11 Ways to Keep Your Vagina Happy and Healthy

You might think you know everything about keeping your lady parts in tip-top shape, but you could be wrong. From douching to ditching your annual exam, there are tons of common misconceptions about what you should do to maintain a healthy vagina. Allow us to enlighten you:

Use Condoms
2/12 ,

You know that rubbers are great at protecting against STDs and pregnancy, but one study found that using condoms helps keep your vagina’s pH level at the status quo so good bacteria, like lactobacilli, can survive in there. And this is super important since those little bacteria help prevent yeast infections, UTIs, and bacterial vaginosis. Just in case you needed another reason to wrap things up.

(Heal your whole body with Rodale’s 12-day liver detox for total body health.)

Wear Cotton Underwear or Go Commando
3/12 ,

When it comes to your underwear selection, your vagina has a preference: cotton. That’s why most underwear comes with a thin strip of cotton fabric in the crotch. Since it breathes and absorbs moisture, it’s the ideal way to clothe your lady parts, says Mary Jane Minkin, M.D., a clinical professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences at Yale University. And when you’re laying around the house, feel free to go commando so you can let things air out, says Minkin. Just don’t go to the gym sans undies, because you’ll want that extra layer between you and germy gym equipment.

Work it Out
4/12 ,

Doing kegels is crucial for strengthening your pelvic floor muscles, which are key in producing stronger, mind-blowing orgasms—not to mention bladder control. Note to self: Include kegels in every workout. (There are even geniuses creating a nifty app to make it easier to remember.)

Embrace Greek Yogurt
5/12 ,

Snacking on yogurt with live cultures helps boost the good bacteria in your hoo-ha, which, as you know, is all around fantastic for preventing annoying vaginal problems like yeast infections, says Minkin. Just be careful that you’re not noshing on the super-sugary kind, because that could make you more susceptible to those infections.

Always Go To Your Annual Exam
6/12 ,

Although new guidelines advise against annual pelvic exams if you’re symptom-free and not pregnant, a visit to your doctor isn’t just about poking around your lady parts, says Minkin. “I think an annual exam is important for talking about health problems,” she says. Using this time to chat about using condoms, fertility, and any random sex questions you might have is just as important as checking for STDs. So before you switch up your doctor visits, have a conversation about it with him or her first.

Lube Up
7/12 ,

Sometimes when you’re about to hit the sheets, it seems like your vagina just didn’t get the memo. But it’s totally normal—vaginal dryness can impact you if you take certain medications like antihistamines, antidepressants, or hormonal birth control. It can also crop up after pregnancy or shortly before menopause. When this happens, make sure you’re communicating with your partner so they don’t forge ahead before you’re properly lubricated, which is obviously painful and can cause abrasions. Or just use lube to speed up the process and make sex even hotter, says Minkin.

Say No To Douching
8/12 ,

Think you need some assistance keeping things all clear down there? You don’t. The vagina actually cleans itself, says Dena Harris, M.D., a clinical assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at New York University. Plus, studies have shown that using intravaginal hygiene products can put you at increased risk of infections, pelvic inflammatory disease, and STDs. Just don’t do it.

Handle With Care While Cycling
9/12 ,

An unexpected place you might be putting your vaginal health at risk is the cycling studio. If you’re a frequent rider, you could be at risk for genital numbness, pain, and tingling (not in a good way) while cycling. In fact, a study of female cyclists in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that a majority experienced these symptoms. If you love to hit up cycling studios, try wearing padded shorts and following these form modifications to keep your vagina pain-free during your workout.


Approach Antibiotics with Caution
10/12 ,

Another threat to your nether region’s good bacteria are antibiotics. Those pills can kill off some of that wonderful lactobacilli that keep your vagina healthy, says Minkin. Obviously, if you have to take an antibiotic to fight infection, you shouldn’t pass up the prescription, just load up on probiotic Greek yogurt to reduce the damage, she says.

Be Mindful of the Order of Sex Acts
11/12 ,

Make sure not to go from anal to vaginal sex without changing the condom or properly cleaning off first, says Minkin. Going from backdoor to front exposes your vagina to a host of bacteria and can up your risk of infections, she says.

Be Careful With Soap
12/12 ,

That scented body wash may be awesome, but it doesn’t belong anywhere near your genitals, says Minkin. Soap can be really drying to the sensitive skin around your vulva, and you really only need to rinse with warm water to keep things clean down there. But if you just don’t feel right about going soap-free, stick with a plain, gentle, unscented soap, she says.


11 Easy Yoga Poses That Will Cure You Irregular Periods and Menstrual Pain

Oh my! It’s that time of the month again when you have to deal with all the cramping, bloating, and, of course, the bleeding – sounds familiar, ladies? Periods are frustrating, and while some women barely feel their wrath, for many others, the monthly aunt’s visit can be quite an ordeal. Dealing with irregular periods and bearing with the excruciating pain those four days and the lead up to it is not the best feeling in the world.

Why Do You Have Menstrual Pain?

When you start menstruating, the contractions in your uterus cause all the pain, simply because they inhibit the blood flow to the lining of the uterus. The pain isn’t just abdominal. Your lower back and legs are affected too. Of course, there are over-the-counter drugs to combat the pain. But are they good for your health?

What Causes Irregular Periods?

Ideally, an adult should have a 21-35 day cycle. For teens, the bracket is wider and ranges anywhere between 21-45 days. You must count your cycle from the first day of your period. While most women get their periods within the normal range of the cycle, some women have irregular periods. These are some common reasons.

  1. Heavy workouts
  2. Sudden loss or gain in weight
  3. Stress
  4. Changes in diet
  5. Breastfeeding
  6. An unfortunate miscarriage
  7. Birth control pills
  8. Hormonal Imbalances (PCOD)
  9. Infection in the reproductive organs

How Does Yoga Help Solve The Period Problem?

Yoga is extremely effective when it comes to curing irregular periods and heavy blood flow and alleviating the cramps and pain. Yoga is the best medicine, and it cures all menstruation-related problems. Here’s how:

1. It stimulates the reproductive organs, which leads to their better functioning.
2. It reduces stress and completely relaxes your mind and body.
3. It regulates your metabolism, therefore allowing you to maintain your ideal weight.
4. It works on your hormones and balances them out.

11 Poses That Will Solve Your Menstrual Problems

  1. Tadasana
  2. Adho Mukha Svanasana
  3. Trikonasana
  4. Parsvottanasanat
  5. Prasarita Padottasana
  6. Pasasana
  7. Ustrasana
  8. Janu Sirsasana
  9. Vajrasana
  10. Dhanurasana
  11. Matsyasana

1. Tadasana


Although it is called the Mountain Pose, it is actually pretty easy. This asana works on your reproductive organs and helps stimulate them. It also triggers the brain center activity of the menstrual hormone. This makes the Tadasana one of the best yoga poses to cure irregular periods and clear obstructed menses. When the obstruction is eliminated, the pain is automatically reduced by leaps and bounds.


2. Adho Mukha Svanasana


The Adho Mukha Svanasana rejuvenates the ovaries, uterus, and the fallopian tubes. When your body folds, it massages the reproductive organs inside. Hence, when you practice this asana, obstructions are cleared, and the uterine blood flow is enhanced.


3. Trikonasana

This is again an excellent asana to alleviate your menstrual troubles. When you bend sidewards, your reproductive organs are stimulated at a different angle. This helps in better hormonal secretion and facilitates timely periods. When you practice this asana regularly, it helps rid the excessive cramping as well.


4. Parsvottanasana


Much like the Trikonasana, this pose too involves deep stretching. The stretch is felt right at your abdomen, and hence, the obstructions are cleared, and the reproductive organs are invigorated. Your periods become regular, and the pain slowly vanishes. It’s a happy, healthy period for you.


5. Prasarita Padottasana


When you practice this asana, your reproductive organs are compressed. This compression acts as a detox and removes all the unnecessary obstructions. It also ensures hormonal balance. Therefore, practicing this asana regularly will solve your menstrual woes.


6. Pasasana


Being a twist rather than a stretch, the benefits of this asana are umpteen. It stretches the back and the belly. It detoxifies your body and removes all the blocks. When you practice this asana, both the energy and the blood are free flowing. It is an extremely handy asana to get rid of the pain in the back and abdomen as well as mend the irregularities of the natural body process.


7. Ustrasana


Being a full abdominal stretch, this asana is extremely effective. It cures all abdominal problems, so not only does this asana clear reproductive obstructions, but it also helps reduce bloating. It alleviates pain in the back too. Practicing this asana is also very relaxing.


8. Janu Sirsasana


This asana is a great stress and anxiety reliever. Hence, it reduces the stress of the period and all PMS issues. It also relieves hormonal headaches. Practicing the Janu Sirsasana regularly will help you have a healthy period cycle in due course of time.


9. Vajrasana


The Vajrasana or the Diamond Pose looks quite simple, but is, in fact, quite challenging. It is a very safe yoga posture that you can assume anytime, even right after a meal. It stimulates the abdomen, which includes the reproductive as well as digestive organs. It also strengthens the sexual organs, and therefore, eliminates any disorders and problems with regular practice.

To know more about this asana, click here: Vajrasana

Back To TOC

10. Dhanurasana


The Dhanurasana is an extremely versatile pose that works on many parts of the body. It helps relieve back pain and anxiety. When you practice it, the weight of your body rests on the navel, thus stimulating the organs below and around it. This not only strengthens them, but also eases cramps and regulates blood flow. Practicing this asana regularly also eliminates bloating.


11. Matsyasana


This asana is another amazingly beneficial asana that works on the muscles of the back, neck, and abdomen. It relieves the contractions during menstruation and alleviates the pain. It also reduces the gas and bloating that accompany a period. With regular practice, your periods are normalized, and the hormones are balanced out.


Disclaimer: While yoga is perfectly safe to practice even on your period, sometimes instructors advice you against it. Do listen to your instructor. You must be a regular to be able to practice yoga even while menstruating. Also, if your periods are extremely painful and irregular, you must consult a doctor. Yoga will work well alongside the treatment, but ask your doctors before you practice it.

Girls! Don’t dread your period. It is such an essential part of being the woman you are. Embrace it! Yoga will help you do so. Even if you don’t have any problems, yoga will ensure you don’t have any in future too.

About Psoriasis Facts And Myths: 5 Things To Know About Misunderstood Immune Disease

Image result for Psoriasis Facts And Myths: 5 Things To Know About Misunderstood Immune DiseaseOften misunderstood as an ordinary skin disease, psoriasis is a condition where patients develop patches of red skin, often called lesions, covered with flakey dead skin cells. While the lesions commonly appear on the scalp, knees, elbow and torso, the condition may manifest itself differently in different people.

A large number of people do not acknowledge the condition or refrain from seeking treatment for it because of a number of misconceptions associated with it. Here, Dr. Sara Ferguson, a dermatologist at Penn State Medical Group in State College will help bust five such myths about psoriasis, providing a better understanding for those who need help.

Psoriasis is a skin disease.

In reality, psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that causes multi-system inflammation, and can affect the joints. Those suffering from the disease are also exposed to higher risks of developing heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, psoriatic arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and obesity, among others.

While the extent of the skin lesions may differ from small patches for some to almost the entire skin for others, the patients must regularly consult a physician regarding the accompanying risks.

Psoriasis is rare.

Even though the National Psoriasis Foundation puts the number of people suffering from the disease in the United States at approximately 7.5 million, Dr. Ferguson explains that the disease affects two to five percent of the population — 16 million Americans —many of whom do not seek treatment because of mild symptoms.

Psoriasis is contagious.

Many fear that the disease can be contracted by touch and use this as an explanation for why psoriasis runs in families but in reality, it is not an infection. There is no virus or bacteria involved, and some develop it because of inherited genes, which when exposed to external triggers like infection or skin injury can cause psoriasis.

No can help with the condition.

There was a time when the treatment for the disease was limited, leaving many patients frustrated. However, a number of new treatments are now available and it is recommended that patients discuss the newer options with their dermatologist to decide what can work best for them.

Topical creams are the only available treatment for psoriasis.

For mild to moderate psoriasis, corticosteroids, vitamin D, anthralin, coal tar and salicylic acid can be applied to the skin. Another option is phototherapy, where the  skin is exposed to ultraviolet light on a regular basis. Medical supervision is essential for this.

Patients can also turn to regular systemic treatments like acitretin, cyclosporine and methotrexate — taken by mouth, injection or infusion. Protein-based drugs that target specific parts of the immune system like recently developed versions of TNF-alpha blockers, and a new classes of drugs like IL-17 inhibitors can also prove to be helpful.

What is Gastroparesis? Signs – Symptoms – Causes – Complications

What is Gastroparesis?

Gastroparesis, also called delayed gastric emptying, is a disorder in which the stomach takes too long to empty its contents. It often occurs in people with type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes.

Gastroparesis happens when nerves to the stomach are damaged or stop working. The vagus nerve controls the movement of food through the digestive tract. If the vagus nerve is damaged, the muscles of the stomach and intestines do not work normally, and the movement of food is slowed or stopped.

Diabetes can damage the vagus nerve if blood glucose levels remain high over a long period of time. High blood glucose causes chemical changes in nerves and damages the blood vessels that carry oxygen and nutrients to the nerves.

Signs and Symptoms of Gastroparesis

  • heartburn
  • nausea
  • vomiting of undigested food
  • an early feeling of fullness when eating
  • weight loss
  • abdominal bloating
  • erratic blood glucose levels
  • lack of appetite
  • gastroesophageal reflux
  • spasms of the stomach wall

These symptoms may be mild or severe, depending on the person.

Complications of Gastroparesis

If food lingers too long in the stomach, it can cause problems like bacterial overgrowth from the fermentation of food. Also, the food can harden into solid masses called bezoars that may cause nausea, vomiting, and obstruction in the stomach. Bezoars can be dangerous if they block the passage of food into the small intestine.

Gastroparesis can make diabetes worse by adding to the difficulty of controlling blood glucose.

When food that has been delayed in the stomach finally enters the small intestine and is absorbed, blood glucose levels rise. Since gastroparesis makes stomach emptying unpredictable, a person’s blood glucose levels can be erratic and difficult to control.

Major Causes of Gastroparesis

Gastroparesis is most often caused by

  • diabetes
  • postviral syndromes
  • anorexia nervosa
  • surgery on the stomach or vagus nerve
  • medications, particularly anticholinergics and narcotics (drugs that slow contractions in the intestine)
  • gastroesophageal reflux disease (rarely)
  • smooth muscle disorders such as amyloidosis and scleroderma
  • nervous system diseases, including abdominal migraine and Parkinson’s disease
  • metabolic disorders, including hypothyroidism

Diagnosis of Gastroparesis

The diagnosis of gastroparesis is confirmed through one or more of the following tests.

  • Barium x ray. After fasting for 12 hours, you will drink a thick liquid called barium, which coats the inside of the stomach, making it show up on the x ray. Normally, the stomach will be empty of all food after 12 hours of fasting. If the x ray shows food in the stomach, gastroparesis is likely. If the x ray shows an empty stomach but the doctor still suspects that you have delayed emptying, you may need to repeat the test another day. On any one day, a person with gastroparesis may digest a meal normally, giving a falsely normal test result. If you have diabetes, your doctor may have special instructions about fasting.
  • Barium beefsteak meal. You will eat a meal that contains barium, thus allowing the radiologist to watch your stomach as it digests the meal. The amount of time it takes for the barium meal to be digested and leave the stomach gives the doctor an idea of how well the stomach is working. This test can help detect emptying problems that do not show up on the liquid barium x ray. In fact, people who have diabetes-related gastroparesis often digest fluid normally, so the barium beefsteak meal can be more useful.
  • Radioisotope gastric-emptying scan. You will eat food that contains a radioisotope, a slightly radioactive substance that will show up on the scan. The dose of radiation from the radioisotope is small and not dangerous. After eating, you will lie under a machine that detects the radioisotope and shows an image of the food in the stomach and how quickly it leaves the stomach. Gastroparesis is diagnosed if more than half of the food remains in the stomach after 2 hours.
  • Gastric manometry. This test measures electrical and muscular activity in the stomach. The doctor passes a thin tube down the throat into the stomach. The tube contains a wire that takes measurements of the stomach’s electrical and muscular activity as it digests liquids and solid food. The measurements show how the stomach is working and whether there is any delay in digestion.
  • Blood tests. The doctor may also order laboratory tests to check blood counts and to measure chemical and electrolyte levels.

To rule out causes of gastroparesis other than diabetes, the doctor may do an upper endoscopy or an ultrasound.

  • Upper endoscopy. After giving you a sedative, the doctor passes a long, thin tube called an endoscope through the mouth and gently guides it down the esophagusinto the stomach. Through the endoscope, the doctor can look at the lining of the stomach to check for any abnormalities.
  • Ultrasound. To rule out gallbladder disease or pancreatitis as a source of the problem, you may have an ultrasound test, which uses harmless sound waves to outline and define the shape of the gallbladder and pancreas.

The primary treatment goal for gastroparesis related to diabetes is to regain control of blood glucose levels. Treatments include insulin, oral medications, changes in what and when you eat, and, in severe cases, feeding tubes and intravenous feeding.

It is important to note that in most cases treatment does not cure gastroparesis–it is usually a chronic condition. Treatment helps you manage the condition so that you can be as healthy and comfortable as possible.

Insulin for blood glucose control

If you have gastroparesis, your food is being absorbed more slowly and at unpredictable times. To control blood glucose, you may need to

  • take insulin more often
  • take your insulin after you eat instead of before
  • check your blood glucose levels frequently after you eat and administer insulin whenever necessary

Your doctor will give you specific instructions based on your particular needs.


Medication for Gastroparesis

Several drugs are used to treat gastroparesis. Your doctor may try different drugs or combinations of drugs to find the most effective treatment.

  • Metoclopramide (Reglan). This drug stimulates stomach muscle contractions to help empty food. It also helps reduce nausea and vomiting. Metoclopramide is taken 20 to 30 minutes before meals and at bedtime. Side effects of this drug are fatigue, sleepiness, and sometimes depression, anxiety, and problems with physical movement.
  • Erythromycin. This antibiotic also improves stomach emptying. It works by increasing the contractions that move food through the stomach. Side effects are nausea, vomiting, and abdominal cramps.
  • Domperidone. The Food and Drug Administration is reviewing domperidone, which has been used elsewhere in the world to treat gastroparesis. It is a promotility agent like metoclopramide. Domperidone also helps with nausea.
  • Other medications. Other medications may be used to treat symptoms and problems related to gastroparesis. For example, an antiemetic can help with nausea and vomiting. Antibiotics will clear up a bacterial infection. If you have a bezoar, the doctor may use an endoscope to inject medication that will dissolve it.

Meal and Food Changes for Treating Gastroparesis

Changing your eating habits can help control gastroparesis. Your doctor or dietitian will give you specific instructions, but you may be asked to eat six small meals a day instead of three large ones. If less food enters the stomach each time you eat, it may not become overly full. Or the doctor or dietitian may suggest that you try several liquid meals a day until your blood glucose levels are stable and the gastroparesis is corrected. Liquid meals provide all the nutrients found in solid foods, but can pass through the stomach more easily and quickly.

The doctor may also recommend that you avoid high-fat and high-fiber foods. Fat naturally slows digestion–a problem you do not need if you have gastroparesis–and fiber is difficult to digest. Some high-fiber foods like oranges and broccoli contain material that cannot be digested. Avoid these foods because the indigestible part will remain in the stomach too long and possibly form bezoars.


Feeding Tube for Gastroparesis Sufferers

If other approaches do not work, you may need surgery to insert a feeding tube. The tube, called a jejunostomy tube, is inserted through the skin on your abdomen into the small intestine. The feeding tube allows you to put nutrients directly into the small intestine, bypassing the stomach altogether. You will receive special liquid food to use with the tube. A jejunostomy is particularly useful when gastroparesis prevents the nutrients and medication necessary to regulate blood glucose levels from reaching the bloodstream. By avoiding the source of the problem–the stomach–and putting nutrients and medication directly into the small intestine, you ensure that these products are digested and delivered to your bloodstream quickly. A jejunostomy tube can be temporary and is used only if necessary when gastroparesis is severe.

Parenteral Nutrition for Gastroparesis

Parenteral nutrition refers to delivering nutrients directly into the bloodstream, bypassing the digestive system. The doctor places a thin tube called a catheter in a chest vein, leaving an opening to it outside the skin. For feeding, you attach a bag containing liquid nutrients or medication to the catheter. The fluid enters your bloodstream through the vein. Your doctor will tell you what type of liquid nutrition to use.

This approach is an alternative to the jejunostomy tube and is usually a temporary method to get you through a difficult spell of gastroparesis. Parenteral nutrition is used only when gastroparesis is severe and is not helped by other methods.


New Treatments for Gastroparesis

A gastric neurostimulator (“pacemaker”) has been developed to assist people with gastroparesis. The pacemaker is a battery-operated, electronic device that is surgically implanted. It emits mild electrical pulses that stimulate stomach contractions so food is digested and moved from the stomach into the intestines. The electrical stimulation also helps control nausea and vomiting associated with gastroparesis.

The use of botulinum toxin has been shown to improve stomach emptying and the symptoms of gastroparesis by decreasing the prolonged contractions of the muscle between the stomach and the small intestine (pyloric sphincter). The toxin is injected into the pyloric sphincter.

Hope Through Research on Gastroparesis

NIDDK’s Division of Digestive Diseases and Nutrition supports basic and clinical research into gastrointestinal motility disorders, including gastroparesis. Among other areas, researchers are studying whether experimental medications can relieve or reduce symptoms of gastroparesis, such as bloating, abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting, or shorten the time needed by the stomach to empty its contents following a standard meal.

Points to Remember about Gastroparesis

  • Gastroparesis may occur in people with type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes.
  • Gastroparesis is the result of damage to the vagus nerve, which controls the movement of food through the digestive system. Instead of the food moving through the digestive tract normally, it is retained in the stomach.
  • The vagus nerve becomes damaged after years of poor blood glucose control, resulting in gastroparesis. In turn, gastroparesis contributes to poor blood glucose control.
  • Symptoms of gastroparesis include early fullness, nausea, vomiting, and weight loss.
  • Gastroparesis is diagnosed through tests such as x rays, manometry, and scanning.
  • Treatments include changes in when and what you eat, changes in insulin type and timing of injections, oral medications, a jejunostomy, parenteral nutrition, gastric pacemakers, or botulinum toxin.



34 Little Health Skills Every Woman Should Know

Healthy Life Road Sign1/35

We polled hundreds of experts—from top doctors to restaurant menu planners to sex coaches—for all the essential health tips women need to eat better, feel better, and look better. What we found: fascinating advice and tricks to calm down anywhere, pack any meal with antioxidants, outsmart germs in a public bathroom, squeeze in a 10-minute workout, and much, much more.

1. Slash your health care bills
Pill bottle made of money
1. Slash your health care bills

Bite back at dental costs. For routine cleanings, go to a dental hygiene clinic, where students supervised by a dentist and hygienist train on patients. The Montgomery County Community College Dental Hygiene Clinic in Blue Bell, PA, for example, charges $15 for a cleaning and exam. Check colleges for clinics, or visit the American Dental Association’s website for a national listing of dental schools.

Halve drug co-pays. Ask your doctor if she can prescribe a pill at twice the dose, to be cut in half by you or your pharmacist, reducing the cost by 50%. Also, fill your prescription at chain stores that sponsor savings programs for steep discounts. Walmart offers hundreds of $4 prescriptions. The Prescription Savings Club at Walgreens includes over 400 generics for less than $1 a week. (Learn more tricks on saving cash with your meds at Save Thousands On Your Healthcare.)

2. Breathe away more fat
Woman running
2. Breathe away more fat

Oxygen helps fuel your fat burn, so the more efficiently you breathe, the better your workout results. The trick: breathe in and out through both your mouth and nose. (You can also breathe away stress. Here’s how.)

3. Spot stealthy salt
Salt spilled on table
3. Spot stealthy salt

Up to 75% of the salt in our diets comes from packaged foods. This simple trick can keep your sodium intake in check: “Look for a 1-to-1 ratio of calories to sodium or less,” says Prevention advisor David L. Katz, MD, MPH, director of the Yale Prevention Research Center. If a food has 150 calories per serving, it should have no more than 150 mg of sodium. Keep your intake below 1,500 mg a day. (Our 5 Low-Sodium Dinners make it deliciously easy.)

4. Get a great workout in 10 minutes
Two woman jogging
4. Get a great workout in 10 minutes

Too busy for the gym? No problem. Just 10 minutes can burn nearly 100 calories and boost your energy level by up to 18%. Try this compressed routine from Jessica Dart, personal training manager at Equinox Soho in New York City:

Minutes 0:00-0:59: Climb stairs (walk, run, or sprint)

Minutes 1:00-1:29: Do reverse lunges with overhead presses (lunge backward, lifting arms overhead with each lunge; alternate sides).

Minutes 1:30-2:00: Do squats.

Repeat the circuit 4 more times. Beginners may want to incorporate 30 seconds of rest between each cycle.

5. Never forget a name
Blank name tag
5. Never forget a name

Focus on the name as you hear it. People who are good at remembering names are interested in them, asking how they’re spelled or pronounced. Then repeat it not once but several times, says Cynthia R. green, PhD, coauthor of Prevention’s Brainpower Game Plan.

When you meet someone new, you might say, “Eliza? Hi, Eliza, it’s nice to meet you. That’s a pretty name…” Every time you restate the name, you’re more likely to recall it in the future. Bye, Eliza! (See how else you can prevent memory loss.)

6. Test your posture
Woman stretching
6. Test your posture

Stand up straight and count how long you can hold the pose at left before you have to put your foot down.

Repeat on the other side. If you can’t balance on each leg for at least 20 seconds, you aren’t standing as straight as you think you are, or your muscles are too weak to hold you in place.

Do the exercise 3 times a day on each leg to improve.

7. Scarproof your skin
Bandage on leg
7. Scarproof your skin

Scars fade faster if you keep cuts covered and moist, says Jeffrey Dover, MD, president of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery. If you tend to develop raised scars, switch to scar-reducing bandages once skin heals; studies show that silicone sheets help by reducing collagen production. Try Scaraway ($20; drugstores).

8. Find the perfect doctor for you
8. Find the perfect doctor for you

The best way to find someone who has experience treating your particular condition is to call the physician referral service at a large university hospital, says Lauren Streicher, MD, an assistant clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University. (And keep from making this common healthcare mistake.)

9. Learn the art of label reading
Woman reading food label
9. Learn the art of label reading

Rule 1: Ignore all front-of-the-box health claims. “They’re about marketing, not health,” says Marion Nestle, PhD, MPH, professor of nutrition, food studies, and public health at New York University. A “low-fat” or “low-carb” claim tells you nothing about what else was added to compensate (think sugar or salt).

Rule 2: Flip to the nutrition facts and scan the ingredient list. Look for a list that’s not straight out of a science lab.

Rule 3: Remember that a daily value of 20% or or more for any nutrient is considered high (great for calcium, but a warning sign for saturated fats). (Find out how else you can decode food labels.)

10. Pick the right sports bra
Sports bra
10. Pick the right sports bra

Try this dressing room “workout” from LaJean Lawson, PhD, an adjunct exercise science professor at Oregon State University:

Reach arms overhead and circle them 10 times in each direction. If the bra shifts too much, the straps slip, or you feel chafing, keep looking.

Bend forward at the hips and stretch. Make sure your breasts don’t peek out over the top or sides.

Jog or jump in front of a mirror. If your breasts move up and down more than an inch or you feel discomfort, you’re not getting enough support. (Also consider our picks for 7 Best Sports Bras.)

11. Make anyone laugh (including yourself)
Woman laughing
11. Make anyone laugh (including yourself)

Laughter zaps stress, improves cholesterol, and boosts circulation and immunity. Need fresh material? Steal ideas from top comedy coaches:

Exaggerate the truth. Instead of complaining that you were stuck at the department of motor vehicles, say, “I just got back after lunch from the DMV. I got in line at 9 am…last Tuesday.” There’s a surprise element, but also recognition of a shared truth that makes people laugh. —Stephen Rosenfield, director of the American Comedy Institute in New York City

Poke fun at yourself. Self-deprecation helps people let down their guard. (Abraham Lincoln: “If I had two faces, would I be wearing this one?”) Just list your faults and exaggerate them. —Mary Scruggs, head of writing and education programs at the Second City Training Center, Chicago

Be overly enthusiastic. Say yes in a big way, even when you don’t mean it. Your husband wants season tickets at the new football stadium? Offer to move there. ——Will Hines, teacher at the Upright Citizens Brigade Training Center in New York City

12. Resist menu words that pack pounds
12. Resist menu words that pack pounds

Mouthwatering descriptions can suggest that an unhealthy dish is worth the splurge—when it’s the same old grub you’d get anywhere. Some red flags, according to Brian Wansink, PhD, author of Mindless Eating:

Grandma’s homemade apple pie: We have positive associations with certain means of preparation—think homemade or traditional—that encourage us to order them.

Kansas City barbecue: We assume regional food tastes better, even if the restaurant isn’t in the referenced locale.

Velvety chocolate mousse: Sensory words like creamy, juicy, and triple-rich induce cravings, even though items without such labels taste the same.

Jack Daniels glazed ribs: If you like a specific brand, you think you’ll like menu items featuring its flavor.

13. Do a proper push-up
Woman doing a push-up
13. Do a proper push-up

Push-ups are hands down one of the best full-body toners—the basic move works your abs, arms, and chest. (Just ask First Lady Michelle Obama.) To easily master full push-ups, start in a more vertical position, working your way down to doing them on the floor as you master the form.

  1. Start standing up, leaning against a high counter.
  2. Lean against a desk.
  3. Lean against the stationary seat of a stable chair.
  4. Lean against the second step of a staircase.
  5. Do them on the floor.

When you can do 5 reps with good form (body in line from head to feet), move to the next step.

14. Reboot your love life for $20
Happy man and woman
14. Reboot your love life for $20

For lustier sex, experts have a word of advice: novelty. New experiences heighten levels of the brain chemical dopamine, which can send sexual desire soaring, says Susan Kellogg-Spadt, PhD, cofounder of the Pelvic & Sexual Health Institute in Philadelphia. (We’re thinking one of our 8 all-natural sex products can help, too.)

Fool around with a vibrator. Research shows that 53% of women and 45% of men use one. Incorporating one into your sexual play can generate greater desire, arousal, lubrication, and frequency of orgasm. Try a Pocket Rocket, available for $9.99 at

Experiment with Zestra. This arousal-enhancing botanical oil, applied topically, increases blood flow, creating a warm, tingling sensation. Women who use it often climax more quickly and have more intense orgasms. A three-pack, available at mass merchandisers, costs $9.99.

15. Buy the best catch
15. Buy the best catch

Here’s a “supergreen” list of fish that’s not only high in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids but also low in contaminants (such as mercury and PCBs) and sustainably raised and caught. Among the best choices: rainbow trout (farmed), oysters (farmed), and wild caught Alaskan salmon. Also good: arctic char (farmed) and bay scallops (farmed). Find the entire list (and soon, in a free iPhone app). (Then, toss ’em in one of our 5 Healthy Seafood Dinners.)

16. Get age-erasing brows
Woman grooming
16. Get age-erasing brows

Step 1: Trim the excess. Brush brows straight up, then carefully snip hairs that extend above the top of your natural brow line.

Step 2: Tweeze between brows. The inner edge of your brow should line up with the inner corner of your eye.

Step 3: Define the shape. To accent your arch, which should line up near the outer edge of your iris, tweeze two rows of hair from beneath it. Let the brow’s tail extend slightly past the eye’s outer corner.

17. Heal common aches at home
Honey tea on table
17. Heal common aches at home

For heartburn: Take deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) as a chewable tablet 20 minutes before eating to soothe mucous membranes in the digestive tract and prevent reflux, says Tieraona Low Dog, MD, director of the fellowship at the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine.

For back pain: Try comfrey root salve, an ancient but proven back pain reliever. Low Dog likes the product Kytta-Salbe f by Merck, available

For a common cold: Sip thyme tea with honey, says Debra Brammer, ND, associate clinical dean in the School of Naturopathic Medicine at Bastyr University. Put loose leaves in a filter (if dried, use 1 rounded teaspoon per 1 cup of hot water; if fresh, use 2 tablespoons) and steep for 3 to 5 minutes. Thyme is a mild expectorant, and honey is a known cough soother and antimicrobial.

18. Spot hidden sugars
Piles of sugar cubes
18. Spot hidden sugars

Avoid products with any form of sugar in the first five ingredients. If the word is a “syrup” or ends in -ose, it’s an added sweetener. (Up to snuff on where the sweet stuff lurls? See 20 Sugar Shockers.)

19. Get the sleep you crave
Woman sleeping
19. Get the sleep you crave

A good cardio workout, such as a 30-minute jog, can help you snag more slow-wave sleep, the deep restorative kind you need to feel refreshed, according to sleep expert Michael J. Breus, PhD. (That’s not all. Get our tips for your best night’s sleep ever.)

20. Heal cracked cuticles
Woman with hand cream
20. Heal cracked cuticles

If your cuticles are bleeding, apply Super Glue for a few days to seal skin, suggests Mary Lupo, MD, a dermatologist in New Orleans. To prevent damage in the first place, use an ultrahydrating hand cream (tip-off ingredients include petrolatum, shea butter, and linoleic acid); it keeps fragile skin soft and pliable—and more resistant to wear and tear. Little-known fact: Digging in your purse is the number one cause of traumatized cuticles, says Lupo.

21. Master an indoor cycling class
Woman on stationary bike
21. Master an indoor cycling class

Don’t be intimidated! Indoor cycling is super-popular even among gym class newbies, and with good reason: The right technique can blast more than 500 calories in 45 minutes. Kate Hickl, master instructor at Flywheel Sports, an indoor cycling studio in New York City, shares her top riding tips:

Adjust seat height so knee is only slightly bent at bottom of the stroke for more power and comfort.

Draw abs in to take weight off hands and avoid bouncing up and down.

Pedal in “circles” using the same resistance as you push the pedal forward and down and as you pull the pedal back and up.

22. Do a 5-second health check
22. Do a 5-second health check

Toilet test: Is there blood in the bowl after a bowel movement? It’s likely just hemorrhoids, but if you’ve never been diagnosed before, see a doctor, says Yale gastroenterologist Anish Sheth, MD. Blood in the stool may be a sign of colon cancer or diverticulosis, small pouches in the lining of the colon.

Sleep test: How fast do you fall asleep? If you routinely conk out in less than 5 minutes, that’s a sign you’re sleep deprived, Breus says. Skimping on sleep is linked to a host of serious ills, including high blood pressure, weight gain, and type 2 diabetes. Sleep 30 minutes longer and see how you feel.

Bloating test: Do you tend to bloat and get full easily? This symptom—if it’s new for you and lasts 2 weeks or longer—could be a symptom of ovarian cancer, says ob-gyn and Prevention advisor Mary Jane Minkin, MD. This sign is usually present at the earliest stage, but because it’s so common, women often ignore it. (Get 6 more DIY health checks to do today.)

23. Stop a craving right now
Fist smashing donut
23. Stop a craving right now

Follow these 5 steps:

Name 5 things you see in front of you.
ID 4 colors you see.
Describe 3 things your body is feeling (such as temperature or a texture, like your shirt fabric).
Identify 2 sounds.
State 1 thing that you can smell.

Why it works: “Focusing on your senses quiets the chatter in your mind so you can tune in to your body’s signals better—and decide whether you’re really hungry,” says psychologist Susan Albers, PsyD, author of 50 Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food.

24. Drink purer water
Water pouring into glass
24. Drink purer water

At home: First, assess the quality of your tap water. If you’re on a municipal system, your utility should mail you an annual Consumer Confidence Report; you could also test your water through a certified lab (find one at If you have good-quality water, a simple carafe filter can improve taste and remove lead. Consumer Reports named the Tersano Lotus, Clear20, and Brita Smart Pitcher as its top three picks for 2010. If your H20 requires more filtration, try a faucet-mounted filter, which removes additional contaminants such as arsenic. CR’s top picks: Culligan, Pur Vertical, and the Brita OPFF-100.

On the go: Tote filtered tap water in a reusable stainless steel (not plastic-lined) bottle that’s BPA free. The chemical, found in certain plastics, can pose health problems.

25. Relieve post-workout soreness
Foam roller
25. Relieve post-workout soreness

Gentle stretching can boost blood flow and help repair damaged muscle. or try one of these other proven healers:

Give yourself a rubdown: Roll a foam roller or tennis ball along your achy body part. Massage can reduce delayed onset muscle soreness by up to 40%. (Give yourself an at-home massage with these tips.)

Eat ginger: A daily dose (a teaspoon of raw or powdered) can ease postexercise pain by up to 25%. Add to hot food, like a stir-fry or grilled salmon salad.

26. Know your survival dish
Food on a plate
26. Know your survival dish

When you’re too exhausted to think about dinner, it helps to have a fallback recipe that requires minimal effort and is made with ingredients you keep on hand. Find ideas in our recipe channel.

27. Rewire your brain for happiness
Woman meditating
27. Rewire your brain for happiness

Matthieu Ricard, PhD, a scientist, humanitarian, and Buddhist monk, is often referred to as “the happiest man in the world.” His secret: meditation. Try this 10-minute exercise adapted from his new book Why Meditate? Work up to 20 minutes or more daily.

Find a balanced position sitting cross-legged or on a chair.

Breathe calmly and naturally. Concentrate on the passage of air through your nostrils.

When you’re clearly aware of your breath, imagine an innocent, joyous young child approaching. In your mind’s eye, look at him with tenderness and feel unconditional benevolence and love.

Bask in the mindful awareness of love.

28. Trim your own bangs like a pro
Woman cutting her own bangs
28. Trim your own bangs like a pro

Follow these easy steps from Louise O’Connor, owner of OC61 Salon and Spa in New York City:

Step 1: Style hair normally. Wet hair is longer, so cutting bangs dry keeps you from going too short. Use sharp, straight-edged scissors; utility ones are usually too dull for cutting hair. Try Tweezerman Styling Shears ($15;

Step 2: Snip vertically, starting at the center. Slightly lift a 1-inch section of hair and hold it loosely between your index and middle fingers. Hold scissors with the ends pointing up and chip into hair upward on an angle to create a soft fringe—never straight across.

Step 3: Be conservative. Snip about 1/4 inch at a time. You can always go shorter, but growing out hair takes weeks.

29. Keep your laces snug
Man and woman ready to run
29. Keep your laces snug

Try this simple trick for a more secure bow: Reverse the very first step in tying your shoe, then make your bow as usual. If you typically cross the right lace over the left one, now tie left over right, for instance. Experts say this method results in more tension in the knot—regardless of how you start the process—so it gets tighter, not looser, over time.

30. Whiten teeth by tonight
Woman applying a whitening strip
30. Whiten teeth by tonight

Try aquafresh white trays ($34; drugstores). Wearing them for 45 minutes in the morning and then again at night (instead of the recommended once a day) can noticeably whiten your teeth, says NYC cosmetic dentist Gregg Lituchy, DDS. (Avoid these 6 teeth-whitening mistakes.)

31. Boost antioxidants at any meal
Antioxidant boosters
31. Boost antioxidants at any meal

Herbs and spices can deliver just as much disease-fighting punch as fruits and veggies, says Cheryl Forberg, RD, author of Positively Ageless. Here, how to add low-calorie flavor while dramatically boosting your antioxidant intake.

Tarragon, fresh: Add to scrambled eggs
Score*: 155

Oregano, dried: Add to tomato bruschetta or chicken breast marinated in olive oil and garlic.
Score: 1,753

Cloves, ground: Add to mashed sweet potatoes or acorn squash.
Score: 2,903

Cinnamon, ground: Add to oatmeal, French toast, or applesauce.
Score: 1,752

Thyme, fresh: Add to fresh orange slices with black pepper and olive oil.
Score: 137

Sage, fresh: Add to cornbread and stuffings.
Score: 320

Turmeric: Add to curries and bulgur salad with chickpeas and currants.
Score: 1,271

*Scores, per 1/2 teaspoon, are in ORAC points, a measure of antioxidants in food. As a comparison, a 1/2-cup serving of blueberries has an ORAC score of 3,502.

32. Stay clean in a public bathroom
Woman's restroom sign
32. Stay clean in a public bathroom

The ladies’ room is a hot spot for bacteria, says Philip Tierno Jr., PhD, director of microbiology at NYU Langone Medical Center. Here are four surprising ways to keep germs at bay:

Avoid the middle stall: It tends to be used the most and accumulate more bacteria, says University of Arizona microbiologist Charles Gerba, PhD. The first stall is likely cleanest.

Don’t put your purse on the floor: Gerba found that one-third of pocketbooks placed on restroom floors had fecal matter on the bottom. If there’s no hook on the door, hang your purse on your shoulder.

Flee after flushing: The flush, usually more forceful than your home toilet’s, aerosolizes germs in the bowl, so leave before they land on you.

33. Beat a workout rut
Woman after a workout
33. Beat a workout rut

When you’re bored, so is your body—and your fitness level can reflect that mental ennui. To keep things fresh, create a Wildcard Workout Jar: Jot down 20 different routines on scraps of paper—from skipping rope with your kids to a specific interval walk. Pull one from the jar each time your workout starts to feel ho-hum.

34. Never skip flossing
34. Never skip flossing

You know flossing is important—it helps remove bacteria from under the gum line that can contribute to heart disease—but it’s easy to forget. Keep it top of mind by stashing Y-shaped floss holders or any other flossing aides near your TV remote and get the job done during a commercial break, suggests Lynn M. Ramer, LDH, president of the American Dental Hygienists’ Association.


35 per cent decline in sperm count: Infertile men everywhere!

antenatalMention “Infertility” and cold shivers run down peoples’ spines. Infertility threatens the love, peace and joy in a home.   Many homes are faced with the agony of childlessness and infertility is fast becoming a plague. The desire of every couple is to become parents within the first or second year of marriage. While many couples have this dream fulfilled, quite a number of others do not; no matter how hard they try.   When pregnancy is not achieved at a point, mistrust sets in.

Most of the time, the woman bears the bulk of the blame. Such  was the case of Obigaeri and her childhood friend, Emeka, who later became her husband.   “The moment I noticed my mother in-law’s frequent visits, I became suspicious,” Emeka said. Emeka and Obigaeri were close enough friends right from childhood that what started like child’s play blossomed into real life marriage. Six years into the marriage, there was no sign of pregnancy not even a miscarriage.   Tongues started wagging.

Love in the home suddenly grew sour.   Like the usual practice in Africa, the woman is blamed.    Obiagaeri became a laughing stock before her husband’s family. No one saw any good in her anymore.   Obiagaeri’s world came crashing down. Month after month, she continued to wallow in self pity, hoping for a miracle.  One day she ran into   an old school mate,   and they got talking. She narrated her story, and her school mate counselled and encouraged her to insist that her husband also go for a medical check up.   But like the typical   Nigerian woman, Obiageri was afraid to confront her husband.

While praying to God to open her womb, Obiageri  had been to two in-vitro fertility,  IVF, centres where she was given a clean bill of health.  Six months later, when she could no longer bear the harassments by family members, she finally opened up: “I told my husband that it was time for him to also check himself”. But the response she received from Emeka shocked her.   “Why should you involve me in that?”, he queried.   His reaction was typical of African men. However, his reaction did not deter Obigaeri. She mounted pressure until he   gave in after several  months.   He finally agreed to go for screening.

They went to another fertility centre in Lagos where it was discovered he was azoospermic, that is, had zero sperm count. “The battle did not stop there.   My husband argued that it was a lie, and  that we needed a second opinion which we obtained from another clinic.   The results came out the same.” Then the search for solution began. It took a while before they decided to try  IVF  is the process by which eggs are removed from  a woman’s  ovaries and mixed with sperm in a laboratory culture dish. Fertilisation takes place in the dish, “in-vitro”, which means “in glass”. Thousands of IVF babies have been born since the first one emerged in 1978. “And God decided to answer us.   Today I am a living testimony. I have a set of twins, a boy and  a  girl.” Infertility remains a growing problem in Nigeria and the world at large. Reports have shown that 30 percent of  men suffer infertility. Unfortunately, in this part of the world, women are presumed to suffer infertility and not men.

Options Emeka and Obiageri, after fertility experts told them  there was chance they could have their own child, took steps to resolve the challenge.   Different options were presented to them.   They were told they could  go for sperm donation or Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSC) among others.   Convincing Emeka on the options was another challenge.   Emeka, vehemently rejected the option of sperm donation.   Few months later, there was a drama in the neighbourhood. Life, you may say, sometimes may be unfair . While Emeka likes children, few years after marriage he has not been able to have children of his own.

Meanwhile, he was fond of his neighbour’s children. One fateful afternoon, he was playing with the children in front of his house, when one of them  fell and broke his arm.   Emeka tried to help the child. From nowhere, the parents of the child came out, and,  instead of finding out what happened, they lashed at Emeka.   “Is it our fault that you have no children?   Why do you want to kill our child? If you love children so much what stopped you from having yours?”, they said.  Emeka broke down in tears and left. Emeka’s case is just one out of the many experiences of many couples with the problem of infertility in their  neighbourhoods.

This incident, however, motivated Emeka.   “My husband came back home and suggested we immediately resume treatment. That is how our problem was solved”, Obiageri said. One of the IVF clinics was able to help them, and they are now proud parents  of Jane and Juliet.  According to them, they approached their challenge after   Emeka realised there was hope. Emeka and Obiageri were helped with ICSI as part of  IVF treatment to conceive. ICSI, according to experts, is the most successful form of treatment for men who are infertile and is used in nearly half of all IVF treatments.  The procedure requires just one sperm, which is injected directly into the egg.

The fertilised egg (embryo) is then transferred to the woman’s  uterus (womb). In ICSI, as with standard IVF treatment, the woman  will be given fertility drugs to stimulate her  ovaries to develop several mature eggs for fertilisation. When the eggs are ready for collection, the woman and her spouse will undergo separate procedures. The husband may produce a sperm sample himself by ejaculating into a cup on the same day as the wife’s  eggs are collected. If there is no sperm in his semen, doctors can extract sperm from him under local anaesthetic.

The woman’s  doctor will use a fine needle to take the sperm from the husband’s  epididymis, in a procedure known as percutaneous epididymal sperm aspiration (PESA), or testicle, in a procedure known as testicular sperm aspiraction (TESA) If these techniques don’t remove enough sperm, the doctor will try another tactic.

He’ll take a biopsy of testicular tissue, which sometimes has sperm attached. This is called testicular sperm extraction (TESE) or micro-TESE, if the surgery is carried out with a microscope.  After giving the woman a local anaesthetic, the doctor will remove her eggs using a fine, hollow needle. An ultrasound helps the doctor to locate the eggs. The embryologist then isolates individual sperm in the lab and injects them into the woman’s  individual eggs. Two days later the fertilised eggs become balls of cells called embryos. The procedure then follows the same steps as in IVF. The doctor transplants one or two embryos into the woman’s  uterus  through her  cervix using a thin catheter.

If you are under 40, you can have one or two embryos transferred. If you are 40 or over, you can have a maximum of three embryos transferred if using your own eggs, or two if you’re using donor eggs. Extra embryos, if there are any, may be frozen in case this cycle is not successful. One cycle of ICSI takes between four weeks and six weeks to complete. You and your spouse can expect to spend a full day at the clinic for the egg and sperm retrieval procedures. You’ll go back anywhere between two days and six days later for the embryo transfer procedure. The success rates for ICSI are higher than if you use conventional IVF methods.

A lot depends on your particular fertility problem and your age. The younger you are, the healthier your eggs usually are, and the higher your chances of success.   The percentage of cycles using ICSI, which result in a live birth, is over 35 per cent if you are under 35.   ICSI may give you and your spouse a chance of conceiving your genetic child when other options are closed to you. ICSI doesn’t appear to affect how children conceived via the procedure develop mentally or physically.   ICSI restored happiness in   Emeka and Obiageri’s marriage. According to experts, infertility is inability to conceive or produce offspring despite having regular unprotected sex.   Infertility occurs when a poor reproductive system  impairs the ability of the body to perform necessary functions of reproduction, and affects nearly 25 percent of couples in Nigeria.

Experts claim that 40 to 45 percent of all consultations in gynaecological clinics are infertility-related. Although, there have been several cases of male infertility and approximately 30 percent of infertility attributable to male factors, in many cases, it appears that men are not as willing or as able as their female partners to talk about their experience.    When a man is involved, in countries like Nigeria, it is treated in secret.   A school of thought believes  it could be due to the fact that, traditionally, children are seen as a woman’s province, or because, over the ages, conception has been thought of as the woman’s responsibility. ‘

Why men suffer infertility’ But the Medical Director (MD), Nordica Fertility Centre, Lagos, Abuja and Asaba, Dr. Abayomi Ajayi, says men contribute a lot to the challenge of fertility as findings have shown that, every year, there is 30 percent decline in sperm count. Ajayi, a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, maintained that although there are many factors, sperm count appears to be decreasing worldwide and no one knows why it is so. “We don’t know why ‘but that is what we have seen. We have substantiated that in Nordica by comparing the sperm of people who presented 10 years ago to the sperm count of people who are presenting now.

It is obvious to us that there had been about 30 percent decline.   It is like, every year, there is 30 percent decline in sperm parameter. There is no doubt that sperm is a big issue all over the world.” The MD, who, however, said there is hope for even men without sperm in IVF treatment, explained that  technology has made it possible for men with as low as 40,000 sperm count to have children instead of the average sperm count of 15 million. According to  him, one of the advantages of ICSI is that the sperm doesn’t have to travel to the egg or penetrate the outer layers of the egg and this process can help couples where the man’s sperm can’t get to the egg at all. It can also be recommended when sperm can get to the egg, but, for some reasons, can’t fertilise it.  ICSI is likely to be recommended if your spouse has a very low or zero sperm count.   It can also be recommended when you have a high percentage of abnormally shaped sperm and can result in poor motility, which means the sperm can’t swim well.

Quality of sperm Ajayi pointed out that one out of every four Nigerian couples will experience delay in getting pregnancy, saying that  if 100 couples have intercourse at once, only about 20 percent will conceive. He stressed, that a man’s fertility generally, relies on the quantity and quality of his sperm. If the number of sperm a man ejaculates is low or if the sperm are of a poor quality, it will be difficult, and, sometimes, impossible  for him to cause pregnancy. Studies have shown that infertility is a widespread problem. For about one in every five infertile couples, the problem lies solely in the male partner. It is also estimated that one in every 20 men has some kind of fertility problem with low numbers of sperm in his ejaculate. However, only about one in every 100 men has no sperm in his ejaculate.

Causes of male infertility Another consultant gynaecologist, Dr. Victor Ajayi, said: “Male infertility is usually caused by problems that affect either sperm production or sperm transport. About two-thirds of infertile men have a problem with making sperm in the testes. Either low numbers of sperm are made and/or the sperm that are made do not work properly. “Sperm transport problems are found in about one  in every five  infertile men, including men who have had a vasectomy but now wish to have more children. Blockages (often referred to as obstructions) in the tubes leading sperm away from the testes to the penis can cause a complete lack of sperm in the ejaculated semen”. For known causes of male infertility, experts have also identified sperm production problem, chromosomal or genetic causes, undescended testes, infections, varicocele (varicose veins of the testes), medicines and chemical, and radiation damage.

‘Why couples should be evaluated’ Victor Ajayi stressed the need to always evaluate both parties in cases of infertility. “Current studies have shown that, after 45 years, a man begins to have issues with sperm.   At that  age, a man may experience two heads and two tales sperm.    We encourage DNA in old men. Some may have their DNA damaged and there will be problems such as having difficulties impregnating their women, or damage babies,”he said. The consultant gynaecologist noted  that semen is not the same thing as sperm, saying sperm cannot be seen with naked eyes as it  lives within the semen.

Things that can dispose men to infertility On things that can dispose men to infertility, Ajayi  listed them to include complications of sexually transmitted diseases, STDs, such as Chlamydl;  trauma alcohol ingestion, which, according to him, can slow down sperm; marijuana; cocaine ingestions; drugs for body building, tight pants; and  cigarette smoking. He warned that long-distance travelling drivers could suffer infertility due to their sitting position which is usually close to the engine of their vehicles. However, with increasing rates of infertility among couples, health watchers are of the view that couples, after a few years of trial, should seek help as there are many advanced procedures that can diagnose and treat infertility in both men and women.   Studies and experiences have shown that infertility is no longer a problem for women alone; it  should be the concern of all.


4 Gastroschisis Facts Pharmacists Should Know

 Prevalence of gastroschisis, a birth defect where a baby’s intestines stick outside the body, is increasing in the United States. This birth defect can occur if the muscles in the baby’s abdominal wall do not form correctly in the womb, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Babies born with gastroschisis will undergo surgery to place the organs back into their bodies and repair the abdominal wall. After surgery, however, infants may experience problems related to feeding, digestion, and absorption of nutrients, the CDC noted. As a result, babies may be given nutrients intravenously and also receive antibiotics for infection.

Why are some babies born with gastroschisis? It may have something to do with a change in their genes or chromosomes, or the mother may have been exposed to something harmful in the environment during her pregnancy. Medications taken during pregnancy may also be related to gastroschisis, according to the CDC. While previous research found that gastroschisis incidence nearly doubled between 1995 and 2005 and that young maternal age was associated with the birth defect, a new report from the CDC expanded on those findings and suggested that the condition’s prevalence has increased for all maternal age groups. The new report examined data on gastroschisis from 14 population-based state surveillance programs and compared the condition’s prevalence in the period between 2006 and 2012 to the period between 1995 and 2005. Based on the CDC’s findings, here are 4 facts about gastroschisis that pharmacists should know:

1. African-American mothers younger than 20 years saw the greatest increase in babies with gastroschisis. While the prevalence of gastroschisis increased among all age groups and races/ethnicities from 1995 to 2012, the average annual percent change was greatest among African-American mothers younger than 20 years, at 263%. In contrast, white mothers’ average annual percent change in the same timeframe was 68%. 2. While African-Americans saw the greatest increase in gastroschisis incidence, white and Hispanic women were more likely to give birth to a baby with the condition. Between 2006 and 2012, the incidence of gastroschisis among white women younger than 20 years was 18.1 per 10,000 live births, while Hispanic mothers’ incidence was 16.1, and African-American mothers’ incidence was 10.2. 3. Total gastroschisis incidence has increased from 3.6 per 10,000 live births to 4.9 per 10,000 live births. Based on the researchers’ population data, there were around 12 million live births from 1995 to 2005, of which 4369 involved gastroschisis.

Between 2006 and 2012, there were 4497 gastroschisis cases among the 9 million live births. When comparing the 2 time periods, the researchers determined that the condition’s prevalence increased 30% in the time period of 2006 to 2012 compared with 1995 to 2005. 4. Previous research tackled some of the risk factors for gastroschisis after adjusting for maternal age. Research from 2008 found that some risk factors for gastroschisis may include lower socioeconomic status, lower body mass index, poor nutrition, smoking, illicit drugs, alcohol, analgesic medication use, and genitourinary infections.

There is also some evidence that a change in paternity from a previous pregnancy is linked with gastroschisis. “Gastroschisis is unusual among birth defects in that it disproportionately affects younger mothers—a vulnerable population,” the researchers stated. “The continued increase in age-adjusted prevalence and the pace of the increase suggests that unidentified risk factors might be contributing.” The researchers noted that the increasing prevalence of the gastroschisis could not be explained by demographic changes in maternal age or race. Teen births have been declining, and birth rates have decreased across all age groups. “Public health research is urgently needed to identify the causal factor(s) contributing to this increase,” the researchers concluded



19 things you need to know about Crohn’s Disease

The 4 cancer myths you need to stop believingHaving Crohn’s is SCARY, true story. And a big part of the scariness is the unknown. For an increasingly common disease, it’s not often talked about.

Sure, one  reason for this is that no one really relishes talking about their toilet habits (unless you’re like a former flatmate of mine who spoke about his daily motions with a David Attenborough-like sense of awe and fascination). However, things become less scary the more you talk about them.

So, here are 19 things you don’t – but should – know about Crohn’s Disease

1. Crohn’s Disease is a horrible, prickly beast of a disease. It’s chronic and there’s no cure, and it can be a complete nightmare to live with. It’sone of the two main inflammatory bowel diseases (the other is Ulcerative Colitis), categorised by inflammation, ulceration and sometimes perforation of the wall of your intestine.

2. It can strike anywhere in the digestive tract, from mouth to… how do I word this delicately?… arsehole? Yeah, no point skirting around it. However, it has a particular fondness for the ileum (the last section of the small intestine) and the colon (the large intestine).

3. It’s estimated to affect 1 in 650 people in the UK, which means it’s likely that at least one of your Facebook friends also has it – or more, depending on how popular you are.

4. The cause isn’t clear. Experts think it’s a combination of genetics, an abnormal reaction by your immune system to bacteria in your gut, and an environmental trigger, which can be anything from a virus to smoking. When I was diagnosed at 17, I began to think of my immune system as a deranged and oversensitive old woman with a shot gun: no one knows how she got the shotgun, or why she’s so angry, but by hell does she cause some serious damage whenever she feels like it.

5. The main symptoms include stomach cramping, diarrhoea, fatigue (also known as CONSTANT, OVERWHELMING TIREDNESS), loss of appetite and unexplained weight loss, anaemia, and generally feeling a bit crap. But those are entry-level symptoms. Flare ups can trigger a whole other level of pain and complications…

6. Flare ups, or as I sometimes call them: OH MY GOD WHAT HAVE I DONE TO DESERVE THIS?!, are periods when the disease is most active and destructive. Sometimes, but not always, it can involve a hospital stay.When Crohn’s is in remission, sometimes you can have no symptoms at all (lucky) or, more commonly, a mildly irritating but not wholly disruptive background grumble.

7. Everyone has a slightly different experience of Crohn’s. There are common symptoms, yes, but the triggers vary from person to person, be it a certain food, type of alcoholic drink, or stress. Some people manage it through diet, others through exercise and meditation. Almost all use medication of some form because it’s a serious illness that needs some serious drugs to deal with it.

8. Crohn’s doesn’t have ANYTHING to do with your diet. Diet can aggravate or alleviate your symptoms, yes, but there is no evidence to say that a particular kind of food causes Crohn’s. When people say, “Have you thought about cutting ‘x’ or ‘y’ out?” it’s kinda annoying.

9. There is no cure for Crohn’s, but different kinds of treatments. Medical interventions are mainly concerned with alleviating the symptoms and preventing malnutrition, because when your gut is angry and sore it finds it difficult to do its job. These can vary from anti-inflammatories and dietary supplements like iron, calcium and Vitamin B12, to immunosuppressants – or as I like to call them, “The Big Guns”.

10. Surgery for Crohn’s follows one basic principle: cut the bad part out. Yep, just hack out the worst of it and hope for the best. Many sufferers will have surgery at least once in their life, but there is only a finite amount of gut and once hacked, it ain’t going to grow back. Sometimes surgery puts things into remission, but sometimes this involves some consequences, such as a stoma. A stoma is basically a pouch to collect “matter” outside of the body, avoiding the whole car crash of your digestive system all together.

11. Liquid diets are a thing.They allow the gut to have a rest from digesting and focus on CALMING THE HELL DOWN. These usually involve milkshakes. Fun for the first few “meals” but after a week you’ll be dreaming about hot, buttery toast or greasy, crispy pork scratchings.

12.It’s not infectious, so please don’t disappear in a cartoon cloud of dust. People with Crohn’s need love and hot water bottles. Spooning and cooing also helps.

13. It’s often considered an “invisible” disease because: a) it’s not particularly pleasant or easy to talk about and b) people with Crohn’s can hide it quite well, providing it’s relatively under control or in remission.  Hiding it from friends and family might save you embarrassment, but it can also deprive you of a much-needed support system, especially when you’re having a flare up.

14. The impacts of Crohn’s aren’t solely physical. Sufferers, like many others with chronic illnesses, are vulnerable to mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. This is because living with a chronic illness is bloody hard, and it, unsurprisingly, can cause problems in your relationships, work and everyday life in a way that can make you really sad and anxious.

15. Living with Crohn’s teaches you how to ask for help. It can be scary but it can be lifesaving. No amount of awkwardness is worth getting really, really ill over.

16. Those toilet humour jokes you may have found hilarious as a five year old, suddenly might not be so funny anymore. Somehow, fart jokes are less amusing when you suffer from an illness where medical professionals are constantly asking about your poop and trying to stick a camera up and in you without even buying you dinner first. For similar reasons, anal sex may be a sore topic – literally and emotionally.

17. Once you get a handle on your condition, you will learn what your limits are, and these may vary from not being able to eat certain foods (and resenting the “clean eaters” who choose not to) to not having the energy to do anything and everything you’d like to. I’ll be the first to admit that acknowledging that you are more limited than other people is a difficult pill to swallow.

18. Try not to view Crohn’s and your body as The Enemy, keen to sabotage everything you want to achieve in life. Treat it like an annoying friend that really just wants some kindness and compassion. Try naming it. I call my broken tummy Melissa. I mostly hate her, but I’m learning that she suffers as much as I do and the only way we’ll get through it all is if we listen to and are kind to one another.

19.Crohn’s is a horror of a disease, but you can survive it. With the support of friends and family, a squad of medical professionals and a plethora of medications, you can lead a happy life. Sure, sometimes you’ll have to say no to that curry night, or cancel plans in favour of sitting at home in your pants eating ice cream feeling sorry for yourself, but you are not defined by it. You are not Crohn’s Disease; it’s just something you deal with. It’s hard, but you can get through it. You will get through it.


An obscure virus spread through kissing has been linked to infertility, study finds

Researchers in Italy have found evidence to suggest that an obscure virus spread through saliva – i.e. kissing – might actually be linked to unexplained infertility in women.

As well as giving you second thoughts the next time you lock lips with someone, the discovery could also offer hope and a new treatment option to some of the 10 percent of women who have problems conceiving children.

It’s not the first time the virus, known as HHV-6A (one of several human herpes viruses) has been linked to kissing, but no one has made the association with infertility before, reports Henry Bodkin for The Telegraph.

The team – led by Roberta Rizzo from Univeristy of Ferrara in Italy – tested 30 women with unexplained fertility problems and found that 13 (43 percent) had an HHV-6A infection in their uterus. The human herpes virus was not detected in another 36 healthy women tested as a control group.

HHV-6A is still largely a mystery to scientists, and the majority of infections of both HHV-6A and its close relation HHV-6B are ‘silent’, meaning they usually don’t express any noticeable symptoms.

In this study, all the women carrying HHV-6A were also found to have abnormally high levels of cytokines – signalling proteins that help cells interact, and play an important role in the development of a fertilised egg and foetus.

High levels of the hormone estradiol were also found, and the researchers think that the hormone might be triggering the HHV-6A infection in some way.

While the results are certainly off-putting, there’s somewhat of a silver lining here, because if scientists can figure out how to treat the infection, it would mean affected women are able to conceive without resorting to the expensive and complicated process of in vitro fertilisation (IVF).

Right now, though, there are no approved treatments for either HHV-6A or HHV-6B.

“This is a surprising discovery,” HHV-6 specialist Anthony Komaroff from Harvard Medical School, who wasn’t involved in the study, told The Telegraph. “If confirmed, the finding has the potential to improve the outcome for a large subset of infertile women.”

While we know relatively little about HHV-6A, previous studies have shown it can be passed on by saliva, which is why kissing has been linked to the report.

But it’s likely that a range of other biological factors are at play to trigger an HHV-6A infection – even if a kiss can transmit it – factors that will now have to be investigated as scientists try to work out exactly what’s going on.

“Further studies are required to confirm the association of HHV-6A infection as a trigger of female primary unexplained infertility,” conclude the researchers in their report. “Indeed, there are several potential mechanisms by which HHV-6 might induce female infertility.”

In the meantime, there’s no need to stop kissing – as long as you know the facts about what you might be passing on.

The team’s findings were published in the journal PLOS One.

Source: sciencealert


3 Ways To Whiten Skin With Fruits

Many fruits have been shown to whiten skin when eaten or applied directly to the skin. Chemicals in the fruit act by repairing skin damage, encouraging the growth of new skin cells and inhibiting the production of melanin, the pigment that darkens skin. Instead of spending money on expensive lotions and creams, try using the following fruits to help whiten your skin.

(1)  Whitening Skin with Antioxidants from Citrus or Papaya

 Drink citrus juice. Drinking a citrus juice like orange juice may help to inhibit UV induced pigmentation.

Use citrus to make a mask. Citrus fruits contain vitamin C, which promotes collagen production (necessary for the creation of new skin cells), is a powerful antioxidant and has been shown to inhibit skin darkening due to UV exposure.

  • Lemons tend to work best, but any citrus fruit will work, including oranges, limes, and grapefruit. You can obtain similar results from papaya.
 Squeeze the juice from the fruit and dilute with water. You can apply the diluted juice directly to your face, or combine with honey to make a mask. Honey both thickens the juice to make a mask possible and has its own health benefits: it is an antimicrobial, moisturizes the skin and prevents wrinkles.

Consider using the entire fruit. The peel and fleshy parts of citrus fruit contain compounds that help to whiten the skin. For even better results, consider adding them in one of two ways:

  • Dry the peel, grind it up, and add it to your mask. Consider mixing with yoghurt to produce a soothing mask.
  • Chop the entire fruit into pieces and process it, skin and all, in a fruit processor. Use the resulting paste as the base for your mask
  • .Use the seeds and skin if using papaya. While the flesh of the fruit is beneficial, the peels and seeds are the most potent part of papaya.
    • Consider processing the papaya fruit along with the skin to produce a mask. For even better results, mix with lemon juice.
    • You can purchase papaya seed extract and use it with honey to make a mask, or combine it with the processed fruit.
    • Make your own papaya seed extract by crushing papaya seeds and placing them in water for two weeks. Shake daily. Filter and use the water in your mask.

  • Do not go outside while wearing the mask. The juice in citrus fruits can react with UV light to cause photodermatitis, a painful condition resulting in a rash, blisters or scaly skin.
  • Do not go outside while wearing the mask. The juice in citrus fruits can react with UV light to cause photodermatitis, a painful condition resulting in a rash, blisters or scaly skin.
  • Leave the mask on for 15 to 20 minutes. Wash it off with lukewarm water.

    (2) Whitening Skin with Fruits that Inhibit Melanin Production

  • Make a mask with pomegranate fruit. Blend half a pomegranate, 2 teaspoons of almond oil, and ½ a tablespoon of honey to make a pomegranate mask. Pomegranate fruit contains punicalagins – compounds that have been shown to directly inhibit melanin production.
  • Use pineapple to make a mask. Blend four slice of pineapple in a food processor along with a half a tablespoon of honey. Pineapple fruit contains compounds that act as tyrosinase inhibitors, thereby whitening skin

    (3) Whiten Skin Using Fruit Extracts

  • Make Indian gooseberry oil and apply it with moisturizer or as a mask.Gooseberry fruit extract contains powerful antioxidants that help to repair damaged skin, as well as phenols that inhibit tyrosinase activity to lighten skin.You can purchase gooseberry oil or make your own.
    • To make your own, grate the gooseberries and squeeze out the juice from the gratings. Add coconut oil to the juice in a 1 part juice to 2 part coconut oil ratio. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Skim off and store the resulting oil.
    • Add the oil to honey and yoghurt to create a mask, or add it to another fruit mask.
    • Alternately, you can dilute the oil with moisturizer and apply that once a day