Monday, December 29, 2008

Depression: Offering Support

Trying to offer support to a friend or loved one with depression can be hard. You may not know how to act. You may worry that you'll say the wrong thing. Here are some suggestions about how to offer positive support.
Don't ask your loved one to snap out of it.
Depression is a real illness. People who are depressed can't just "pull themselves together" and feel better. Recovering from depression takes time and treatment. Think about it: You wouldn't ask someone with cancer to snap out of it. Depression is just as real and just as serious an illness.
Listen. Right now, what your loved one with depression may need most is someone to listen. Don't dismiss his or her concerns. Don't assume that you know what he or she is going through. Just listen.
Encourage your depressed loved one to be more active. Most people who are depressed isolate themselves. Isolation can make things worse. So gently encourage your friend with depression to get out more. Suggest that you do things together. Invite your loved one out to dinner or to a walk around the neighborhood.
Don't push too hard. Be encouraging but not forceful. Don't make demands. People who are depressed feel overwhelmed as it is. If you're always pushing, a person with depression may pull back more. So if your friend or loved one declines your invitations, don't force the issue. Instead, just give it a little time and then ask again. Be persistent but gentle.
Encourage your loved one to stick with treatment. It's key that your loved one with depression stay on his or her medication and get regular checkups. He or she may also need encouragement to eat well, get enough sleep, and stay away from alcohol and drugs. You could also offer to go with your loved one to therapy or health care appointments.
Create a stable environment. Reducing stress around the home can help a person with depression. Try to get your loved one on a schedule, so he or she knows what to expect each day.
Emphasize that your loved one will feel better. Because of depression, your loved one may feel hopeless. Be reassuring. Depression distorts a person's perception of the world. But with time and treatment, your friend or loved one will see clearly again.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Embarrassing Conditions

Managing embarrassing symptoms -- burping, intestinal gas, and the growling stomach --- may be as simple as changing your diet
It's happened to everyone at least once. In an awkward silence on a date, or during your fifth grade clarinet solo, or in the middle of a business presentation, your body suddenly betrays you. You burp. Or your stomach begins to growl and roar. Or worst of all, you have -- to put it delicately -- an outburst of intestinal gas.
But what causes these noisy, embarrassing, and sometimes foul-smelling eruptions? And is there a way to prevent them?
How Common Is Gas?
Gas is a great leveler. From the pauper to the king, from the slovenly frat boy to the prim grandmother, everyone has intestinal gas.
"We've all got gas, whether we admit it or not," says C. Mel Wilcox, MD, professor of medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and spokesman for the American Gastroenterological Association. "But because everyone is different, some people have more than others." According to the National Institutes of Health, the average person passes intestinal gas 14 times a day and produces about 1 to 4 pints of the stuff.
That may be more than you expect. Many people who believe that they are excessively gassy actually have perfectly ordinary amounts, says Steven Edmundowicz, MD, chief of endoscopy at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. However, it may be that it's just more distressing -- both emotionally and physically -- to some people than it is to others.
So where does gas come from? There are two major sources: some comes from air that you swallow and the rest is a by-product of digestion.
Eating the Air
For the most part, burping is caused by air that you swallow. Aside from teenage boys engaging in belching contests, most of us don't swallow air on purpose. But eating air is easier to do than you might think. You can increase the chances of swallowing air by:
Chewing gum
Drinking through a straw
Sucking on hard candies
Drinking a lot of carbonated beverages
Eating or drinking too quickly
Wearing loose dentures
In addition, any medical condition that might cause you to swallow frequently can increase the amount of air you get into your stomach. For instance, allergies or sinus infections that cause postnasal drip can make you swallow more often. That may increase the amount of gas in your system.
Edmundowicz tells us that people with severe heartburn are also likely to swallow air. The natural reaction to the backwash of stomach acid into the esophagus is to swallow in order to force the acid back down. The more you swallow, the more air gets into your stomach.
Some people develop an unconscious nervous habit of swallowing. "There are a lot of closet air swallowers out there who don't realize that they're doing it," says Wilcox.
Bacterial Fermentation
Some of the air that you swallow goes through the intestinal tract and out the other end. But the major source of intestinal gas derives from the action of harmless, naturally occurring bacteria in your intestine.
Gas is a by-product of bacterial breakdown of undigested food that makes its way to the large intestine. Most of the gas is hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and, in about one-third of people, methane. The signature stink of intestinal gas comes from sulfur.
The volume of intestinal gas is directly related to the amount of undigested food that goes into the large intestine. If you're eating things that can't be absorbed by the small intestine, or if your small intestine can't absorb certain foods normally, the bacteria in the large intestine will pick up the slack and manufacture more gas in the process.
The Growling Stomach
Intestinal gas can also cause the familiar sounds of the "growling stomach," a term that's actually a misnomer, says Munsey Wheby, MD, president of the American College of Physicians.
"It's not usually the stomach making the noise," says Wheby, who is also senior associate dean and a professor of medicine at the University of Virginia School of Medicine. "Instead, it's caused by the intestines as they contract."
Everyone knows that a growling "stomach" can mean that you're hungry. But the noise often stems from the movement of air through the intestines, whether there's food there or not. So if you've been swallowing a lot of air, or if you've been eating things that your small intestine can't digest, you may hear some grumbling, or even a whole symphony of bizarre and embarrassing noises.
But like burping and flatulence, occasional growling from the intestines isn't anything to worry about, says Edmundowicz.
What Foods Cause Gas?
Obviously, some foods cause more gas than others. As any schoolboy will tell you, the most notorious offender is baked beans, but there are plenty of others, including grains (for instance, the word pumpernickel is believed to stem from Middle German and mean, roughly, "goblin that breaks wind").
Any food that is high in soluble fiber, for instance, is only broken down by bacteria in the large intestine, so that can mean more gas. Foods that may cause gas include:
Vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, onions, artichokes, and asparagus
Fruits such as apples, pears, and peaches
Whole grains, such as whole wheat and bran
Sodas and fruit drinks
Foods with sorbitol, often used as a sweetener in sugar-free gums and candies
As you may have noticed, many of those foods are the bedrock of healthy diets.
"People sometimes do get confused when they find out that a healthy high-fiber diet with lots of fruits and vegetables can cause excess gas symptoms," says Edmundowicz.
Fruits, vegetables, and grains are important for digestion in other ways, so if you have gas, be cautious when trying to eliminate healthy foods from your diet. You may just need to eat a little less to ease your symptoms.
Cutting Out the Cheese
Some people may have extra gas because they can't digest certain foods normally. For instance, people who are lactose intolerant are missing the enzyme that processes lactose, the main sugar in dairy products. Because they can't digest it in the small intestine, the bacteria get a hold of the lactose in the large intestine, creating gas.
Although lactose intolerance is a common condition, especially among people of African, Native American, or Asian descent, you shouldn't immediately decide to cut out dairy products if you have excess gas.
"In my opinion, lactose intolerance certainly exists," says Wilcox. "But I think it's rarer than people think as a cause of symptoms."
Wilcox has seen many patients who have heard about lactose intolerance and diagnosed themselves. But even after eliminating dairy products, their symptoms linger. Cutting out dairy without good reason can lead to other problems in the long run, such as osteoporosis from the loss of calcium in the diet.
So if you're having excess gas, you shouldn't abruptly cut all dairy from your diet. Instead, see your doctor and talk about it. He or she might order some tests to find out. Edmundowicz also suggests that you try a more measured approach to zero-in on the particular foods that might be giving you trouble -- such as eliminating one food at a time and re-evaluating your symptoms.
Disagreeable Food
Although lactose intolerance may be the best known, there are other types of known food intolerances. For instance, fructose intolerance is an inability to digest a different sugar that's in some vegetables and fruits and also used as an artificial sweetener.
But the individual reactions that people have to various foods are so diverse that they can't be categorized. For instance, one person may notice that peppers give her terrible intestinal gas, while another can't eat onions for the same reason.
Some of your digestive symptoms -- such as flatulence, bloating, and cramping -- may depend on what particular strains of bacteria have or have not set up shop in your large intestine. But that's probably not the whole story.
"We just don't have scientific and physiological explanations for some of these reactions," says Wheby.
Wilcox agrees. "
It all just depends on your make-up and what you eat," he says, "and you learn what to avoid by trial and error."
How Can I Reduce my Gas?
Ultimately, there's only so much one can do to reduce the amount of gas you have. Everyone has to contend with some belching and intestinal gas every day.
But if it's really bothering you, or if you feel that the amount of gas you're producing is excessive, there are some steps you can take. All three experts agree that the most important steps are making changes to your diet by:
Avoiding anything that might increase your chances of swallowing air, such as smoking, drinking through straws, and eating too quickly
Avoiding or cutting down on problematic foods, such as carbonated drinks, beans, and some raw vegetables
Considering a food diary. If you can't figure out what may be causing your increased gas, try keeping a journal of what you eat. You may find one or two foods that seem to increase your symptoms
There are countless products sold in drugstores that may give you some relief, including antacids and digestive aids. But Wilcox and Edmundowicz caution that they may not help much.
"Antacids have very limited effects," says Edmundowicz. While simethicone, an ingredient in many antacids, seems to help some people with heartburn, it won't help with intestinal gas.
For people who are intolerant to lactose or the sugar in beans, enzymes are sold in over-the-counter products such as Lactaid and Beano, respectively, to help with digestion. However, their effectiveness varies from person to person, say Edmundowicz and Wilcox.
On the whole, Edmundowicz suggests that people use whatever over-the-counter or home remedies that help. "Because these symptoms aren't medically significant most of the time, we encourage people to use any safe remedy that works," he says.
When Should I See a Doctor?
Most of the time, gas symptoms aren't anything to worry about, but getting checked out is always a good idea. You should definitely see a doctor if:
You notice new symptoms
Your symptoms keep getting worse
Your symptoms are associated with pain, vomiting, or weight loss
Certain conditions, such as Crohn's disease or tumors, can cause blockage in the intestines and increase gas symptoms.
However, if you've always had gas and you're not having more serious symptoms as well, you probably don't have to worry, say Wilcox and Edmundowicz.
"People come in with complaints about gas and want to be diagnosed with something," says Wilcox. "I think that's how Americans tend to be. But for a lot of these symptoms, we just don't have an answer. It just depends on the individual."
So for most of us, coping with gas -- while noisy, embarrassing, and sometimes malodorous -- is just a normal part of life.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Change Your Breath From Bad to Good

Bad breath is embarrassing, unpleasant, and all too common. These eight easy tips will sweeten your breath for good.
Don't let your tongue become a dirty carpet.
Bad breath often strikes when people aren't properly taking care of their
oral health. The odor is usually caused by decaying food particles and bacteria in your mouth. That's why brushing and flossing your teeth is so important, but don't forget to gently brush your tongue to get rid of even more bacteria.
A clean tongue goes a long way to warding off bad breath, says Stephen Z. Wolner, a dentist in private practice in New York City. "Your tongue microscopically is like a shaggy carpet. There are millions of filaments on your tongue that trap tiny food particles and bacteria," he says. Get in the habit of regularly cleaning your tongue using a toothbrush, the edge of a spoon, or a tongue cleaner. If you have any mouth guards or oral devices, make sure to clean them thoroughly before putting them back in your mouth.
Mouthwash isn't a bad idea, but it's only a temporary fix. Granted, a little mouthwash comes in handy before a romantic dinner for two, but it masks the odor instead of tackling the source of your problem.
Chew gum like it's going out of style.
Believe it or not, saliva is your best weapon against bad breath. That's why dry mouth, often caused by certain
medications or medical conditions, leads to odor problems. By washing away food particles and bacteria, saliva helps to eliminate odor, too.
If you're wondering why your breath stinks in the morning, it's largely because saliva production slows while you
sleep, allowing particles and odor to linger longer. That's where sugarless gum comes in handy, as chewing it will stimulate saliva production. Mints, on the other hand, don't usually stimulate saliva production and only temporarily mask bad odor.
"When you chew gum it makes you salivate, and the more saliva you have in your mouth the fewer bacteria you have. It not only mechanically washes bacteria out, but we have antiseptic and enzymes in our saliva that kill bacteria," says Wolner.
While anything that makes you salivate will improve your breath, a gum that is sweetened with xylitol is your best option. Xylitol is a sugar substitute that not only increases salvation but also works to prevent bacteria from replicating in the mouth.
Choose cinnamon -- it's sweeter.
A recent study of the cinnamon-flavored gum Big Red found that cinnamon might have breath-odor fighting abilities. Unlike other flavors, cinnamon is not just a cover-up, Wolner tells us. In fact, he says, an ingredient in the flavoring appears to actually decrease the bacteria in your mouth. The only problem is that sugar gums are bad for your teeth, so stick to sugarless cinnamon-flavored gum instead.
Drink more water.
Wolner says the older you get the more likely you are to get dehydrated. You might not even notice you're thirsty, he says, so make drinking water a habit, because water will help keep the bacteria in your mouth to a minimum. Drinking water has a lot of health benefits, and preventing bad breath is one of them.
Rule out rare causes for bad breath.
While most bad breath can be banished with simple hygienic steps, there are times when dental or medical conditions might be the culprit. Make an appointment with your dentist if an unsavory odor takes residence in your mouth.
"If there is a persistent odor in your mouth, and you know it's not from the pasta you ate last night, see a dentist," Wolner tells us. Your dentist will be able to pinpoint any cavities or decay, or even periodontal (gum) disease, that might be causing your bad breath.
Because on rare occasions bad breath can signal a larger problem, including infection, and even kidney or
liver failure, you should also visit a doctor if your dentist doesn't find a cause for your bad breath problem.

Have a slice of bread.
If you're on one of the many popular low-carb diets, remember that bad breath or "ketone breath" is a potential side effect when you always have that burger sans bun. You can try different methods of masking the odor, such as gum or tart candies, but adding a few carbs to your daily diet might also do the trick.
Get a water pick.
You can't really clean your entire mouth with a toothbrush. "Using an irrigator or water pick cleans everything out around and under your gums and between your teeth," says Wolner. "If food lingers between your teeth where a toothbrush doesn't reach, it's fermenting." Next time you floss, take a whiff of your floss after you're done, and you'll have a good idea about what fermented or rotten food particles smell like.
Don't let bad breath go to your head.
If you think you have bad breath, get a second opinion. "A large proportion of people who think they're social pariahs with terrible breath don't have bad breath at all," says Wolner

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Exercise: as treatment to manage Blood Pressure

Many studies involving different age groups and differing exercise have shown that regular physical activity lowers blood pressure for those who have hypertension. A review of over 20 physical activity and blood pressure studies showed that, systolic blood pressure is lowered about 11 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure is reduced an average of 8 mm Hg with regular exercise. Those effects have been documented for men, women, and children and can occur after just a few weeks of training.
Lowering blood pressure 8 to 11 mm Hg is similar to the changes found after treatment with a typical blood pressure-lowering medication. Reducing blood pressure to this degree can reduce
stroke and heart attack rates by 25 percent! So, exercise can be the difference between being placed on drugs, with all their possible side effects and cost, and not needing any other treatment. For others, exercise can eliminate the need for one or more blood pressure control, exercise helps you feel better, decreases other risks for heart and blood vessel disease, lowers body fat, and improves your fitness level. On the other hand, blood pressure medicines do none of those. And remember, the best they can do is not make you feel worse.

1. Kinds of Exercise That Lower Blood Pressure
Nearly all exercises lower blood pressure. Endurance exercise such as walking,
jogging, swimming. stair climbing, and bike riding can help control blood pressure. Even weight lifting can be used to treat hyper-tension. Practically any physical exercise you can think of can be used to lower your blood pressure. However, to be effective and to improve your chance of success, you should select exercises you enjoy and that are convenient.

2. How Exercises Lower Blood Pressure
Exercise appears to reduce blood pressure in several different ways.
First, just taking off fat through physical activity will lower blood pressure; this is similar to
reducing body fat by dieting. But exercise has several advantages over just dieting. Breathing more rapidly, even with low levels of exercise, and sweating during physical activity help you get rid of water and salt, as would using a diuretic to lower blood pressure.

Also, exercise affects two major
hormones in our body. With training, the resting level of adrenaline is reduced. This lowers your heart rate and blood pressure, just as if you used a beta blocker, but with several major differences. Using beta blockers causes you to become less fit (they typically reduce aerobic fitness by 10 percent), but exercise makes you more fit. Instead of feeling more fatigued and losing sleep, you have more energy and sleep much better. And importantly, the blood cholesterol and sugar abnormalities that can occur with beta blocker use do not occur, and your cholesterol levels and blood sugar handling improved with exercise.
Another hormone, insulin, which is made in our pancreas, circulates in our bloodstream and helps control sugar levels. Some of a condition referred to as
insulin resistance. Their body needs to produce more insulin to control sugar. Although this condition most commonly occurs when we have too much body fat, it can occur for no apparent reason. These higher than usual insulin levels will increase our body's salt stores by making our kidneys hold on to sodium. This results in higher blood pressure. Regular exercise reduces insulin levels, and this effect alone may reduce blood pressure.

3. How Long Should I Exercise?
Start with just 20 minutes. You can split your physical activity into two 10 minute periods, if it is more convenient. Then add 2 minutes to each exercise day, every week, to reach a minimum of 30 minutes, three times each week.

Initial Formula for Exercise
Type of exercise
Aerobics or weight lifting
Intensity (how hard) 65 to75 percent of maximal heart rate, or perceived exertion
level of 2 to 3 out of 10 for aerobics.
Duration (how long) 20 minutes, increasing to 30 minutes
Frequency At least three times each week

However, just as some people require a large dose of medicine to control their blood pressure, you may require larger dose of exercise. We suggest , you can do this by increasing the number of exercise days.

4. Choosing
an Exercise
Select activities you like to do and that fit into the time constraints of your life. Don't worry about your skill level or how you will look. For example, if you select swimming,
constant activity for 20 minutes is sufficient for the first two weeks. It doesn't matter how far you go or how well you can swim (if you are not a strong swimmer, make sure you can stand in the pool with your head out of the water). If you choose to ride a bike, try an exercycle (a stationary cycle). It is usually easier to use in the beginning, and unless you are climbing hills, your workout will be more efficient and probably more vigorous. With stationary bikes there is no starting and stopping at corners; you can't fall off, become lost, or get a flat tire.

You only need to exercise at 65 to 75 percent of your maximum heart rate to lower blood pressure. If you are using a medicine that rate to lower blood pressure. If you are using a medicine that has changed your heart rate, you can use the convenient perceived exertion scale. On a scale of 0 to 10, where 0 represents the amount of exercise you should exert yourself at a level of 2 to3. By rating your own level of exertion, you don't have to rely on heart rates, which can be different from person to person and be altered by taking certain medications.

5. Exercise guidelines while taking Blood-Pressure Lowering Drug
When you exercise , while taking blood pressure - lowing drugs, it is often best to use the perceived exertion scale and rely less on heart rate formulas.
Using your heart rate as a guide is not very helpful when you take medications such as beta blockers, certain central alpha agonists (like clonidine), or calcium channel blockers. Beta blockers reduce endurance exercise capacity by lowering the heart rate, and through other effects. This characteristic is great for women with both
coronary artery disease and high blood pressure because it allows exercise with reduced pain symptoms and lower blood pressure, resulting in less stress on the heart.
There are some specific recommendations for certain blood pressure drugs.
If you use diuretics, it is important that you receive enough
potassium and magnesium to replace losses due to the drug and exercise.
Some vasodilator drugs can increase heart rates.
Because of the possible drug effects on heart rate, and the possibility of miscalculation when you determine your training heart rate, using the perceived exertion scale is a better way to go.
"Always check with your health care provider before you exercise, especially when you are taking medications, no matter what they are."

Why Men's Lives Are Shorter Than Women's

Listen up, guys. It may be time to drop the bravado and consider these sobering statistics:
· Coronary artery disease (CAD) is three times higher among men who are clinically depressed.
· Male suicides outnumber female suicides in every age group.
· Homicide and suicide are among the top three causes for death among males between the ages of 15 and 34.
· By the age of 85, women outnumber men in the U.S. 2.2 to 1; this rises to 3 to 1 if they reach their 90s.
These are just a few of the realities examined in Why Men Die First: How to Lengthen Your Lifespan, a new book by Marianne J. Legato, that focuses on the biological, cultural, and personal reasons that men's life span in the U.S. lasts an average of six years less than women's.
Male mortality is shorter in part, Legato says, because males are more fragile and inherently vulnerable than females from birth. And unlike women, who have fought hard to have their specific health needs validated and addressed, men haven't demanded equal treatment.
"It is a need that has never been addressed," Legato says. "Men have been tremendously neglected and it doesn't have to be that way."
Men's medical challenges owe a great deal to cultural conditioning. The rules are set shortly after birth, Legato says: Suck up the pain, don't be a wimp, show no weakness, and "man up." Many men only seek medical counsel when under duress from a spouse or when their condition has deteriorated to a severe state."Women are able to logically ask for help," says Legato, who has long promoted the concept of gender-specific medicine. "They're hardwired in the brain and very motivated." "The cultural reasons for not going to the doctor are killing men," she says.

How Men Can Live Longer
In her book, Legato examines and champions an end to the lack of awareness among men -- and even the medical community -- regarding the specific health needs of a male that could help prevent male deaths. Men, she says, deserve better and should insist on higher standards.

"Don't tolerate the current situation where men die six years before women," Legato says. "If we can conquer breast cancer and AIDS to the extent we have, we can certainly save our men."Legato highlights the following leading factors of death in men in which men can begin to make a significant difference in their health and improve male life expectancy:
1.Speak frankly with a doctor: Leave embarrassment in the waiting room. Women are taught at an early age to be candid and open with their doctors. Symptoms that can be uncomfortable to talk about -- such as erectile dysfunction -- can be tied to more serious ailments such as diabetes and heart disease. Men, despite cultural tradition, should also request breast checks It's a part of the body and should be examined," Legato says. She encourages men to perform testicular self-exams in the way women are taught to check their breasts for irregularities. Although men may cringe at getting a prostate check, they are far less uncomfortable than experiencing the pain of cancer treatment.
2. Check testosterone levels: Beginning at age 30, testosterone begins to dip by 1% each year, says Legato. Lowered testosterone levels can lead to a decrease in vitality, muscle mass, ability to perform prolonged exercise, memory, concentration, and libido. Not only does this impair quality of life, it can contribute to depression, which can have a significant effect on male health, potentially increasing the risk of coronary disease. There are several treatments available -- including gels, patches, and injections -- that can help restore this vital hormone to proper levels.
Robert Ruxin, an endocrinologist from Ridgefield, Conn., says normal testosterone loss has little correlative effect on vitality or sexuality. But there are instances when dramatic loss -- more likely between the ages between of 60 and 80 -- can impede quality of life.
"When it drops normally, probably not, but very low, yes," Ruxin says. "A level that drops from 800 to 500 has not been shown to have a clinical effect. Maybe from 800 to 400 can be too low."
Diabetes patients, for example, may have a greater risk of significant testosterone loss. Conversely, pituitary hormones, he says, can balance out the effects of the difference in individuals who are losing testosterone at a typical rate.
"There's a wide variation of normal."
3. Immune systems: The male immune system is not as vigorous as those of females, and men die from seven of the 10 most common infections at a higher rate, Legato says, particularly tuberculosis and sexually transmitted diseases. Sanitary sexual practices are essential, beginning with use of a condom. Men should check for updated vaccinations with their doctor when traveling to foreign countries. A tetanus shot should be administered every 10 years.
"Immunization is not finished after the second year of life," Legato says.
Proper nutrition and supplementation can also be beneficial. Despite the gender-focused attention it receives, osteoporosis also strikes men.
4.Recognize and treat depression: Male depression may be much more common than has been previously estimated. Symptoms aren't always obvious.
"We glibly state that women are twice as often depressed as men throughout the world," she says. "What they do is turn to behaviors that are semi-socially acceptable: drinking alcohol, TV watching, greater sexual exploits."

Legato is convinced the vulnerability of depression can compromise men's health in other ways, leading to increased instance of disease and greater male mortality from such conditions. It's also a common symptom of "andropause," which is marked by a decrease of testosterone in males that is similar, if less dramatic, than the effect of menopause in females. Indeed, males are also susceptible to the notorious hot flashes that have often marked the change of life for women, albeit years later.
Legato says the current medical system often prevents doctors from obtaining a proper understanding of a patient's personality and life structure. Make time to discuss any such issues with a doctor and be open to treatment. "A pill is not always the cure," Legato says. "Structured conversations can be very helpful."
While Ruxin is not convinced that andropause is a genuine male concern, others are in sync with Legato's insights on male depression.James Korman, PsyD, ACT, director of the Behavioral Health and Cognitive Therapy Center at Summit Medical Group in New Jersey, agrees that depression in men occurs far more often than reported. He also points to cultural factors as often influencing men's reluctance to get treatment.
"Men tend to express depression differently than women," Korman says. "This can result in sleep disturbances, mood change, and sexual disinterest."
Left untreated, depression can have catastrophic results.
Regarding suicide, Korman says that while women typically make more attempts, "men are much better at completing it."
Men need to realize, Legato says, how destructive depression can be to their health and openly discuss their concerns with a doctor.
"To enjoy the day and be as viable as possible in the present is the best attitude," she says.
5. Keep a close eye on young males: The reckless nature and lifestyle of adolescents make them prime targets for injury or death. Females develop a more evolved sense of judgment and decision making at an earlier age then males. Add to that the cocktail of testosterone and other hormones and, biologically, males possess a potentially lethal internal recipe. Monitoring their activities and setting careful limits is vital. "Boys have been compared to a Porsche without brakes," Legato says. "They take risks, are idealistic, intense, and believe they're invulnerable."
6. Assess your risk for coronary disease: Coronary disease, Legato says, "takes a toll on men in their prime and leaves families bereft." It's imperative to sit down and assess the risks along with any predisposed genetic tendency and discuss these with a doctor. Have any relatives died of heart disease before the age of 60? What are your cholesterol levels? Have you experienced fainting episodes, loss of consciousness, or shortness of breath?
"We downplay this tremendously," Legato says.

Again, men aren't genetically blessed compared to women in this area. The female hormone estrogen provides women with a layer of protection that men don't naturally possess, asserts Legato. Further illustrating this: Men can begin developing signs of coronary artery disease at the age of 35, Legato says, while women don't present a risk of a heart attack similar to men until much later. Men with a family history of heart disease should alert their doctor and take proper precautions beginning in their 30s.
"It doesn't have to be that way," Legato says. "We should be turning a very critical eye on why coronary disease starts in the mid-30s."

Monday, November 24, 2008

Cosmetics Ingredients Linked to Breast Cancer?

Even at the youngest ages, little girls find their way into their mother’s makeup kit, making a mess of lipstick, eye shadow and mascara on their face. And as girls grow older, they begin the delicate debate with their parents over what type of makeup they can wear and when. However, mothers and fathers everywhere may have one more tool in their arsenal for convincing their daughters to delay that trip to the cosmetics counter.
A new study suggests that women who begin using makeup at an earlier age and in greater amounts may have an increased risk of developing breast cancer later in life.
“There is growing evidence that we should be particularly concerned about the use of makeup by teenagers and children,” says Dr. Janet Gray, professor at Vassar College and creator of a new CD that outlines the evidence linking certain products and materials to breast cancer risk.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to toss out your entire makeup bag, says Gray. The results of her compilation of previous research indicate a strong association between some common ingredients in cosmetics, but not all. So, a smart cosmetics consumer can try to make smarter choices when it comes to picking out particular products.
The worst offenders, it seems, are shampoos and other hair care products marketed to the African American community. Many of these products have placenta extracts inside, which contain adult hormones, like estrogen. And for many years, estrogens have been known to increase breast cancer risk. Manufacturers claim that these placenta extracts are used in shampoos to help strengthen hair and reduce breakage. “You can go to any drug store and find shampoos that advertise placenta extracts,” said Gray.
These estrogen-laden products, when used in high amounts by young girls may also cause early puberty, which is a separate factor that can influence breast cancer risk.
But even avoiding these particular hair care products may not be enough. Besides estrogens, there are two chemicals commonly found in many personal care products that may also be putting you at risk—and they aren’t always clearly labeled.
Parabens are a group of chemicals used as a preservative in many personal-care products, such as lotions, shampoo, sunscreen, skin foundation and bath gels. They are used to prevent the growth of bacteria and other organisms in the bottle, but they also acts like a weak estrogen. In some studies, exposure to environmental estrogens, like parabens, has been linked to a higher risk of breast cancer.
The other indicated chemical group, phthalates, can be found in nail and hair products, including gels, mousses and hair sprays, as well as skin creams and lotions. These chemicals are used to help the skin absorb the product, but they have been linked to certain birth defects and cancer. Like parabens, they also seem to disrupt the natural hormones in the body, which in turn, may increase the risk of breast cancer.
Estrogens, phthaltates and parabens may collect in the tissue over time and slowly alter healthy cells. Gray suggests that this is why teens and adolescents may be the most susceptible to their ill effects as, over years of use, there may be cumulative damage.
“Adolescence is the time when breasts are developing, so this is clearly a time when exposure matters for developing breast cancer 20 to 30 years later,” says Gray.
Fortunately, some companies have begun making strides in removing these chemicals from their products. OPI, Orly and Sally Hansen, for example, have removed phthalates from all of their nail products. And other major cosmetics companies are following their lead.
“Reformulating to remove dangerous chemicals is so much better than arguing about how much of these chemicals is OK to use in nail polishes,” said Jeanne Rizzo, a registered nurse and executive director of the San Francisco-based Breast Cancer Fund.
Gray suggests doing a little homework to figure out which products are safest to use. Some websites, such as, list those companies who have promised to remove these chemicals from their products. Also, try to use less makeup and lotion to reduce exposure and perhaps lower the amount of chemicals that will collect in your body overt time.
“Each time you put on lipstick isn’t going to cause cancer,” says Gray. “But it’s the additive effect of years of lipstick, lotion and other environmental risks.”
Also, educate teens and children about why wearing too much makeup or using too many hair care products may be harmful to them.
“Makeup is a part of our culture,” says Gray. “But if you are going to use it, realize that you are putting chemicals on your body.”

Big Purses Can Be a Big Pain

Jumbo-size purses are all the rage, but they're also a pain in the neck—and elsewhere.
These hefty handbags can cause back pain, shoulder pain, neck pain, headaches and maybe even arthritis, warns Dr. Jane Sadler of Baylor Medical Center in Garland, Texas.
"I see so many women with neck pains and headaches and what I usually do is look for their purse and pick it up. We take it over to the scale and weigh it and usually they're anywhere from 7 to 10 pounds," she stated in a news release issued by Baylor Health Care System.
Like those bulky backpacks hauled around by schoolkids, this fashion fad turns out to be just another case of poor posture and ergonomics. "It creates strain along the neck and into the nerves that exit the neck and down the shoulder so it can be very painful later on for many women," Sadler noted.
Suggested ways of pruning your purse include carrying only the money and credit cards you need, clipping your cell phone to your belt and leaving those oversized makeup kits at home.
"We're really going to see women with more and more problems later on if we continue the big purse craze," Sadler cautioned.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Wrong Bra Can Damage Breast Ligaments

Yup, that’s right. Apparently not only can wearing the wrong bra size for your breasts be incredibly uncomfortable or unsupportive, but it can also have the potential to damage the ligaments that keep breasts in their proper place. How did they find this out? Well they put a bunch of women on treadmills and studied how their breasts moved around, bounced up and down and from the side to side, and found that those that were wearing what is considered to be the improper cup or circumference or strap size, had the most movement, and those that were wearing the right bra fit had the most restricted movement, and therefore less likelihood of breast damage.They said that many bras would only limit vertical movement of the breasts, that is, up and down movement from chin to feet, rather than also limiting the side to side movement, which is not what most women think of when buying a bra for fit. The bra should fit cozily to the breast so as to limit that side to side movement as well as the “bounce” effect, to make sure that the breasts are not potentially being harmed from too much movement around.
They say that bras should be bought based on not only comfort, but also on how well they actually keep your breasts “in place”, so don’t get stuck in that rut of buying the exact same bra you’ve always bought, just because that’s what your comfortable wearing, but rather when you try on the bras in the dressing room (and if you don’t always try on your bras, now’s the time to start!), try running in place or bouncing up and down and seeing what your breasts are doing when you are moving in the dressing room mirror. The bras that support and hold the breasts in place, but are also not so tight you can’t breathe or they feel to restrictive, is the bra you should be getting for the best fit and the best health of your breasts and their precious ligaments.

The Gynecology Secrets You Need to Know

“I can’t tell you,” says Rebecca Amaru, “the number of times women come into my office in tears because they’ve read or heard something about gynecology they think applies to them – and it doesn’t.” Amaru is clinical instructor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. She tells that a lot of what you read about gynecology or about caring for your V zone is either exaggerated or “just plain wrong.”

Here are the gynecology secrets you want to know.

1: Birth control pills may cause your sex drive to wane.
If your desire for canoodling hasn’t seemed quite the same since you started taking “the Pill,” it’s not your imagination says Amaru. “It’s 100% true that birth control pills can reduce the desire for sex in many women,” she says.
This is true not only for women in their reproductive years. It’s also true for women going through menopause who may use a low dose pill to control symptoms such as hot flashes and mood swings.
What can you do to get your sex drive back? Amaru says switching pill brands or formulations sometimes helps. “If it doesn’t,” she says, “consider switching to another form of birth control such as an IUD — if you’re in a monogamous relationship — or condoms,” she says. Another option is to take the Pill less frequently and use another method of protection to prevent pregnancy. If you’re using the Pill for relief of symptoms such as hot flashes, talk to your doctor about cutting back the dosage.
2: To reduce some side effects of birth control pills — including nausea — insert them vaginally.
“Inserting the Pill vaginally is not harmful,” says Steve Goldstein, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at NYU Medical Center in New York City. “And,” he says, “it can be very effective, particularly if you are suffering with any nausea or vomiting for any reason, including from taking the Pill.”
This little known secret came to light thanks to an Israeli study published in the journal Contraception. Doctors compared two groups of women using the Pill. One group took the pill by mouth; the other inserted it into the vagina and let it dissolve. The result? The women who used the vaginal route had less nausea, vertigo, headache, breast tenderness, period pain, and stomach upsets than the ones who took the Pill orally.
3: Migraine headaches may increase your desire for sex — and orgasms may stop headaches and menstrual cramps.
Having sex may be the last thing on your mind while you have a headache. But don’t be surprised if you feel stronger urges to get intimate in the time leading up to a migraine — as much as 24 hours before. Doctors aren’t sure why this occurs. According to researcher James Couch,of the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, it may have something to do with an increase in the levels of serotonin. This brain chemical may be linked to sexual appetite.
Moreover, recent research has shown that for up to 20% of women, having an orgasm may stop a migraine in its tracks, immediately relieving the pain. But this isn’t the first time orgasm has been linked to pain relief. Goldstein says some women find it helps menstrual cramps — possibly because of a release of bio-chemicals that flood the body and relax the uterus, relieving pain.

4: Avoiding sex will make painful sex hurt more.
Many women believe that avoiding intercourse and giving their vagina a “rest” is the best antidote to painful sex. Experts say the exact opposite is true. “There is some measure of truth to the axiom that if you don’t use it, you lose it,” says women’s health expert Christiane Northrup, Northrup is the author of Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom. Stop having sex, she says, and resuming it may be that much harder — both physically and in terms of desire.
At the same time, she says, pain with intercourse is not normal. It often occurs when your partner simply isn’t arousing you enough. In other instances, hormonally driven vaginal dryness — like the vaginal dryness some women feel when nursing a baby or going through menopause — can also cause sexual discomfort. A little dollop of a lubricating product or an estrogen cream applied directly to the vagina, Northrup says, is all you need to eliminate discomfort from painful intercourse related to hormones.
If arousal is the problem, Northrup says talk to your partner about increasing foreplay. Then do whatever it takes to get you through the excitement phase and make your body ready for intercourse.
5: It’s easier to contract an STD if you have sex during your period.
While having sex during your period is the least likely time to get pregnant, it’s also the most likely time to catch an infection. The reason? “Changes in the acid/alkaline balance of your vagina during your menses make it easier for bacteria to proliferate,” says Nanette Santoro, MD. Santoro is director of reproductive endocrinology at the Montefiore Medical Center and Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City.
“Normally the vagina is acidic, [a condition bacteria don’t like]. But blood raises the pH substantially, making it a more alkaline environment,” says Santoro. And that’s a condition that can allow bacteria to thrive.
Goldstein says,
“If you’re not 100% certain of your partner’s sexual health, always use a condom.”
6: Wearing cotton underwear and changing your laundry detergent really do work to reduce your risk of vaginitis.
Doctors say these long-standing axioms are not just an old wives tale. Vaginitis is an irritation of the vagina. It causes excess vaginal discharge, burning, and itching. Wearing cotton underwear and using a different laundry detergent can reduce the risk of vaginitis. Another way to avoid the risk is not to use perfumed soaps, intimate deodorants, or other fragrant products around your vagina.
If you don’t see at least some reduction in symptoms of vaginitis soon after you make these changes, Goldstein says talk to your doctor. Your problem could be bacterial vaginosis, a yeast infection, a sexually transmitted disease, or another infection that needs medical care.
7: To reduce the risk of developing toxic shock syndrome when traveling abroad, bring a supply of US made tampons.
The potentially deadly infection known as toxic shock syndrome is on the rise again. It’s still linked to highly absorbent tampon use. These tampons are no longer sold in the United States, but depending on where you travel out of the country, you might still find them on store shelves right next to safer, less absorbent type. If you aren’t very familiar with the language in another country, you could easily come away with the wrong type. “To be safe,” says Goldstein, “bring your own from home, and never leave them in your body for an extended period of time."
8: Avoid the use of tampons to protect against incontinence leaks.
Because a tampon in the vagina also exerts pressure on the urethra (the tube where urine passes out of the body), it can act as a kind of “stopper.” This may help control leaks, drips and dribbles. Doctors say it’s okay to use this method once in a while — for example if you tend to “leak” urine while exercising. However, Goldstein warns not to make a habit of it and says to remove the tampon as soon as you’re done working out. A tampon inside a dry vagina, he says, can cause significant irritation as well as microscopic tears in the skin. The irritation and tears can later open the door to infection. To help control everyday leaks, drips, and dribbles, you can use one of the new ultra thin incontinence pads. They are more absorbent than a typical menstrual pad and safer than a tampon.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Truth on How to Achieve a Toned Tummy

It often seems like the hardest thing in the world to do: "Reducing your waistline and toning your abdominal region". People all over the world spend thousands of dollars per day attempting to accomplish the "SIX PACK". I have regular requests asking for advice and quick fixes to remedy the storing of body fat around the waistline and how to create a firm toned midsection.
The Truth about achieving a toned tummy and being able to actually see that "muscle tone" is to reduce the layer of body fat covering your abdominals. That's right! It doesn't matter how many crunches you do, or what new machine you use from the continuous advertisements that hound us day in and day out. If you don't cut back your body fat you will never see those strong toned abdominals.

There are 2 ways to go about getting rid of stomach fat. You can go the cardio route and you can do direct abs exercises.

1. For cardio, start walking... but on a hill or inclined treadmill
Walking by itself isn't magical as far as losing belly flab and love handles, but when you start walking on an incline it becomes one of the TOP exercises you can do to reduce your waist size.
That small change makes a HUGE difference. Since hills are hard to come by, find a treadmill that inclines to 10-15 degrees and get walking.

2. Do isometric vacuum poses for waist reduction
This is my favorite waist reducing exercise because the results come fast and no other exercise can do what this one does. Suck in your belly on and off for 5 minutes a day and within 1 month you will lose nearly 2 inches from your belly.
You'll want to hold the isometric tension in the vacuum pose for a minimum of 15 seconds each time you do it. You can do this anywhere at basically anytime. I use this exercise exclusively while I'm watching TV. It can become addicting because of how easy it is and how fast you see your pants starting to feel loose. I even have some clients that use a simple trick to make it so they lose 3 inches from their waists using this exercise and nothing else.
Do these 2 things and you can't help but to lose your tummy fat fast.

6 Sex Mistakes Men Make

Hey guys, think you know everything there is to know about having sex with women? That erotic encyclopedia you carry around in your head may contain a lot of basic errors and omissions about women's sexuality -- errors that can lead to sex mistakes.
That's because -- after learning the facts of life -- most of us are left to figure out sex for ourselves. Guys tend to take a lot of cues from adult movies, and we all know how true-to-life those are. Experience may help, but many women can be shy when talking about what they like.
To help us with some sex tips, two acclaimed sex educators, Tristan Taormino and Lou Paget, to tell us what they think are the most common sex mistakes men make with women.
Taormino is a prolific author, lecturer, and video producer. Her latest project is the Expert Guide educational video series from Vivid Ed. Paget is author of The Great Lover Playbook and other sex manuals, and she gives seminars nationwide.
1: You Know What She Wants
Men often make assumptions about what a woman wants based upon what they've done with other women. But women aren't all the same.
"You develop a repertoire as you mature sexually, but you should never assume that what worked for the last person is going to work for this person," Taormino says.
That applies not only to sexual predilections, but also to
relationships, she says. "There are women who can have no-strings-attached sex, and women who can get attached very easily, and then everyone in between."
2: You Have All She Needs
Some women can't have an orgasm with less than 3,000 rpm. No human tongue or fingers can generate that kind of vibration. But men typically think something is wrong if a woman needs a vibrator.
"If the only way that a woman can achieve orgasm is with a vibrator, she's not broken," Taormino says.
Think of a vibrator as your assistant, not your substitute. Many couples use vibrators together. "While you're doing one thing, or two things, the vibrator can be doing something else," Taormino says.

3: Sex Feels the Same for Men and Women Paget says there tends to be a "huge disconnect" between men and women in the ways that sex feels good.
"When a man has intercourse with a woman, and his penis goes into her body, that sensation is so off the charts for most men, they cannot imagine that it isn't feeling the same way for her," Paget says. "It couldn't be further from the truth."
The inside of the vagina is probably less sensitive than the outer parts for most women. Also, deep thrusting may not feel so nice on the receiving end. If the penis is too long, "it feels like you're getting punched in the stomach," Paget says. "It makes you feel nauseous."
4: You Know Your Way Around a Woman's Anatomy
Most guys know generally what a clitoris is and where to find it. That's not to say that they really understand it.
More than 30 years ago, at the start of the "sexual revolution," a best-selling book called the Joy of Sex got Americans hip to the orgasmic importance of the clitoris. But the belief that women must be able to orgasm from vaginal penetration stubbornly persists.
"I still get letters from people who say things like, my wife can't [orgasm] from intercourse unless she has clitoral stimulation -- please help," Taormino says. "I want to write back and say, 'OK, what's the problem?'"
"For the majority of women, it's not going to happen that way," Paget says.
Men also lack information about how to touch it and how sensitive it is, Taormino says.
A touch that's bliss for one woman may feel like nothing special, or may even be painful for someone else. Some prefer indirect stimulation.
How can you find out how she likes to be touched? Try asking her.
5: Wet = Turned On
Guys sometimes get hung up if a woman doesn't get slippery enough for easy penetration. Don't worry about it.
"I think there's a myth that if you're turned on, you're wet," Taormino says. Not necessarily.
Some women tend to get wetter than others, and how much natural lubrication a woman has can change from day to day. It varies by the phase of her menstrual cycle, and it's subject to influences like stress and medications.
6: Silence Is Golden
A lot of guys think they should be silent during sex, but unless you speak up, your partner has to guess what's doing it for you and what isn't.
If you're respectful about it, a woman who wants to please you will probably appreciate some directions.
"I'm not saying push her head in your lap," Taormino says. "I think that, 'this is how I like it,' is a very useful conversation to have."

Things No One Tells You About Marriage

The surprising, enlightening, and sometimes hard truths we all face after marriage, and how they teach us about what love really means.
"...And they lived happily ever after."
You're smart. You know life is no storybook. But admit it: Somewhere deep in your subconscious lurk romantic visions of Cinderella, or maybe Julia Roberts. The images may be sketchy and a little outdated, but you can still make out the silhouette of the bride and Prince Charming riding off into the sunset.
In real life, sometimes your Disney fairy tale ends up feeling more like a Wes Craven horror flick — and you're the chick who keeps falling down and screaming for her life. I've been there. Let's face it, marriage is not for the faint of heart. You want to believe your pure love for each other will pull you through. And it does. But it ain't always pretty.
That may sound grim. But here's a secret: Sometimes it's the least romantic parts of marriage that have the most to teach you about yourself, your partner, and the nature of love. Read on for some simple truths that will unlock the surprising treasures and pleasures in your imperfect, unstorybook, real-life love.
1. You will look at the person lying next to you and wonder, Is this it? Forever?
When you get married, you think that as long as you pick the right guy — your soul mate — you'll be happy together until death do you part. Then you wake up one day and realize that no matter how great he is, he doesn't make you happy every moment of every day. In fact, some days you might wonder why you were in such a hurry to get married in the first place. You think to yourself, This is so not what I signed up for.
Actually, it is. You just didn't realize it the day you and your guy were cramming wedding cake into each other's faces, clinking champagne glasses, and dancing the Electric Slide. Back then you had no idea that "for better and for worse" doesn't kick in only when life hands you a tragedy. Your relationship mettle is, in fact, most tested on a daily basis, when the utter sameness of day-in/day-out togetherness can sometimes make you want to run for the hills. That's when the disappointment sneaks in, and maybe even a palpable sense of loneliness and grief. It's not him. It's just you, letting go of that sugarcoated fantasy of marriage that danced in your eyes the day you and your beloved posed in all those soft-focus wedding photos. You're learning that marriage isn't a destination; it's a journey filled with equal parts excitement and tedium.
Waking up from a good dream to face the harsh morning daylight may not seem like a reason to celebrate. But trust me, it is. Because once you let go of all the hokey stories of eternal bliss, you find that the reality of marriage is far richer and more rewarding than you ever could have guessed. Hard, yes. Frustrating, yes. But full of its own powerful, quiet enchantments just the same, and that's better than any fairy tale.
2. You'll work harder than you ever imagined.
Early on, when people say, "Marriage takes work," you assume "work" means being patient when he forgets to put down the toilet seat. In your naiveté, you think that you will struggle to accommodate some annoying habit, like persistent knuckle cracking or flatulence.
If only it were that easy. Human beings, you may have noticed, are not simple creatures. Your man has mysterious, unplumbed depths — and from where he sits, you're pretty complicated, too. You have to learn each other the same way that you once learned earth science or world geography. And getting married doesn't mean you're done — it just means you've advanced to graduate-level studies. That's because every time you think you've mastered the material, he'll change a bit. And so will you. As two people grow and evolve, the real work of marriage is finding a way to relate to and nurture each other in the process."It's like losing weight," says Andrea Harden, 45, of Buffalo, NY. "You want it to be a one-time deal. You lost it, now just live. But then you learn it's a lifestyle. That's marriage. The effort is a forever thing." So don't be too hard on yourself — or him — on those days when you feel like you're struggling through remedial math.
3. You will sometimes go to bed mad (and maybe even wake up madder).
Whoever decided to tell newlyweds "Never go to bed angry" doesn't know what it's like inside a bedroom where tears and accusations fly as one spouse talks the other into a woozy stupor until night meets the dawn. If this scenario sounds familiar, I've got three words for you: Sleep on it.
You need to calm down. You need to gain perspective. You need to just give it a rest. I've found that an argument of any quality, like a fine wine, needs to breathe. A break in the action will help you figure out whether you're angry, hurt, or both, and then pinpoint the exact source. Maybe the fight that seemed to erupt over the overflowing garbage can is really about feeling underappreciated. Could be you're both stressed out at work and just needed to unload on someone. Taking a break will help you see that, and let go. Or maybe you really do have a legitimate disagreement to work out. Without a time-out, sometimes a perfectly good argument can turn into an endless round of silly back-and-forth, rehashing old and irrelevant transgressions as you get more and more wound up.
Even when you do manage to stay focused and on topic, there are some fights that stubbornly refuse to die by bedtime. And if you stifle your real feelings just to meet some arbitrary deadline, your marriage will surely be the worse for it. "This was a huge lesson for me," says Andrea. "As women we've been trained to make nice. But the whole kiss-and-make-up thing just to keep the peace was eating me up inside. I'd let things build up inside me until I just exploded. Now I wait a while to get hold of myself — let the emotions settle a bit — and state my position. Even if that means reopening the fight the next day."
4. You will go without sex — sometimes for a long time — and that's okay.
There are few men in the Western world sexier than my husband. And I don't say this because I know he may read this article. I've seen women checking him out when they think I'm not looking. (Honestly, ladies, you don't have to sneak a peek. I don't mind if you stare.) That said, there are times that I just don't feel like having sex — often for reasons that have nothing to do with Genoveso. (See? Even his name is sexy.) I can't lie and say this is always okay with him. But the fact is, there are also plenty of nights when he's not in the mood. So maybe a few days go by when we don't do it. And then a few more. And...
Sexless periods are a natural part of married life. A dry spell isn't a sign that you've lost your mojo or that you'll never have sex again. It just means that maybe this week, sleep is more important than sex. (I don't know about you, but between work, 3 a.m. feedings, the PTA, soccer, T-ball, and everything else, I sometimes crave sleep the way a pimply, hormonal adolescent longs to cop a feel.)
And don't kid yourself; no one in America is doing it as often as popular culture would have you believe. Instead of worrying about how much you think you "should" be having sex, keep the focus on figuring out your own rhythm. "I used to think, What's happened to us? We always used to be in the mood," says 35-year-old Kim Henderson of Oakland, CA, who's been married for five years. "Now I know better. Life happens. My husband just started a new job. He has a long commute, and we have two small children. I think we're good."
The key is to make sure that even if you're not doing "it," you're still doing something — touching, kissing, hugging. Personally, my heart gets warm and mushy when my husband rubs my feet after a long, tiring day. He may not be anywhere near my G-spot, but that little bit of touch and attention keeps us connected even when we're not having spine-tingling sex.
5. Getting your way is usually not as important as finding a way to work together.
I can be a bit of a know-it-all. There, I said it. It's really not my intention to be hurtful or brash with people I love. It's just that a lifetime of experience has taught me that in most areas, at most times, I am right about most things. What shocked me several years into my marriage, though, was the realization that the more "right" I was, the more discontented my husband and I were as a couple. See, oddly enough, throughout his life Genoveso has been under the misguided impression that he's right most of the time (go figure!). So we'd lock horns — often. That is, until I learned a few things.
Namely, that when it comes to certain disagreements, there is no right or wrong — there is simply your way of looking at things and your husband's. "I used to be very black-and-white earlier in our marriage," says Lindy Vincent, 38, who lives in Minneapolis. "Now I see that I'm not all right and my husband is not all wrong. There's more gray in life than I thought, and that's taught me patience and the value of compromise."
The more I get to know and appreciate my husband for who he is, the more I respect his positions. That doesn't mean I always agree with him. But I can see the value in striking a balance that satisfies us both. And instead of harping on how wrong he is, I can usually swallow the verbal vitriol and simply say something like, "I see your point" or "I hadn't considered that." After I sincerely acknowledge his view, it seems to become easier for him to hear mine. And because I know I'm being heard, most of the time now, I don't even want to prove how right I am anymore. Funny how that works, isn't it?
6. A great marriage doesn't mean no conflict; it simply means a couple keeps trying to get it right.
Maybe you think that because of my newfound wisdom, Genoveso and I never fight anymore. Ha! As important as it is to strike a balance, it's also important to have a big, fat fight every now and then. Because when you fight, you don't just raise your voices; you raise real — sometimes buried — issues that challenge you to come to a clearer understanding of you, your man, and your relationship. I wouldn't give up our fights for anything in the world, because I know in the end they won't break us; they'll only make us stronger.
7. You'll realize that you can only change yourself.
Ever seen the '80s sci-fi cult classic Making Mr. Right? When the stylish heroine, played by Ann Magnuson, is hired to teach a robot how to act like a human, she seizes the chance to create a perfect guy. A hotshot commercial whiz, she uses her marketing prowess to shape John Malkovich's android character into her personal version of the ideal man — sensitive, eager to please, and willing to listen.
There is a bit of that makeover fantasy in all of us — something that makes us believe we can change the person we love, make him just a little bit closer to perfect. We may use support and empathy or shouts and ultimatums, but with dogged conviction we take on this huge responsibility, convinced we're doing the right thing.Whatever our motives, the effort is exhausting. Transforming a full-grown man — stripping him of decades-old habits, beliefs, and idiosyncrasies — is truly an impossible task. And you will come to realize, sooner than later if you're lucky, that it is far easier to change the way you respond to him.
Here's a perfect case in point: "I used to go off on my husband because he didn't empty the sink trap when he cleaned the kitchen," says Kimberly Seals Allers, 36, of Bay Shore, NY. "It got me nowhere; my rants only made him resentful. Now I come home and when the kitchen looks clean, I'm like, 'Cool, now all I have to do is empty the sink trap.'"
8. As you face your fears and insecurities, you will find out what you're really made of.
I've got issues. Trust issues. Control issues. And others, I'm sure, that I've yet to fully discover. I guess I've always known I wasn't perfect. But in more than a decade of marriage, I've been smacked upside the head with the cold, hard evidence.
There were clues when Genoveso and I were dating, especially with the trust thing. Early on, I was supersuspicious of him. He used to say things like, "I'll call you at 8." Then, just to try to trip me up, he'd call at 8. I knew he was up to something, I just couldn't figure out what. The same kinds of experiences followed after the wedding. Except occasionally he would actually mess up. And I had no sense of scale when it came to rating his offenses; everything was a major violation. Whether he teased me about a new haircut or came home late, I seethed for days and even let thoughts of divorce creep into my head. I figured, if he loved me — really and truly — this stuff wouldn't happen.
I'd like to be able to say that this irrational behavior lasted only a few months and I eventually worked it out. Kind of, sort of, is closer to the truth. After years of looking deeply into my soul and talking to good friends and the best sister a girl could ever have, I've come to recognize certain things about myself. Not to get all Dr. Phil about it, but I've had to examine my history with an emotionally distant dad and a strong-willed mom and face up to all the ways, both good and bad, that those relationships have affected how I approach my marriage.
I still struggle as a work in progress. But I am completely clear in the knowledge that many of the deepest frustrations in your relationship are an opportunity for you to confront yourself. That can be difficult to accept — after all, it's so much more comforting to keep a running tab of your hubby's deficits and tell yourself that his failings are the only thing standing between you and a better marriage. But if you let it, this bumpy journey toward self-awareness can be one of the more fulfilling rewards of a committed, long-term relationship — you'll learn to love your quirks and be compassionate toward yourself, just as you're learning to do with him.That's the strange beauty of marriage: It's full of hard times and hard lessons that no one can ever prepare you for. But in the end, those are the things that give richness to your life together — and make your love even deeper and stronger than when it began.

Tips for Chapped Lips and Dry Skin

Winter Skin Care Tips
Summer fun gives way to wintry winds and before you realize it you've got dry skin - chapped lips, itchy elbows, or a T-zone crying out for help!
Have no fear, these simple winter
skin care tips can help you prevent - and treat - dry, chapped skin. And keep you smiling, all season long.
1: Shorten Those Showers
Long, steamy showers may soothe a weekend warrior's sore muscles, but they're also good at dehydrating you - yes, taking moisture out instead of putting it in. That's because hot water removes the skin's natural oils more quickly than warm or cold water.
The skin care solution? Take shorter showers and baths and use warm water instead of steamy hot. Then, when you're done, pat dry, don't rub.
2: Mild Soaps
Your favorite antibacterial or deodorant soap may be doing you more harm than good, stripping your skin of essential oils. That's why skin care pros recommend sticking with mild soaps, preferably unscented or lightly scented.You may want to go mild with your laundry detergent, too. Designed to remove dirt and oils, residue just may irritate sensitive, chapped skin. Some recommend Dreft or Ivory Snow.
3: Moisturize
A great way to soothe or prevent chapped skin: moisturize. And you don't need expensive elixirs from the cosmetics counter to keep skin dewy.
Petroleum jelly, mineral oil, even hair conditioner can help you trap in moisture as you step from the shower or bath. If your skin is oily you still need to moisturize -- just look for noncomedogenic products, which won't clog your pores. And remember to drink up -- moisturizing from the inside out.
4: Get Sharp About Shaving
Shaving can leave your skin extra irritated, especially when it's already dry. So get sharp about shaving by:
· Use a lubricant when you shave, such as shaving cream.
· Change the blades in your shaver often.
· Shave in the direction that hair grows.
5: Slather on Sunscreen
Up to 80% of the sun's rays can penetrate light clouds, snow, and fog. Over time that exposure can lead to
moles, wrinkles, and skin cancers.
So protect your skin: Even on cloudy or overcast days slap on that sunscreen. Reach for a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15, with UVA and UVB protection. And don't forget to reapply often.
6: Soothing Chapped Lips
Lips don't have oil glands, so they can dry out especially easily. Give your lips the love they need with these suggestions from the American Academy of Dermatology:
· Don't lick. The cycle of wetting and drying that occurs when you lick your lips quickly causes them to
· Cover up. On cold or windy days protect your kisser behind a scarf.
· Boost moisture. Keep the air in your house moist with a humidifier.
· Lip balm. Sun exposure can make chapped lips even worse, so spread on plenty of lip balm with a sunscreen of SPF 15 or more in it.
These quick skin care tips should help keep your skin happy all winter long. But if you find you still have dry skin, or your skin gets worse, give dermatologist a call