Pregnancy and Lactation Weekly Digest

For the Week Ending September 9, 2018. 

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Natural Cycles

It has long been known that a woman’s body temperature rises very slightly when she ovulates. A Swedish app thus monitors women’s temperatures to help track days when she is more or less fertile. But although it is now all modern and digital, monitoring your temperature is still not a reliable method of birth control. Read more here.

This is important for you because effective birth control relies on barriers – not rhythms, no matter how “science-y” the claims may seem.

Estrogen power

Neuroendocrinology studies how hormones and the environment affect behavior. Unlike most scientific disciplines, even those within biology, this one is completely dominated by women. Read more here.

This is important for you because great hormonal changes occur during pregnancy and after childbirth. Having women researching how those changes affect people’s brains and lives can provide amazing and necessary improvements in health care and society.

Earlier gestational diabetes screening

As of now, women are screened for gestational diabetes between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy. But the NIH has announced that a blood test used to diagnose Type 2 diabetes could be repurposed for pregnant women and can detect gestational diabetes as early as 10 weeks. Read the press release here.

This is important for you because earlier detection means earlier treatment.

“My boys can swim!”

“Whether in the popular or scientific press, human mating is commonly portrayed as a gigantic marathon swimming event in which the fastest, fittest sperm wins the prize of fertilizing the egg. If this narrative was just a prejudicial holdover from our sexist past – an offensive male fantasy based on incorrect science – that would be bad enough, but continued buy-in to biased information impedes crucial fertility treatments for men and women alike.” Read more here.

This is important for you because much relevant research – indicating that sperm can live in the cervix for up to 10 days, that sperm are herded through the fallopian tubes through actions of the woman’s body and not under their own motive power, and that the sperm of older men is rife with risky genetic mutations – contradicts the idea of sperm competing in a mad race for the egg, which stubbornly persists.

The most popular article on The Pulse this week, by far, was How To Calculate Your Due Date. It is usually 40 weeks from the first day of your last period. Of course, that day is only an estimate; delivering within two weeks of it, on either side, is considered normal. Read it here.

Diana Gitig
Dr. Diana Gitig has a Ph.D. in cell biology and genetics from Cornell University, and has been writing about issues in biology – from molecular biology to cancer to immunology to neuroscience to nutrition to agriculture - for the past fifteen years. She has three teenaged children.

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