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women s health

Andie MacDowell in Cannes, 2003.

For many, even those that proudly wave the flag of self-love, the sight of that first gray hair is anxiety inducing. That single strand is a harbinger of the doom of our youth. More than one, and you might as well weave them together to create yourself a noose. It’s time to kiss your beauty—and therefore, your value—goodbye.

But what if, instead of marking the end of our glory days, we could see this change as a new chapter with equally glorious reveals? Something worth presenting, rather than hiding?

Back in July 2021, actress Andie MacDowell made headlines for rocking the silver vixen look at the Cannes Film Festival. MacDowell’s hair has always been a defining feature, but previously she had been coloring her raven locks to maintain her signature look. This was at the behest of her managers, according to an interview with Vogue.

But after her kids officially declared the salt-and-pepper look was “badass,” MacDowell started to see going natural as a “power move.” So she followed the impulse, and you don’t need me to tell you it was a bit of a social media sensation.

MacDowell reflected on how freeing the experience was in a conversation with Interview Magazine. “I feel better like this. Honestly, it’s exhausting to have to be something that you no longer are…I was finally like, ‘You know what? I’m not young. And I’m OK with that..I feel so much more comfortable. It’s like I’ve taken a mask off or something.”’


Isn’t this a battle so many of us fight? Instead of basking in how far we’ve come, we spend so much effort trying to wind back the clock. And in all the rigamarole of trying to delay the inevitable, we forget that aging is a glorious gift. One that’s not guaranteed.

Even when we use terms like “embrace the gray,” there’s this connotation that aging is this frightening tidal wave that we simply need to bolster ourselves for. Where’s the grace in that? I mean, yes, as the end of life approaches, it is scary to think about the impending unknown. But the process of getting there? Perhaps not so much.

In the same article, MacDowell reflected that she, too, “hates the word 'embrace,' because it always sounds like you’re having to accept something, and I don’t feel like that.” I love this viewpoint. Accept it? Why not value it? Let’s come back to the original meaning of the word … and welcome it warmly.

MacDowell continued “We do have something unique to offer. You can’t be young forever, but you can always be considered beautiful, fashionable, and glamorous.”

The cynical voice in your head might say, “sure easy for someone who’s already glamorous to say that.” But MacDowell isn’t the only one who made this discovery. Tons of “real” women have had the same revelation.

Once the pandemic caused salons across the country to close down (coupled with major pay cuts and job losses), a surge of women chose to stop coloring their hair. But—as with many life aspects affected by COVID-19—what started as a forced restriction became an opportunity for reinvention. In ditching the hair dye, many women found that their silver strands were not only tolerable, they were empowering.

Now you could even say gray hair is “in” and making a comeback tour. And trust, these dames are definitely glamorous. This is not just an experience for A-listers.

Of course, this movement is not just about aesthetics. There is a bigger idea here. It’s no secret that our society has some deep-seated stigmas when it comes to aging, for women in particular. We place a high value on those "30 Under 30" lists, seek out the strongest retinol to erase all signs of life and stand mouth agape in horror at the first mention of the word “ma’am.” But it doesn’t have to be that way. All chapters of life are precious, and worth celebrating.

I’m a firm believer that glamor is only a result of confidence. And as we grow older, we only become more dynamic, more nuanced, more interesting. If that’s not a confidence booster, I don’t know what is.

Going gray won’t be the answer for everyone. I certainly don’t plan on trading in my signature red anytime soon. But the real call to adventure is: How can you feel good about yourself at every stage of life? How can you throw away the (false) notion that you somehow lose your shine with every passing year?

As the saying goes, “beauty is truth, truth beauty.” I think we can really see that in stories like these. To age gracefully is to age fearlessly. Radical self-acceptance is gorgeous.


This article originally appeared on 02.25.22

Health

After a tragic birth story out of Atlanta, an OBGYN breaks down 'maneuvers of last resort'

"A shoulder dystocia, if you don't know, is an obstetric emergency."

OB-GYN breaks down shoulder dystocia after tragedy in Atlanta.

TRIGGER WARNING: This story contains graphic details of childbirth trauma and infant loss.

A couple in Atlanta, Georgia, experienced a devastating loss that by all stretches of the imagination seems impossible. Unfortunately, the unimaginable is one of the rarest of rare birth complications that resulted in the loss of their newborn son.

Jessica Ross and her partner, Treveon Taylor, were excitedly awaiting the delivery of their first child when during the pushing stage of labor, baby Treveon Taylor Jr.'s shoulder got stuck. According to the Cleveland Clinic, shoulder dystocia is when one or both of the baby's shoulders get stuck behind a bone in the pelvis, which doesn't allow the baby to exit the birth canal.

Ross found herself in this very situation, which eventually resulted in an emergency situation in which the doctor had to dislodge the baby from the pelvis and perform a Cesarean section. It is suspected that the force with which the baby was dislodged caused the infant's decapitation.


Doctors and nurses on TikTok have been taking to the app in an attempt to explain how a situation like this occurs. Dr. Fatima Daoud, OB-GYN uploaded two separate videos expanding on information about shoulder dystocia and what she says are "maneuvers of last resort." She explains in the video that maneuvers of last resort are actions taken by the provider that may cause harm to the baby but are necessary to save the baby's and/or mother's life.

"The first thing I'm going to say is that shoulder dystocia, it's rare. But when it does happen it's an unpredictable, unpreventable medical emergency," Daoud explains. "There are risk factors, sure, for shoulder dystocia. But actually, the majority of shoulder dystocias happen in people who have no risk factor at all."

This essentially means that there's no way for a doctor or midwife to know that you may experience shoulder dystocia while delivering your baby. But when it happens, things have to move extremely quickly because once the baby's face hits the air, the clock has started. There are only a few minutes to get the baby out before they've been deprived of oxygen for too long. During this time doctors and nurses try multiple different ways to dislodge the baby's shoulder but if all else fails, they have to move to the maneuvers of last resort.

Daoud explains that decapitation due to shoulder dystocia is "astronomically, astronomically rare" before revealing that it doesn't always mean malpractice has occurred.

@doctordaoud

#stitch with @wykeishaforthecommunity Major content warning here, but I do feel that as medical professionals we have an obligation to responsibly and respectfully weigh in on prominent medical-related news.

"Is because, when we're trying to resolve a shoulder dystocia when it happens, there are multiple maneuvers that we do. Three of them are what we call maneuvers of last resort. The extreme stuff," Daoud continues. If the extreme stuff doesn't work, what are you going to do? If nothing is working, what are you going to do? And a decapitation is the answer. I'm so sorry to say this, but that doesn't automatically mean malpractice took place."

The OB-GYN apologized multiple times in the video understanding that it's not pleasant information, but it's necessary information to have in order to understand how the couple's doctor may have gotten to that point. It has been reported that this couple's baby died before the Cesarean took place due to how long he was stuck in the birth canal.

In a follow-up video, Daoud goes into more detail about the three last-resort maneuvers before something as horrific as a decapitation occurs. One involves breaking the baby's clavicle to force the shoulders past the pubic bone, and the very last one is the "Zavanelli maneuver," in which they attempt to push the baby back into the uterus via the birth canal.

"Performing a Cesarean in the middle of shoulder dystocia is very much different than performing a Cesarean section that's scheduled or in labor," Daoud says. "It's not even comparing apples to oranges. It's like comparing an apple to a truck."

She goes on to explain that if the Zavanelli Maneuver is unsuccessful and you've attempted all of the other maneuvers of last resort prior to the Zavanelli, the focus becomes saving the mom. Daoud is clear that she is not speculating on the case from Atlanta but explaining how an infant death like this can occur.

It's a tragic thing to consider and an even more tragic thing to experience. Everyone is wishing the parents currently experiencing this unimaginable loss comfort during this difficult time.

@doctordaoud

Replying to @RaideretteRaiderLicious It’s not as simple as making a cut and scooping the baby out like a typical c-section, though I obviously cannot say what did and did not take place during this tragedy. #zavanellimaneuver #shoulderdystocia

Health

A female scientist’s discovery may lead to the first 'on-demand' male birth control pill

“Men need an option so that the burden of contraception is not on females anymore,” says Dr. Melanie Balbach.

Close up of a man taking a pill.

Even though men have condoms and vasectomies, throughout history, the burden of contraception has ultimately been felt by women because they bear the ultimate responsibility if they become pregnant. To maintain their reproductive freedom, women must take hormone-altering pills, wear patches or insert hormone-filled rings into their vaginas.

They also deal with copper IUDs, shots and spermicide-soaked sponges.

Women also have to manage the cost and hassle of doctors' visits to get their contraception and are at the mercy of the state if they have an unwanted pregnancy. Isn’t it time more men stepped up and took responsibility for contraception?

The good news is that new medical development may provide hope for the countless women who are tired of the pills, IUDs and headaches that come with female contraceptives. The cool thing is that a woman is behind its discovery.


A new pill developed by Weill Cornell Medicine could become the first “on-demand” male oral contraceptive. The drug has been found to stop sperm “in their tracks” and prevents pregnancies in preclinical models.

The pill is fast-acting and can have a man ready for sex 30 to 60 minutes before intercourse. That’s about as long as it takes for Viagra to work its magic.

"Our inhibitor works within 30 minutes to an hour," Dr. Melanie Balbach, a postdoctoral associate in their lab, said in a statement. "Every other experimental hormonal or nonhormonal male contraceptive takes weeks to bring sperm count down or render them unable to fertilize eggs."

The inhibitor was discovered by Dr. Balbach accidentally while working on a treatment for an eye condition. Dr. Balbach found that when mice took a drug that inactivates soluble adenylyl cyclase (sAC), they produced sperm that could not propel themselves through the vaginal tract.

Research shows that men who cannot produce sAC due to genetic mutations are infertile.

After the drug takes hold, the sperm are rendered useless for about 24 hours and then return to normal. So, the drug is not only fast acting but rapidly reversible.

“What I like about the proposed contraceptive in this study is the on-demand option,” says Ulrike Schimpf at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden. “It would act rapidly, temporarily, and is efficient at the first dose.”

The discovery could be a sea change in how males approach contraception. But some are rightfully afraid that men may lie about taking the pill in the heat of the moment.

After all these years that women have had to bear the burden of responsibility, there’s something poignant about the first potential male contraceptive pill being discovered by a woman.

“We need more [birth control] options, and men need an option so that the burden of contraception is not on females anymore,” Balbach told New Scientist. “We’re very optimistic that once men take the inhibitor, it will have the same effect.”

Dr. Balbach and Dr. Jochen Buck, a professor of pharmacology at Weill Cornell Medicine, are currently working to develop a new version of the drug that lasts longer before testing it on humans. They hope to go to clinical trials by 2025.

via Freepik

A new mother struggling with postpartum depression.

We may be just months away from having the first-ever pill to help treat postpartum depression (PPD). The drug, called Zuranolone, was developed by Sage Therapeutics and Biogen, two companies out of Cambridge, Massachusetts. The FDA has given the drug’s application priority review and the period ends on August 5, 2023.

Currently, there is only one FDA-approved medication for PPD, Zulresso, which is only available through a 60-hour, one-time infusion and can cost up to $35,000 per treatment.

If the medication is approved, it can also be used to treat major depressive disorder (MDD).


What’s unique about the drug is that it is fast-acting. "We feel a tremendous responsibility to patients with MDD and PPD to deliver a potential new treatment option, which is so desperately needed. Most current approved therapies may take weeks or months to work. We are committed to advancing treatments that could help physicians and patients by addressing depression symptoms quickly," Dr. Laura Gault, chief medical officer at Sage Therapeutics Inc., said in a statement.

Zuranolone causes full remission of clinical depression within 45 days in 53% of women versus 30% who received the placebo, according to the study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Psychiatry.

The new drug could be a godsend to the 500,000 women who suffer from PPD every year. In these women, what starts as a typical case of the “baby blues” can linger and become more intense and lead to an overwhelming loss of energy, irritability, inability to concentrate or make decisions and thoughts of harming themselves or their babies. It also severely inhibits their ability to care for their newborn child.

Symptoms of PPD can begin as early as during pregnancy and as late as a year after giving birth. In rare cases, it can develop into postpartum psychosis, an extreme mood disorder.

PPD is caused by the intense hormonal changes that happen within a woman’s body before and after giving birth. It can also result from numerous anxieties women feel after giving birth, such as the stress of being a “perfect mother,” the effect that pregnancy has on their bodies, being overtired and a lack of free time.

happy mom, happy baby, postpartum depression

A happy, healthy mother and child.

via Pexels.

Zuranolone could also provide faster relief for people dealing with MDD. In 2020, over 14 million Americans were diagnosed with MDD, which creates a persistent feeling of sadness and a loss of interest in things they used to enjoy. It can also affect their ability to have happy, healthy relationships.

In rare situations, MDD can lead to suicidal ideation. Studies show that MDD accounts for up to 89% of all suicides.

If Zuranolone is approved, it will give doctors another vital tool in improving people’s mental health that can relieve debilitating depression in less time. It will also help countless babies that need extra care in their early days from a loving and healthy mother.

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, call the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988 for free, confidential support.