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women's health

What's a Pap Smear, and does it hurt?

Anonymous asks:

What exactly is a Pap smear? And does it hurt (because I heard it does)?

Vulvodynia Awareness -- Too Little, Too Late

The National Institutes of Health has recently launched a Vulvodynia awareness campaign aimed at advocacy groups, health care providers and research organizations. It's better late than never -- as is, women must see an average of 4-5 health-care providers before they receive an actual diagnosis due the ignorance of the condition in the medical field. A good majority of gynecologists, who specialize in women's health, often misdiagnose or shrug off the condition, as do the dermatologists, psychologists, and sex therapists patients are referred to out of desperation.

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Our Bodies, Ourselves

The blog and supporting site of the legendarily pioneering Boston Women's Health Collective, authors of "Our Bodies, Ourselves" and other incredible women's health references.

Condoms Protect Against Cervical Cancer

"Using condoms consistently and properly significantly reduces the risk of infection by the virus [HPV] that causes cervical cancer among newly sexually active women."

This probably isn't a big surprise for most people but it does take away a tool of the abstinence-only camp. For years they've been disparaging condom efficacy because condoms weren't proven to make a difference with things like HPV.

Between this study and the new vaccine HPV is looking more and more managable all the time.

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FDA Approves HPV Vaccination

The vaccine, Gardisil, is only approved for women and girls right now but its maker (Merck) is looking into its use in boys and men. Hopefully it will be available to males soon since they can also be infected and transmit the virus to their partners. A few things have to be cleared up yet, such as at what age girls should be vaccinated and if pediatricions should include it in their vaccination schedules. The CDC makes its reccomendations June 29th.

The only downside I can see is the cost: $300 - $500 for a vaccine that only lasts four years. Many communities do offer financial help for medical needs like vaccines whether via sliding scales or specific programs so hopefully this will accessible for everyone. Globally, this has the potential save 200,000 lives each year that would otherwise be ended by cervical cancer.

More information on the vaccine: What Does Gardasil Mean For Women?

More information on HPV: STI File: Human Papilloma Virus (HPV, Warts) and Herpes & HPV.

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Oh, bloody hell.

Today, a Scarleteen user (thanks, puppysrcute!) posted the following at the boards: What do you think about this?

To which, I replied:
That, in general, we don't have the long-term, solid data to have any idea if this is wise or damaging to women, and until we do, I'm not (and Scarleteen by association) going to endorse it, even as an option for women who do simply want to choose it as preference, not as doctrine or by pressure to do so.

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...and the hits just keep on coming!

So, Susan Wood, director of the FDA

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Because you make us sick, that's why.

We've had more than one cosmetic surgeon post on the Scarleteen boards endorsing labiaplasty or "vaginal rejuvenation" to the young women who read the site.

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