New developments in women’s healthcare n.2


One of the many concerns an expectant mother has is that her baby may suffer from Down’s syndrome or Trisomy 21. Traditional diagnostic tests such as CVS or amniocentesis carry a risk of miscarriage, so screening tests (Nuchal test, combined test) are currently used to identify women who are at high risk of having a Down’s baby. It has been known for some time that a tiny amount of fetal blood is found in the mother’s blood, so the idea of being able to diagnose a Down’s baby with a blood test on the mother has been predicted for some time. It is now a reality. From 10 weeks gestation a blood test can predict with >99% accuracy whether or not your baby has Down’s syndrome. It would still be advisable to have a booking scan at 12 weeks gestation, as the blood test is only aimed at finding chromosomal problems. Further details can be found at



Over the last thirty years we have witnessed a significant decline in cheap viagra canada the quality and quantity of sperm that men produce. A recent study suggests a man’s ability to produce sperm may depend on his ability to handle stress. Men with higher levels of both short- and long-term stress and anxiety produced less semen and had lower sperm concentration and counts. Men with the highest anxiety levels were also more likely to have sperm that were deformed or less mobile. More bad news for men is that a chemical commonly released from food packaging can lower sperm quality. The authors found that high levels of the hormone disruptor Bisphenol A (BPA) led to decreased sperm concentrations and motility. Phthalates, chemicals used in making plastic bottles, have been known for some time to affect sperm counts

Healthy living, alcohol in moderation and regular sex are the best ways to maintain a good sperm count.



Prenatal exposure to serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SRI) antidepressants, e.g. Prozac, Citalopram, Sertraline has been associated with delays in early developmental milestones. A recent study in the journal Early Human Development has produced more evidence: Infants prenatally exposed to SRIs score significantly lower on the gross motor, social-emotional and adaptive behavior subscales of the Bayley Scales of Infant Development (BSID), and this was not explained by underlying maternal depression. Wherever possible women should try and stop taking these medications prior to trying to conceive.

New developments in women’s healthcare


HRT cuts risk of cardiovascular risk by 50%. HRT continues to cause controversy, with some studies reporting a significant increase in risk of everything from breast cancer to stroke, particularly if HRT is started later in life, long after the menopause. But we also know that if women have a very early menopause and do not have estrogen, they increase their risk of heart attack, stroke and osteoporosis. A recent Danish study supports the work on premature ovarian failure, reporting that women who took HRT from around the time of the menopause, had a 50% reduction in heart attack and a 30% reduction in risk of stroke, with no increase in the risk of breast cancer. While this study does not provide definitive answers it is more in keeping with studies in younger women.


There is no doubt that mammography has the potential to detect breast cancer early, thereby improving options and survival for women, particularly as they get older. But the benefits of a screening test must be weighed against the possible negative effects of the test. A recent article reports that despite substantial increases in the number of cases of early-stage breast cancer detected, screening mammography has only marginally reduced the rate at which women present with advanced cancer. The paper suggests that there is substantial overdiagnosis, accounting for nearly a third of all newly diagnosed breast cancers; many of the cancers diagnosed by mammography may not have progressed if left alone. While screening is still recommended for women over the age of fifty, it is important to recognize both the advantages and disadvantages to using mammography.


Your body can make Vitamin D when it is exposed to sunlight, but as we now use lots of sunblock many women have low Vitamin D levels. Normal vitamin D levels help with bone density and strength, as well as helping with weight management and helping the brain to know when it has enough food. As a spin off to a much larger trial on breast cancer, the University of Sheffield also report that women with normal (as opposed to low) levels of Vitamin D have a much better prognosis with breast cancer.

Checking Vitamin D levels involves a simple blood test.