Women's History Month

March 23rd, 2015

March is Women's History Month! Why do we care about this? Did you know that most electrologists are women? And so are most of our clients! So let's talk about some of our heroines, in no particular order.

Clara Barton

Everyone knows that Clara Barton was a Civil War nurse who founded the American Red Cross in 1881, at the age of 60. But did you know that she also founded the Bureau of Records of Missing Men of the Armies of the United States, through which she and her assistants identified more than 22,000 missing Civil War soldiers. Ms. Barton surely earned her nickname, Angel of the Battlefield, providing aid to the wounded during the war, and later spearheading humanitarian efforts in the rest of the US and overseas.

Elizabeth Blackwell, M.D

You betcha we're going to put that M.D. in there! Dr. Blackwell graduated from New York's Geneva Medical College on Tuesday, January 23, 1849, securing her place in history as the first woman M.D. in the United States. Not content to "just" be called "Doctor Blackwell", she later became instrumental in the 1857 founding the New York Infirmary for Women and Children, and published several books, including 1895's Pioneering Work in Opening the Medical Profession to Women.

Rebecca Lee Crumpler, M.D

A freeborn woman, Rebecca Lee Crumpler was born in Delaware around 1833, and later moved to Pennsylvania to be raised by her Aunt. Crumpler drew inspiration for her future profession from this Aunt, to whom people came for medical care. Initially a self-taught nurse, she so impressed the doctors she worked with that the wrote letters of recommendation and encouraged her to enroll at the New England Female Medical College. Her admission was considered groundbreaking, as there were few medical schools for women, and fewer still that admitted African Americans. Although the Civil War put a temporary hold on her studies, she graduated in 1864, the very first Black female physician in the US, and the only Black woman to graduate from the New England Female Medical college. In addition to her work in Virginia after the war to attend to freed slaves, Dr. Crumpler is known for her book The Book of Medical Discourses, which was aimed at women in order to help them monitor the health of their families.

Marie Curie

We'd be seriously remiss if we didn't mention Madame Doctor Marie Curie, the first person to have earned TWO Nobel Prizes. She and her husband Pierre shared the first one with Antoine Henri Becquerel in 1903 in the category of Physics. In 1911, she earned another on her own, this time in Chemistry. Succeeding her husband as Head of the Physics Laboratory at the Sorbonne, Mme. Dr. Curie later went on to be appointed Professor of General Physics in the Science Faculty, the first woman to hold this position. In 1914, she was appointed to the directorship of the Curie Laboratory in the Radium Institute at the University of Paris. Mme. Dr. Curie's research into so called "X-rays" led to better diagnostic methods that are still in use today.

Nancy Miriam Hawley

In 1969, Nancy Miriam Hawley hosted a workshop at Emmanuel College in Boston, with the intent of educating women about our bodies and helping women forge a connection with our own bodies. That workshop later grew into the Boston Women's Health Book Collective, which was eventually responsible for the landmark book, Our Bodies, Ourselves. Hawley spearheaded the modern movement to teach women not only about their bodies and sexuality, but about body acceptance and being comfortable being ourselves.

Hooray for these amazing women in health, all of whom have made it possible for women to maintain healthier, happier lives. Electrologists are proud to carry on their tradition.

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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (SEID)

March 17th, 2015

March is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Awareness Month! With the month comes some good news, and a new name for a disorder that is thought to affect more than two and a half million Americans, mostly women - Systemic Exertion Intolerance Disease (SEID).

Characterized by intense fatigue, body aches, persistent flu-like symptoms, persistent light-headedness, and cognitive impairment – such as "tip of the tongue" forgetfulness or an inability to remember how to perform a basic task – the disorder has frustrated patients and baffled physicians searching for both causes and effective treatments. Many patients report physicians who tell them that their symptoms are not real, that they are imagining the pain and fatigue, and that they should simply get more exercise. (Everyone who has experienced a physician like that, raise your hand. Now go find a new one, you deserve better!)

Researchers recently discovered that those afflicted with Systemic Exertion Intolerance Disease – the name they suggest be given to CFS – suffer distinct and multiple disruptions in their immune systems as the disease develops. Previously handwaved away as "all in your head" by many physicians, SEID has now been exhaustively documented as an organic disease – that is, one that has developed in the body - rather than a mental condition. The discovery of the disruptions in the patients' immune systems is expected to lead to testing that will allow for earlier and easier diagnosis of the disorder. These disruptions are caused when the body's immune system goes haywire after fighting off a disease or a persistent infection – many people with SEID report developing their symptoms after recovering from diseases like mononucleosis or pneumonia, other upper respiratory infections, or from post-surgical infections. Rather than shutting down for a period of time after fighting off disease, the immune system continues to produce the chemical messengers that tell the body it is still sick.

Current research shows that those suffering from SEID are more “functionally impaired” than those with disorders such as Multiple Sclerosis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and Diabetes, and are more likely to find themselves housebound or bed-ridden for extended periods. The rate of unemployment among sufferers is around 35% to 60%, as the disease increasingly interferes with the ability to tolerate physical activity.

The recent breakthroughs in research are expected to lead to better, more tailored treatment options for those who have been formally diagnosed, and a more streamlined approach to diagnosis. The discovery of the persistent immune system activity may lead to blood testing to determine presence of the disease, as well as the stage of the disease.

If you have been "mysteriously ill" for a while, and feel like you've been run over by a truck more days than not, you'd do well to sit down with your physician and talk about SEID. It's not all in your head, and early diagnosis and treatment means a better quality of life, even while managing a chronic illness.

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National Kidney Month (No, Not the Beans)

March 7th, 2015

Female Anatomical Drawing

Image by Gerd Altmann From Freiburg, Deutschland - Pixabay.com

March is National Kidney Month, and we think it's important for you to take care of your kidneys. Chronic kidney disease is more prevalent among women, particularly in women over 50, and most genetic kidney disorders are passed on matrilineally – that is, through the mother's genes.

Although treatment for chronic kidney disease is nearly identical, there are some issues that are unique to women and require special attention.

In addition to the expected malaise and anxiety brought on by suffering from a chronic illness, many women with kidney disorders find that their libido drops off a cliff. Side effects of medication, uremia (urea, a waste product, in the blood), and lower hormone levels often lead not only to decreased desire and menstrual irregularities, but vaginal dryness and painful intercourse. Decreased desire and anxiety over the illness often compound to bring on issues with self-esteem and self-image, often leading to depressive episodes.

For women who are trying to conceive, CKD can interfere, particularly as kidney function falls below 20%. More waste is retained in the blood, causing anemia, decreased or halted egg production, and menstrual irregularities or the cessation of menstruation altogether. Injections of EPO, a hormone that stimulates red blood cell production, have been found to help, but only in about 50 percent of patients.

For as upsetting and frustrating as these issues are, an even more serious issue lurks. Your kidneys are responsible for regulating your blood pressure, filtering wastes from your bloodstream. When your kidneys are not functioning properly, this leads to hypertension, which in turn can lead to painful migraines, stroke, and heart disease – the number one killer of women in the United States.

We don't really think much about our kidneys usually, except to sometimes joke about their output. Keep yourself healthy and happy, pay attention to your kidneys to prevent cascading effects later. We want you to be at your very best!

For more information, visit the National Kidney Foundation website.

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