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Would The Personhood Amendment Ban Birth Control Pills?

On November 8, Mississippians will be voting on ballot amendment 26 , the so called “Personhood Amendment” that if passed, would declare a fertilized egg a person.

The question at hand is, would the Personhood Amendment be used to outlaw contraception?

Dr. Freda Bush, an Ob-Gyn and spokesperson for the Personhood amendment in Mississippi, seems to think it will not. In a press conference in support of the amendment in September, she stated this -

The personhood amendment will not ban the use of hormonal contraceptives.

The video of this press conference is being used to reassure voters about the intent of amendment 26. And yet the information Dr. Bush presents about contraception and the amendment stands in complete contrast to that which the personhood movement itself has presented. Here is the standard “talking point” on contraception from personhood sites at states across the country seeking to pass similar amendments – Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at The Blog That Ate Manhattan*

Questioning The Annual Pelvic Exam

A new article in the Journal of Women’s Health by Westhoff, Jones, and Guiahi asks “Do New Guidelines and Technology Make the Routine Pelvic Examination Obsolete?”

The pelvic exam consists of two main components: The insertion of a speculum to visualize the cervix and the bimanual exam where the practitioner inserts two fingers into the vagina and puts the other hand on the abdomen to palpate the uterus and ovaries. The rationales for a pelvic exam in asymptomatic women boil down to these:

  • Screening for chlamydia and gonorrhea
  • Evaluation before prescribing hormonal contraceptives
  • Screening for cervical cancer
  • Early detection of ovarian cancer

None of these are supported by the evidence. Eliminating bimanual exams and limiting speculum exams in asymptomatic patients would reduce costs without reducing health benefits, allowing for better use of resources for services of proven benefit. Pelvic exams are necessary only for symptomatic patients and for follow-up of known abnormalities. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Science-Based Medicine*

Hormonal Contraception And An Under-Appreciated Effect

Ask any third-year medical student how hormonal contraception prevents pregnancy, and they’ll probably tell you it prevents ovulation. What they won’t tell you is that this effect is variable and dose-dependent, and if we depended on it alone, hormonal contraception would be much less effective.

That’s because of the very important, and in my opinion, much under-appreciated effect of hormonal contraception on cervical mucus.

A Cervical Mucus Primer

Fertile cervical mucus – which forms under the influence of rising estrogen levels in the first half of the menstrual cycle and is maximal around ovulation –- is thin, watery, clear and easy for sperm to traverse.

Non-fertile mucus — which forms after ovulation and also in pregnancy under the influence of progesterone –- is the exact opposite: Thick,tacky, non-distensible and impossible for sperm to penetrate. (It’s not called the mucus plug for nothing.) Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at tbtam*

The Evolution Of The Pill And Its Effect On Sex

What role has the birth control pill played in human sexuality? Dr. Jon LaPook looks at the evolution of sex as the pill turns 50 and discusses the effect of the pill on female sexuality with sex therapist and educator Miriam Baker.


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Does The Pill Lower Sex Drive?

The pill that ushered in the sexual revolution may have also thrown cold water on women’s libido. Fifty years ago, on May 9th, 1960, the FDA announced the approval of oral contraception.

The birth control pill has allowed women to control their reproductive cycle, delay childbearing, and develop careers. But it also may have the potential to disrupt sexuality by blocking normal hormonal surges that occur in a woman’s cycle. Here’s how. Read more »

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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