Category: Reproductive Health

All about abortion doulas

Like a birth doula, an abortion doula is someone who is trained to provide nonjudgmental emotional, informational, and physical support to a pregnant person. Depending on the needs of a patient, as well as the needs of a medical clinic, an abortion doula may be present before, during, and after a procedure or only for certain windows of time during a patient’s visit such as during the procedure itself. Examples of an abortion doulas role may include sitting with a patient in a waiting room to calm any nerves, holding a patients hand during a procedure, and spending time with them post-procedure to make sure all of their needs are being addressed. The overarching role of an abortion doula is to hold space for a person and give them unconditional support for the brief time they are together.

Current research has shown that abortion doulas don’t make a significant difference in patient pain levels, satisfaction rates, or procedure duration, but that women who have the support of an abortion doula are less likely to need additional clinic support. This suggests, that much like a birth doula, the most important thing an abortion doula does is provide peer and psychological support throughout the process.

Abortion doulas are still significantly less common than birth doulas. However, students at UNC are working to address this unmet need. This fall, 2019, two graduate students at UNC will be piloting an abortion doula collective at UNC Chapel Hill. This organization will be under the direction of Dr. Amy Bryant, who is a licensed abortion care provider and professor in the UNC School of Medicine as well as in the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. Volunteers in this organization will undergo training and will regularly volunteer at local medical clinics. For more information please email UNCabdoulas@gmail.com

By: Lily Evans

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4275368/

What does a doula do?

Doulas provide support to expecting mothers throughout all stages of the pregnancy. Labor doulas are the most common type of doula, but there are also antepartum doulas, postpartum doulas, and abortion doulas. Today we are going to talk about labor doulas.

Labor doulas help mothers create a birth plan, address fears and concerns they have about birth, and provide emotional support throughout the birthing process. Most doulas are not medical professionals, but are instead women who are experts in the birthing process.

Having a doula is associated with significant positive outcomes. Women who use doulas report less pain in the birthing process and are less likely to need a c-section. They also help decrease the length of labor by up to 25 percent!

Pregnant women in the Chapel Hill area can take advantage of UNC’s volunteer doula program. This program, Birth Partners, provides women giving birth at UNC hospitals with a professionally trained doula, free of charge!

Women in other parts of the US and abroad can search DONA International to find a birth or postpartum doula to assist them through the birthing process.

https://americanpregnancy.org/labor-and-birth/having-a-doula/

https://www.dona.org/what-is-a-doula/find-a-doula/

Which celebrities are using doulas?

Doulas are having a moment. While they’ve been around for centuries, their use decreased with advent of modern medicine and hospital birthing. Recently, though, as the benefits of peer-support and non-medical birthing professionals become more well known, doulas are again becoming popular in the delivery room. There are many types of doulas, and this week’s posts will explore the different types and what they do. First, though, let’s take a look at some familiar faces that you might not have known used a doula!

 

Jessica Biel.

Kristen Bell.

Mayim Bialik

Kelly Ripa.

Kimberly Van Der Beek.

January Jones.

Erykah Badu.

Nicole Kidman.

Idina Menzel.

Tia and Tamera Mowry.

Alanis Morissette.

Alyson Hannigan.

Heidi Klum.

Mila Kunis.

Meghan Markle?

The Duchess of Sussex is set to give birth any day now and rumors have been swirling that she has hired a doula to assist her with the birth.

Do you know of any other celebrities who have used doulas? Have you used one yourself?

Check in tomorrow for information on what, exactly, a doula does.

https://www.parents.com/pregnancy/giving-birth/doula/what-is-a-doula/https://thestir.cafemom.com/celebrity_moms/215020/celebrities-who-had-doulas/254688/heidi_klum/22https://www.sheknows.com/entertainment/slideshow/9962/celebrities-who-hired-a-doula/10/https://www.vanityfair.com/style/2019/02/meghan-markle-doula-rumors

“Goop” Brand and Fake Health Products

Valued at $250 million dollars in 2018, the “Goop” brand has taken commercial health and beauty market by storm. While many of this company’s products are harmless – such as lotions and accessories – there are a number of products which have generated a lot of negative feedback. In 2018, Goop was charged for false claims regarding two of their products. At this time, the brand was selling “vaginal eggs” (made of rose quartz).  Supposedly, following vaginal insertion, these eggs could help balance hormones, regulate menstrual cycles, and increase bladder control. None of these claims are backed by research, and even came under direct criticism from a renowned gynecologist and other medical professionals. Similarly, another one of their products – an essential oil – was criticized for false claims of preventing depression.

Despite this, Goop brand has continued to grow, gaining more revenue and customers. Although this brand has gained an exceptional amount of media attention, it only represents one of many brands falsifying health-related products. Companies like Goop often claim they provide “alternative treatments” to mainstream or pharmaceutical agents. But in reality, many of these fake products can be completely useless or even harmful. Many of these products are expensive, and wrongfully solicit money for worthless/harmful products. Additionally, products or methods which make claims to prevent serious diseases – such as depression or cancer – are providing false hope and might delay needed medical treatments. With internet culture in full-swing, it’s important to research the legitimacy of any alternative health products/claims, and to trust expert advice when necessary.

 

 

https://www.cnn.com/2018/09/05/health/goop-fine-california-gwyneth-paltrow/index.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/29/style/goop-gwyneth-paltrow-dr-jen-gunter.html

https://www.healthline.com/health-news/how-fake-health-news-may-be-influencing-you-to-make-dangerous-decisions

 

 

 

Designer Babies: Questions of Ethics

Imagine a world with no disease. No one gets cancer, birth defects are a thing of the past, and STDs like HIV have been eliminated. At the end of 2018, Chinese scientist He Jiankui announced that we were one step closer to this reality. He had successfully created genetically altered babies, who were, he claimed, resistant to HIV. This announcement threw the scientific community into an uproar. It reignited a decades old debate over the role of eugenics amid our increasing ability to alter—and select—the human genome to create the “perfect” human. Some countries banned all gene-editing in response, pending review. The ethical implications of gene-editing are complex, and we can no longer delay discussing them. These are some of the questions that you should be asking:
 
1) Does creating “designer babies” increase disadvantages or discrimination within a society? In other words, if we can create the “perfect” human, how are the less than perfect humans affected?
 
2) When should we allow gene-editing in humans? Gene editing that removes a devastating disease may be acceptable. What about gene editing that determines eye-color or intelligence? Where do we draw the line?
3)What are the population-level implications of gene-editing human embryos?
4) What are the potential benefits of gene-editing in humans? Beyond addressing illness, could gene-editing also be used to change personality traits?
 
5) Who gets to decide whether gene-editing is permissible? What gives them the authority to do so? Who else deserves a say?
 
6) What are the appropriate legal measures in favor or against gene editing in humans?
 
Check out these links for more in-depth discussion of these issues:
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-46943593
https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/dr-caitlin-dunne/designer-babies-and-human-gene-editing_a_23637685/
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/health/designer-babies-gene-editing-genetics-genome-nuffield-ethics-disease-a8449971.html
https://jme.bmj.com/content/30/6/e5
https://www.nih.gov/about-nih/who-we-are/nih-director/statements/statement-claim-first-gene-edited-babies-chinese-researcher

A First: Uterine Transplant from Deceased Donor Allows for Live Birth

Innovation within the field of organ transplantation has grown tremendously in the past decade. Amongst this progress is a new story of success from São Paolo, Brazil.

A new study, revealed that for the first time ever, a baby was delivered via a uterus which had been transplanted from a deceased donor. The mother had an abnormality which rendered her infertile, and resultantly needed a transplanted uterus in order to conceive and give birth. This has been done before with living donors, but never had it been done with a deceased donor. The mother delivered the baby in c-section to a health newborn baby. Now, almost a year later, the child has continued to live a healthy, normal life.

This example is especially unique because of the donor. When transplanting from a deceased donor, there are always several hours of transport and surgery which leave the organ without oxygen. In this case, the uterus went without oxygen for nearly 8 hours. Dr. Andrew Shennan, an obstetrics professor at Kings College London noted the rareness and importance of this case in particular. This study demonstrated that the uterus can remain functioning and intact despite this 8-hour period. This information is invaluable, and can inform other operations in the future.

 

https://www.cnn.com/2018/12/04/health/uterus-transplant-deceased-donor-study/index.html

 

https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(18)31766-5/fulltext

 

https://www.kcl.ac.uk/lsm/newsevents/newsrecords/2018/Jan/New-Years-Honours.aspx

 

December 1st is World AIDS Day

Yesterday was World AIDS Day, a global event that takes place each year on December 1st to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS, to honor those who have died from AIDS-related illness, and to show support for those living with HIV.

Globally, we have made advances in addressing the HIV/AIDS epidemic. New HIV infections have decreased by 47% since 1996, and deaths from AIDS-related illnesses have fallen more than 51% since 2004. We have made advances in HIV testing and prevention as well as antiretroviral treatment. Pre-exposure antiretroviral prophylaxis or “PrEP” has been shown to be an effective form of HIV prevention. PrEP is a pill that, when taken consistently, can reduce HIV infection risk in high-risk individuals by up to 92%. And when used with other HIV prevention methods such as using condoms, can offer even more protection. In 2015, the World Health Organization recommended use of pre-exposure antiretroviral prophylaxis or “PrEP” for high-risk individuals to prevent HIV.

However, while we have made tremendous progress in understanding the HIV virus and how to both treat and prevent it, there is still more to be done. About one in four people with HIV do not know they are infected. 1.8 million people are newly infected each year with HIV, any people across the globe lack access to the critical HIV prevention and care that they need to live long, healthy lives.

To learn more about HIV and how you can support people living with the virus, please visit the following resources:

CDC: About HIV/AIDS | https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/whatishiv.html

HIV.gov | https://www.hiv.gov/

HIV/AIDS World Health Organization | http://www.who.int/hiv/en/

San Francisco AIDS Foundation | http://www.sfaf.org/hiv-info/

References

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018, November 1). Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/risk/prep/index.html

Kaiser Family Foundation. (2018, July 25). The Global HIV/AIDS Epidemic. https://www.kff.org/global-health-policy/fact-sheet/the-global-hivaids-epidemic/

National AIDS Trust: World AIDS Day. (2018). About World AIDS Day. https://www.worldaidsday.org/about/

UNAIDS. (2018). Global HIV & AIDS statistics  – 2018 fact sheet. Retrieved from http://www.unaids.org/en/resources/fact-sheet

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2018, November 20). Global Statistics. Retrieved from https://www.hiv.gov/hiv-basics/overview/data-and-trends/global-statistics

World Health Organization. (2015). Guideline on when to start antiretroviral therapy and on pre-exposure prophylaxis for HIV, web supplement: annex 2: evidence to decision-making tables and supporting evidence (No. WHO/HIV/2015.36). World Health Organization.

World Health Organization. (N.d.). WHO and HIV: 30-Year Timeline. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/hiv/mediacentre/news/WAD_Timeline.jpg

Health and the midterm elections

Today is election day. Across the country there are numerous elections which are weighing in on important health issues. There are several important health topics in the ballots, including: abortion rights, Medicaid expansion, marijuana usage, grocery taxes, and laws related to drug use and possession charges. Due to the political leanings of the current national administration, abortion rights are particularly vulnerable during this time.

Alabama, West Virginia, and Oregon are voting on legislation which will seriously affect access to abortion. On Alabama’s ballot, a newly proposed Amendment 2 is trying to change the wording which defines a fetus’ rights on the state Constitution. The amendment is aiming to grant a fetus the same rights and protections as a baby who has been born. If passed, this issue could have serious implications on further legislation which may eventually outlaw abortion in the state. In addition, this ballot measure doesn’t include the right to an abortion in the case of rape, incest, or if the mother’s life is at-risk.

West Virginia and Oregon are voting on measures which attempt to withhold state funding for abortion cases in respect to state employees and Medicaid recipients. However, in contrast to Alabama’s measure, these states do grant the right to victims of rape, incest, or when the mother’s life is in danger.

It is important to consider how our votes can act as determinants for health issues like these and many others. Voting at a state level can have a much larger impact on both national and local issues – especially pertaining to public health and medicine. Go out and vote today!

Look up your registration status, local polling place, and sample ballot here:

https://vt.ncsbe.gov/RegLkup/

 

 

https://www.cnn.com/2018/11/05/health/health-ballot-initiatives/index.html

https://ballotpedia.org/Alabama_Amendment_2,_State_Abortion_Policy_Amendment_(2018)

 

meet the new, self-lubricating condom

It’s no secret that the U.S. still has a long way to go in the field of contraceptives and STI prevention. According to the CDC in 2017, only about one-third of sexually active Americans use condoms, and it has been a long-term public health issue. Abstaining from condom use (or other forms of protection) during sex can lead to a myriad of health concerns, including unwanted pregnancies, bacterial and viral infections. These new troubling statistics beg questions as to why condom use is so low, especially amongst those who aren’t opting for other birth control or protective options.

Scientists at Boston University have acknowledged this issue, and have responded with a new, friction-lowering self-lubricating condom that may up condom usage. Some of the reasons people abstain from use is due to complaints that condoms are uncomfortable, painful and detract from sensation and sexual pleasure. The team at BU has found a way to eliminate some of these negative qualities with their new technology. This new condom has the ability to self-lubricate when it comes into contact with moisture – such as bodily fluids – making sexual experiences more comfortable and enjoyable.

Their study showed that 73% individuals surveyed preferred the texture of their new condom, and also noted that they would be more inclined to use condoms such as this one. The condom still has to be tested during sex, but if introduced to the market, it could increase the prevalence of safe-sex behaviors and contraceptive use.

 

 

 

https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhsr/nhsr105.pdf

https://consumer.healthday.com/sexual-health-information-32/condom-health-news-154/only-about-one-third-of-americans-use-condoms-cdc-725436.html

https://www.cnn.com/2018/10/17/health/condoms-self-lubricating-prevent-stds-intl/index.html

http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1258/ijsa.2008.008120?journalCode=stda

http://rsos.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/5/10/180291

 

 

 

 

Dr. Leana Wen Selected as New President of Planned Parenthood

Last week, it was announced that Dr. Leana Wen, Baltimore City Health Commissioner, will serve as the new president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, an organization that provides vital sexual and reproductive health care and education to millions of people around the world. Dr. Wen will be the first physician in almost 50 years to serve in this role. She will succeed Cecile Richards, who has served as president of Planned Parenthood for the past 12 years.

Dr. Wen, an emergency medicine physician, has led the Baltimore City Health Department since January 2015. She is a passionate public health leader and active champion for communities and patients. During her tenure as Baltimore City Health Commissioner, Dr. Wen led a lawsuit against the Trump administration after its abrupt decision to cut funding for teen pregnancy prevention programs, resulting in $5 million of funding being restored to two of these programs in Baltimore. Additionally, Dr. Wen has fought to preserve Title X in Baltimore, which funds a variety of health care services for low-income women.

Dr. Wen is no stranger to Planned Parenthood. After she and her family immigrated to the U.S. from China, they depended on Planned Parenthood for their health care. Dr. Wen also volunteered at a Planned Parenthood health center in St. Louis during medical school.

In a recent statement posted on the Baltimore City Health Department website, Dr. Wen wrote:

“A core principle in public health is to go where the need is. The single biggest public health catastrophe of our time is the threat to women’s health and the health of our most vulnerable communities.”

She continues, in referring to Planned Parenthood, writing:

“I have seen firsthand the lifesaving work it does for our most vulnerable communities. As a doctor, I will ensure we continue to provide high-quality health care, including the full range of reproductive care, and will fight to protect the access of millions of patients who rely on Planned Parenthood.”

Dr. Wen’s last day as Baltimore City Health Commissioner will be Friday, October 12th, where she will then begin her new role as President of Planned Parenthood.

References:

Planned Parenthood. (N.d.). Dr. Leana Wen. Retrieved from  https://www.plannedparenthood.org/about-us/our-leadership/dr-leana-wen

Planned Parenthood. (N.d.). Cecile Richards. Retrieved from  https://www.plannedparenthood.org/about-us/our-leadership/cecile-richards

Zernike, Kate. (2018, September 12). Planned Parenthood Names Leana Wen, a Doctor, Its New President. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/12/us/politics/planned-parenthood-president-wen.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fpolitics

Wen, Leana S. (2018, July 6). Trump’s family planning dystopia. Retrieved from http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/oped/bs-ed-op-0708-wen-dystopia-20180703-story.html

Baltimore City Health Department. (2018, September 12). Statement from Baltimore City Health Commissioner, Dr. Leana Wen. Retrieved from https://health.baltimorecity.gov/news/press-releases/2018-09-12-statement-baltimore-city-health-commissioner-dr-leana-wen