A key area of the brain is smaller in women on the pill

A new study found a dramatic difference in the size of the hypothalamus between women taking the oral contraceptive pill and those not using it. https://ift.tt/eA8V8J

I take melatonin every few weeks because sometimes I have trouble sleeping. Am I at risk for any side effects from being on the Pill?

Great question, thank you! Melatonin is a hormone that is naturally made by a gland in the body called the “pineal gland” (which helps us sleep). You can also buy melatonin “over-the-counter”, without a prescription, in the form of a dietary supplement. Unfortunately, there isn’t much research that has looked at whether melatonin supplements interfere with birth control pills. What we do know is that dietary supplements are not regulated by the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) so it’s hard to know how much of an active ingredient (of melatonin) is in each tablet. This means, when you take a dietary supplement (of any kind) you don’t really know how much of the active ingredient you are getting—you may be taking too little or too much. The bottom line? Anytime you’re thinking about taking a dietary supplement, talk to your health care provider first to make sure it doesn’t interact with any of the medicines you are currently taking.

Causes of heavy vaginal discharge

Having a certain amount of vaginal discharge is a normal sign of a healthy reproductive system. This article looks at why people may have excessive vaginal discharge and what to do about it. https://ift.tt/eA8V8J

My vagina is itchy, dry and it burns sometimes. I’m a virgin and masturbate so I’m wondering if I could have an STD?

Great question, thank you. It is unlikely that you have a sexually transmitted infection (STI) if you have not had sex. Sexually transmitted infections can only be shared by having sexual contact or intercourse with someone who has an STI. Vaginal dryness, burning and itchiness are signs of inflammation and infection called vaginitis. Women who are not sexually active can have vaginitis. In fact, most women will have at least one vaginal infection during their lifetime. Vaginitis can be caused by many different things (other than sexually transmitted infections) such as yeast infection, vaginal hygiene products, laundry detergents and fabric softeners, bacterial vaginosis, and certain skin conditions can also cause these symptoms. The treatment is different depending on the cause so it’s important to see your health care provider and get checked out. With the right treatment, your symptoms will get better.

Breast reduction surgery: Everything you need to know

Breast reduction surgery, which doctors may call reduction mammoplasty, is a medical procedure that reduces the overall size of a person's breasts.
According to the authors of a 2019 article, breast reduction surgery is one of the most common cosmetic procedures.

In this article, we discuss breast reduction surgery, including the procedure and how it differs between males and females, what to expect during recovery, and the associated risks.

A person may benefit from breast reduction surgery if their large breasts are causing back pain.
People who have overly large breasts that cause neck, shoulder, or back pain may benefit from breast reduction surgery.
Large breasts can make exercising and other activities difficult. Having large breasts can also have negative psychological effects, as some individuals feel self-conscious about their breast size.
Doctors may recommend breast reduction surgery for males who have gynecomastia, which is a medical condition in which the breast tissue swells due to high levels of estrogen.
Breast reduction surgery can help improve people's physical and psychological well-being.
A doctor will first determine whether someone is a candidate for the surgery. This evaluation can include:
  • a routine breast examination
  • a mammogram
  • the reviewal of a person's medical history
  • urine, blood, and other lab tests
A breast reduction usually takes place under general anesthesia. Most people go home straight after surgery, but some do spend 1–2 nights in the hospital.


Before surgery, a person may need to stop taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications, such as aspirin and ibuprofen, as these can increase bleeding.
Doctors also encourage people who smoke to quit several weeks before the procedure. Smoking will increase the risk of nipple or areolar damage, tissue necrosis, and other complications. Therefore, it is essential that people discuss any tobacco product use, including vaping, with the doctor.
The plastic surgeon performing the procedure will use a marker to draw guidelines for the incisions. The size of the breasts, the position of the nipples, and the person's preferences will determine the exact incision pattern.
The wise pattern, or anchor pattern, is the most common skin removal technique for breast reduction surgery, according to the authors of one 2019 article.
A surgeon starts by making an incision around the areola. Then, they continue the incision beneath the breast, at which point they may remove excess skin from the sides of the breast.
After making the incisions, the surgeon will remove excess breast tissue, reshape the remaining tissue, and reposition the nipple and areola. The surgeon will close the remaining skin with sutures and surgical tape.
If the breasts are particularly large, it may be necessary to remove the nipples and areolas from the body and then place them back on the breasts in a procedure called a free nipple graft. The nipples will regrow into the new position, but they will usually be permanently numb afterward.
After the procedure, the surgeon or a nurse will wrap the breasts in gauze bandages. The insertion of small tubes into the breasts is sometimes necessary to drain excess fluid and reduce swelling after the operation. People should avoid showering until a nurse removes these drainage tubes.

Male breast reduction surgery

The goal of male breast reduction surgery is to remove any excess fatty or glandular tissue to achieve a flatter, firmer-looking chest.
Extra breast tissue in males is called gynecomastia.
Males undergoing breast reduction surgery will receive a local or general anesthetic before the procedure. The procedure can involve liposuction, excision, or a combination of the two.
Liposuction can correct gynecomastia that is due to excess fatty tissue. The surgeon will make micro-incisions along the sides of the breast and insert a thin tube called a cannula. The surgeon will use the cannula to loosen and remove excess fatty tissue.
Gynecomastia can also cause excess skin and glandular breast tissue. In this case, a surgeon will use excision techniques to cut off this tissue.
After reducing the size of the breast, the surgeon will reposition the areola and nipple, if necessary, and close the incisions with sutures.


Most people can go home a few hours after the surgery, as long as they do not experience any complications.
Before they leave the hospital or clinic, they will receive specific postoperative instructions that cover what types of oral and topical medications can help reduce pain and scarring and prevent infections.
People will need plenty of rest while their breasts heal. They should avoid any movements that might stretch the chest muscles or tear the sutures.
People may have difficulty lifting their arms during the first couple of weeks, so they may want to ask a close family member or friend to help them during this time.
They should avoid heavy lifting for several weeks or until a doctor removes their sutures.


People may experience minor complications after breast reduction surgery, such as:
  • open wounds or slow healing of the incisions
  • excess fluid in the breast tissue
  • cellulitis, or infection of the connective tissue
  • loss of sensation in the nipples or breasts
  • asymmetric appearance of the breasts or nipples
  • prominent or thickened scars
  • allergic reactions to anesthesia or other medications
Smoking can increase the risk of complications and delay the healing process. People who have obesity may also have a higher risk of postoperative complications.
It is important to note that the breasts may have very small asymmetries after surgery. Most breasts are not exactly the same size or shape to begin with, and the surgeons do try to remove more tissue from the bigger side. However, after the procedure and months after the completion of the healing process, there may be small differences between the breasts.
Also, breast reduction surgery can affect a person's ability to breastfeed.


According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, breast reduction procedures cost, on average, approximately $5,680. People will also need to pay for the cost of consultations and follow-up appointments.
Some insurance companies may partially or completely cover the cost of breast reduction surgery if a person needs this procedure to relieve chronic pain or other medical problems.
People who are thinking about having breast reduction surgery may wish to contact their insurance company to inquire about coverage.


Breast reduction surgery is a relatively safe and effective medical procedure that reduces the overall size of a person's breasts.
A plastic surgeon will remove excess fat, breast tissue, and skin through incisions underneath the breasts. They may also reposition the nipple and areola.
Breast reduction surgery is an outpatient procedure with minimal risks. Rare complications include infection, scarring, and loss of sensation in the nipples or breasts.
People considering breast reduction surgery can make an appointment with a board certified plastic surgeon. At the appointment, the surgeon will evaluate a person's medical history and current health status to determine whether breast reduction surgery is a suitable option.

Flu during pregnancy: What to know

Influenza (flu) can be dangerous. Although everyone is at risk of contracting the flu, those who are pregnant or have just given birth are much more susceptible to the more severe effects of the illness.
Women who are pregnant or may become pregnant during flu season should get their flu shot.
The flu shot may prevent a pregnant women from getting the flu and reduce the risk of hospitalization. Keep reading for more information on being safe while pregnant during the flu season and when to seek help.

Is the flu harmful during pregnancy?

A runny nose, sore throat, and cough are common symptoms of the flu.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pregnant women are more likely to experience severe symptoms and complications from the flu because their lungs, heart, and immune system change during pregnancy.
Some pregnant women who get the flu may also develop bronchitis, which may turn into pneumonia.

However, there are more serious complications associated with the flu during pregnancy although these are rare:
Avoiding the flu could increase the chances of completing a healthy pregnancy. According to a 2016 study, having the flu shot during pregnancy reduced the risk of stillbirth by 51% compared with those who did not get vaccinated.
The flu during pregnancy can cause harm to the fetus. The baby may be born prematurely or have a low birth weight.

Is it safe to get a flu shot when pregnant?

According to the CDC, the flu shot has a long safety record indicating that it is safe to give to those who are pregnant.
However, pregnant women should not use the live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV), which comes in the form of a nasal spray. This is because it contains live microorganisms of the virus, which can cross the placenta and lead to a viral infection in the fetus.
However, the CDC note that the potential damage to the fetus is "theoretical," but healthcare providers do not administer the LAIV vaccine as a precaution.
A flu shot may help decrease the chances of a person contracting the flu. It may also help reduce the need to go to the hospital due to potential complications.
According to a 2018 study, a pregnant woman who gets the flu shot is 40% less likely to be hospitalized if they catch the flu.
The effects of the flu shot can also pass on to the baby once born, giving the baby a few months of added protection from the flu.
If a pregnant woman has pre-existing medical conditions, they do not need to get written consent of permission from a doctor to obtain the flu shot.


The flu has several identified symptoms that are the same for nearly everyone, which include:


Antiviral medications can help relieve symptoms of flu in pregnant women, as well as reduce the potential for complications.
They work best when a person takes them within 48 hours after symptoms appear.
Pregnant women should avoid taking medicines such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen and should talk to their healthcare provider before taking any over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription medications.
However, if it is absolutely necessary, pregnant women may take acetaminophen in the smallest effective amounts for the shortest possible time.
Otherwise, the best treatment typically involves rest and getting enough fluids.

When to see a doctor

A pregnant woman should see a doctor as soon as possible if they think they have caught the flu.
In most cases, a healthcare provider will start the woman on an antiviral medication as soon as possible.

When to seek emergency help

A woman should seek emergency medical attention if they are pregnant and experience any of the following symptoms:
  • trouble breathing
  • confusion
  • dizziness
  • vaginal bleeding
  • a high fever
  • chest pain or pressure
  • severe vomiting
  • a decrease in fetal movement
  • seizures
If a pregnant woman is worried at any time, they should contact their healthcare provider.


The most effective prevention method is getting the flu shot. A woman should talk to their doctor about getting a flu shot as soon as it is available for the season.
However, there are several steps that a woman can take to help prevent contracting the flu, which includes:
  • frequently washing hands with warm water and soap
  • getting adequate rest
  • avoiding close contact with sick family or friends
  • reducing stress
  • exercising regularly
  • eating a healthful diet

The flu can be much more severe during pregnancy.
The best option is to get the flu shot. A flu shot will not affect the health of the mother or fetus.
If the woman gets the flu, they should visit their doctor as soon as possible. A doctor might prescribe antiviral medications. Otherwise, a person should rest and consume plenty of fluids.


Weight gain during period: What to know

Hormone levels fluctuate throughout the 28-day menstrual cycle. These changes can affect a person's appetite and may also lead to fluid retention. Both factors can lead to perceived or actual weight gain around the time of a period.
This article describes why a person may gain weight during a period, and how to prevent it. We also outline ways to help avoid weight gain during a period.

Weight gain during period

Medical research has identified around 150 symptoms that people may experience in the days leading up to a period. Food cravings, increased hunger, water retention, and swelling are premenstrual symptoms that may make a person feel like they are gaining weight.
The menstrual cycle may cause appetite changes.
People may notice changes in their appetite throughout their menstrual cycle. For some, these changes may lead to concerns over weight gain.
Changes in appetite tend to occur at distinct stages of the menstrual cycle called the follicular phase and the luteal phase.
  • The follicular phase. This phase begins when a person bleeds and ends before they ovulate. Estrogen is the dominant hormone during this phase. Since estrogen suppresses appetite, a person may find that they eat less during this phase.
  • The luteal phase. This phase begins after ovulation and lasts up to the first day of the next period. During the luteal phase, progesterone is the dominant hormone. Since progesterone stimulates appetite, a person may find that they eat more during this phase.
Previous studies have shown that females eat more calories during the luteal phase compared with the follicular phase of the menstrual cycle.
A 2016 study found that females tend to eat more protein during the luteal phase of menstruation. Females also report increased food cravings, particularly for sweets, chocolate, and salty foods.
Not all studies show that food cravings result in an increased number of calories consumed and an increase in weight. However, people who do consume more calories as a result of their cravings may experience some weight gain.

Water retention and swelling

People may experience increased water and salt retention around the time of their period. This is due to an increase in the hormone progesterone. Progesterone activates the hormone aldosterone, which causes the kidneys to retain water and salt.
Water retention can lead to bloating and swelling, particularly in the abdomen, arms, and legs. This can give the appearance of weight gain. It may also make a person's clothes feel tighter.
However, water retention does not always signify weight gain. A 2014 study investigated water retention in females who complained of swelling during their period.
Circumference measurements taken throughout the study indicated that the participants did have significant swelling in the following areas:
  • face
  • breasts
  • abdomen
  • upper and lower limbs
  • pubic areas
However, there were no significant changes in weight throughout the participant's cycles.

What symptoms are normal?

Many people experience both physical and psychological symptoms during a period. Symptoms may include:
People may feel additional symptoms in the days leading up to a period. Symptoms may include:
  • thirst and appetite changes
  • breast tenderness
  • bloating
  • headache
  • swelling of the hands or feet
The type, severity, and duration of symptoms will vary from person to person. Additionally, some people may experience a combination of symptoms, while others may not experience any at all.

How long does it last?

Premenstrual symptoms tend to start a few days before bleeding, or menstruation, and stop once menstruation occurs.
Medical providers can diagnose people with premenstrual syndrome (PMS) if:
  • the person has a pattern of symptoms 5 days before their period for at least three cycles in a row
  • the symptoms end within 4 days after their period starts
  • the symptoms interfere with their normal activities

How to avoid weight gain

The following are some examples of how to prevent weight gain during a period.


The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend the following eating habits to help lessen the effects of PMS:
  • eating complex carbohydrates to reduce mood symptoms and food cravings
  • eating calcium rich foods, including yogurt and leafy green vegetables
  • reducing fat, salt, and sugar intake
  • avoiding or limiting caffeine and alcoholic beverages
  • keeping blood sugar levels stable by eating smaller meals more often


A doctor may also recommend taking a magnesium supplement. This can help to alleviate the following symptoms of PMS:
  • bloating
  • breast tenderness
  • mood disturbances


Sometimes, doctors may prescribe diuretics to people who complain of water retention during their period. Diuretics help to reduce the amount of water that the body stores.
Researchers have found that certain oral contraceptives can also help reduce water retention. In a 2007 study, females who took 3 milligrams (mg) of drospirenone and 30 micrograms (mcg) of ethinyl estradiol had reduced water retention. Nonetheless, their body weight remained unchanged.
Doctors often use combined oral contraceptives to treat the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome.


Hormonal fluctuations that occur throughout the menstrual cycle can affect a person's appetite. In particular, people may experience food cravings in the days leading up to a period.
Females may also experience water retention and bloating, which can give the appearance of weight gain.
There are several steps people can take to prevent weight gain during a period. A person can practice healthful eating habits throughout their cycle. This includes eating less salt, sugar, and fat, and stocking up on low calorie snacks to satisfy food cravings. In addition, magnesium supplements may help to alleviate bloating and other symptoms of PMS.
People who are concerned about fluid retention should talk to their doctor. The doctor may prescribe diuretics or oral contraceptives to help alleviate this symptom.


How much clotting is normal during your period? I know that it is normal to have some clotting but I always have a ton.

Thanks for your question! You’re right. Some clotting is normal during a woman’s period; however, sometimes there may be a medical reason that a woman has large clots. During a typical period, the body makes something called an “anti-coagulant,” which is a natural blood thinner that prevents blood from clotting.  If a woman’s period is particularly heavy, or she is on the heaviest day of her period, the bleeding might be so fast that her body isn’t able to release the anti-coagulant quickly enough to keep up with the bleeding.  In that case, the blood ends up clotting as it leaves the vagina.

Having some small, dark clots during your period can be normal, and often happens on a heavier flow day.  However, if you are passing clots the size of a quarter or larger, or are soaking through a super tampon or pad every 1-2 hours,  you are experiencing “heavy” bleeding and should make an appointment with your primary care provider or gynecologist.  Heavy periods can sometimes cause a condition called anemia, which can make you feel tired and weak. If you ever feel this way, you should see your health care provider right away.  Your provider will ask you questions about your menstrual cycle and may check your blood to see if you are anemic. Treatment for clotting depends on the cause of the heavy bleeding but may include medication such as birth control pills to regulate your cycle and lessen the flow. If you are anemic, your provider will also tell you to take iron pills.​

New birth control pill provides contraception for a month

In pigs, researchers have developed a single birth control pill effective for 1 month. The pill could, one day, have a global impact on human health. https://ift.tt/eA8V8J

How diet may lead to insomnia

A new study of females aged 50 and over suggests that those who include more refined carbohydrates in their diet have an increased risk of insomnia. https://ift.tt/eA8V8J

Folate vs. folic acid: What to know

Folate and folic acid are forms of vitamin B-9. Folate occurs naturally in a range of foods, while folic acid is synthetic and present in fortified foods. Both are important for pregnancy. Learn more here. https://ift.tt/eA8V8J

What to know about getting pregnant after an abortion

An abortion is unlikely to affect a woman’s fertility or future pregnancies. Also, it is possible to become pregnant shortly after an abortion. Learn more here. https://ift.tt/eA8V8J

Why do I get BV every other month? I was prescribed Metrogel and used it 5 days and it went away. Then I had sex with my bf last week and it came back the next day.

clue-cellThanks for your question about bacterial vaginosis (BV)! It can be very frustrating if you’ve taken all of your medication and followed the advice of your health care provider and BV still comes back. BV is very common and results from a change in the bacterial flora in the vagina.  It is sometimes hard to treat, as 30% of women who get better after treatment will get BV again within three months, and more than 50% of women will have BV again within 12 months. Experts don’t know exactly why this happens but they do know that there are ways to lower the chance of BV recurring which includes: not having sex or making sure you use a condom EVERY TIME you have sex, limiting the number of sexual partners you have, and not douching. Treating your partner is not recommended, but using condoms makes it more likely that the healthy bacteria in the vagina will stay and prevent the return of BV.  If your symptoms are the same, it’s likely that the BV infection has returned but there is no way to know for sure without seeing your health care provider. It’s possible that you may need a different kind of treatment for another type of vaginal infection. Women who have more than three BV infections in a year may need to take medication such as metronidazole for longer than five days. Talk to your health care provider about how to lessen your chance of getting BV and find out if you need to take a longer course of medicine.

Depression during pregnancy: Symptoms, treatment, and more

Depression is a mental health condition that can affect anyone, including women during pregnancy. Learn more about depression during pregnancy, including the symptoms and safe treatments. https://ift.tt/eA8V8J

What does it mean to be asexual?

Asexuality describes a lack of sexual attraction. Asexual people may experience romantic attraction, but they do not feel the urge to act on these feelings sexually.
Asexuality is a sexual orientation, like being gay or straight. It is different from celibacy or abstinence. Asexuality exists on a spectrum, with much diversity in people's experiences and desires for relationships, attraction, and arousal.
An estimated 1% of the population is asexual, though experts believe the numbers could be higher.
This article looks at what asexuality is, what it is not, and some of the spectrums that people may identify with.

What is asexuality?
The experience of being asexual varies among people
Asexuality is a sexual orientation, just like homosexuality, bisexuality, and heterosexuality. Asexual people are sometimes known as ace or aces for short.
According to The Trevor Project, asexual is an umbrella term that exists on a spectrum. It describes a variety of ways in which a person might identify. While most asexual people have little interest in having sex, they may experience romantic attraction. Others may not.
Asexual people have the same emotional needs as everyone else. Most will desire and form emotionally intimate relationships with other people. Asexual people may be attracted to the same sex or other sexes.

Every asexual person will have a different experience, which may include:
  • falling in love
  • experiencing arousal
  • having orgasms
  • masturbating
  • getting married
  • having children

Spectrums of asexuality

In the initialism LGBTQIAP+, the A stands for asexual spectrum, or a-spec. Several identities fall under this category.
Asexual people have the same emotional needs as everyone else. Everyone is different, and how individuals fulfill those needs varies widely.
Some aces may want romantic relationships. They can feel romantically attracted to other people, which may include the same sex or other sexes.
Other aces prefer close friendships to intimate relationships. Some will experience arousal, and some will masturbate while having no interest in having sex with another person.
Some asexual people do not want to have sexual contact, while others may feel "sex-neutral." Other asexual people will engage in sexual contact to gain an emotional connection.
Other common identities which fall into the asexual spectrum include:


Aromantic people experience little or no romantic attraction. They prefer close friendships and other nonromantic relationships.
Many aromantic people will form queer platonic partnerships, or QPPs. QPPs are platonic yet have the same level of commitment as romantic relationships. Some people in QPPs choose to live together or have children together.


People who are demisexual experience sexual or romantic attraction, but only after they have formed a close, emotional connection with someone.

Graysexual or grayromantic

Graysexual or grayromantic people identify somewhere between sexual and asexual. This can include but is not limited to:
  • people who only experience romantic attraction sometimes
  • people who only experience sexual attraction sometimes
  • people who experience sexual attraction but have a very low sex drive
  • people who desire and enjoy sexual or romantic relationships but only in very specific circumstances

How do you know if you are asexual?

Asexuality is a sexual orientation. Typically, an asexual person would always have had little interest in sexual contact with other people. It is not the same as suddenly losing interest in sex or choosing to abstain from sex while still experiencing sexual attraction.

Asexuality, celibacy, and abstinence

Asexuality is not the same as celibacy or abstinence. If someone is celibate or abstains from sex, this means they have taken a conscious decision to not take part in sexual activity despite experiencing sexual attraction.
It is also important to note that asexuality is not the same as hypoactive sexual desire disorder or sexual aversion disorder. These are medical conditions associated with anxiety towards sexual contact. Social pressure may make asexual people feel anxious about sex, but that is different.
Asexuality is not:
  • abstinence on religious grounds
  • sexual repression, aversion, or dysfunction
  • a fear of intimacy
  • loss of libido due to age, illness, or other circumstances


Just as some people are gay or bisexual, some people are asexual. If someone is asexual, it means they have no or little interest in sex. They may still feel romantic attraction, but equally, they may not.
There is a wide range of identities on the asexual spectrum, from people who experience no sexual or romantic attraction to people who engage in sexual contact under some conditions. Many asexual people form meaningful, lasting relationships, and some get married or have children.
Asexuality is not the same as celibacy or abstinence, both of which mean someone experiences sexual attraction but chooses not to act on it.