5 Advances in Women’s Health We’re Grateful for in 2018

Woman wearing sweater laughs, one hand on hair, one in air; gratitude for women's health care advances

Lately, we’ve heard a lot of negative news about women’s health care in the United States. We know that it can be difficult to hold on to hope in today’s world. So we’d like to share a few of our favorite things that have happened in women’s health care this year.

What We are Thankful for in Women’s Health Care:

1. Programs that Lead to Better Birth Outcomes for Everyone

Sadly, negative birth outcomes are common in the United States, and rates are highest in African American communities. But we have good news about a promising way to bring better care to more women: group prenatal care.

We know. It sounds too simple (or, to some, too weird). However, a new study by researchers at Yale showed a drastic decrease in preterm birth and low birth-weight for moms taking part in two group prenatal care programs: CenteringPregnancy and Expect with Me, as compared to moms in standard one-on-one care.  Another study on CenteringPregnancy showed near elimination of racial disparity in the rate of preterm births. Furthermore, although moms who participated in these programs often expressed initial doubts, they were won over by the community and friendship provided by the groups.

Local moms can participate in group prenatal care through the CenteringPregnancy program at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ypsilanti , or other CenteringPregnancy programs in Michigan.

2. Better Recognition & Treatment of Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders

With over 23,000 Michigan families affected every year, chances are you or someone you know has experienced “the baby blues”, or postpartum depression. But did you know that symptoms of depression aren’t the only thing parents commonly report? Many parents experience symptoms of anxiety and OCD instead of or in addition to depression.

That’s why in the last year, the medical community has ruled in favor of a new term: “perinatal mood and anxiety disorders”. This expanded term is crucial. Why? Because it leads to better diagnosis and treatment of parents experiencing any type of mood disorder during or after pregnancy.

Catherine Birndorf, MD and board member of Postpartum Support International (PSI) says this about the new phrasing:

“…part of the problem of defining postpartum depression is that “depression” is not what many women feel they experience… People get very confused because it’s the only term we have, but they do not feel sad; they feel anxious. So the new term—and we’re really trying to get it out there—is PMADS, perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.”

Furthermore, the first ever drug designed to treat postpartum depression is being reviewed by the FDA. The FDA will issue their decision by December 19!

3. Exciting Research for Better Breast-Cancer Treatment

Current treatments for more advanced stages of breast-cancer have limited effectiveness. In addition, traditional forms of therapy come with some pretty serious side effects. In an effort to address both of these issues, researchers in Ohio are conducting a new study on a light-based breast cancer treatment. If proven effective, this new treatment

“could tremendously benefit patients, as it could potentially improve therapeutic outcomes… This could mean more effective therapies with minimal toxicity to vital organs and tissues.”

4. Women Taking Charge of their Health and Fertility

You may have heard of a new app called “Natural Cycles”. Whether or not this app is the best tool of the trade, it’s popularity indicates an important trend. There is a growing number of women desiring to better understand their bodies and the patterns of health indicated by their cycles.

Lisa Jack, Fertility Awareness Educator and founder of the Fertility Friday blog and Podcast, shared her thoughts with us:

“I’m thankful for the rising awareness about the importance of regular ovulation and healthy menstrual cycles. I’m thankful that so many women are taking the reins and spreading awareness about women’s reproductive health. The climate is so different now than it was 20 years ago (when no one was talking about it)!”

5. Growing Access to Comprehensive Women’s Health Education & Treatment

In June of 2018 alone, nearly 60 medical providers were trained in FEMM’s protocols for identifying and treating a range of women’s health issues! What does this mean? More medical providers can now identify and treat the underlying issues in conditions like PCOS, endometriosis, and infertility. This is exciting news for women who want medical care that seeks not to mask symptoms, but to find the root of a problem.

At ArborWoman, we believe that the best care is care that addresses the whole woman. It informs, it understands the big picture, and it invites her in to her own health and well-being. This is why we are so excited to have begun our own FEMM (Fertility Education and Medical Management) program! Serving women from their teen years to menopause, in groups and on their own, we’ve been privileged to be invited into many women’s lives and health journeys. Currently, we offer the Fertility Education side of things, and we’re so grateful that we get to be a part of helping women understand, care for, and love their bodies! As one of our clients shared,

“FEMM is such a gift… Learning more about my body has helped me love myself more.”

We’ve shared what we’re grateful for…

Share this blog and let us know: What new progress in women’s health care gets you excited?