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Wait, I Can Skip My Pelvic Exam?!

Written on July 3, 2014 at 10:57 am , by

Big news: Pelvic exams are no longer necessary for women who don’t have symptoms and aren’t pregnant, according to a new recommendation from The American College of Physicians out this week. It’s a topic we covered recently in our April 2014 issue, but it’s not an excuse to ditch your regular gyno visits altogether. Here’s what else you need to know.

So Long, Stirrups!

By Laurie Tarkan

Imagine going to your gyno and not spending the appointment staring at the ceiling with your knees in the air. “Until the Pap test was introduced, a woman didn’t go to the ob-gyn unless she was pregnant or had symptoms like pain or bleeding,” says Carolyn Westhoff, M.D., a FITNESS advisory board member and professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University Medical Center. When the Pap became standard in the late 1940s, so did the yearly gyno exam. But in 2012, based on new research, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG)  told its members to dial back on the Pap test and give it every three years; for women 30 and older who combine it with a test for human papillomavirus (HPV), the recommendation is every five years.

The reason: Although the Pap can be a lifesaver, there is no benefit to screening on an annual basis, because cervical cancer is slow growing. “If you do Pap smears frequently, you’ll get some results that are ‘not normal’ but aren’t cancer,” says Miriam Alexander, M.D., the director of the general preventive medicine residency program at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore. “Patients might then be ordered to have uncomfortable additional testing, which causes anxiety and can, in rare cases, lead to severe complications.”

As for annual pelvic exams, women simply don’t need them, research has found. The exams are not necessary to screen for ovarian and uterine cancers or sexually transmitted infections, and they don’t need to be done before a woman starts taking oral contraceptives. “Gradually, more and more ob-gyns are realizing that the pelvic exam doesn’t have to be done so frequently,” Dr. Westhoff says.

The Bottom Line:  The ACOG still recommends an annual gyno visit, but unless you have a medical problem or new symptoms, you probably don’t need a pelvic exam between Pap tests, Dr. Westhoff says.

So, how often should I get tested? 

Pap Test:  Every three years starting at age 21. If you’re 30 or older, every five years if you combine it with a test for human papillomavirus (HPV).
Exception: More often if results are abnormal.

Pelvic Exam: Not necessary if you are feeling fine.
Exception: Unless you have symptoms such as bleeding, pain, urinary problems or new or unusual discharge.

Photo by Susan Pittard

More from FITNESS: 

Private Matters: Solutions to Common Gyno Problems

 Salt Shake-Up: Why Sodium is Actually Good For You

Oil Pulling: What It Is and How It Works 

The First Lady Wants You to Drink Up

Written on September 23, 2013 at 10:34 am , by

Drink more water for your skin, your health and your waist. (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

Not to be pessimistic, but when it comes to Americans, our glasses are half-empty these days–literally. According to the Center for Disease Control, an estimated 43 percent of adults drink less than four cups of water a day and 7 percent drink no water at all. That’s why earlier this month FLOTUS Michelle Obama launched her Drink Up initiative to get people drinking more water and less of the sugary stuff. To get some tips on how to increase your water intake we chatted with Dr. Jenna Bell, RD. Follow her tips below and follow in the FLOTUS’ adequately hydrated footsteps:

  • Jazz it up: Not one to drink boring old tap water? Try a water enhancer like Stur, sweetened with stevia, so there’s no added calories or sugar. The coloring from each flavor comes from vegetable juice and you can control how much want in your glass with a simple squeeze.
  • Do as Diane Sawyer does: “She puts a glass of water by her bed and drinks it every morning when she wakes up, so now I do too,” says Bell. “If you’re going to take advice from anyone, take it from her because it’s clearly working!”
  • Carry a water bottle: This isn’t exactly breaking news, but it is the easiest way to keep drinking as the day goes on. Buy a reusable bottle like S’well, who is partnering with Drink Up with a limited edition bottle that gives 10 percent of proceeds back to the foundation.
  • Start meals with water: “A study in 2010 out of Virginia Tech looked at whether or not drinking water before a meal effects what we eat and weight loss. They found that two glasses of water before a meal helped shed weight and made participants eat less because water fills up your stomach,” says Bell.
  • Order water every time you order a beverage: Coffee? Get water. Wine? Get water. Not only will you stay hydrated, you’ll probably fend off a hangover in the process.

Now tell us: What tricks do you use to drink more water?

How Long It Takes to Catch a Cold (Spoiler: Not Long At All!)

Written on August 27, 2013 at 12:02 pm , by

Whether you’re a mom who is getting ready for the influx of germs your child is about to bring home as they go back to school or are just stocking up on hand sanitizer for the office this fall, one thing is definite–cold season is creeping up on us. We got the chance to chat with NYC Ear, Nose and Throat specialist Anthony Jahn, MD on behalf of Ocean Saline Nasal Care on how to stay cold-free this season and were shocked at this scary stat he shared with us on how long it takes for you to catch a cold once you’ve been sneezed on, which is the primary way you catch a cold. Watch below:

 

 

So from the time someone sneezes on you, or even near you (sneeze droplets can travel much farther than you would think!) it only takes 15 minutes for that cold germ to travel from the front of your nose to the back of your throat. Dr. Jahn also said that the average cold lasts anywhere from seven to ten days – that’s a long time to be sick! You won’t show symptoms for about ten hours, meaning you could spread a cold to your friends or family and not even know it. Bummer.

To skip the sick days this year, use a saline solution like Ocean Saline Nasal Spray to keep your nose moist (and therefore clear of any germs), take vitamin C and zinc and most importantly, steer clear of any sneezy coworkers until their symptoms clear up. Here’s to a happy, healthy fall!

More from FITNESS: Sneaky Cold Culprits and How to Boost Your Immunity

 

Some Sexy Stats to Keep in Mind for Valentine’s Day

Written on February 14, 2013 at 9:00 am , by

No one can see us, right? (Photo courtesy Chris Craymer/TrunkArchive.com)

By now you know that while, yes, sex is a lot of fun, it’s also a big part of keeping you healthy! To help celebrate Valentine’s Day today, Durex and British retailer Littlewoods conducted two sex surveys to see what people’s habits were and basically how you can get busy more. Some interesting tidbits below:

  • It might be time to skip the champagne and pick up some sheets instead. Littlewoods found that people who decorated their bedroom with purple bedding or furniture have sex 3.49 times each week, compared to the average 1.8 times each week of those with a gray bedroom decor. Sounds like a fun home improvement project for your next date night, right?
  • The bedroom is getting boring: Almost 75 percent of American adults have done the deed in an adventurous location.
  • Top spots that seem like a good idea in theory but never really work out include the shower (38 percent), backseat of a car (25 percent) and on a beach (21 percent).
  • When asked for the top dream destination for a sexy rendezvous, women answered the Eiffel Tower (33 percent) while men said the West Wing of the White House (31 percent)!

More from FITNESS: The Get It On Guide

The Heart Rates Heard Around the World

Written on November 29, 2012 at 2:17 pm , by

Take your resting heart rate first thing in the morning to see if you’re fit as a fiddle. (Photo courtesy of Jeff Harris)

All it takes is a looming deadline or spat with your roommate to get your heart pumping, but when it comes to the beat, which places have a higher heart rate? Azumio, mobile health app developer of programs like Cardio Buddy, Fitness Buddy and Sleep Time pulled some data from their heart monitor app Instant Heart Rate across 159 countries, 6 million data points and 500,000 users. Take a look below to see which countries and states are really the most frazzled, plus some other interesting findings:

  • Too much on our plate? According to Azmuio’s data, the average global heart rate for women is 79.83 beats per minute (bpm). For men, it’s 74.02 bpm.
  • When it comes to countries, India had the highest average heart rate at 80.5 bpm with the U.K. clocking in as the lowest at 71.9 bpm. The U.S. has an average heart rate of 77.3 bpm.
  • The U.S. cities with the highest heart rate are Dallas (81.4 bpm), Atlanta (81.2 bpm), Houston (80.8 bpm) and Los Angeles (80.5 bpm).

But don’t be fooled–stress isn’t the only factor that can spike your heart rate. Factors like smoking, caffeine and some health issues like thyroid disease all play a part. Find your resting heart rate by using your index and middle finger to find your pulse on your inner wrist. Count the beats for 10 seconds and multiply that number by six. If you’re between 60 to 80 bpm, that’s considered normal.

More from FITNESS Magazine: How Healthy Are You? 10 Easy Self-Checks

 

Doc Shopping? Some Things to Consider First

Written on November 7, 2012 at 3:00 pm , by

Americans surveyed said selecting a physician ranks second only to selecting a spouse. (Photo courtesy iStockPhoto)

As the start of cold and flu season swings into gear, you may find yourself heading to the doctor a little more than usual in the coming months. And while things like insurance coverage is important, a recent study of more than 7,700 Americans conducted by www.healthgrades.com, a site dedicated to helping consumers find medical professionals in their area, found that the average adult spends more time researching cars and refrigerators than their healthcare providers. In addition, over 50 percent of those asked said they felt that they had made the wrong choice in the past when selecting a doctor or hospital. Whoa! Archelle Georgiou, MD and former medical officer at United Health chatted with us about why this survey is so shocking and what you can do to make the right choice for your upcoming doctor visits.

What was the most shocking about this survey?

Aside from the fact that people spend more time researching appliances and their cell phone plans than the hospitals they are going to receive care at, it was surprising how many people looked at convenience first. Obviously insurance and payment for an appointment is an important piece, but convenience in terms of location does not equal quality. In the study, consumers said a hospital’s location is just as important as its mortality rate, 83 percent said it was important and 87 percent said it was very important! Read more

The States That Sleep the Most, Plus Other Sleep Stats to Know

Written on October 26, 2012 at 2:08 pm , by

Sweet dreams! (Photo courtesy Ned Frisk/Jupiter Images)

You already know that lack of sleep could lead to weight gain, but did you know that Maine, Montana and Idaho are the sleepiest states? They each clocked in at the average person getting over 6.6 hours of sleep a night, according to the study Gender Differences in a Naturalistic Observational Study of Sleep and BMI by BodyMedia, Inc. presented at the Obesity Society annual meeting this past September. States that got less than 6.3 hours of sleep included Maryland and New York. Some other interesting findings:

  • Overall, people with higher BMIs had less sleep, but the increase in weight and sleep is more closely related in women than men. We know, life is not fair.
  • The days people sleep the most are Saturday and Sunday. The days people sleep the least are Wednesday and Thursday, as they are most likely caught up in the mid-week work shuffle.
  • Younger users got more sleep than older users.
  • The recommended amount of sleep for adults is 7 to 8 hours, yet the average amount of sleep per night never enters that range, it’s always below. Case in point: We’re not getting enough sleep!

To help you start snoozing faster, check out the FITNESS Get-to-Sleep Guide. From foods to help you sleep to pre-sleep workouts and how technology messes up your sleep patterns, you can rest easy tonight knowing that more Zzzs are in your future!

More from FITNESS: Find Out What Your BMI Is

Fit Links: Rainy Day Workouts and Healthy Sweet Potato Recipes

Written on October 19, 2012 at 12:32 pm , by

Sweet Potato and Apple Casserole, anyone? (Photo by Evan Sklar)

This week’s fit links from around the web:

#140Wednesdays: Would You Take a Pill to Lose Weight?

Written on July 18, 2012 at 6:00 pm , by

Move your butt for 30 minutes 5 days a week. A prescription to live by!

Written by Lisa Turner, editorial intern

With a seal of approval from the FDA yesterday, brand new diet drug Qsymia promises to help people shed unwanted pounds. Right now, it’s only approved for people who are not only overweight, but struggle with an accompanying condition such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure. Taking a pill sounds like an easy solution, but here at FITNESS, we believe in a prescription of exercise and healthy eating habits. We wanted to know if our Twitter followers felt the same way, so we asked them: Would you take a pill to make weight loss easier?

@KateSchlag: Research proves it–there’s no quick fix for weight loss. Not even in a pill.

@redcurlgurl: No. I like to lose weight the old fashioned way with diet and exercise. I want to earn those “You look great!” compliments.

@Trhi10: We need more whole foods and less pills; it’s another Band-aid.

@xtinamcknight: They also approve of highly processed death trap food like McDonald’s. So thanks, but no thanks.

Now tell us: What do you think about the FDA approving Qsymia?

Hot Topic Tuesday: Do You Sit Too Much?

Written on July 10, 2012 at 3:41 pm , by

Just a typical day at the office. (Photo by Sara Forrest)

You might not want to sit down for this. Researchers found that too much sitting can lead to a shorter life. OK, so you probably already know that being more active is better for you, but this study found that even if you get the 150 hours a week of recommended activity, the rest of the time that you spend on your tush could still count against you. Researchers also concluded that sitting less than three hours a day would lead to a gain in living two years longer.

We know, “sitting less” is easier said than done when you have a desk job, and not all of us can get treadmill desks. To add more movement to our daily work routine, we’ve tried sneaking in a workout at lunch, standing at meetings and conference calls and covertly doing some moves in our cubicles. Yet we still need to sit down to get most of our work done. Guess we’ll just have to make up for our 9-5 desk jobs by moving around the rest of the day. Thank goodness for TVs on exercise machines at the gym!

Now tell us: Would you be able to cut your sitting time to three hours a day? How?