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Intrauterine devices (IUDs) just got a big seal of approval, this time from the American Academy of Pediatrics, which recently endorsed them as an excellent method to prevent teenage pregnancy. Add to that the fact that it's also the most commonly used birth control among doctors themselves, and these little devices are sounding pretty great!
While there’s a wealth of common knowledge surrounding birth control options like the Pill and condoms, IUDs are a little more mysterious. “IUDs are a great birth control alternative for many women, from teenagers to those in their 50s,” says Julie Strickland, M.D., M.P.H., professor of obstetrics and gynecology at University of Missouri-Kansas City. Here’s why:
They’re Totally Safe
Since IUDs are internal, there’s some stigma surrounding their safety. Not necessary, according to Strickland. Early IUDs were associated with complications like fertility problems and pelvic infections, but those have been off the market since the 1960s. When IUDs were reintroduced, there were some stipulations about who was eligible for them, but those have since been lifted. “In the 1980s and beyond, the World Health Organization has loosened those restrictions because we understand IUDs much better. We screen patients very closely to decrease the risk of pelvic infections caused by IUDs, and we know they don’t affect fertility after you have them removed,” says Strickland.
There’s More Than One Option
The ParaGard, also known as the copper IUD, is hormone-free. It protects women from pregnancy for a whopping ten years. Mirena releases low doses of the hormone progesterone, and lasts for five years. The newest IUD on the market is Skyla, which is also hormonal. It offers an even lower dose or hormones, is good for three years, and is smaller, which is a plus for women who feel uncomfortable with a larger IUD. “The different kinds of IUDs make it easier to find something that is really the best option for the patient,” says Strickland.
Insertion Might Hurt a Little, But It’s Manageable
Although insertion is quick, it’s still technically a minor surgical procedure. The doctor uses a speculum to find your cervix, then dilates it and passes the IUD through the cervical canal, placing it inside the uterus. Most women will experience some cramping, akin to the ones during their periods, when the IUD is placed. “We usually ask women to take something like ibuprofen beforehand. In rare cases, we can give anesthesia similar to what you get if you go to the dentist, but in general we don’t need to. It really is a doable procedure,” says Strickland. There are also meds the doctor can prescribe that will soften your cervix and ideally make it easier to dilate, but studies are mixed on whether they’re effective.
You Can Get One Even If You Haven’t Had Kids
Remember those commercials who said IUDs were perfect for moms? Yeah, they're not the only ones it's perfect for. “There’s no IUD restriction based on age or on whether you’ve had children,” says Strickland. That said, it may be an easier procedure for women who have had kids because their cervical canal has stretched before during childbirth, making it more used to the dilation required to place an IUD. “However, my specialty is adolescents and we do administer IUDs to teenagers. In most of them, if they can tolerate the vaginal exam, they can tolerate the IUD just fine,” says Strickland. Plus, that's where the smaller new IUD comes in.
They’re Completely Reversible
“The IUD is only effective when it’s inside your body,” says Strickland. The IUD is shaped like a flexible T, which helps it conform to the shape of the uterus comfortably. When necessary, those wings can collapse for quick, easy removal. As soon as it’s out, your regular hormonal cycle begins to kick in again. If you have a non-hormonal IUD, you’ll return to normal fertility in about a month. If you have a hormonal variety, it can take up to three months.
Your Partner Probably Won’t Feel It
The bottom of the IUD is equipped with strings that are the consistency of fishing line. They extend through the cervix and into the vagina, making it easy for the doctor to remove the IUD when you’re ready. “When the strings reach body temperature, they become very soft and curl up around the cervix. Your partner shouldn’t be able to feel them,” says Strickland. If he can feel them after a few months with the IUD, there is the option of having your gyno trim them. If they’re bothering you or your guy, make sure to talk through your options with your doctor.
MORE: Great News About IUDs
Your Insurance Likely Covers Them
Although there’s some controversy surrounding birth control coverage under the Affordable Care Act, there’s still a good chance you can get the IUD free of charge. “In general, we find that people who have third-party carriers that cover reproductive issues also cover placement and removal along with the actual IUD itself,” says Strickland. That’s good news, considering that all of that could cost around $800 otherwise, depending on where you live and which type you choose. The thing is, even if you have to foot the bill yourself, it may be worth it. “They have a high upfront cost, but annualizing it over 5-10 years, it’s a cost-effective method,” says Strickland.
They May Change Your Period
For women with painful periods, hormonal options have the added benefit of potentially making that time of the month a way better experience. The low doses of hormones can make periods shorter and less cramp-filled, offering some much-needed relief. It can even stop some women’s periods altogether. The non-hormonal type actually has the potential to induce heavier bleeding and more pain, but if you’re looking to get off the Pill because those hormones send your body out of whack, it could still be a good option for you. Plus, those side effects may fade over time.
They’re Incredibly Effective
Having a rate of over 99 percent effectiveness is nothing to sniff at. “One of the IUD’s biggest characteristics is that its typical use and perfect use rates are very similar,” says Strickland. That’s opposed to something like the Pill, which has a typical use failure rate of 9 percent, meaning if you don’t use it perfectly every single day, your chance of pregnancy increases. “In contrast to having to take a pill every day and trying to remember that, a woman doesn’t have to do anything after she gets an IUD,” says Strickland.
This article was written by Linda Melone, C.S.C.S, and provided by our partners at Prevention.
How would you like to cut about 500 calories from your daily diet without even realizing it? That’s right—you won’t even know you’re eating less, and you won’t feel hungry. All you have to do is turn the following tips into habits, and you’ll drop one pound per week, 26 pounds in six months, or 52 pounds by next year! Stick to the strategy, and watch the scale drop to a new low.
Eat with Your Non-Dominant Hand
According to researchers at the University of Southern California, making this simple switch will help you eat less. "Although we think our eating is driven by hunger, much of it is actually determined by environmental cues," explains Leslie Heinberg, Ph.D., director of behavioral services for the Cleveland Clinic’s Bariatric and Metabolic Institute.
For example, in this USC study, moviegoers ate the same amount of popcorn whether it was stale or fresh. They ate it simply because that was their movie-watching habit. But when some were asked to switch eating hands, they swallowed less of both, especially the stale stuff. Why? Disrupting their eating pattern made them more mindful. There are many ways to do this, like using chopsticks or even having dinner in a different part of the house (or couch). It wakes you up. Try this simple eating meditation to cultivate some mindfulness with your meals.
Hit the Mat
Stress may actually change the way our bodies metabolize food and promote weight gain, according to research from Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. Scientists fed women a high-fat meal. Those who reported feeling stressed the previous day burned 104 fewer calories in the following seven-hour period than those who weren’t stressed—a difference that could result in a weight gain of 11 pounds in one year. "Stress sets us up to be more efficient with calories, which is the last thing we need to do," says Heinberg. To keep stress in check, commit to doing yoga. Patients at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center who did one-hour yoga sessions three days per week for six weeks experienced steep declines in the levels of the stress hormone cortisol compared to those doing simple stretching or no yoga. The 10-minute gentle yoga routine in the video below is the perfect place to start.
Pop a Prune
A University of Liverpool study found that eating five to six ounces of prunes every day for 12 weeks enabled overweight participants to lose an average of almost four-and-a-half pounds and nearly an inch from their waistlines. We know what you’re thinking: Those prunes probably caused that weight to come off in the most unpleasant of ways. But the prunes were well tolerated, and no negative side effects were reported. "Prunes' high fiber content [six of them contain five grams, which is more than eight ounces of Metamucil] helps you feel full and stay full longer," says Amy Goodson, R.D. "Pair them with a protein, like two percent cheese, for a snack, or chop and put them in your morning oatmeal." They also work well in smoothies—we suggest adding them to these 20 super-healthy smoothies.
Snack in the Afternoon
If you’re divvying up your total daily calories across five or six smaller meals in order to control hunger and lose weight, you may be able to get by with one less snack and slim down even more. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, a mid-morning snack is less effective for weight loss than a mid-afternoon one. Researchers speculate the finding may have less to do with when we snack than the simple fact that there’s not as much time between breakfast and lunch for most people as there is between lunch and dinner. Thus, morning snackers may be guilty of mindless eating and probably could forgo that feeding without getting ravenous and overeating at lunch. When you do opt for a snack, these 25 tasty ones won't leave you hungry.
Be Cautious of "Low-Fat"
It may sound counterintuitive, but a Cornell study found people eat up to 50 percent more when a product is labeled "low-fat." This is known as the 'halo effect,' " says Heinberg. It makes the product appear healthful, prompts us to feel virtuous, and—you guessed it—we end up eating more. Plus, the lower-fat version often contains more sugar than the regular one in order to overcome a lack of flavor. Here’s the rule: Eat the same amount of the "light" version as you normally would the "fat" version, and you’ll cut calories.
Dine with Men
You’ll ingest about 100 less calories eating with guy friends than gal pals, suggests a study published in the journal Appetite. "When women are out with men, they're more self-conscious and trying to look dainty and pretty," says Coral Arvon, Ph.D. "When you're out with women, there's more comfort and less self-consciousness." Obviously we're not saying to trade your gal pals for guys; just be aware of how much food you're choking down when you're giggling with the girls. Also, watch out for these six ways restaurants try to get you to overeat.
Sniff Your Fruit
Just as the smell of baking bread or grilling steak can make your mouth water, the scent of certain foods can also suppress appetite. Surprisingly, bananas and green apples are two of them. Although the mechanism for how this works is not fully understood, Alan Hirsch, M.D., director of the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago, says, "Smell is 90 percent of taste." In fact, it can make you feel like you’ve already eaten. "It's also why when you're cooking all day you don't feel as hungry," he explains. Based on his research, vanilla and peppermint also appear to be appetite suppressants.
Exercise in the Morning
Women who work out in the a.m. reduce their appetite and boost their total physical activity throughout the day, according to researchers at Brigham Young University. But here’s the fine-print: The appetite-reducing effect only lasts for a short time, until body temperature returns to normal after exercise. However, since moving in the morning apparently encourages more movement all day, Arvon recommends four to five short bursts of activity (take the stairs, park in the outer reaches of the parking lot, do some crunches, etc.) for best results. Check out these 25 ways to fit in 10 minutes of exercise for ideas.
Pump Up the Protein
Including a bit of protein with every snack and meal will help you eat less in a couple of ways. "Protein takes the longest to digest in comparison to carbohydrates and fat," says Goodson. "Metabolism rises approximately 20 percent to digest protein. Thus, it gets you full faster and keeps you full longer." She suggests adding an egg to oatmeal, low-fat Greek yogurt to fruit, salmon or chicken to salad, string cheese to half your normal amount of crackers, and a palm-size piece of lean beef to your veggies. Doesn’t sound like a diet, does it?
Keeping your home or office between 62°F and 77°F will help you burn more calories, according to a study published in Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism. A cooler environment makes your body work harder to maintain it's 98.6°F average temperature. "This also works when you drink chilled water," says Arvon. "You burn 25 percent more calories when you drink cold water before a workout."
In a brand new PSA airing today on Lifetime, Heidi Klum hopes to speak frankly to women everywhere. In partnership with the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, the PSA is a reminder of just how prevalent the disease is and why it's so important to raise awareness and research funding to fight for the cure.
We caught up with the Emmy-winning host and executive producer of Project Runway while she was filming the commercial to find out more about it. "It's a PSA that I'm doing together with Lifetime, because they have the [ability] to really spread the news and run the commercial a lot so women see it and hopefully do take notice."
When asked if there was any personal tie that drew her to this project, her response was pretty much perfect: "I think because I am a woman it is a personal tie," says Heidi.
"I do get checked all the time. I have two daughters. I have a mother. I have a lot of girlfriends. For all the women out there, I think it is important, so that is my personal tie: that I'm a woman too, and you want to raise awareness and you want women to get checked out so hopefully they can catch something early."
So what else does she do to stay on top of her health? "For me, it's eating right, exercising, drinking a lot of water, trying to sleep as much as possible," says Heidi. "Lately it's been a little bit tricky, but I make it work whenever I can."
Check out the PSA below, and look for it on Lifetime throughout the month of October. You can also spread the word on social with their hashtag: #BeTheEnd.
Women who are anxious, jealous and moody are ‘twice as likely to suffer from Alzheimer’s in old age’
Pumpkin spice doesn't have a monopoly on fall deliciousness. Pears are one of the best things about autumn: They're refreshing and—unlike pure pumpkin, which is pretty mild—flavorful. But eating them whole isn't the only way to enjoy pears; mixing them into a smoothie is also tasty and satisfying. Here are some ideas from Instagram to get you started:
Kick back and relax after a long workday with a pear, apple, avocado, yogurt, and lemon juice smoothie.
We're kinda (super!) excited to go home and test out this pear, strawberry, banana, kale, unsweetened almond milk, coconut flake, and cacao nib smoothie tonight!
Combining Japanese pear, ice cubes, and banana makes for a thirst-quenching delight.
One sip of this pear, banana, celery, kiwi, spinach, coconut milk, and water drink, and you'll be hooked!
Mango, banana, dates, and coconut milk are the perfect complements to the pear in this delicious smoothie.
So festive! This smoothie contains plum, chia seeds, banana, raspberry, and vanilla extract.
Squeeze a ton of produce into one drink with this pear, orange, apple, carrot, and turmeric smoothie.
If green's your favorite color, then you need to commit this pear, avocado, cucumber, kiwi, grape, and soy milk smoothie recipe to heart.
You have to admit it's pretty ingenious to recycle an old liquor bottle and use it to hold a pear, orange juice, lemon juice, kiwi, black currant, and coconut water concoction.
Come back next week when share smoothies made with #persimmon on our site. Tag @WomensHealthMag in your #PersimmonSmoothie photos on Instagram for the chance to be featured. Just remember to include the entire recipe in your caption so our readers know how to recreate your yummy concoction.
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Starting this Monday, October 6, WomensHealthMag.com and celebrity trainer David Kirsch are kicking off Tone Every Zone: The David Kirsch 28-Day, Whole-Body Challenge. The goal of the Challenge is to transform your mind, spirit, and body.
Nutrition is, of course, a big part of that. You're going to work yourself physically and mentally over those 28 days. To ensure major results, you need to fuel your body with nutrient-rich foods. Here's Kirsch's recommended grocery list for taking the Challenge—and your health—to the next level:
Kirsch mixes and matches these ingredients to create healthy meals that maximize weight-loss results. Stock up to prepare for the Challenge.
David Kirsch is a wellness visionary with over two decades of experience in uncovering and harnessing the powerful connection between mind, body, and spirit. Founder of the award-winning Madison Square Club in New York City, David has trained an impressive number of A-listers, including Heidi Klum, Kate Upton, Kerry Washington, and Anne Hathaway. David is also the author of five books, including the bestseller The Ultimate New York Body Plan, and has appeared on numerous television shows, such as The Today Show, E!, CNN World News, Dr. Oz, Live with Regis and Kelly, and The View. David’s philosophy—“sound mind, sound body”—transcends fitness to encompass wellness as a whole, and his unique line of natural supplements includes products for weight loss, energy boosting, appetite suppressing, healthy cleanses, mental acuity, stress relief, and much more.
If you thought stuffing your salad into a Mason jar was Instagram-worthy, you definitely haven't seen the lunch box genius of BentoMonsters, a blog created by a woman named Ming in Singapore (she doesn't share her last name).
According to the site, Ming started packing bento box lunches for one of her sons back in 2008 as a way to put a smile on his face at school. In 2011, she decided to start the blog to document her lunches, which are inspired by characters like Super Mario, Willy Wonka, and Hello Kitty. Today, the stay-at-home mom of two has more than 70,000 Instagram followers. Her lunches may sound pretty cool—but once you see them, you're going to wonder how the heck she came up with this stuff:
Once you've emerged from your cuteness coma, check out these smart, packable lunch ideas. No, they're not as adorable as Ming's creations, but they are delicious and healthy:
Snacking, if you think about it, is kind of like Facebook creeping: We all do it, it’s pretty much always satisfying in the moment, but later on it can have not-so-sweet consequences (weight gain and stalker status, respectively). According to a new study published in Appetite journal, there are six times when all people are likely to indulge the most: when you're celebrating a special occasion, when food is around, when you're coping with negative emotions, when you're rewarding yourself, when you're under social pressure, and when you're feeling low-energy. We checked in with Keri Gans, R.D., author of The Small Change Diet, to see how to curb your (snacking) enthusiasm in each scenario.
Danger Time: Special Occasions
The key here is to define special, says Gans. “Figure out what’s very special and what’s not as special, and tell yourself you will only snack on truly special occasions,” she says. For example, if your office gets a cake for everyone’s birthday, then office birthdays probably aren’t that special since they happen so frequently. Need some help coming up with your definition? “If you find that something is happening more than once a month, then you should pay extra attention because it may not be as special as you think," says Gans.
Danger Time: When Food's Around
It seems like there is practically always something in your office kitchen when you walk through, doesn’t it? If that’s the case, you have to train yourself to not swipe whatever’s there just because it’s, well, there. One way to do that? “Commit to when you snack,” says Gans. If you make a snacking schedule for yourself—like every day at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.—then you’ll be better able to resist your co-worker's candy jar at 3 p.m.
Danger Time: Tough Moments
Chances are, at some point in your life, you have eaten your feelings; you’re only human. But if you find yourself doing so on the regular, check in with yourself before you munch. “Most people end up feeling worse after they eat their feelings because they’re angry at themselves for giving in," says Gans. Remind yourself that eating won't magically fix the negative emotions you're feeling, and do something else to cope, like going for a run, calling your best friend, or even scrolling through Instagram—anything, really, to take your mind off the problem at hand.
Danger Time: When You Want a Reward
Remember when you were young and your parents or babysitter used to tell you that you could have a cookie if you finished your homework? They trained you that food should be viewed as a reward—when really, it's sustenance. Instead of getting candy from the vending machine, reward yourself with something your body will actually thank you for, suggests Gans. “Buy yourself a new lip gloss, go get your nails done, get a massage, or take a yoga class,” she says. “That way, you’re doing something that’s truly good for your body, not necessarily ‘rewarding’ yourself with something your body would be happy without."
Danger Time: Girls' Night
We don’t have to tell you how hard it is to say no to shared dessert at dinner with friends. You know this. But here’s a way to make it a little bit easier: Verbalize your intention, says Gans. “Tell your friends in advance of the event that you’re trying to eat healthier. It’s easier to follow through with your goals once you’ve already put it out there because you’re more accountable for your actions."
Danger Time: 3 p.m. Slump
When you’re feeling sluggish in the afternoon or early evening, it’s tempting to try to counter that feeling with a snack because you feel like you need it, says Gans. But often, you may just be thirsty—so try drinking water first. You might want to also try going for a walk around the block to gain energy. If you’re still hungry after those attempts, then you probably do need a snack, in which case, Gans recommends selecting something with a good mix of protein and fiber. “I always suggest KIND fruit and nut bars because they’re the perfect blend of protein and fiber and will give you plenty of energy to power through,” she says.
States that put tight restrictions on abortion generally perform worse on women's and children's health outcomes, according to a new report released by the Center for Reproductive Rights and Ibis Reproductive Health, both groups that support abortion rights. The report tracked 14 types of abortion restrictions that state legislatures have implemented across the country, including requirements that a woman undergo counseling or have an ultrasound before getting an abortion.
The question: "It’s hard to recognize when I’m satisfied, so I end up accidentally overdoing it. But I've heard that eating too few calories can actually make me gain weight, too. Is that true?"
The expert: Amy Shapiro, M.S., R.D., founder of Real Nutrition NYC
The answer: Skimping on your food intake can throw your body for a loop and contribute to weight gain, says Shapiro. “There are clients of mine who come in and aren’t seeing any progress. I tell them they aren’t eating enough, they increase their intake, and they start to lose weight." The reasoning behind this counterintuitive process lies in your body’s aversion to being deprived of food. “When you're not eating enough, you can send your body into starvation mode. Your metabolism slows down because it doesn't know where its next round of calories is coming from,” says Shapiro.
People cite intermittent fasting, which involves alternating days of very minimal food intake with regular eating, as evidence that you can scale way back on calories and still lose weight. It may be true, but that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily the best strategy for you. “With intermittent fasting, you avoid starvation mode because some days you are, in fact, giving your body enough," says Shapiro. "But on the other days, you’re still severely restricting, which I don’t see it being healthy as a long-term option."
The calorie deficit necessary to enter starvation mode depends on various factors and is different for each person—but your body will likely send you some major signals if it’s not getting enough food. “You may feel dizzy, always hit that afternoon slump, get headaches, and of course, feel hungry a lot of the time," says Shapiro. "Generally, you’ll feel lethargic and like you’re not performing at your highest level."
Shapiro says that one time many people tend to skimp on food is after a workout. “People often try to overwork themselves during exercise and then cut calories by not refueling after,” she says. But your body needs those nutrients to rebuild itself after an intense bout of sweating.
So what if you always find yourself feeling satiated at 1,100 calories a day—less than the 1,200-calorie minimum most experts recommend staying above, even for weight loss? Shapiro says to look at what those calories are made of: “If those 1,100 calories are full of enough fat and protein to get you throughout your day, then that’s enough for your body," she says. "But it’s about feeling legitimately satisfied, not lying to yourself just so you eat less." If you routinely feel satiated while taking in fewer calories than the norm, you shouldn't push yourself to eat more just to reach a number, she says. As long as you’re medically healthy, listen to your body. It’ll tell you when it needs more sustenance.
Shapiro recommends looking beyond calories and focusing more on the composition of your meals. “There are lots of diets out there that put a limit on your calories," she says. "Let’s say 1,600 calories a day. That makes it easy to work around it because you can have 1,600 calories of pizza, chips, and candy. The thing is, those are very different from 1,600 calories of chicken, avocado, and olive oil." Your body burns foods more efficiently when they’re less processed. Focusing on healthy whole foods also helps you avoid the blood sugar spikes and crashes that come with lots of processed diet foods, while delivering slow-burning energy that can make you say sayonara to the dreaded afternoon slump. Sounds like a win-win! Check out some filling foods that will do your body good, and get ready to revamp your grocery list.
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