Modern Contraception – When Will We Leave the Idea of a ‘Normal’ Woman Behind?

By Rose Stevens

In school, whether it is in sex education or in biology, we are taught about the normal woman’s reproductive system. We are taught that the normal woman’s menstrual cycle is around 28 days. We are taught she has regular predictable periods. We are taught that in a normal woman these periods are 5 days in length and start at age 12 or 13. Our doctors and our politicians grow up ascribing to this idea of the normal woman. However what we are never taught is that she does not exist. Calling the reproductive biology of any woman ‘normal’ is misleading when the existent natural variation both is huge and critically under acknowledged in education and medical practice. Ignoring this variation could well be leading to unnecessarily high levels of side effects from hormonal contraception and certainly leading to young girls thinking their bodies’ reactions may be abnormal or dysfunctional. We need to appreciate and account for this diversity when planning sexual health policy and education.

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A Systemic Look at Cutting Costs in Healthcare

By Rebecca Juster

In the West, there is a post-Enlightenment tradition of isolating systemic problems and suppressing them as far as our scientific capacity will allow us. We are a bunch of control freaks. This ‘isolate and conquer’ tactic applies to all areas of our life, so much so that we are left with this persistent feeling that we are always battling some problem – if only we could just overcome it. We sincerely believe that no area of our life should be out of our control therefore we are failing when we have not managed to firmly close the lid on that brimming suitcase full of life’s challenges. We conquer one challenge, only to have another problem pop up in its place; we are treating the symptoms in our lives, not the underlying causes.

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Meningitis ACW- whY?

By Lauren Martin

I first encountered the Meningitis ACWY vaccine through an NHS public health advertisement around two weeks prior to my return to university. I noticed that this began to repeatedly appear on my Facebook timeline with a simple message proclaiming ‘Freshers are at high risk from Meningitis and Septicaemia. Help protect your friends’. Curiosity sparked, I took to Google and researched the ACWY vaccination scheme further. In part, I was driven by surprise that I had not previously heard of it, particularly as Meningitis is such a concern for young people. And, from talking to friends, it seems I’m not alone. Regardless, whether Facebook had somehow picked up on my slightly hypochondriacal tendencies, or whether all students are now being targeted on social media, the post had the desired effect and I have booked in to receive the Meningitis ACWY vaccine in a few days’ time.

But what actually is the ACWY vaccine – and why is it so important for young people?

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