Link Between Tonsils and Appendix and Fertility Discovered

Tonsils (Daily Mail UK)

Today in “Things You (Probably) Wouldn’t Guess:” Scientists have discovered that the presence of tonsils or an appendix affects fertility.

A study conducted by University of Dundee and University College London found that if woman had either organ removed, they were more likely to both to become pregnant, but also to get pregnant earlier in life. (If you remember from middle school math class, this is what’s called an inverse relationship.) The study followed 530K+ women in the UK over a 15-year period. Over 54K women had their appendix removed, 112K+ women had their tonsils removed, and 10K+ women had both appendices and tonsils removed.

Women who’d had their appendix removed got pregnant at a 34% higher rate than women who still had their appendix. Women who’d had their tonsils removed got pregnant at a 49% (!) higher rate than women who still had their tonsils. And women who’d had both procedures got pregnant at a 43% higher rate than women who had not undergone both procedures.

It’s not clear yet why these things are linked together. But it flies in the face of long-time conventional medical wisdom, which had previously declared that removing a woman’s appendix affected her future fertility due to scarring around her fallopian tubes (a crucial passage for her eggs).

 

 

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The Pentagon Will Pay to Freeze Troops’ Sperm and Eggs

Military troops (The Political Insider)

Military troops (The Political Insider)

Family-friendly policies have been proliferating workplace culture within the past year, and now there’s another company to add to that list: the Pentagon.

The Defense Department will a pilot program that allows troops to freeze sperm and eggs in an effort to retain service members. This policy is especially aimed at women: After 10 years of service (which would place a woman in her late 20s, assuming she enlisted when she was 18), women’s retention rate is 30% less than that of men’s. The cost is estimated to be around $150M for five years, or  $30M per year.

The move comes as the Defense Department noted changing policies that allowed for longer maternity leaves and “improved child care.” After creating a plan, the Defense Department will outline a plan, and will evaluate two years after implementation. The Defense Department is following in the footsteps of certain Silicon Valley companies such as Facebook, which recently began offering female employees the option of freezing their eggs.

So far, the Defense Department is the only government agency that will allow freezing sperm and eggs within their healthcare policy.

It’ll be interesting to see how the pilot program goes, and how it changes the quality of life for military members.

Trends: Opening Up About Miscarriages

Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan, 2015 (Business Insider)

Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan Zuckerberg (Business Insider)

When Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced that his wife was pregnant with their first child last summer, he made another important statement: that his wife Priscilla had endured three miscarriages over the course of three years.

It’s a huge thing to acknowledge, especially since it seems that any narrative other than an easy pregnancy is given short shift. I applaud Zuckerberg for speaking up about what he and his wife went through, and what many more people work through.

But he hasn’t been the only one. Lately, many celebrities/people with social influence have been speaking up about that painful time in their lives.

Actress Eva Amurri Martino experienced a miscarriage as well, and spoke about it publicly two weeks after Zuckererg’s announcement. Martino’s miscarriage occurred around nine weeks after conception. Earlier this year, actress Kimberly McCullough revealed that she’d suffered a miscarriage last year, losing her baby at 22 weeks.

Shining a light on something helps to normalize it, and hopefully these confessions will encourage others to open up about their personal experiences. We need to keep talking about miscarriages to destigmatize them.

#ThrowbackThursday: Mark Zuckerberg and Pregnant Priscilla Chan, 2015

Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan, 2015 (Business Insider)

Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan Zuckerberg (Business Insider)

On July 31, 2015, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced on (where else?) Facebook that he and his wife Priscilla were expecting a baby girl. He also revealed that the couple had weathered three miscarriages in the span of two years.

Zuckerberg rarely posts personal things on his own site, so this was a break from routine for him. The confession earned him praise.

The Zuckerbergs’ daughter Max was born on Dec. 1, 2015.

Planned Parenthood Endorses Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton (The Washington Times)

Hillary Clinton (The Washington Times)

Planned Parenthood has endorsed a candidate for the primary election: Hillary Clinton, the only woman running for the Democratic nomination. This is the first time in Planned Parenthood’s 100-year history that the organization has endorsed a candidate.

For this who’ve been living under a rock, Planned Parenthood provides a number of serves for womens’ reproductive health, including birth control, Pap smears and abortions.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that women’s issues will take up a prominent share of issues discussed leading up to this year’s election. Last week, Republicans in the Senate voted to defund Planned Parenthood. Thankfully, they didn’t get very far, since President Obama vetoed it.

I hope this endorsement brings out women (and men!) to the polls who might not’ve voted otherwise come November.

 

Birth Control Is Now Available Over The Counter in Oregon

Birth control pills (Salon)

Birth control pills (Salon)

Good news for those who may not have insurance, or don’t want to visit the doctor: Birth control is (slowly) becoming available over-the-counter at your nearest pharmacy. That’s right, soon (depending on where you live) you won’t need a prescription.

Right now, the service is only available in Oregon, and it kicked into effect Jan. 1st of this year. Here’s how it works: A woman can walk into her local pharmacy, and fill out a questionnaire about her health. If all systems go, she can get birth control. If the pharmacist refuses to supply her on the grounds of religious reasons, the pharmacist is required to provide suggestions as to where the customer can find birth control.

This all applies if the woman is over 18 years old. If she’s under 18, she’ll still need a doctor’s prescription, though this standard will be relaxed at some point in the future.

It’s also pretty significant that a woman signed this into law: Oregon’s governor Kate Brown signed the bill into law last July.

But Oregon might not be the only state with this law in place for long: California is working out its own law, which is set to go into effect in March. And Colorado and Washington have introduced similar laws within their own respective states. Let’s hope the other 46 states soon see the light and follow suit.

 

China’s (Now Ended) One-Child Policy: By The Numbers

Chinese One-Child Policy poster (The Galloping Beaver)

Chinese One-Child Policy poster (The Galloping Beaver)

Most people have heard of China’s infamous one-child policy. it’s exactly what it sounds like: each married couple is only allowed to have one child.

Now the policy has ended. Actually, it ended on Jan. 1st, less than a week ago.

A lot of people don’t know the story behind the concept, and why it was initially implemented. Here are some numbers that made the one-child policy look like a sensible idea at the time:

China’s total population:

1960: 667.1M

1970: 818.3M

China’s population grew 151.2M in 10 years, or at the rate of 15.12M per year. The government was worried that the population would continue growing exponentially at the same rate, with the country eventually becoming unsustainable.

Fertility rate:

1960: 5.76 births/1 woman

1970: 5.47 births/1 woman

The fertility rate stayed stable (and strong) throughout the 1960s.

Crude birth rate:

1960: 20.9

1970: 33.4

This metric shows the “number of of live births occurring during the year, per 1,000 population estimated at midyear.” The number hit a high in 1963 with 43.4, no doubt sending the Chinese government into a full-fledged panic.

With the above stats as historical context, it’s a bit easier to see why the Chinese government implemented the One-Child Policy, and kept it for the 35 years they did.