them. However, if you're one of those with symptoms like heavy menstrual bleeding, bad cramps, pelvic pressure, constipation, or frequent urination, you know how fibroids can disrupt your life. Even if they don't cause symptoms, they may grow into the uterine cavity, potentially complicating a pregnancy and raising the risk of miscarriage.

"Managing uterine fibroids depends on several factors, such as a woman's symptoms, whether or not she wants to have children, her age, and her personal preferences," says Dr. Hye-Chun Hur, director of the Division of Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery at Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and associate medical editor of Harvard Women's Health Watch.

Spice up your sex life with these 6 steps

Image: Thinkstock

Consider medical intervention and lifestyle changes such as weight loss and exercise.

Getting busy in the bedroom can be a challenge in our older years. Sometimes it's the result of age-related physical changes, such as an enlarged prostate for men; for women, estrogen loss after menopause can reduce libido and vaginal lubrication and cause pain with penetration and difficulty climaxing. In other cases, chronic disease may be to blame, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, depression, neurological disease, and incontinence. Medications to treat these conditions can also affect sexual function.

Has the new sexual desire drug panned out?

Image: iStock

Flibanserin is the first treatment of its kind. But it comes with a steep price tag and severe health risks.

It's now six months since the FDA approved flibanserin (Addyi), which is the first medication for sexual desire disorders. The drug was hailed as a "female Viagra," but is it living up to the hype? "It's not the solution we were hoping for," says Dr. Hope Ricciotti, editor in chief of Harvard Women's Health Watch and an associate professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive biology at Harvard Medical School.

Should I worry about a heavy vaginal discharge?

Ask the Doctor

Q. I'm concerned about the heavy vaginal discharge I have been having lately. Could this be a sign of an infection?

A. Vaginal discharge is natural, and an increase may reflect normal changes in your body. However, it frequently raises concerns and is a common reason women decide to see a gynecologist.

Sex before and after a heart attack

Research we're watchting

Many people with heart disease worry if sexual activity is safe for their hearts. But sex is rarely the cause of a heart attack, and sex after a heart attack is safe for most people, according to a research letter in the September Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Researchers asked 536 people ages 30 to 70 who were undergoing cardiac rehabilitation after a heart attack to fill out questionnaires about their sexual activity in the 12 months before their heart attack. Over the 10-year follow-up, there were 100 adverse heart-related events among the participants, including heart attacks, strokes, and deaths from cardio-vascular disease.

Will Prozac help my premenstrual depression?

Ask the doctor

Q. I've had some severe bouts of depression before my periods. I have done my own research and I am willing to try an antidepressant. What dosage of Sarafem or Prozac is usually given to treat this?

A. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are an excellent option for treating premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). In fact, most physicians now consider them first-line therapy. Many different SSRIs have been studied, including the one you asked about—fluoxetine (Prozac or Sarafem)—and they all appear to be equally effective.

Does the way I urinate make me more prone to UTIs?

Image: Thinkstock

Ask the doctor

Q. Your recent article on recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs) didn't mention much about urination. One of my friends told me that it could influence my chance of getting a UTI. Is that true?

A. Actually, your urination habits are a good place to start if you're trying to prevent UTIs. When sitting on the toilet, make yourself as comfortable as possible in a relaxed seated position—not a squat. Start the stream of urine by relaxing your pelvic floor muscles, rather than straining to urinate. Allow enough time for your bladder to empty completely.

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