Imagine your vaginal area hurting so much that you can't sit for prolonged periods of time and sex is absolutely out of the question. Doctors are reporting that as many as one in six American women may be suffering from vulvodynia, which the New York Times describes as "searing or shooting pain when any amount of pressure is placed" on the vulva, adding, "Some women compare the feeling to acid being poured on an open wound." Although some physicians call the condition a "vulvar fibromyalgia" because of the intense pain and the tendency of medical professionals to tell women it's purely psychological — Yay, hysteria! — other doctors are taking the condition seriously, prescribing hormones and steroids to help lessen the inflammation (others remove what they believe to be "an overabundance of nerve endings" that might be causing the unending hurt).
That's not the only women's health news in the New York Times today. Researchers are looking to menses as a new source of stem cells. Yep! They're gonna sort through your old tampons for potential stem cells because the lining of the uterus regenerates every month. But you might not want to start saving your diva cup runoff just yet: Dr. Hugh Taylor, chief of reproductive endocrinology at Yale, tells the Times: "I think it's premature to start telling anyone to go in and save their menses...A woman can come in and have endometrial biopsy all the time and get those cells in a fresh, pure form."
Finally, some breast cancer news, both good and bad. The bad? The rise of insurance co-pays for mammograms is deterring women from taking the test. A new study shows that even when factors like income and education are taken into account, women are still loathe to pay the extra $12 it requires to get their breasts checked out. It's a shame, because the good news is that a new imaging device is being developed that will be able to spot tumors that are half the size of the ones that current imaging devices can spot. Get those breasts checked early and often, ladies!
New Insights Into Genital Pain in Women [New York Times]
Menstruation as a Source of Stem Cells? Maybe Not [New York Times]
Screening: Co-Pays Seen as a Deterrent to Getting Mammograms [New York Times]
Device Zeroes In On Small Breast Tumors [EurekAlert]