We live in the era of informatics. Knowledge is easily accessible to us: we can learn virtually anything by just googling it. But paradoxically too much information many times leads to misinformation.

When it comes to fertility issues, there is a lot of disinformation going around. Therefore, it is no surprising what a recent survey showed: knowledge regarding ovulation, fertility, and conception issues is limited among women, and many tend to believe certain myths and misconceptions.

These are 14 fertility myths most people believe, but that science has debunked:

MYTH #1.  Maternity wise, 40s is the new 30s

Our life expectancy is longer, and we tend to postpone maternity due to career or study purposes. From that aspect, the 40s can be easily regarded as the new 30s. Unfortunately, this is not true for our ovaries: by the age of 30, a healthy woman has about a 20% chance of conceiving each month, by the time she reaches 40 her odds drop to about 5%.

This is one of the most commonly believed misconceptions: unaware of the age-related fertility decline, many women start seeking  help to conceive in their 40s, when they may have already missed the opportunity to become parents. 

You should be aware that there is a biological clock, and it’s ticking! If for personal reasons you cannot have a child right now, you may freeze your eggs to use them in the future.

MYTH #2. Certain sex positions increase the chances of getting pregnant

You will find plenty of (mis)information on this topic! In general, it is said that the best positions for getting pregnant are the missionary position (the woman lying on her back, her partner on top) and the “doggy position” (rear vaginal penetration, with the woman on her hands and knees) because they provide the deepest penetration, allowing the man to ejaculate closer to the opening of the cervix. 

In fact, there’s no scientific evidence to prove that. This belief is largely based on a single study that looked at the position of the penis in relation to these two sex positions, but it didn’t address pregnancy chances at all.

Therefore, no position seems to be better when it comes to maximizing your chances of making a baby. Sperm can be found in the cervical canal just a few seconds after ejaculation, and within 5 minutes in the tube, regardless of the coital position.

MYTH #3. Lifting your legs in the air for 20 minutes after having sex will help you get pregnant

You have probably heard this one: “lie in bed with your feet in the air after having sex to increase your chances of getting pregnant”. In fact, this is not (totally) true. You may lay in bed for 10-15 minutes after intercourse, as by this time the sperm have largely reached the cervix, and many may even be inside the tube.

In fact, a new study challenged both beliefs: women having artificial insemination were split into two groups – one that rested on their back with their knees raised for 15 minutes after the procedure and one that got up immediately. It turned out that, after several courses of treatment, 32% of the immobile group fell pregnant, compared with 40% per cent in the active group.

Therefore, there is no need to put pillows under your bottom during intercourse to get an advantageous tilt, or to perform cycling motions with your feet in the air.

MYTH #4. If we have sex every day the sperm becomes too weak, reducing our chances of getting pregnant 

How often should we make love to boost our chances of pregnancy? You will find all sorts of advice on the web: every other day, 3 times a week, every single day! Which one is correct?

One thing is clear: abstinence intervals greater than 5 days impair the sperm number and quality. Nevertheless, there is not much difference whether men ejaculate every day or every other day. Most fertility specialists used to recommend intercourse every other day, as this would increase sperm quality, particularly in men with lower sperm counts (oligozoospermia). However, recent studies show exactly the opposite: oligozoospermic men had better semen quality with daily ejaculation!

Recent scientific evidence suggests that making love every day confers a slight advantage: the highest chances of pregnancy (37% per cycle) were associated with daily intercourse, although sex on alternate days had comparable pregnancy rates (33%). On the other hand, we should keep in mind that the “obligation” to have sex every day may induce unnecessary stress to the couple, resulting in lack of sexual desire, low self esteem, and ultimately reduced frequency of intercourse.

Therefore, reproductive efficiency is highest when you have sex every day or every other day. The optimal frequency, though, is best defined by each couple’s own preference.

MYTH # 5. We only have sex when I ovulate, on day 14 of my cycle

Ovulation (when the egg drops from the ovary into the tubes) occurs once a month, usually between day 11 and day 21 of the cycle (measured from the first day of your period).

Each woman ovulates on her own schedule. While it is usually said that a woman with a 28-day cycle ovulates on cycle day 14, that’s not necessarily true: a study found that fewer than 10 percent of women with regular, 28-day cycles were ovulating on day 14.

We know that sperm cells are able to survive in the reproductive tract of a woman for about 5 days, and that once the egg is released, it will die in about 12-24 hours. Therefore, the fertile period -or “fertile window”- is a 6-day interval ending on the day of ovulation.

To boost your odds to become pregnant, have sex before and during ovulation, every day or every other day. If your cycles are irregular and you cannot figure out your fertile days, you may use an ovulation predictor kit, or otherwise visit a specialist, who can help you find your fertile window.

MYTH # 6. Smoking doesn’t affect our chances of getting pregnant. I will quit smoking as soon as I get pregnant

You are most likely aware that smoking during pregnancy is dangerous, as it can lead to miscarriage, premature birth, low-birthweight babies and -according to recent studies– congenital malformations.

But you should also know that smoking is harmful for your fertility: smoking as few as five cigarettes per day is associated with reduced fertility, both in women and men, and this seems to be true even for secondhand smoking. It has been estimated that smokers may have a 10-40% lower monthly fecundity (fertility) rate, and that up to 13% of infertility is due to smoking.

Smoking can affect ovulation, as well as the ability of the fertilized egg to implant in the uterus. The effect of tobacco is so harmful for the ovaries that menopause occurs, on average, one to four years earlier in smoking women than in nonsmoking ones.

Men are also affected by tobacco: decreases in sperm density, motility, and abnormalities in sperm morphology have been observed in men who smoke, which impact a man’s ability to fertilize an egg. 

Therefore, before trying for a baby, do yourself a favor … and put out the cigarette for good!

MYTH # 7. You don’t need to worry about your age. There’s always IVF

Another common misconception! Many women believe that, if age-related infertility strikes, they can overcome their problem by getting treated with in vitro fertilization (IVF). In fact, just as natural fertility declines with age, success rates with IVF also decline as a woman gets older.

According to the USA Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), women younger than 35 years old have 33% chances of having a baby after IVF; for women ages 38 to 40 the success rate drops to 17%, while those 43 to 44 years old have only 3% chances of giving birth after IVF (using their own eggs).

IVF is not a guarantee to have a baby, and does not extend a woman’s reproductive life. Despite the number of celebrities having babies in their mid-40s and beyond, they may have not necessarily used their own eggs. While every woman has the right to keep her privacy, there is a wrong perception left that fertility treatments can extend a woman’s fertility span. There is a very low probability of improving success of conceiving after age 43 by using assisted reproduction using your own eggs. Nevertheless, you may opt to use oocyte donation (eggs of a younger woman) if age-related infertility stands in the way of parenthood.

MYTH # 8. A woman can’t get pregnant if she doesn’t have an orgasm

For men, things are clear: no orgasm, no pregnancy, as ejaculation occurs during orgasm. Well, that’s not entirely true: semen can be released during intercourse prior to orgasm in the so-called pre-ejaculation fluid, or pre-come (read more here).

For women though, getting pregnant has nothing to do with an orgasm. But could female orgasm improve the chances for conception? The answer is not clear.

Researchers have wondered for years about the purpose of female orgasm, and many theories have been proposed: 

  • Just the pleasure it provokes, so that women want to reproduce and preserve the species!
  • The “poleaxe” hypothesis: orgasms make women feel relaxed and sleepy so that they will lie down after sex and the sperm reach their destination more easily.
  • The “upsuck” theory: the contractions of the uterus “suck up” the sperm released in the vagina and help them travel through the uterus to the tubes.
  • Pair bonding: the hormones produced during orgasm (such as oxytocin and prolactin) contribute to warm feelings towards her partner.

Orgasms are not necessary to get pregnant, but there are plenty of good reasons to have one! Nevertheless, it is not uncommon that women trying to conceive link the desire for an orgasm with their desire to have a baby; this leads to psychological pressure and difficulty achieving orgasm, adding frustration to a process that is supposed to be pleasurable…

Try not to consider the orgasm just as goal to get pregnant. Enjoy the intimate time with your partner, without any pressure. If you have an orgasm, great. If not, that’s fine, too!

MYTH #9. We’ve already had one child, so conceiving again will be easy

Perhaps, but it’s no guarantee. Many individuals experience secondary infertility, or difficulty conceiving a second or subsequent child. 

Secondary infertility may be caused by age-related factors, both for you and your partner. Sometimes, a new underlying medical condition develops. Eventually, a fertility issue that always existed gets worse; while it didn’t prevent pregnancy before, now it has become a problem. A previous pregnancy may actually be the reason you don’t get pregnant again: surgical complications or infection after childbirth may have provoked scarring, which may in turn led to infertility.

Things change with time. Even if you got easily pregnant on your own before, if you’re struggling to have another child talk to your doctor, who can advice you on the next steps to follow.

MYTH #10. Infertility is a woman’s issue

Typically, the causes of infertility break down like this: 

  • Approximately one third of the couples struggle with male infertility;
  • In another third, the problem is female infertility;
  • The remaining third will either face both male and female fertility issues, or a cause will never be found (unexplained infertility).

Common causes of female infertily are: age, PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome), tubal or pelvic issues, endometriosis, and family history. 

Common causes of male infertility tend to be from prior surgery, infection, or a problem present at birth.

As part of the preliminary work-up to determine the cause and treatment of infertility, both women and men will need to undergo clinical and specialized complementary exams.

MYTH #11. Men’s age doesn’t matter

While some men can father children into their 50’s or 60’s, men’s fertility isn’t age-proof: it starts declining in their 40s, although less drastically as compared to women’s fertility.

As a man ages, the concentration of mobile, healthy sperm and semen volume overall will decrease. It is clear now that men over the age of 40 have higher chances of having children with chromosomal abnormalities, causing miscarriages in their female partners. Moreover, researchers have found a direct link between paternal age and an increased risk of autism and schizophrenia. 

A man’s age does matter. While men may not have a complete drop off in fertility like women do, “advanced paternal age” is something couples should be aware of. Men’s biological clock is also ticking!

MYTH #12. If I take good care of my general health, my fertility will be in check too

Whereas a healthy body and mind may boost fertility in certain cases, most infertility situations cannot be resolved by a lifestyle or diet change, particularly those related to age.

It is a common belief that certain diet types can help you get pregnant. There is no evidence that vegetarian diets, low-fat diets, antioxidant- or vitamin-enriched diets will increase your chances of having a child.

A woman’s weight plays a role in fertility: those who are either very thin or obese may find it hard to conceive. If you are trying to get pregnant, learn more about some lifestyle tips to boost your chances of getting pregnant here.

MYTH #13. If a man can ejaculate, his fertility is fine

Many myths surround male fertility and their sexual performance. It is a common (and unfortunate) myth that if a man’s fertility is compromised, this means his sexual performance is the problem. This is not true. Problems with sperm count, shape, and movement are the primary causes of male infertility. 

Another common myth is that you can tell there is a problem with the sperm just by looking at the semen. In fact, even men that have no sperm cells at all (azoospermia) usually have normal-looking semen. 

For the vast majority of men with infertility, there are no visible or obvious signs that anything is wrong. Healthy erectile function and normal ejaculation are not guarantee that the sperm is in good shape.

That said, erectile dysfunction can be a possible symptom of infertility; it may due to low testosterone levels or a physical injury. Difficulty with ejaculation can also be a signal certain medical problems. But these are uncommon signs of male infertility.

If you are struggling to get pregnant, have your partner check in with his doctor. A semen analysis will help clarify whether his sperm are fit for conception.

MYTH #14. The birth control pill will affect your future fertility

All scientific evidence agrees that hormonal contraceptives do not make women sterile. Moreover, they may confer increased likelihood of pregnancy with long-term use, and in certain cases they can also preserve fertility. Read more on the contraceptive pill here.


To summarize:

Myths and misconceptions regarding fertility and conception are, unfortunately, widely disseminated. This is a serious problem, as misinformation may lead not only to unnecessary stress, but also to take wrong decisions…

Get yourself well informed! Consult your gynecologist, who can help you with any concerns you have. Your doctor can also give you some tips on lifestyle changes to optimize your fertility, prescribe some exams, and tell you when to come back if you don’t achieve pregnancy on your own.

Last, a good piece of advice: if you want to get pregnant, have lots of sex – as much as you want, whenever you want – and enjoy it! After you have had sex, do whatever you want – just don’t smoke 😉


Photo credits

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Models present creationby British fashion designer Alexander McQueen for his Ready to Wear Spring Summer 2010 fashion collection, presented in Paris, Tuesday Oct. 6, 2009. (AP Photo/Michel Euler) France Fashion

Η γνωστή παροιμία λέει: “Μπρος στα κάλλη τι είναι ο πόνος “… Και αυτό ισχύει! Τα δωδεκάποντα τακούνια μας πεθαίνουν, και όμως τα πόδια μας φαίνονται εκπληκτικά… Δυσκολευόμαστε να πάρουμε ανάσα όταν φοράμε το Spanx, αλλά λειαίνει τόσο όμορφα το περίγραμμά μας… Τα τατουάζ και τα piercing είναι το απόλυτο must-have αξεσουάρ, ακόμη και αν πονέσουμε για να τα αποκτήσουμε…

Αλλά μπορεί ορισμένες τάσεις της μόδας να είναι επιβλαβείς για την υγεία μας;

Ενώ ο κόσμος είναι όλο και πιο ευαισθητοποιημένος για τις καταστροφικές συνέπειες του εξαιρετικά χαμηλού βάρους που επιβάλλει η πασαρέλα, οι κίνδυνοι των στιλιστικών επιλογών μας είναι λιγότερο γνωστοί …

Δες ποιες είναι οι 14 τάσεις της μόδας που μπορεί να εγκυμονούν κινδύνους για την υγεία μας, και διάβασε τι μπορείς να κάνεις για να αποφεύγεις προβλήματα …


1) Τάνγκα, στρινγκ, συνθετικά εσώρουχα

Fashion thong

Μπορεί να δείχνουν τέλεια κάτω από το skinny παντελόνι σου, αλλά τα τάνγκα και τα στρινγκ έχουν κατηγορηθεί για την πρόκληση κολπίτιδας, κυστίτιδας, ερεθισμού του αιδοίου και αιμορροΐδων.

Είναι γεγονός πως δεν υπάρχουν επιστημονικά στοιχεία που υποστηρίζουν αυτούς τους ισχυρισμούς. Παρόλα αυτά, μερικές γυναίκες συνειδητοποιούν πως, κάθε φορά που φοράνε στρινγκ, εκδηλώνουν κάποιες ενοχλήσεις. Και υπάρχουν πιθανές εξηγήσεις για αυτό:

  • Τα τάνγκα και τα στρινγκ συνήθως κατασκευάζονται από συνθετικό ύφασμα, το οποίο “δεν αναπνέει”, σε αντίθεση με τα βαμβακερά εσώρουχα. Αυτό σημαίνει ότι περισσότερη υγρασία παραμένει παγιδευμένη στην περιοχή των γεννητικών οργάνων, ευνοώντας την ανάπτυξη κολπίτιδων, κυρίως από μύκητες.
  • Η λεπτή και στενή λωρίδα υφάσματος στο καβάλο του στρινγκ μπορεί να μεταφέρει βακτήρια από τον πρωκτό στον κόλπο και την ουρήθρα, προκαλώντας βακτηριακή κολπίτιδα και κυστίτιδα (διάβασε περισσότερα εδώ).
  • Τα στρινγκ μπορεί επίσης να ερεθίσουν τα γεννητικά όργανα. Είτε επειδή είναι πολύ στενά για να παρέχουν αποτελεσματική προστασία κατά ερεθισμών που οφείλονται στα ρούχα, ή από έντονη τριβή, τα σφιχτά εσώρουχα μπορεί να προκαλέσουν μικρο-εκδορές στην περιοχή των γεννητικών οργάνων, οι οποίες μπορεί να ευθύνονται για πόνο και αίσθημα καύσου στο αιδοίο, αλλά και να προδιαθέτουν για κολπίτιδα και κυστίτιδα.
  • Είναι λιγότερο σαφές αν τα στρινγκ προκαλούν αιμορροΐδες, αλλά στις γυναίκες που έχουν αιμορροΐδες μπορεί η συνεχόμενη τριβή του εσωρούχου να προκαλέσει έντονο ερεθισμό τους.

Τι μπορείς να κάνεις: Εάν είσαι επιρρεπής στις κυστίτιδες ή στις κολπίτιδες, ή αν διαπιστώνεις ότι κάθε φορά που φοράς στρινγκ έχεις πρόβλημα, τότε θα πρέπει να τα αποφεύγεις. Για μια γυναίκα χωρίς προδιάθεση σε λοιμώξεις, τα τάνγκα, τα στρινγκ και τα συνθετικά εσώρουχα δεν φαίνεται να είναι επικίνδυνα, ειδικά αν δεν τα φοράς συνέχεια.

2) Σφιχτά σουτιέν, σουτιέν με βανέλα

Fashion bra

Μπορείς να βρεις πολύ όμορφα σουτιέν, κομψά ή αποκαληπτικά, balconet, push-up, strapless… Ωστόσο, τα σουτιέν έχουν συνδεθεί με διάφορα προβλήματα υγείας.

Έχει προταθεί (ως επί το πλείστον από φήμες μέσω e-mail και Internet) ότι τα σουτιέν, ειδικά εκείνα με μπανέλα, μπορεί να προκαλέσουν καρκίνο του μαστού λόγω της παρεμπόδισης της λεμφικής κυκλοφορίας, η οποία είναι υπεύθυνη για την εκκαθάριση διαφόρων τοξινών που μπορεί να υπάρχουν στο στήθος. Αρκετές μελέτες έχουν διεξαχθεί για να διερευνήσουν αυτό το ζήτημα, και καμία από αυτές δεν επιβεβαίωσε αυτούς τους φόβους (διάβασε περισσότερα εδώ).

Τα πολύ σφιχτά σουτιέν όμως φαίνεται να δημιουργούν άλλα προβλήματα υγείας, όπως πόνο στο στήθος, στην πλάτη και στον αυχένα, αναπνευστικά προβλήματα, διαταραχές της πέψης και δερματικές παθήσεις (όπως λιπώματα και μύκητες) λόγω έντονης πίεσης.

Τι μπορείς να κάνεις: Μια πρόσφατη γαλλική μελέτη έχει αμφισβητήσει την χρησιμότητα των σουτιέν. Παρότι οι περισσότερες από εμάς δεν θα τολμήσουμε να κυκλοφορήσουμε χωρίς σουτιέν, καλό θα ήταν να αποφεύγουμε τα πολύ σφιχτά σουτιέν, καθώς και τη συνεχόμενη χρήση των σουτιέν με βανέλα.

3) Shapewear: Spanx, κορσές, λαστέξ

Fashion spanx

Σχεδιασμένα να αγκαλιάζουν το σώμα, δείχνοντάς το σφριγηλό και καλοσχηματισμένο, τα Spanx έχουν γίνει ένα απαραίτητο κομμάτι στις περισσότερες γυναικείες ντουλάπες, με πολλές διασημότητες να πίνουν νερό στο όνομά τους. Και όντως θα κρύβουν τα ψωμάκια, την κυτταρίτιδα και τα περιττά κιλά, αλλά πρόσεξε! Γιατί αυτά τα “θαυματουργά”  εσώρουχα μπορούν να προκαλέσουν σοβαρά προβλήματα υγείας: γαστρεντερικά και αναπνευστικά προβλήματα, κολπίτιδες, συμπίεση νεύρων (βλ skinny jeans), ακόμη και δυνητικά θανατηφόρα πήγματα στο αίμα (φλεβοθρόμβωση).

Τι μπορείς να κάνεις: Επίλεξε το μέγεθος του shapewear που ταιριάζει σωστά στο σώμα σου. Αν δεν αισθάνεσαι άνετα, πιθανότατα δεν φοράς το σωστό μέγεθος ή το κατάλληλο σχέδιο για σένα, αυξάνοντας με αυτόν τον τρόπο τον κίνδυνο προβλημάτων υγείας. Επιπλέον, καλό θα ήταν να μην τα φοράς για μεγάλο χρονικό διάστημα.


4) Βαριές τσάντες

Fashion Chanel-Hula-Hoop-Bag

Είναι stylish και πολύ πρακτικές, αφού μπορούμε να βάλουμε τα πάντα μέσα τους: το πορτοφόλι μας, το make-up, ένα μπουκάλι νερό, την ομπρέλα και τα γυαλιά ηλίου, ακόμη και το laptop μας! Αλλά πόσο επιβαρυντικές είναι για το σώμα μας; Οι ειδικοί συμφωνούν: οι βαριές τσάντες ευθύνονται για πόνους στο λαιμό, στην πλάτη και στους ώμους, και αν χρησιμοποιούνται επανειλημμένα, μπορεί να οδηγήσουν σε μυϊκό σπασμό, αρθρίτιδα, οσφυαλγία, ακόμη και να στραβώσουν την σπονδυλική στήλη. Το ίδιο ισχύει και για τα βαριά σακίδια πλάτης.

Τι μπορείς να κάνεις: Να αποφεύγεις την μεταφορά υπερβολικού βάρους σε καθημερινή βάση. Δεν θα είναι εύκολο, αλλά σίγουρα θα βρεις μέσα στην τσάντα σου κάποια πράγματα που μπορούν να μείνουν στο σπίτι…

5) Κοσμήματα

Fashion large earrings resized

Υπάρχουν πολλά όμορφα και φθηνά κοσμήματα στην αγορά, αλλά να είσαι προσεκτική! Ενδέχεται να ενέχουν κινδύνους για την υγεία. Τα ψεύτικα κοσμήματα μπορεί να προκαλέσουν αλλεργία στο νικέλιο σε επιρρεπείς γυναίκες, η οποία εκδηλώνεται με εξάνθημα, κνησμό και ερυθρότητα. Αλλά πιο ανησυχητικό, σε ελέγχους που έγιναν στα faux-bijoux έχουν ανιχνευθεί επικίνδυνα βαρέα μέταλλα όπως μόλυβδος, κάδμιο, χρώμιο, υδράργυρος, ακόμα και αρσενικό…

Και τα μεγάλα σκουλαρίκια κρύβουν κινδύνους: έχουν αυμβεί πολλά περιστατικά τραυματισμού του λοβού του αυτιού σε γυναίκες που φορούν βαριά, κρεμαστά σκουλαρίκια, τα οποία τραβούν προς τα κάτω τους λοβούς των αυτιών, με αποτέλεσμα να κοπούν τελείως (“split”), και σε κάποιες περιπτώσεις να απαιτούν χειρουργική αποκατάσταση.

Τι μπορείς να κάνεις: Καλό θα ήταν να επιλέξεις υποαλλεργικά κοσμήματα κατασκευασμένα από ανοξείδωτο ατσάλι, τιτάνιο, κίτρινο χρυσό (το λευκό χρυσό μπορεί να περιέχει νικέλιο), ασήμι, χαλκό και πλατίνα.

‘Οσον αφορά τα μεγάλα σκουλαρίκια, μην τα φοράς πολύ συχνά ή όταν είναι πιθανό να προκύψει κάποιος τραυματισμός, πχ όταν κάνεις σπορ.

6) Piercing

Fashion piercing

Τα piercing γίνονται όλο και πιο trendy, σύμφωνα με μια μελέτη, και ο κύριος λόγος που οι άνθρωποι κάνουν piercing είναι «για να εκφράσουν την προσωπικότητά τους”. Αλλά να ξέρεις πως το piercing δεν είναι άνευ κινδύνων. Πιθανές επιπλοκές είναι οι εξής:

  • αλλεργικές αντιδράσεις (όταν χρησιμοποιούνται κοσμήματα νικελίου),
  • λοιμώξεις του δέρματος,
  • ουλές και τραυματισμοί,
  • σοβαρά λοιμώδη νοσήματα (όπως ηπατίτιδα Β, ηπατίτιδα C, τετάνος και AIDS), αν ο εξοπλισμός που χρησιμοποιείται για να γίνει το τρύπημα είναι μολυσμένο.
  • Υπάρχουν επίσης κίνδυνοι ειδικοί για κάθε μέρος του σώματος στο οποίο γίνεται το piercing (για παράδειγμα: το piercing στη γλώσσα μπορεί να προκαλέσει βαριά αιμορραγία, τα κοσμήματα στην περιοχή των γεννητικών οργάνων μπορεί να οδηγήσουν σε τραυματισμό της περιοχής κατά την διάρκεια της συνουσίας και ρήξη του προφυλακτικού).

Τι μπορείς να κάνεις: Πριν πάρεις την απόφαση να κάνεις piercing, ενημερώσου, μάθε για τους πιθανούς κινδύνους, επέλεξε ένα ασφαλές στούντιο piercing και να είσαι πολύ προσεκτική μετά το piercing για λίγες μέρες, όσο γίνεται η επούλωση.

7) Τατουάζ

Fashion tatto waist

Μικροσκοπικά ή ολόσωμα, μαύρα ή χρωματιστά, μίνιμαλ ή πραγματικό έργο τέχνης, μπορούμε να τα βρούμε και στα πιο απρόσμενα μέρη του σώματος (όπως στο άσπρο των ματιών!).

Έχουν φανατικούς οπαδούς και ορκισμένους εχθρούς, αλλά δεν υπάρχει καμία αμφιβολία ότι τα τατουάζ έχουν γίνει ένα κοινωνικό φαινόμενο: σύμφωνα με το Pew Research Center, το 38% των Αμερικανών ηλικίας 18 έως 29 έχουν τουλάχιστον ένα τατουάζ… Οι λόγοι για τους οποίους τα τατουάζ έχουν γίνει τόσο δημοφιλή έχουν να κάνει με την επιρροή της τηλεόρασης (η μόδα ξεκίνησε στις ΗΠΑ από ένα ριάλιτι σόου σε tattoo studio), ορισμένα celebrities που άρχιζαν να τα κάνουν, και φυσικά, τα social media… Ως εκ τούτου, είναι πολύ εύστοχο το σχόλιο των ερευνητών του Pew Research Center: τα τατουάζ είναι κάτι σαν το σήμα κατατεθέν των Millennials …

Αλλά μήπως η έκφραση “Πεθαίνω να κάνω ένα τατουάζ” ισχύει κυριολεκτικά;

Είναι πια ξεκάθαρο ότι υπάρχουν κίνδυνοι που σχετίζονται με τα τατουάζ, μερικοί από τους οποίους είναι γνωστοί εδώ και πολύ καιρό, όπως:

  • Μόλυνση: συνηθέστερα βακτηριακές λοιμώξεις (από το μικρόβιο σταφυλόκοκκο), κυρίως στην περιοχή του τατουάζ, αλλά που ενίοτε μπορεί να εξελίσσονται σε σοβαρές, γενικευμένες λοιμώξεις. Επιπλέον, έχουν προκύψει περιπτώσεις ηπατίτιδας, AIDS, κονδυλωμάτων και έρπητα λόγω χρήσης μολυσμένων βελόνων.
  • Αλλεργίες: στις χρωστικές ουσίες των μελανιών, η οποίες προκαλούν φαγούρα, οίδημα και ερυθρότητα στην περιοχή του τατουάζ, συνήθως οι κόκκινες χρωστικές ουσίες είναι η πλέον αλλεργιογόνες. Αυτές οι αντιδράσεις ενδέχεται να είναι πολύ δύσκολο να αντιμετωπιστούν, και σπανίως η περιοχή του τατουάζ πρέπει να αφαιρεθεί χειρουργικά.
  • Ουλές: αυτό μπορεί να συμβεί όταν γίνεται το τατουάζ, αλλά και κατά την αφαίρεση του.
  • Κοκκιώματα: είναι μικρά εξογκώματα που μπορεί να αναπτυχθούν ως αντίδραση του σώματος στις χρωστικές ουσίες.

Όσο τα τατουάζ γίνονται όλο και πιο διαδεδομένα, πιο σπάνιες ανεπιθύμητες ενέργειες έχουν εμφανιστεί:

  • Σπάνιες λοιμώξεις: π.χ., από ένα βακτήριο που ονομάζεται μυκοβακτηρίδιο, το οποίο είχε μολυνθεί τα μελάνια.
  • Επιπλοκές κατά την διάρκεια μίας μαγνητικής τομογραφίας: το τατουάζ μπορεί να καεί, λόγω της παρουσίας σιδήρου στις μαύρες χρωστικές ουσίες (και τα κόκκινα μελάνια μπορεί να περιέχουν σίδηρο).
  • Αντιδράσεις κατά την έκθεση στον ήλιο (φωτοευαισθησία): δηλαδή, όταν το τατουάζ εκτίθεται στον ήλιο κοκκινίζει, πρήζεται και φαγουρίζει. Αυτή είναι μία αρκετά συνηθισμένη παρενέργεια.
  • Απόκρυψη του καρκίνου του δέρματος: έχουν αναφερθεί περιπτώσεις όπου τα τατουάζ κάλυπταν έναν καρκίνο του δέρματος, και εμπόδισαν την έγκαιρη διάγνωσή του.
  • Σοβαρές αλλεργικές αντιδράσεις: οι οποίες οδηγούν σε έλκη, γάγγραινα, ακόμα και σε ακρωτηριασμό του ποδιού.

Μπορείτε να κάνετε κλικ εδώ για να δείτε κάποιες σοβαρές επιπλοκές των τατουάζ (σας προειδοποιώ όμως, μερικές φωτογραφίες μπορεί να είναι σοκαριστικές).

Τι μπορείς να κάνεις: Σκέψου το καλά πριν κάνεις ένα τατουάζ! Είναι εξαιρετικά σημαντικό να ενημερωθείς σωστά, και να κατανοήσεις τους κινδύνους… Και αν αποφάσισες να προχωρήσεις, να υπολογίσεις προσεκτικά:

  • το σχέδιο του τατουάζ: θα ήταν μια καλή ιδέα να ξεκινήσεις με ένα μικρό, για να ελέγξεις για πιθανές κακές αντιδράσεις,
  • το μέρος του σώματος: υπάρχουν μέρη που μπορεί να είναι πιο επώδυνα, με πιο δύσκολη επούλωση, ή με υψηλότερο κίνδυνο επιπλοκών,
  • πότε: όσο το τατουάζ επουλώνεται, θα πρέπει να αποφεύγεις την έκθεση του στον ήλιο και στο νερό (πχ θάλασσα, πισίνα),
  • πού: είναι βασικό να επιλέξεις ένα αξιόπιστο στούντιο τατουάζ με έμπειρους καλλιτέχνες, όπου τηρούνται οι κανόνες υγιεινής και χρησιμοποιούνται μελάνια καλής ποιότητας.

Μόλις έχεις κάνει το τατουάζ, θα πρέπει να είσαι εξαιρετικά προσεκτική μέχρι να επουλωθεί, συνήθως μια ή δύο εβδομάδες.

Το τατουάζ  θα πρέπει να θεωρηθεί ως κάτι μόνιμο, επειδή η αφαίρεση του μπορεί να είναι δύσκολη, και να έχει κακό αισθητικό αποτέλεσμα.


Stilettos, peep-toes, πλατφόρμες, flats, σανδάλια, lace-ups: δεν είναι μυστικό πως οι γυναίκες ΛΑΤΡΕΥΟΥΜΕ τα παπούτσια. Τα Manolo Blahnik, Christian Louboutin και Jimmy Choo έχουν γίνει αντικείμενα του πόθου μας… Αλλά μπορούμε να είμαστε κομψές και να έχουμε ταυτόχρονα ”Happy Feet”; Πρέπει να ξέρεις, λοιπόν, ότι ορισμένα σχέδια παπουτσιών μπορεί να κρύψουν κάποιους κινδύνους:

8) Ψηλά τακούνια

Fashion high heels

Η συχνή χρήση ψηλοτάκουνων για μεγάλα χρονικά διαστήματα μπορεί να προκαλέσει πολλά προβλήματα, από στραμπούληγμα του ποδιού, κόπωση των μυών, οστεοαρθρίτιδα του γόνατος, μη αναστρέψιμη βλάβη του Αχίλλειου τένοντα, μέχρι και πονοκεφάλους και ισχιακό πόνο. Τα λεπτά τακούνια είναι ιδιαίτερα επιζήμια, επειδή το βάρος του ποδιού είναι συγκεντρωμένο σε μια πολύ μικρή περιοχή, αυξάνοντας τον κίνδυνο διαστρέμματος του αστραγάλου.

9) Παπούτσια που δεν μας ταιριάζουν

Fashion narrow shoes

Τα πολύ στενά, αλλά και τα πολύ χαλαρά παπούτσια μπορεί να οδηγήσουν σε μια σειρά από προβλήματα στα πόδια, όπως κάλους, τύλους, κότσια, είσφρυση των νυχιών ή έντονος πόνος στο πόδι (μεταταρσαλγία).

10) Flats

Fashion flats

Η έλλειψη υποστήριξη της καμάρας του ποδιού μπορεί να προκαλέσει πόνο στο γόνατο, στο ισχίο και στην πλάτη, αλλά και μια οδυνηρή πάθηση του ποδιού γνωστή ως πελματιαία απονευρωσίτιδα.

11) Πλατφόρμες 

Fashion wedges

Όσο πιο ψηλή είναι η πλατφόρμα, τόσο λιγότερη η ευελιξία του ποδιού, με αποτέλεσμα το πόδι και ο αστράγαλος να γίνουν άκαμπτοι και να οδηγούν σε διαστρέμματα ή ακόμη και κατάγματα.

12) Σαγιονάρες

Fashion flip flops

Επειδή το πόδι είναι τόσο εκτεθειμένοι, μας προδιαθέτουν για τραύματα στα πόδια και θλάση, για αυτό οι διαβητικοί δεν πρέπει να φορούν σαγιονάρες. Επιπλέον, λόγω της έλλειψης στήριξης της καμάρας του ποδιού, μπορούν να οδηγήσουν σε πελματιαία απονευρωσίτιδα ή επώδυνα γόνατα, ισχία ή μέση όταν χρησιμοποιούνται για μεγάλο χρονικό διάστημα.

Τι μπορείς να κάνεις: Δεν χρειάζεται να πεις “αντίο” στο αγαπημένα σου δωδεκάποντα, αλλά προσπάθησε να μην τα χρησιμοποιήσεις κάθε μέρα, όλη μέρα. Προτίμησε καλά, ανατομικά παπούτσια ή εκείνα με τακούνι που δεν ξεπερνά τους 5 πόντους. Τα ορθωτικά βοηθήματα μπορεί να παρέχουν υποστήριξη και ανακούφιση στα πονεμένα πόδια, ειδικά όταν φοράς flat παπούτσια.


13) Συνθετικά υφάσματα

Fashion spandex outfit

Το πολυέστερ,το ακρυλικό, το νάιλον και το spandex μπορεί να προκαλέσουν ερεθισμό του δέρματος, ή δερματίτιδα, ιδιαίτερα σε ευαίσθητα, αλλεργικά άτομα. Οι βαφές και άλλες χημικές ουσίες που προστίθενται στα υφάσματα ενδέχεται και αυτά να είναι τοξικά.

Επιπλέον, δεδομένου ότι τα υφάσματα αυτά δεν επιτρέπουν την επαρκή εξάτμιση του ιδρώτα, μπορούν να οδηγήσουν σε μυκητιάσεις του κόλπου, του δέρματους ή των ποδιών (το τελευταίο είναι γνωστό ως πόδι του αθλητή).

Τι μπορείς να κάνεις: Επιστροφή στην φύση! να προτιμάς το βαμβάκι, το μετάξι, το λινό, το μαλλί ή άλλα φυσικά υφάσματα, να ελέγξεις τις ετικέτες των ρούχων! Αν το δέρμα σου είναι πολύ ευαίσθητο ή αν είσαι απλά ευσυνείδητη ​​για το περιβάλλον, να αποφεύγεις το χημικό στεγνό καθάρισμα και να πλένεις τα ρούχα σου με ένα “πράσινο” απορρυπαντικό.

14) Στενά παντελόνια, skinny jeans

Fashion skinny jeans 2

Είναι γεγονός πως οι περισσότερες από εμάς λατρεύουμε τα στενά παντελόνια, και κατά καιρούς έχουμε καταβάλει προσπάθεια για να μπούμε μέσα στο αγαπημένο μας skinny τζιν. Αλλά αυτά τα ενδύματα δεν έρχονται χωρίς κινδύνους. Και όχι μόνο αυτό, έχουν αποκτήσει ακόμη και το δικό τους σύνδρομο!

  • Σύνδρομο των στενών παντελονιώνκοιλιακή δυσφορία και φούσκωμα, ταχυπαλμία και καούρα, όλα αυτά συμβαίνουν σε γυναίκες -και άνδρες- που φοράνε παντελόνια με την μέση μικρότερη από την κοιλιά τους…
  • Σύνδρομο των Skinny jeansή παραισθητική μηραλγία, δηλαδή ένα μυρμήγκιασμα ή αίσθημα καύσου στην έξω πλευρά του μηρού, λόγω της συμπίεσης ενός νεύρου του ποδιού.

Άλλα πιο σπάνια προβλήματα υγείας μπορεί να προκύψουν από τα στενά παντελόνια:

  • Το σύνδρομο διαμερίσματος μπορεί να συμβεί σε γυναίκες που φορούν πολύ στενά τζιν, τα οποία προκαλούν έντονη συμπίεση των ποδιών, που με τη σειρά διακόπτει τη ροή του αίματος στα πόδια, και μπορεί να οδηγήσει σε μόνημη βλάβη των μυών και των νεύρων του ποδιού.
  • Η επίμονη πίεση που ασκείται από ένα στενό παντελόνι μπορεί να οδηγήσει σε διάσπαση του λιπώδους ιστού του μηρού, προκαλώντας μία πάθηση που ονομάζεται lipoatrophia semicircularis.

Τι μπορείς να κάνεις: Μην φοράς στενά παντελόνια για μεγάλο χρονικό διάστημα, και να έχεις το νου σου σε οποιοδήποτε σύμπτωμα συμπίεσης. Εαν συμβεί αυτό, για κάποιο χρονικό διαστημα να φορέσεις πιο φαρδιά παντελόνια, που μπορεί να είναι εξίσου κομψά με τα στενά!


Σχετικά άρθρα:

  • Ασφάλεια των καλλυντικών: διάβασε εδώ
  • Θεραπείες ομορφιάς στην εγκυμοσύνη: διάβασε εδώ


Photo credits:

Model catwalk:; thong:; bras:; shapewear:; heavy bags:; jewels:; piercing:; tattoos:; high heels:; ill-fitting shoes:;; platforms and wedges:; flip-flops:; synthetic fabrics:; tight pants, skinny jeans:







Models present creationby British fashion designer Alexander McQueen for his Ready to Wear Spring Summer 2010 fashion collection, presented in Paris, Tuesday Oct. 6, 2009. (AP Photo/Michel Euler) France Fashion

As the saying goes, “Beauty is pain”… And that’s so true: those six-inch stilettos may be killing your feet, but your legs look amazing; you can hardly breath when wearing your spanx, but it smoothes beautifully your contour; tattoos and piercing are the ultimate fashion accessory, even if you have to suffer to get them…

But can fashion trends be harmful for our health?

While people are becoming increasingly aware of the devastating effects of extremely low body weight, the health risks of what we wear are less known…

Check out these 14 fashion trends that can represent health hazards, and read what you can do to overcome them…


1) Thongs, strings, synthetic underwear

Fashion thongWhile they may look great under your skinny trousers, thongs and strings have been blamed for causing yeast infections, urinary infections, vulvar irritation and hemorrhoids.

Actually, no scientific evidence supports these claims, but some women do realise that, when wearing thongs, some problems show up. And there are possible explanations for that:

  • Thongs and strings are usually made of synthetic fabrics, which are non-breathable, as opposed to cotton underwear. This means that more moisture remains trapped in the genital area, favouring the development of infections, particularly yeast infections.
  • The thin and close-fitting band of material at the crotch of the thong may transfer bacteria from the anus to the vagina and the urethra, predisposing to bacterial vaginosis and bladder infections (read more here).
  • Thongs can also provoke genital irritation. Either because they are too narrow to provide effective barrier effect against clothes-induced irritation, or due to excessive rubbing, tight underwear may cause micro-abrasions of the genital area, resulting not only in vulvar pain and burning sensation, but also predisposing to vaginal infections and urinary tract infections.
  • Whether thongs cause hemorrhoids is less clear, but women who already have hemorrhoids may eventually get intense irritation due to constant underwear rubbing.

The bottom line: If you are prone to urinary or vaginal infections, or if you find that every time you wear thongs you get an infection, then you should avoid them. For a woman without predisposition to infections, thongs, strings and synthetic underwear do not seem to be dangerous, especially if worn occasionally.

2) Tight bras, wired bras

Fashion braBras are sexy, they provide support and mould breast contour, they can even help “increase” or “reduce” breast size. However, bras have been linked to different health problems.

It has been suggested (mostly by internet rumors and badly-designed studies) that bras, especially those underwired, may cause breast cancer by obstructing breasts’ lymphatic flow, which is in charge of clearing different toxins that may be present in the breasts. Several studies have been conducted to address this issue, none of them confirmed these fears (read more here).

However, too-tight bras do seem to pose other health problems, such as breast pain, back and neck pain, breathing problems, impaired digestion and skin diseases (such as lipomas and fungal infections) due to intense pressure.

The bottom line: A recent French study has challenged the benefits of bra wearing. While most of us won’t dare to go braless, avoid ill-fitting bras, as well as continuous use of wired bras.

3) Shapewear

Fashion spanxThese undergarments, intended to slim our body and smooth its contour, have become an essential piece in most women closets, with many celebrities swearing by them. They do make us look fabulous, but watch out! They can cause serious health problems: heartburn, breathing problems, yeast infections, nerve compression (see skinny jeans), and even potentially lethal blood clots.

The bottom line: Choose the size of shapewear that fits correctly on you; if you don’t feel comfortable, most likely you are not wearing the adequate size or type for you, therefore increasing the risk of health problems. Moreover, do not wear them for long periods of time.


4) Heavy bags

Fashion Chanel-Hula-Hoop-BagLarge bags are trendy, and very practical as we can carry plenty of things inside them: our wallet, make-up, a water bottle, umbrella and sunglasses, even our laptop! But how burdensome are they for our body? Experts agree on that: heavy bags are responsible for neck, back and shoulder pain; and when used repeatedly, they may lead to muscle spasm, arthritis, sciatica, even spinal misalignment. This is also true for heavy backpacks.

The bottom line: Find ways to avoid carrying excessive weight all the time. It may not be easy, but it is certain that you will find inside your bag some items that can stay at home…

5) Jewels

Fashion large earrings resizedYou can find a great deal of beautiful and cheap jewelry around, but be careful! They can pose serious health risks. Costume jewelry can lead to nickel allergy in susceptible women, causing rash, itching, and redness. But more worrisome, dangerous heavy metals have been found in faux-bijoux, such as lead, cadmium, chromium, mercury and even arsenic…

In addition, many cases of ear lobe tears or “split” occur in women wearing heavy, large earrings, which in some cases require surgical repair.

The bottom line: Try to “get real” and choose hypoallergenic jewelry made from stainless steel, titanium, yellow gold (white gold can contain nickel), sterling silver, copper and platinum.

To avoid earring accidents, do not wear them very often or when injuries are possible, i.e., while practising sports.

6) Piercing

Fashion piercingBody piercing has become increasingly trendy; according to a study, people get piercing mainly “to express individuality”. But piercing is not devoid of risks:

The bottom line: Before taking the decision of getting pierced, get informed, know the risks, choose a reputable piercing studio and be very careful while your piercing is healing.

7) Tattoos

Fashion tatto waistTiny or full-body, black or colorful, minimal or true artwork, we can find them in the most unimagined body parts (think the eyeballs!).

They have huge fans and sworn detractors, but there is no doubt that tattoos have become a social phenomenon: according to the Pew Research Center, 38 percent of Americans aged 18 to 29 have at least one tattoo… The reasons why tattoos became so popular have to do with the influence of the television (the reality show Miami Ink), some celebrities getting inked, and of course, social media… Therefore, it is very pertinent what Pew researchers pointed out: tattoos represent something of a trademark for Millennials…

But could this must-have fashion accessory be literally “to dye for”?

There are certainly risks related to tattoos, some of which have been known for a long time now, such as:

  • Infection: most commonly bacterial infections (caused by Staphylococcus), usually at the tattoo site, but more rarely evolving to serious, generalized infections; in addition, hepatitis, HIV, warts and herpes may occur with use of contaminated needles.
  • Allergies: to ink pigments, causing itching, swelling and redness of the tattooed area; red pigments seem to be the most allergenic. These reactions can be very difficult to treat, and rarely, the tattooed area needs to be surgically removed.
  • Scarring: this can happen from getting, but also when removing a tattoo.
  • Granulomas: they are small bumps that may develop as a body reaction to pigments.

As tattoos became increasingly common, more rare side effects have come out:

  • Rare infections: besides the above-mentioned, infections with a bacteria called mycobacteria, which had contaminated ink pigments have been reported.
  • MRI complications: tattoos may get burnt while undergoing MRI, due to the presence of iron in black pigments (red pigments can also have iron).
  • Reactions to sun exposure (photosensitivity): tattoos exposed to the sun may become itchy, red and swollen.
  • Hiding skin cancer: there are case where tattoos covered up skin cancers, preventing them from being found at an earlier stage.
  • Severe allergic reactions: leading to ulcerations, gangrena and even leg amputation.

You may click here to see some serious complications of tattoos  (I warn you though, some pictures can be shocking).

The bottom line: Think before you ink!  Inform yourself, understand the risks… And if you still decide to go ahead, plan carefully:

  • the tattoo’s design: it would be a good idea to start with a small one, to check for possible bad reactions;
  • on which body part: there are places that may be more painful, with more difficult healing, or with higher risk of complications;
  • when: while healing, you should avoid tattoo’s exposure to sun and water bodies;
  • where: it is essential that you choose a reputable tattoo studio with experienced artists, where hygiene standards are respected and good quality inks are used.

Once you got your tattoo, you should be extremely careful until it heals, usually a couple of weeks.

You should consider tattoos a something permanent; tattoos’ removal may be difficult, and have eventually bad aesthetic results.


Stilettos, peep-toes, wedges, flats, sandals, lace-ups: it is not a secret that we LOVE shoes. Manolo Blahnik, Christian Louboutin and Jimmy Choo’s have become our objects of desire… But can we be stylish and have “happy feet” at the same time? Well, you should know that certain shoe styles can hide some dangers:

8) High heels

Fashion high heelsFrequent high-heel use for extended periods can cause many problems, from ankle strains to muscle fatigue, osteoarthritis of the knee, irreversible damage of the Achilles tendon, to headaches and sciatic pain. Stilettos are particularly harmful, as the leg’s weight is concentrated in a tiny area, increasing the risk of ankle sprain.

9) Ill-fitting shoes

Fashion narrow shoesWearing shoes that are too loose or too tight can lead to a series of foot problems, such as corns, calluses, bunions, in-grown toenails, or intense foot pain (metatarsalgia).

10) Flats

Fashion flatsTheir lack of arch support can cause knee, hip and back pain, as wells as a painful foot condition know as plantar fasciitis.

11) Platforms and wedges

Fashion wedgesThe higher the platform, the less foot flexibility, “locking” the foot and leading to ankle sprains or even fractures.

12) Flip-flops

Fashion flip flopsSince feet are so exposed, they predispose us to foot injuries or splinters; this is the reason why diabetic persons should not wear flip-flops. In addition, due to the lack of arch support, they can lead to plantar fasciitis or painful knees, hips, or back when used for long periods of time.

The bottom line: You don’t have to say goodbye to your favourite spike heels, but try not to use them every day, all day long. Prefer well-fitted, anatomic shoes or those with heels that are no more than 2 inches high. Orthotic inserts can provide support and padding to relieve aching feet, especially when wearing flats.


13) Synthetic fabrics

Fashion spandex outfitPolyester, acrylic, nylon and spandex may cause skin irritation, known as dermatitis, and this can be a greater problem in susceptible, allergic persons. Dyes and other chemicals added to fabrics may also pose health risks.

In addition, since these fabrics do not allow adequate sweat evaporation, they can lead to vaginal yeast infectionsskin or foot fungi (the latter known as athlete’s foot).

The bottom line: Go natural by wearing cotton, silk, linen, wool or other natural fabrics; check the clothing tags! If your skin is too sensitive or if you are just conscious about the environment, avoid chemical dry cleaning and wash your clothes in a “green”detergent.

14) Tight pants, skinny jeans

Fashion skinny jeans 2Most of us have been occasionally struggling to get into our favourite skinny jeans. But these garments do not come without risks; what’s more, they have even earned their own syndrome!

  • Tight pants syndrome: abdominal discomfort and distention, palpitations and heartburn, all happening in women -and men- wearing ill-fitting pants with waistbands smaller than their bellies…
  • Skinny pants syndrome: or “ tingly thighs” (the scientific name is meralgia paraesthetica), a tingling or burning sensation on the outer part of the thigh due to the compression of a nerve of the leg.

Other more rare health problems may the consequence of wearing tight trousers:

  • The compartment syndrome may happen in women wearing very tight jeans which provoke intense leg compression, this in turn interrupts the leg’s blood flow, potentially leading to muscle and nerve injury.
  • Persistent pressure exerted by tight trousers may lead to a breakdown of fatty tissue of the thighs, causing a condition called lipoatrophia semicircularis.

The bottom line: Do not wear tight, skinny pants for long periods of time, and be aware of any sign of compression; if so, stick to wider pants for a while… There are plenty of stylish models to choose from!


Related reading:

  • Safety of cosmetics: read here
  • Beauty treatments during pregnancy: read here


Photo credits:

Model catwalk:; thong:; bras:; shapewear:; heavy bags:; jewels:; piercing:; tattoos:; high heels:; ill-fitting shoes:;; platforms and wedges:; flip-flops:; synthetic fabrics:; tight pants, skinny jeans:







The HPV vaccine has been around for almost 10 years and more than 175 millions doses have been distributed in 63 countries, with several studies confirming its safety and efficacy. In spite of that, the vaccine still remains a subject of controversy. Although recommended by most scientific societies worldwide, some recent reports questioning its safety fuelled even more the debate, dividing both general public and medical community.

Embed from Getty Images


In this article we will analyse the existing evidence regarding the HPV vaccine, with particular focus on its efficacy and safety. In order to organise the available information, the article will be divided into the following sections:

  1. Getting to know HPV
  2. Why a vaccine? The burden of HPV-related diseases
  3. The three available HPV vaccines
  4. Vaccination schedule and timing 
  5. Efficacy of the HPV vaccine
  6. Safety of the HPV vaccine
  7. Recent safety concerns: the chronicle of events
  8. Other debatable issues
  9. Unanswered questions…
  10. Conclusion

1. Getting to know HPV

HPV vaccine cure cancer awarenessHPV (human papillomavirus) is a virus and is transmitted from person to person through skin-to-skin contact.

  • HPV infection is extremely common, and most of the times it will be cleared by the immune system.
  • Of the over 100 types of HPV, about 12 subtypes of the HPV (mostly subtypes 6 and 11) may cause genital warts (also known as condylomas). These so-called “low-risk types” can also cause a rare condition called recurrent respiratory papillomatosis, in which warts grow in the throat.
  • Approximately 15 types of HPV (most commonly types 16 and 18) are related to cancer. While cervical cancer is the most common HPV-related cancer, this virus can also cause other cancers: vulvar, vaginal, anal and oropharyngeal (mouth and throat),  as well as penile cancer in men.

You can read more detailed information on HPV here.


2. Why a vaccine? The burden of HPV-related diseases

HPV vaccine every 2 minutes a woman diesThese figures will give you and idea of the magnitude of the problems caused by HPV:

-Worldwide, over 500,000 new cervical cancer cases are diagnosed annually. Cervical cancer ranks as the 4th cause of female cancer in the world and is the 2nd most common female cancer in women aged 15 to 44 years (1).

In the United States, an estimated 26,000 new cancers are attributable to HPV each year, about 17,000 in women and 9,000 in men (2) .

In Europe, about 58,000 new cases of HPV-related cancers are estimated to occur every year (3).

-Regarding  precancerous lesions, the estimated annual burden of high-grade precancerous lesions ranges between 280,000 and 550,000 new cases per year in Europe (4).

-In addition to cancers and precancerous lesions, the problem of genital warts should also be taken into consideration. Genital warts are very common: 1 out of 10 persons will have condylomas at some point in their lives (the frequency varies according to different countries between 0,3 and 12 %) (5). About 800,000 new annual genital warts cases are estimated to occur in women and men in Europe (4). Although not life-threatening, the costs derived from their treatment and their psychological burden should not be neglected.


3. The three available HPV vaccines

HPV vaccine collageFrom 2006, 2 vaccines have been available: One bivalent (Cervarix®), directed against HPV types 16 and 18, responsible for about 70% of cervical cancers  and other HPV-associated cancers; the other quadrivalent (Gardasil® of Silgard® in different countries) containing 4 HPV types:16 and 18, together with HPV 6 and 11 which are responsible for more than 90% of genital warts.

In December 2014, the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a nine-valent vaccine, Gardasil 9® (6), which, besides the 4 strains contained in Gardasil (i.e., 6,11,16,18), includes types 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58, responsible for an additional 20% of HPV-related cancers (4). Gardasil 9 has also been recently approved for commercialisation in Europe (7).


4. Vaccination schedule and timing 

HPV vaccine who should get it ACIPinfographic

  • Vaccines are given as a 3-dose series, Gardasil at 0, 2 and 6 months, Cervarix at 0, 1 and 6 months (8).
  • In the States, The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and  the American College of Obstetrician and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommend that girls be routinely vaccinated at age 11 or 12 years.
  • Since 2010 boys have been included in the vaccination schedule in the USA, with the same schedule as girls.
  • If not vaccinated when they were younger, girls/young women and boys/young men should be vaccinated through age 26 (9).
  • Vaccine may be given starting at age 9 years (9, 10).
  • A reduced, 2-dose schedule is recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) for those aged 9-13 years; this schedule is not recommended by the ACIP but it has been adopted by many countries.HPV vaccine Protect your children
  • Earlier vaccination (before age 14) results in higher immune response. Another argument in favor of early vaccination is the fact that vaccines are more effective before the onset of sexual activity (8).
  • Vaccination is recommended regardless of sexual activity or known HPV infection. Although vaccines seem to be less effective in sexually active people, some benefit is expected to be attained since exposure to all types of HPV included in the vaccines is very unlikely. Testing for HPV is NOT recommended before vaccination.
  • The vaccines are prophylactic, that is, they do not prevent progression of existing infection to disease or treat existing disease. (2)
  • The HPV vaccine is covered by most private health insurance and government insurance programs worldwide. Vaccinations schedules may vary in different countries.
  • There seems to be additional protection by the vaccine in women through age 45, as showed by certain studies (11). However, there is no recommendation for vaccination in individuals aged 26 to 45.
  • The same schedule applies for Gardasil 9 (0, 2 and 6 months). Revaccination with the nine-valent vaccine is not recommended in persons who previously completed the three-dose series with the bivalent or or quadrivalent HPV vaccine (8).

5. Efficacy of the HPV vaccine

HPV Vaccine Charlene-Choi1The ultimate goal of the HPV vaccine is to reduce the incidence of HPV-related cancers. For obvious ethical reasons, the endpoint set to evaluate the HPV vaccine efficacy in different studies was precancerous lesions, namely CIN 2 and 3 (high risk lesions of the cervix, with potential to evolve to cancer). Other efficacy endpoints evaluated were incidence of HPV infection and incidence of condylomas.

Studies conducted before licensure showed that both vaccines achieved a high level of protection: 98-100% for the HPV types included in the vaccine in a naive population (that is, women who did not have HPV 16 or 18 at the time of  vaccination),  although the protection against precancerous lesions was 30-40% in the total vaccinated cohort (which included women who did not finish their immunization plan, or that were already infected with the virus before vaccination) (12, 13, 14, 15). There was also cross-protection for other types of HPV (i.e., HPV 45 and 31), which was more intense with Cervarix (16).

HPV vaccine AustraliaThe impact of vaccination on the general population has also been analysed in some studies. Australia was the first country to introduce an organised HPV vaccination program, achieving one of the world’s highest vaccination compliance rates.  Since 2007, when the National HPV vaccination program started with the quadrivalent vaccine, HPV infections from the types included in the vaccine decreased from 29% to 7% (17); a 93% reduction in the diagnosis of genital warts was also observed (18). Moreover, other recent studies showed an almost 50% reduction of  high-grade cervical precancerous lesions in women who had received all required doses of the vaccine (19).

Denmark also counts with an organised vaccination program. Six years after licensure of the quadrivalent HPV vaccine, a reduction of cervical precancerous lesions was observed, which was 80% in younger patients (20).

Recently, a study was conducted to evaluate the efficacy of the nine-valent vaccine. Gardasil 9 prevented 97% of high-grade precancerous lesions of the cervix, vulva, and vagina caused by the five new high-risk HPV types (HPV31/33/45/52/58) (21). The nine-valent vaccine also generated immune responses to HPV6/11/16/18 that were as good as or better than those generated by the quadrivalent vaccine. (4, 22)


6. Safety of the HPV vaccine

Many studies have evaluated HPV vaccine safety, both before their commercialisation and post-release, which demonstrated no differences in side effects as compared to control groups, irrespective of age and ethnicity (23).

HPV vaccine armed against cancerAccording to the CDC, the most commonly reported side effects of the vaccines are:

  • Pain, redness, or swelling in the arm where the shot was given
  • Fever
  • Headache or feeling tired
  • Nausea
  • Muscle or joint pain

Fainting (also known as syncope) and related symptoms (such as jerking movements) is not uncommon (24), especially in teenagers. For that reason, it is recommended that people receiving the HPV vaccine sit or lie down during vaccination, and remain seated for 15 minutes after the shot. (23)

Considering the target age of vaccination (which includes women in reproductive age), pregnancy outcomes received special attention. No increase in miscarriage rates has been reported for either of the vaccines (25). In addition, pregnant women that were recorded and observed in registrative trials did not have increased rate of congenital abnormalities (26, 27, 24).

Studies have also demonstrated efficacy and safety of the vaccines in men, both in heterosexual and men who have sex with men (28).

Serious side effects are very rare (less than 0.5%) (29), the most common being persistent headache, hypertension, gastroenteritis, bronchospasm and anaphylaxis. Their reported incidence is similar to that of other compulsory vaccines types (30).

HPV vaccine third pokeCertain side effects have been a matter of concern since the introduction of the vaccine, namely autoimmune diseases (AD) (i.e., hypothyroidism, rheumatoid arthritis, Behçet’s syndrome, Raynaud’s disease, type 1 diabetes, and vitiligo), neurological disorders (such as epilepsy, paralysis, Guillain–Barré syndrome, central demyelination, and multiple sclerosis) and venous thromboembolism (a blood clot that plugs a vein). It should be mentioned that ADs are not rare in adolescents and young adults, particularly in women. Therefore, it is a real challenge to distinguish causal from temporal association. A recent study gathered the results of 9 large studies (of which one was an analysis of 42 trials together, or metanalysis) in order to investigate severe adverse reactions after the HPV vaccine. None of the included studies found evidence of increased risk of autoimmune disease, neurological disorder, or venous thromboembolism (31).

The Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety (GACVS), established by the World Health Organization (WHO) provides independent, scientifically rigorous advice on vaccine-safety issues. In December 2013, the committee reviewed different topics and considered all available evidence on the safety of HPV vaccines, and concluded that both commercially available vaccines are safe (32). Likewise, the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) Gynecologic Oncologic Committee and Subcommittee for Cervical Cancer Prevention support the continued administration of the HPV vaccines in appropriate populations (33).

7. Recent safety concerns: the chronicle of events 

HPV vaccine Japanese_SchoolgirlsAlthough some isolated cases of side effects had been described in UK and Australia (34), Japan was the first country reporting on several girls suffering from severe pain and disability; these cases were heavily publicised in newspapers, TV news and social media, but they also alarmed the medical community. Japanese physicians published later on a series of 44 girls who were diagnosed with complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) (35). Due to these concerns, in June 2013 the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare (MHLW) decided to suspend its active recommendation of HPV vaccination. This decision created intense debate among scientists and general public, which continues until nowadays (34).

In March 2015, Denmark‘s TV channel TV2 aired a documentary entitled The Vaccinated Girls – Sick and Betrayed. The journalists gathered about 60 girls from all over Denmark who became sick shortly after receiving the HPV vaccine. Among the doctors interviewed is Louise Brinth, who examined approximately 80 girls with similar symptoms potentially caused by the HPV vaccine. Dr. Brinth noted that the girls experience symptoms such as dizziness, passing out, and severe headaches. She said, “They have abdominal pain and nausea. They have weird muscle movements they cannot control. And they’re very tired… We see a pattern that screams to heaven, and that should be examined by some solid research.”

HPV vaccine Danish documentaryIn April 2015, Dr. Brinth reported in a scientific journal on 53 patients complaining of orthostatic intolerance, severe headache, excessive fatigue, cognitive dysfunction, gastrointestinal discomfort and widespread pain. Most of them were diagnosed with a rare syndrome known as postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), and all of them were in close temporal association with the HPV vaccine (36a, 36b).

Denmark’s documentary has had a huge impact worldwide, both in the general public and the medical community. A closed Facebook page set up for suspected victims of adverse reactions to Gardasil in Denmark tripled its -careful verified- members; similar Facebook groups were created in other countries.

At the request of Denmark, The European Medicines Agency (EMA) is currently conducting a safety review of HPV vaccines. However, the agency emphasizes that this review “does not question that the benefits of HPV vaccines outweigh their risks.”The agency also notes that while the review is being carried out, no change in the use of these products is recommended. See the EMA’s review conclusions here.

HPV vaccine reactions independent UKIn May 2015, UK’s newspaper The Independent published an article entitled: Thousands of teenage girls report feeling seriously ill after routine school cancer vaccination. The article focuses on the story of Emily Ryalls, 17, who started feeling intense pains and difficulty breathing soon after receiving the HPV vaccine.

Mrs Ryalls reported Emily’s symptoms to the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), and she was not alone: adverse reactions after HPV vaccination numbered 8,228, of which 2,587 were classified as “serious”; that’s substantially more that those reported with other compulsory vaccines (see graph). The MHRA, though, said it had no concerns on the numbers of adverse reactions related to the HPV vaccine and that the “expected benefits in preventing illness and death from HPV infection outweigh the known risks”.

Emily’s mother, together with other 80 families in similar situation across the UK have formed the Association for HPV Vaccine Injured Daughters (AHVID).

As stated by the newspaper “This article created significant debate among medical professionals, journalists and members of the public…”.

HPV vaccine France fiasco SV-1136-vaccin-HPVIn France, the National Security Agency of Medicines and Health Products (ANSM) just published (September 2015) the results of the follow-up of more than 2 million girls aged 13-16 years, vaccinated between 2008 and 2013 to evaluate the occurrence of side effects, mainly autoimmune diseases. When analysed all the diseases together, their results showed no overall increased risk of occurrence of serious events. However, when each disease was analysed individually, a four-fold increase in the occurrence of Guillain Barre syndrome was observed. The study also found an increased risk of Inflammatory Bowel disease, but the association was weak.

The authors conclude: “…the results of the study… prove reassuring regarding the risk of autoimmune disease associated with the HPV vaccines. The expected benefits of this vaccination in terms of public health are far greater than the eventual risks the girls may be exposed to” (37). In spite of these “reassuring” results, the vaccination rate in France continue to be low (less than 30%).

HPV vaccine POTSIn September 2015, another report provided details on 45 individuals from 13 countries who developed a chronic ailment soon after receiving the HPV vaccine. “A disabling syndrome of chronic neuropathic pain, vexing fatigue, and profound autonomic dysfunction may appear after HPV vaccination,” say the authors, headed by Manuel Martínez-Lavín, MD, a specialist in chronic pain conditions from Mexico City. After a mean period of 4 years following HPV vaccination, 93% of individuals “continue to have incapacitating symptoms and remain unable to attend school or work,” write the authors (38).

POTS after HPV vaccination has also been reported in the United States.  Dr. Blitshteyn, a neurologist from New York, described six patients who developed POTS between 6 days and 2 months after HPV vaccination. All patients reported improvement over 3 years, but residual symptoms persisted (39).

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) emphasised that controlled clinical trials in tens of thousands of individuals plus postlicensure monitoring of millions of individuals have found no causal association between HPV vaccination and atypical pain syndromes or autonomic dysfunction.

HPV vaccine Diane HarperDr. Diane Harper, an american obstetrician & gynecologist, is one of the HPV experts called in to design the clinical trials of Gardasil and Cervarix.  Although initially in favour of the vaccine, in recent years she has questioned Gardasil safety. She stated that “Gardasil has been associated with at least as many serious adverse events as there are deaths from cervical cancer developing each year”. Moreover, in an article published in December 2009 she concluded that, given the various limitations and risks of the vaccines, the benefits and risks of HPV vaccination must be weighed with the benefits and risks of HPV screening (Pap smears) to reduce cervical cancer in a cost-effective manner (40).

Dr. Harper does not support mandatory HPV vaccination for schoolchildren, because she believes that the duration of protection may be too short (see below). She has also criticised the short period of time vaccines were tried before its licensure,  and the misleading publicity carried out by the pharmaceutical companies. Learn more here.

8. Other debatable issues

Vaccination in boys

HPV vaccine is cancer prevention.

The rationale of vaccinating boys is to reduce the transmission of the HPV virus to women and to protect them against oral and anal cancers (41). Since these cancers are very rare, it has been questioned by some scientists whether is it worth to expose millions of boys to potential vaccine side effects in order to protect girls, or to prevent a so rare type of cancer (responsible for just 300 deaths in the USA); whether the benefit outweighs the risk and if men vaccination is cost effective. While countries such as Australia and the USA include boys in their vaccine recommendations, other countries (i.e., UK and France) have not yet adopted this measure.

Men who have sex with men are a special category, since they are at higher risk of anal cancer. Thus, some experts believe these men (and not every boy) should be offered the vaccine. However, this measure may be difficult to implement: in order get covered by their insurance or social security, young men may be required to declare their sexual preferences.

Immunogenicity of Gardasil vs. Cervarix

HPV vaccine ArgentinaImmunogenicity means the ability of the vaccine to provoke an immune response; in other words, the “strength” of the vaccine.

Most countries adopted vaccination with Gardasil instead of Cervarix assuming equal protection for cancer, with the “bonus” protection against genital warts. But is it really like this?

Several studies have demonstrated that Cervarix elicits stronger and longer-lasting immune response than Gardasil (42, 43).

These laboratory findings have also been confirmed by some clinical studies: Over the years, the efficacy of the Cervarix to protect vaccinated women from precancerous lesions (total vaccinated cohort-naive) was 93%, while Gardasil’s dropped to 43% (44)

Age of vaccination

HPV vaccine school girlThis subject has also raised intense debate and concern. As stated above, immune response provoked by the vaccines may be of limited duration, especially for Gardasil. This can be a serious limitation of the vaccine because, as Dr. Harper noted “… if the HPV vaccine does not last for at least 15 years, no cancers will ever be prevented; women will just get the cancers at a later time in life after the vaccine has worn off“.

If this short protection span is confirmed by clinical studies, a boost dose would solve this limitation. However, this would increase considerably the cost of the vaccine; moreover, women who don’t comply with this recommendation will become unprotected over time.

Increase of promiscuity?

Many people feared that the the HPV vaccine would lead girls to promiscuous behavior. This was actually investigated by some studies, and have proved not to be true: no increase in sexually transmitted diseases was observed among vaccinated girls (45), showing that vaccination is unlikely to promote unsafe sexual activity.

9. Unanswered questions…

  • HPV cancer vaccine flyer - 8-1/2 x 11Will the HPV vaccine reduce cervical cancer deaths in real-world conditions?
  • In light of the latest publications, should vaccination programs be halted until the situations is clarified?
  • Due to these latest concerns, will more women opt for no vaccination, missing the opportunity to be protected against cancer?
  • Since the syndromes potentially related to vaccines are difficult to diagnose, is it possible that they have been underreported in the past? Could they possibly become over reported in the future?
  • Will the vaccine create a false sense of full protection against cervical cancer, resulting in less women attending screening programs?
  • Will the vaccine lead to a reduction of the HPV types included in the vaccine, but to an increase of those not included in the vaccine?

10. Conclusion

HPV vaccine End-cervical-cancer-posterIt is indeed exciting to have a vaccine that protects against cancer. After seeing women dying from cervical cancer, I truly wish that cervical cancer will be eradicated in the future. But we MUST be sure that we don’t create more harm than good in the process.

HPV vaccine smear for a smear campaignI am in favor of vaccines. Vaccines have done a lot of good to humanity (just imagine if we would still have small pox, or poliomyelitis…). It is true that every single medical practice may come with side effects, and this include vaccines. But we MUST know exactly what are the vaccine risks, and whether the benefits outweigh the risks.

I firmly believe that governments, scientific societies and pharmaceutical companies MUST do an effort to inform people in a responsible and honest manner, so that all of us -young people, parents and physicians- continue to believe in good science, and vaccines don’t lose their credibility.

It will take 10 to 20 years to figure out the true benefit of the HPV vaccine. In the meantime, keep in mind that Pap tests never killed anyone, on the contrary, they have saved millions of lives. Therefore, don’t forget your Pap smear!


Read on the latest events related to the HPV vaccine here.



  1. International Agency for Research on Cancer, World Health Organization. Globocan 2012: Estimated Cancer Incidence, Mortality and Prevalence Worldwide in 2012
  2. CDC Grand Rounds: Reducing the Burden of HPV-Associated Cancer and Disease. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) January 31, 2014 / 63(04);69-72
  3. Human Papillomavirus and Related Diseases Report. March 20th, 2015
  4. Hartwig S, et al: Estimation of the epidemiological burden of HPV-related anogenital cancers, precancerous lesions, and genital warts in women and men in Europe: Potential additional benefit of a nine-valent second generation HPV vaccine compared to first generation HPV vaccines. Papillomavirus Research, In Press (Available online 16 June 2015)
  5. Patel H, et al: Systematic review of the incidence and prevalence of genital warts. BMC Infectious Diseases 2013, 13:39
  6. “FDA approves Gardasil 9 for prevention of certain cancers caused by five additional types of HPV” (press release). 10 December 2014.
  7. Gardasil® 9: new HPV vaccine approved in the European Union. The European Commission grants marketing authorisation for the first 9-valent HPV vaccine” (press release) Sanofi Pasteur MSD, June 17, 2015.
  8. Human Papillomavirus Vaccination. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Committee Opinion Number 641, September 2015
  9. Recommendations on the Use of Quadrivalent Human Papillomavirus Vaccine in Males — Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), 2011. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), December 23, 2011 / 60(50);1705-1708
  10. Markowitz L, et al: Quadrivalent Human Papillomavirus Vaccine Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), March 23, 2007 / 56(RR02);1-24
  11. Castellsagué X, et al: HPV vaccination against cervical cancer in women above 25 years of age: key considerations and current perspectives. Gynecologic Oncology 115 (2009) S15–S23
  12. Villa L, et al: Prophylactic quadrivalent human papillomavirus (types 6, 11, 16, and 18) L1 virus-like particle vaccine in young women: a randomised double-blind placebo-controlled multicentre phase II efficacy trial. Lancet Oncol 2005; 6: 271–78
  13. The FUTURE II Study Group: Quadrivalent Vaccine against Human Papillomavirus to Prevent High-Grade Cervical Lesions. N Engl J Med 2007;356:1915-27
  14. Paavonen J, et al: Efficacy of human papillomavirus (HPV)-16/18 AS04-adjuvanted vaccine against cervical infection and precancer caused by oncogenic HPV types (PATRICIA): final analysis of a double-blind, randomised study in young women. Lancet, Vol 374, No. 9686, p301–314, 25 July 2009
  15. Lehtinen M, et al: Overall efficacy of HPV-16/18 AS04-adjuvanted vaccine against grade 3 or greater cervical intraepithelial neoplasia: 4-year end-of-study analysis of the randomised, double-blind PATRICIA trial. Lancet Oncol, Vol 13, No. 1, p89–99, January 2012
  16. Harper D: Prophylactic human papillomavirus vaccines to prevent cervical cancer: review of the Phase II and III trials. Therapy 2008, 5 (3), 313-324
  17. Tabrizi SN, et al: Fall in human papillomavirus prevalence following a national vaccination program. J Infect Dis. 2012; 206(11):1645-1651
  18. Mariani L, et al: Early direct and indirect impact of quadrivalent HPV (4HPV) vaccine on genital warts: a systematic review. Adv Ther, 32 (2015), pp. 10–30
  19. Crowe E, et al: Effectiveness of quadrivalent human papillomavirus vaccine for the prevention of cervical abnormalities: case-control study nested within a population based screening programme in Australia. BMJ 2014;348:g1458 
  20. Baldur-Felskov B, et at: early impact of Human Papillomavirus Vaccination on cervical Neoplasia—Nationwide Follow-up ofYoung Danish Women. J Natl Cancer Inst (2014) 106(3): djt460 doi:10.1093/jnci/djt460
  21. Joura E, et al: A 9-Valent HPV Vaccine against Infection and Intraepithelial Neoplasia in Women. N Engl J Med 2015; 372:711-723
  22. Petrosky E, et al: Use of 9-Valent Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccine: Updated HPV Vaccination Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), March 27, 2015 / 64(11);300-304
  23. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccine Safety. Updated September 28, 2015
  24. Slade BA, et al: Postlicensure safety surveillance for quadrivalent human papillomavirus recombinant vaccine. JAMA, 2009;302(7):750–757
  25. Wacholder S, et al: Risk of miscarriage with bivalent vaccine against human papillomavirus (HPV) types 16 and 18: pooled analysis of two randomised controlled trials. BMJ 2010;340:c712
  26. Garland SM, et al: Pregnancy and infant outcomes in the clinical trials of a human papillomavirus type 6/11/16/18 vaccine: a combined analysis of five randomized controlled trials. Obstet Gynecol 2009;114(6):1179–1188
  27. Dana A, Buchanan KM, Goss MA, et al. Pregnancy outcomes from the pregnancy registry of a human papillomavirus type 6/11/16/18 vaccine. Obstet Gynecol. 2009;114(6):1170–1178
  28. Moscicki A, et al: HPV in men: an update. J Low Genit Tract Dis. 2011 Jul; 15(3): 231–234
  29. Gonçalves AK, et al: Safety, tolerability and side effects of human papillomavirus vaccines: a systematic quantitative review. Braz J Infect Dis, Vol 18, Issue 6, Nov–Dec 2014, Pages 651–659
  30. Lu B, et al: Efficacy and safety of prophylactic vaccines against cervical HPV infection and diseases among women: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Infect Dis. 2011;11:13
  31. De Vincenzo R, et al: Long-term efficacy and safety of human papillomavirus vaccination. International Journal of Women’s Health 2014:6 999–1010
  32. World Health Organization. Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety, 11–12 December 2013: Human papillomavirus vaccines safety (HPV). Wkly Epidemiol Rec. 2014;89(7):58–60
  33. Denny L: Safety of HPV vaccination: a FIGO statement. Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 2013;123(3):187–188
  34. Wilson R, et al: HPV Vaccination in Japan. The Continuing Debate and Global Impacts. A Report of the CSIS Global Health Policy Center. April 2015
  35. Kinoshita T, et al: Peripheral Sympathetic Nerve Dysfunction in Adolescent Japanese Girls Following Immunization with the Human Papillomavirus Vaccine. Intern Med 53: 2185-2200, 2014
  36. a: Brinth L, et al: Suspected side effects to the quadrivalent human papilloma vaccine. Dan Med J 2015;62(4):A5064 b: Brinth L, et al: Orthostatic intolerance and postural tachycardia syndrome as suspected adverse effects of vaccination against human papilloma virus. Vaccine, 2015 May 21;33(22):2602-5
  37. Vaccination contre les infections à HPV et risque de maladies auto-immunes : une étude Cnamts/ANSM rassurante – Point d’information 13/09/2015
  38. Martínez-Lavín M, et: HPV vaccination syndrome. A questionnaire-based study. Clinical Rheumatology pp 1-3. Online 10 September 2015
  39. Blitshteyn S. Postural tachycardia syndrome following human papillomavirus vaccination. Eur J Neurol, Vol 21, 1, 135–139, 2014
  40. Harper, D: Current prophylactic HPV vaccines and gynecologic premalignancies. Current Opinion in Obstetrics and Gynecology 2009, 21:457–464
  41. Giuliano A, et al: Efficacy of Quadrivalent HPV Vaccine against HPV Infection and Disease in Males. N Engl J Med 2011;364:401-11
  42. Einstein M, et al: Comparative immunogenicity and safety of human papillomavirus (HPV)- 16/18 vaccine and HPV-6/11/16/18 vaccine: follow-up from months 12-24 in a Phase III randomized study of healthy women aged 18-45 years. Human Vaccines, vol. 7, no. 12, pp. 1343–1358, 2011
  43. Barzon L, et al: Neutralizing and cross-neutralizing antibody titres induced by bivalent and quadrivalent human papillomavirus vaccines in the target population of organized vaccination programmes. Vaccine, vol. 32, no. 41, pp. 5357–5362, 2014
  44. Di Mario S, et al: Are the Two Human Papillomavirus Vaccines Really Similar? A Systematic Review of Available Evidence: Efficacy of the Two Vaccines against HPV. Journal of Immunology Research, Volume 2015 (2015), Article ID 435141, 13 pages
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Photo Credits

Intro: Getty images; 1:; 2:; 3: (collage) wikimedia commons; 4:;; 5:; 6:; 7: Japan: wikimedia commons; Denmark:; UK:; France:; POTS:; Harper:; 8:; 9:; 10:


Embed from Getty ImagesBreast cancer is, without any doubt, women’s most feared cancer. In spite of increased awareness through women’s education, campaigns for its early detection and extensive research, some misconceptions persist and many issues are still a subject or debate, even among doctors and scientific organisations.

In this article we will analyse some common misperceptions women have about breast cancer risk. Many of them are myths, others are somewhat controversial…


Breast cancer mother and daughter 432524737_bcbd224cd8_zYou are at increased risk of breast cancer if you have a family history, but of all breast cancers, only 5 to 10% are hereditary.

If you have one first-degree female relative (mother, sister or daughter) with breast cancer, then your risk is doubled; with two first-degree relatives, your risk of breast cancer is 5 times higher. If your affected relative is a male (yes, men do get breast cancer, but is very rare), your risk of getting breast cancer is higher. The same seems to be true for having a female relative with breast cancer from your paternal side (e.g. an aunt or your grandmother).

Most (but not all) hereditary breast cancers are caused by a defective gene passed from mother to child, the best known of which are BRCA1 and BRCA2. If you have a family history of breast cancer, you may discuss with your doctor whether you should be checked, what being positive means and what you can do about it. As a rough estimation, while an average woman has about 12% risk of developing breast cancer in her lifetime (that is, of 100 women, 12 will develop breast cancer at some point in their lives), a woman with a gene defect may have 45 to 80% risk (4 to 8 out of 10 women with a gene defect will get breast cancer), according to the gene involved.


Breast cancer antiperspirant arton2889Some research in the past had suggested that antiperspirants are linked to breast cancer because parabens contained in these products were found in the tissue removed from breast cancer patients. These findings were not confirmed by other studies, and the fact that parabens were found there does not mean that they are the cause of breast cancer.

Aluminum contained in antiperspirants has also been suggested as a possible cancer- causing agent. But this has not been proved by any study.

Another claim is that antiperspirants allow a toxin build-up by blocking the sweat glands. This is another misconception, as toxins are cleared by lymph nodes and not by the sweat glands.

Well-designed epidemiological studies on this issue found no link between breast cancer risk and antiperspirant use, deodorant use, or underarm shaving.


Breast cancer bra prod_1027009It has been suggested (mostly by e-mail and internet rumors) that bras, especially those underwired, may cause breast cancer by obstructing the breasts’ lymphatic flow, which is in charge of clearing different toxins that may be present in the breasts. Several studies have been conducted to address this issue, none of them confirmed these fears.





Breast cancer woman getting mammogram140624-mammogram-exam-1627_8cecaf7ed275cf56734d675dcbf19541Mammograms do involve radiation exposure, but the dose utilised is extremely low. With a newer type called digital mammogram, the radiation exposure is even lower. Controversy exists as to whether this low radiation dose is enough to increase breast cancer risk, and experts opinions are divided.

Some evidence indicates that mammograms might increase the risk of breast cancer in women starting  yearly before the age of 35. This is of particular concern when a defective gene (BRCA mutation) is present, since these women are usually advised to start yearly mammograms at young age, and they are the ones that may eventually be more susceptible to the harmful effects of radiation.

For most of the women though, the benefits of mammograms largely outweigh their possible risks.


Breast cancer Mammogram_tumorwebThis is another controversial issue that has fuelled endless discussions among experts. Regular mammograms do not prevent or reduce breast cancer. They just detect breast cancer that already exists, but an earlier stage, thus reducing deaths among breast cancer patients by about 17% if done every two years, by 20% if done annually. Other studies have found a 30% reduction in mortality. In addition, since cancers are found earlier, less mastectomies are needed, and most of the women can be treated conservatively (just removing the lump).

These figures mean that thousands of women get to live thanks to mammograms. However, some experts believe that the reduction in mortality mammograms offer is “modest”, which led to intense confusion and disagreement as to whether mammograms are worth doing, and how often they should be done. Mammogram opponents also state that the exam has a considerable false positives rate (that is, it suggests malignancy when something is benign), leading to unneeded breast biopsies, increased health costs and extra anxiety.


Breast cancer implant ucm259884Many studies have been conducted on this subject; breast implants do not seem to increase breast cancer risk. The main problem with implants is an impaired detection of breast cancer since they may yield mammograms and ultrasounds more difficult to perform and interpret.

A very rare type of lymphoma called anaplastic large cell lymphoma might be linked to breast implants. Since this tumor is so uncommon, is very difficult to prove an implant causative role.

A faulty French implant (PIP) was linked to increased risk of breast cancer, leading to massive implant removals.


Breast cacner woman-breastfeeding-babyThe protective effect of breastfeeding is modest at best, and seems to be true mostly for women who breastfed (each child) for more than 1 1/2 to 2 years. Breastfeeding has many benefits, both for the mother and the baby, but its protection against breast cancer is doubtful.




Breast cancer young woman 5042183570_d979b072c6_zBreast cancer does occur in younger women. Of all cases of breast cancer, about 7%  are diagnosed in young women below the age of 40; furthermore, breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in this age group. Several studies show that this age population tends to have more aggressive cancer types. Family history and genetic mutations account for increased risks of breast cancer in premenopausal women. Other possible factor that may increase risk are long-term use of oral contraceptives and high animal fat diet consumption. Although mammogram is not recommended in this age population unless there is a family history, an annual breast examination is strongly encouraged.


????????????????????????Breast cancer incidence is strongly related to age; the older a woman is, the higher her breast cancer risk becomes. 

In the UK, an average of 80% of breast cancer cases are diagnosed in women over 50s, and around a quarter (24%) are diagnosed in women aged 75 and over. Breast cancers diagnosed in this age population though, tend to be less aggressive. Controversy also exists as to when to stop doing mammograms. In the UK, women in this age group are invited for mammogram every three years; in the USA most experts consider that there is no upper age limit for mammogram as many studies show that even older women benefit from it.


Breast cancer woman with pink ribbon 1336055074592_ORIGINALJust because someone in your family had breast cancer doesn’t mean you will get it. Genetic testing can help you understand your inherited risk and allow you to make choices about your future care. Some studies have shown that a low-fat diet, physical activity and cutting down on alcohol consumption seem to reduce breast cancer risk.

If you are at high risk for breast cancer you will need to do breast examinations and other tests such as mammogram, breast ultrasound and eventually magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) more often; these exams may help you find cancer at a much earlier stage.

A drug called tamoxifen may reduce the risk of breast cancer in certain high-risk women, although more research is needed to precise which women will benefit from this treatment. A lot has been said lately about prophylactic double mastectomy. This is indeed a viable option for women with a very high risk, as it can reduce the incidence of breast cancer by more than 90%, usually with excellent cosmetic results.


Breast cancer small breasts bra-fitting-horizIt has been long said that there’s no connection between breast size and risk of getting breast cancer. But some recent studies have challenged this old perception: women with very large breasts, besides being harder to examine, do seem to have increased breast cancer risk.

This doesn’t mean that women with small breasts are safe; all women with any breast size should undergo breast cancer screening.


Breast cancer dense breasts 0Breasts are made up of fatty, fibrous and glandular tissue. Dense breasts (as seen on a mammogram) have more glandular and fibrous tissue and less fatty tissue.

It is controversial whether breast density is an independent cancer risk factor, but most studies agree that women with dense breasts have 1,2 to 6 times higher breast cancer risk than women with average density. What is clear is that dense breasts make cancer detection more difficult. A number of factors can affect breast density, such as age, menopausal status, certain medications (including menopausal hormone therapy), pregnancy, and genetics.

If you are interested in learning more about breast cancer risk, you may check this article of the American Cancer Society here

Additional bibliography

Mandelblatt JS, et al. Effects of mammography screening under different screening schedules: model estimates of potential benefits and harms. Ann Intern Med. 2009 Nov 17;151(10):738-47.

When to Get a Screening Mammogram. Web MD

Poly Implant Prothèse.

Hussein A, et al. Epidemiology and prognosis of breast cancer in young women. J Thorac Dis 2013;5(S1):S2-S8.

Breast Cancer Risk in American Women. National Cancer Institute

Breast cancer incidence statistics. Cancer Research UK

No Upper Age Limit for Mammograms: Women 80 and Older Benefit. Breast

Eriksson N, et al. Genetic variants associated with breast size also influence breast cancer risk. BMC Medical Genetics 2012, 13:53

Breast Density and Cancer Risk: What Is the Relationship? JNCI J Natl Cancer Inst, 2000, Volume 92, Issue 6, Pp. 443


Photo Credits

Intro: Getty images; 1. Dave,; 2.; 3.; 4.; 5.; 6.; 7.; 8. Kira Westland,; 9.; 10.; 11.; 12.






What causes menstrual cramps?

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Menstrual cramps (also called primary dysmenorrhea) are caused by contractions of the uterus. These contractions are triggered by a substance normally produced by our body called prostaglandin. In some women, these prostaglandins are produced in excess.


What are the symptoms?

Dysmenorrhea symptoms_CollagePain in the low abdomen, sometimes very intense, occasionally with some of the following:

  • Feeling of pressure in the abdomen
  • Back pain, pain in the hips or thighs
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomits
  • Diarrhea (loose stools)


What can I do to to relieve menstrual cramps?

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  • Place a heating pad on your abdomen or back
  • Take a warm bath
  • Massage your abdomen and your back
  • Rest
  • Avoid caffeine and salt, that may worsen pain.




You may take painkillers such as acetaminophen (also called paracetamol), ibuprofen, mefenamic acid. Medications are more effective if taken as soon as cramping starts, or even better, before pain starts (if you have regular cycles and you know when pain is about to start).


Dietary changes

Dysmenorrhea diet Collage

A low fat diet seems to reduces menstrual pain according to some studies. Other proposed dietary changes:

Increase consumption of :

  • calcium: almonds, dark green leafy vegetables (spinach, kale), low fat diaries
  • antioxidants: blueberries, cherries, tomatoes, squash, pepper
  • proteins: lean meats, cold-water fish, tofu, beans

To avoid:

  • “bad” carbohydrates: white bread, pasta, sugar, sweets
  • “bad” fats: french fries, donuts, processed foods.


Herbal products and dietary supplements

Dysmenorrhea supplements Collage

These are the supplements that have proved to be effective in several studies:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Thiamine (vitamin B1)
  • Vitamin B6
  • Magnesium
  • Vitamin E


Other interventions

Dysmenorrhea other interventions Collage

The following help relieving menstrual cramps:

  • Exercise
  • Yoga
  • Acupuncture
  • Homeopathy (not much scientific evidence, but it seems to help some women)


What if nothing works?

Contraceptives resized

You may discuss with your doctor the following:

  • Oral contraceptives or other hormonal treatments
  • Stronger painkillers
  • Other possible treatments such as surgery (reserved for very severe cases).


Are menstrual cramps always normal?

Dysmenorrhea secondary Collage

Sometimes menstrual pains are not normal and indicate a medical problem; this is called secondary dysmenorrhea. Some conditions that can cause painful periods are:

  • Endometriosis: a condition in which the tissue lining the uterus (the endometrium) is found outside of the uterus
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease: an infection that starts in the uterus and spreads to other reproductive organs
  • Narrowing of the cervix (stenosis), often caused by scarring
  • Fibroids: benign tumors of the uterus
  • Congenital (birth) abnormalities of the uterus or vagina (such as the presence of a diaphragm).


When should I see a doctor?

Call the doctor medical-563427_1280

Most of the times menstrual cramps are not a cause for concern, especially if you started menstruating within the past few years. But you should see a doctor if menstrual cramps:

  • Interfere with your everyday life every month
  • Get increasingly worse
  • Start after age 25
  • Last more than 2 or 3 days
  • Are accompanied by heavy bleeding, fever or foul smelling discharge.

Painful periods, whatever the cause, can be treated, so go ahead and get checked!



  3. Proctor M, Farquhar C. Diagnosis and management of dysmenorrhoea. BMJ. May 13 2006;332(7550):1134-8.
  4. Hansen SO, Knudsen UB. Endometriosis, dysmenorrhoea and diet. Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 2013 Jul;169(2):162-71
  5. Dennehy CE. The use of herbs and dietary supplements in gynecology: an evidence-based review. J Midwifery Womens Health. 2006;51(6):402-9.