Women And Money: Where Are The Female Investors?

Women And Money: Where Are The Female Investors?

Women’s Health: HPV and Cervical Cancer: What My Boyfriend and I Didn’t Know

Women’s Health: HPV and Cervical Cancer: What My Boyfriend and I Didn’t Know

A Message From The Creator

A Message From The Creator

A Message From The Creator

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Women’s Health: HPV and Cervical Cancer: What My Boyfriend and I Didn’t Know

Patient sitting on treatment couch

Brooke Carey

Book Editor, writer

A few years ago, my gynecologist left me a voicemail telling me to call her back. I had recently had my annual exam, but my doctor had given me results via voicemail before. I worried the news could not be good.

My gynecologist is never judgmental and always calm — two regrettably rare traits in women’s medicine. So when she told me my pap smear had come back abnormal and showed traces of HPV, I didn’t panic. I was 23 years old and had never had an irregular pap smear before, but my doctor reassured me that everything was probably fine and I just needed to get some follow-up tests.

Thankfully, I received my diagnosis in 2009, three years after Merck released its “One Less” campaign to advertise the first HPV vaccine, Gardasil. I had never received the vaccine, but the news surrounding it lead me to learn a lot simply through osmosis — and pamphlets at the doctor’s office. I knew that HPV was a sexually transmitted infection (STI), and I knew that, in some cases, it could lead to cancer. But I also knew that HPV was not cancer. And I knew that it was incredibly common, which comforted me.

My doctor told me I needed to get a colposcopy — or a “colpo,” as doctors often call it. A colposcopy is basically an extra-thorough pap smear wherein a doctor takes a fancy microscope — called, guess what, a colposcope — and examines the cervix for dysplasia, a.k.a. abnormal cells. It sounded easy enough, so my doctor referred me to a colleague of hers, and I made an appointment.

The colposcopy itself was painless, but the new doctor noticed some dysplasia and said she wanted to take a biopsy just to be safe. Luckily, cervical biopsies don’t usually hurt (something about the type of tissue), so I was able to relax. The whole procedure lasted about fifteen minutes. When it was over, my doctor told me I’d probably bleed, shouldn’t have sex for two weeks, and needed to come back in a few weeks for the results.

The results showed that I had low-grade dysplasia. Low-grade cells have about an equal shot of disappearing on their own as they do of developing into high-grade or cancerous cells. My doctor advised me to have the cells removed via a loop electrosurgical excision procedure, more commonly known (thank goodness) as a LEEP. Both my regular doctor and the specialist had explained to me that I might have to have one depending on my results, so I was already familiar with what would be involved. Basically, a LEEP involves a doctor using a tiny, charged tube to burn off the problematic part of your cervix.

I had been told that LEEPs were relatively common, but I’d never known anyone to have one before. I’m pretty candid when it comes to my personal business (as evidenced by my willingness to talk about my medical history on the Internet), so I mentioned this procedure to a friend of mine. “I had to have one of those a few years ago,” she said. “It was awful.” At once relieved that someone I knew had undergone a LEEP and terrified that I was in for some serious pain, I spent the weeks leading up to my consultation with the doctor who would perform the LEEP (yes, a different doctor) doing research.

One takeaway from this experience was that the Internet can be a dangerous place to search for medical information. I have since started joking that if you try to self-diagnose using information you find online, you will convince yourself that you are pregnant and have cancer.

I also learned that, despite the awareness of HPV generated by the Gardasil campaign and other cervical cancer education initiatives, there was still a remarkable amount of misinformation circulating among the general public. When I had the colposcopy, I’d told my boyfriend what was going on, mostly because I wanted him to know that I was having a non-routine medical procedure and we wouldn’t be able to have sex for a while. His first reaction was “Wait, should I be worried?”

I was disappointed that he was so ignorant of the virus, but I understood that having your partner tell you they have a sexually transmitted anything is unsettling. I told him everything I knew, including that, unfortunately, there is no way to screen for HPV in men. I told him not to worry — especially since there was no way he could get cervical cancer — but that it certainly wouldn’t hurt for him to a see a general physician or urologist regularly. When he asked me what a urologist was, I realized I had a bigger issue to deal with.

When I consulted with the new doctor, I asked her if the LEEP would affect my ability to have children — we were talking about my cervix, after all. She said that, while one LEEP would probably have no negative effect, if I had to have the procedure several times, I might suffer something called “cervical insufficiency,” which can cause your cervix to dilate too early during pregnancy and lead to miscarriage.

I had already committed to this procedure, but this revelation started to make me worry. I had by then turned 24 (it took about five months from my diagnosis to schedule and have all of these procedures), but I was certainly nowhere close to having kids. And yet, here I was, making a choice between potentially having cancer and potentially not being able to bear children. Still, I trusted my doctors, and went ahead.

A couple of weeks after I had the LEEP (which was certainly not fun but also not that bad), I heard a report on the radio saying that gynecologists now advised women to get biennial instead of annual pap smears because overscreening can often lead to procedures — like LEEPs — that may be unnecessary. Remember, those low-grade cells had a decent chance of disappearing on their own, but I’d been advised to burn off part of my cervix to be safe. I almost threw the radio across the room. My doctor had told me I would need to get a pap every six months until two in a row came back normal. What the hell was I supposed to do now, not go?

I figured paps were harmless, and I have insurance, so for the past 3+ years, I have gone to my gynecologist every six months to be screened. I have never had two normal paps in a row, but I have also not developed anymore dysplasia, which means no biopsies or LEEPs. If I am ever advised to get another LEEP though, I have no idea what I’ll do.

Which brings me to the reason I wanted to write this piece. As this site noted recently, there are a lot of myths surrounding HPV. But there is a larger problem at work here: We are bad at talking about our sexual health. A couple of months after my LEEP, one of my friends told me she’d been diagnosed with HPV and became upset. She knew all about my ordeal, and I told her what I knew and that there was no reason to worry. She had just started dating someone and said even though she knew she shouldn’t worry, she “had thought he was a great guy.”

If we live in a world where a woman doubts the goodness of a man because he possibly gave her a virus that half the population has or will have, we have work to do. And when the medical community can’t agree on whether we should be vigilant about preventative medicine or wait until something of concern shows up, the only way we can make rational decisions about our health is to gather as much information as possible. And that will start by sharing the information we already have.

If your doctor tells you something is abnormal, ask what it means. If she says you need a procedure, ask what it entails. If you’ve never heard of this condition or procedure before, ask your friends if they have. If one of your friends mentions that she has the same condition you’ve already faced, tell her everything you can about it.

To get you started, and in honor of Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, here are the most important things to know about the human papillomavarius, commonly known as HPV:

  • HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI); 50% of sexually active Americans will have it at some point in their lives
  • In most cases, HPV exhibits no symptoms and in 90% of cases, the immune system clears it within two years
  • There are more than 100 strains of HPV, 30-40 of which are transmitted sexually
  • Of the sexually transmitted strains of HPV, about a dozen can lead to cervical cancer
  • The HPV vaccine protects against four strains — the two most commonly linked to cervical cancer and the two most often linked to genital warts
  • The HPV vaccine is approved for use in men and women
  • While cervical cancer is the most common type of cancer associated with HPV, the virus can also lead to oral and anal cancers in men and women
  • The Pap smear can identify if a woman has high-risk HPV but not which strain of HPV she has; there is currently no test to screen men for the virus
  • Men and women can pass HPV to each other, and since HPV is often symptomless, if you have had more than one partner, it’s impossible to know who passed it to you, even if you are currently monogamous

Now that reminds me… I need to make an appointment with my doctor.

Read More:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/brooke-carey/hpv-cervical-cancer-boyfriend-and-i-didnt-know_b_2444775.html?utm_hp_ref=women&ir=Women

Women And Money: Where Are The Female Investors?

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The Huffington Post  |  By 

According to one blogger, there’s an easy explanation for why there are so few female private investors in America — investing is inherently masculine.

In a recent post on Business Insider, financier and investor Whitney Johnson wrote that women are anxious about investing because “they fear it will bankrupt their femininity.” You see, Johnson said, employing a helpful frontier analogy, “In the Wild West of investing, an Annie Oakley is rare — the realm of investing is still very much a dude ranch.” And women resist participating in, er, ranch life because they’re afraid it will make them more dude-like… or something. Johnson urges female readers to overcome this fear by thinking about investment through a more feminine lens, as an act of “financing dreams” and “taking stock in you.”

Johnson wrote her piece in response to the backlash that followed an infographicUSA Today published in August 2012 claiming that women have less confidence in and experience with financial investments than their male counterparts. According to the data it reported, women showed higher levels of anxiety around retirement finances, and only 12 percent describes themselves as “very or somewhat experienced” with investing. When it came to taking chances with money, women were much more reticent than men. Forty-two percent of women reported being “very uncomfortable” making high-risk investments — investing a great deal of money on one, high risk product, for example — compared with just 28 percent of men.

Johnson’s comments quickly attracted criticism from Doug Barry at Jezebel. According to Barry, these statistics are surprising given that “women are accounting for more of our college grads, are more often earning the bread in a household, and represent just about half of the entire labor force.” Johnson’s analyses also seems to contradict an argument Slate’s Hannah Seligson made in 2010. She wrote that there is no empirical proof that women are worse than men at handling money. Some data suggest that female investors are, on the whole, moresuccessful than male investors, but we aren’t aware of that because there are so many fewer female investors than male. In a 2011 study, Barclays Wealth andLedbury Research also concluded that women were better at investing than men. David Weidner at Marketwatch wrote: “Women were more likely to make money in the market, mostly because they didn’t take as many risks. They bought and held. Women trade this way because they aren’t as confident — or perhaps as overconfident — as men.”

So if women get at least as good returns on private investments as men do, why aren’t more women investing? Rather than fear of “bankrupting” their femininity, some data indicate that what’s holding women back may be their motivations for investing in the first place, which often differ from men’s. The results of a summer 2012 poll from RBC Direct Investing indicated that female investors were more likely to be driven by broader goals, such as a child’s college fund or a retirement account, than a desire to have more money in the future than they had in hand at present. Men are often more motivated by the latter.

Johnson offered some tips for women who want to break into investing but cautioned that it won’t be easy for them. She suggested that they prepare to “be the lone female gunslinger, wondering if you’ll ever feel at home on the range.”

Or you could trust your instincts, be aggressive when you can and when it makes sense, and not worry about how your returns compare to anyone else’s. No gun slinging required.

Read More:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/03/women-and-money-lack-of-female-investors-investing_n_2404671.html?utm_hp_ref=women&ir=Women

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