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Risks of Opioid Abuse by Pregnant Women

September 24th, 2017

Despite the best intentions of the physicians, the effort to improve pain management has led to some adverse health consequences across the United States. Among all repercussions, the rise in prescription drug abuse remains the most serious one.

The use of prescription drugs is primarily restricted to acute pain arising from severe injuries, medical conditions or surgical procedures. They are only meant to be used when the non-opioid alternatives are ineffective. However, misuse and nonmedical use of pain relief drugs has led to an epidemic of opioid abuse, leading to significant spike in the rate of drug overdose and death.

Since 1999, the number of opioid overdose cases has quadrupled. Despite the above marked increase, it did not reflect any reduction in the reports of pain. Such has been the menace of opioid abuse that over 33,000 overdose deaths were witnessed in just 2015, the highest recorded death toll in a given year.

Opioid abuse occurs in most age groups and both sexes. Although men are more likely to abuse prescription drugs, women are now closing the gap. Though the risk of developing opioid use disorder (OUD) exists in both males and females, gender differences can alter the expression of this condition. Due to biological and social reasons, women stand more vulnerable and susceptible to the symptoms of opioid abuse.

Women have been found to be more likely to be prescribed these medications for a long-term use. Moreover, the progression of opioid dependence occurs at an accelerated pace among women. Every three minutes a woman is taken to the emergency department (ED) due to the misuse or abuse of prescription drugs. In more extreme cases, an intentional overdose of prescription drugs is involved in one in 10 suicides among women.

Impact of opioids on mothers and infants

The consequences of substance abuse, including that of prescription drugs, among women is most extensive during their reproductive years. Studies suggest that the abuse of opioid by women in this age group is a major risk factor for them and their newborns.

Indulgence in opioid abuse during the critical phase of pregnancy increases the risk of inflicting birth defects, such as congenital heart disease, neural tube defects and neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS), among the newborns. These risks are significantly higher when a woman is exposed to opioids in the early stages of pregnancy.

The babies exposed to opioids also risk the development of withdrawal symptoms, cognitive impairment and developmental problems, which are likely to accompany them throughout their lives. The newborns diagnosed with NAS experience a range of health-related complications, such as tremors, rapid breathing, slow weight gain, stuffy nose, sweating, vomiting, persistent irritability and crying, sleep problems, and problems with feeding and breathing.

In most cases, pregnant women with OUD are late in seeking medical intervention due to lack of awareness or stigma attached to drug abuse, especially by women, and miss the sessions with doctors. However, this is extremely dangerous because early and routine prenatal care is essential for the healthy growth of the child.

Stemming the tide

Given the chronicity of opioid addiction, it is important to screen women, especially those who are pregnant, for OUD, as well as their infants who may have been affected. These women are also at risk of developing postpartum depression and may require support for breastfeeding.

Women who use opioids intravenously also risk the development of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) like human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and hepatitis C. However, with the exception of HIV-positive pregnant women, those with OUD can also avail breastfeeding support that encourages mother-infant bonding. This can effectively diminish the severity and time period of withdrawal symptoms.

Furthermore, it is also crucial to implement steps for identifying the signs of a relapse. This would not only assist a woman in receiving the help she requires, but could also significantly reduce the risks to the infant.

Recovery from opioid addiction

Opioid addiction has been termed as one of the worst drug crises in the U.S. millions of men and women across the nation. Moreover, it has become the main driver of overdose deaths across all age groups. In the light of the above findings, it is essential to educate patients about the consequences of opioid abuse. The medical practitioners should ensure to prescribe these medications for the treatment of chronic pain.

Want to Maintain Penis Health? Ask a Partner These Questions

September 24th, 2017

When fooling around with a new partner, the last thing anyone wants to think about is sexually transmitted diseases. But the fact is that every new partner offers potential, not just for sexual pleasure, but for the potential of infection. Good penis care requires that a man who is considering bedding a new partner should ask plenty of questions that will help keep his penis health in tip-top shape, not to mention his overall health.

Questions to ask a new partner

Keep in mind that these questions are not just for the partner. A man must be ready and willing to answer these questions as well, for his partner needs to know his information just as much as he needs to know theirs!

1. The V-card question. If someone has never had sex before, it’s imperative that the new partner knows about this. Some people don’t want to have the pressure of being the ‘first,’ while others will relish the idea. And still others simply want to know so they can make the experience much more enjoyable.

2. How many partners have they had? Assuming someone is not a virgin, they have had at least one partner. But how many? Though it might seem like an embarrassing or confrontational question, it’s a vitally important one. Remember that the more partners a person has had, the higher the chances of sexually transmitted diseases.

3. Are they on birth control? Knowing the answer to this question can help alleviate one worry if the condom happens to break while doing the deed. Besides that, someone who is on birth control has obviously taken pre-emptive measures to keep themselves safe from the complication of unwanted pregnancy, which indicates a level of responsibility.

4. When was their last screening, and what were they tested for? Knowing about the screening dates can help someone determine whether an HIV test can be deemed accurate. That’s because testing every six months is recommended after an HIV exposure scare. Testing every six months is recommended anyway if someone has had sex with more than one partner during that time period.

5. What were the results? Just knowing someone has been tested isn’t enough. It’s important to know exactly what those results were, and if there were any issues that warranted treatment. It can also help a man gauge whether he wants to continue with a relationship in which there might be a higher chance for sexual disease transmission – for example, he needs to know if someone has been diagnosed with herpes, as it never really goes away, but only goes into remission.

6. Were they ever treated for an STD? Knowing what the problem was and when it was treated can help a man determine if it’s safe for his penis health to continue with the encounter. If he is uncomfortable in any way with the answers he receives, it’s a good idea to take a step back and think things over before choosing to move forward.

7. Do they always use condoms? This is vitally important to know, as it helps a man determine whether a person is more of a risk-taker or someone who doesn’t feel barrier protections are necessary. Someone who wants to skip the condoms is sure to have done the same thing with previous partners, thus making it more likely that they were exposed to a potential disease.

In addition to checking out potential partners, a man help ensure his good penis health through the use of a specially formulated penis health crème (health professionals recommend Man 1 Man Oil, which is clinically proven mild and safe for skin). Proper penis care dictates using the crème on a daily basis to fight against dry penis skin and keep the member looking healthy for the next partner to come along.