Dealing with a breakup always sucks, but recently more people seem to be seeking out advice on how to get through it. Google searches for how to get over a breakup increased 41 percent from 2011 to 2013, according to recent data from the search engine.
So why the spike in post-split searches? Experts say it’s because we’re more connected online than ever before. “The more social media there is, the more access you have to what your ex is doing,” says relationship therapist Rachel Sussman, LCSW, author of The Breakup Bible. “People have been dealing with Facebook for a couple of years, but now it’s Twitter and Instagram and as time goes on there will be five others like that.” And since most people only share the good stuff going on in their lives, it can be easy to assume that your ex has totally moved on while you’re still a mess. Plus, the convenience and anonymity of searching for advice online makes it even more tempting to turn to Google for help.
Sure, search engines are great, but it can be a mistake to rely on them for relationship advice. Not all information online is reliable—or even accurate—so we asked Sussman for the biggest mistakes most women make after a breakup, as well as how you can avoid these sucky pitfalls:
Mistake #1: You demand closure
“A huge mistake women make is reaching out to an ex to try to get validation and closure,” says Sussman. First of all, you have no idea how they’ll react to seeing or hearing from you. If your ex wants nothing to do with you or has already moved on, you might end up feeling worse than you already do, says Sussman. And while she admits that some of her clients have gotten constructive feedback from an ex, they often still don’t feel satisfied. “It’s like an addiction, like your brain is withdrawing from a drug, and you can feel very obsessive at this time,” says Sussman.
Another reason to cut ties is to give yourself—and your mind—time to heal. The more you’re talking to or seeing him, the more your brain is engaging with your ex, says Sussman. The bottom line: It’s worth the trouble to delete him from your phone, Facebook, Instagram, etc.
Mistake #2: You try to go it alone
You may be single, but that doesn’t mean you have to deal with the breakup on your own. Letting your friends, family, and even a few close coworkers know what you’re going though can be a huge help, says Sussman. Just make sure you’re not venting to everyone who will listen, or you’ll burn through friends fast, she warns. The key is choosing people who will also tell you when you’re being too obsessive or doing something destructive.
Mistake #3: You blame your ex—for everything
Sure, it feels great to call your ex a few expletives and list every cringe-inducing quality that you definitely won’t miss. But even when all your friends are chiming in to say “I never liked him,” it’s crucial to take your fair share of the blame. “In order to really recover from a breakup in a healthy way, you have to understand what part you played in it, even if it was a small part,” says Sussman. So even if your ex was a cheating commitment-phobe, consider why you stayed with him or if there were any red flags you ignored so you can learn from your mistakes.
Mistake #4: You try to work through it too much
It may seem like a cop-out, but a little distraction is totally healthy during a breakup. “I want people to process their breakup, but you don’t need to be in that state of processing 24/7,” says Sussman. For the other times when you’re tempted to call your ex or check his Facebook, do something that takes a ton of focus or energy—like yoga or volunteering. They’ll take your mind off the temptation. Bonus: Both activities have been proven to boost your mood.
Still a little confused about the Affordable Care Act (even after reading Women’s Health‘s primer on the reform)? You’re in good company: 57 percent of Americans say they still don’t have enough information to understand how the ACA will affect them, according to a new poll by the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation. For the second installment in our series on the ACA, Women’s Health spoke with Mayra E. Alvarez, Director of Public Health Policy at the Office of Health Reform in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to get answers to your biggest questions about the reform:
Women’s Health: How exactly do you take advantage of the free preventive services? Do you have to go to a special clinic to get them or take any other special measures?
Mayra E. Alvarez: No, not at all. This is for people that have private insurance and new plans or non-grandfathered plans. When you go to the doctor’s office, so long as the purpose of the service is preventive, it should be seamless for you to get that without a co-pay.
WH: Does that mean the ACA covers the cost of co-pays for your annual gyno exam, since you’re going strictly for preventative services?
MA: One of the services covered by the women’s preventive service guidelines (added in 2011) is your well-woman visit. It’s the idea that women need to go to the doctor to check on our health care status, so it’s an opportunity to have multiple things checked but more importantly to talk to our doctors about our health and be informed consumers. The point is really to empower women to take control of their health.
WH: If a woman goes into her OB/GYN office and is told she owes a co-pay, how can she ensure she gets that cost covered?
MA: She should check with her insurance provider to confirm what the situation was and why she was charged a co-pay. If the response from the insurer is not sufficient to her understanding of the ACA, she can check with her insurance commissioner’s office or the state agency that handles insurance administration.
WH: What kinds of birth control (if any) are covered without a co-pay under the ACA?
MA: The ACA actually covers all FDA-approved contraceptive methods. What we want to try to do in practice is ensure women have access to the services that are right for her, so this includes barrier methods, hormonal methods, and implanted devices. (Check the full list of FDA-approved methods.) The one clarifying thing you should know about: insurers are able to use reasonable medical management techniques to control their costs. So they may cover a generic drug without cost-sharing (so you wouldn’t pay anything for this), but then charge if the woman chooses to go for a brand-name drug. The only instance where that’s not the case is when a doctor prescribes a particular brand-name method based on the woman’s needs.
WH: Does that mean emergency contraception is also covered?
MA: It is, so long as it comes with a prescription from the woman’s health care provider. Right now if you’re over 17 you could technically buy it over the counter, but that’s not covered by the Act.
WH: HIV and STD screenings (for HPV, chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphillis, etc.) are covered without a co-pay. But do I still have to pay lab or blood work fees?
MA: The covered service is the screening itself. For HIV, for example, the test is covered—and that’s a blood test. Same with chlamidia and gonorrhea. The test itself is the lab work that has to get done, so that is covered. The only instance where a woman would be charged a co-pay is if, for example, you have a headache and you go to the doctor’s office for that reason, but then decide while you’re there to get an HIV test. The doctor cannot charge a co-pay for the HIV test, but he can charge you a co-pay for the visit itself since you didn’t go to the doctor for the preventive service, you went because you had a headache. There is an opportunity to educate both consumers and medical professionals more about these types of situations.
WH: Is it true that people will be penalized if they don’t have health insurance? If so, when will this go into effect, and how exactly will they be penalized?
MA: There is an individual responsibility requirement as part of the Affordable Care Act. Starting in the year 2014, what we call the “individual shared responsibility provision” requires everyone to have minimum essential health coverage. (Read more about what counts as minimum essential coverage.) And if they don’t, they do have to make a payment when they’re filing their federal income tax returns. When you file for 2014, that’s when you have to make that payment. That applies to all people of all ages, including kids. Open enrollment for the marketplaces does start this October, though, so we can all take advantage of health insurance through that. You ask many people who don’t have health insurance why they don’t have it, and it’s not because they don’t want to—it’s because it’s a confusing process, it’s expensive, and they don’t know how to navigate it.
WH: What will the penalty be for not having minimum essential coverage?
MA: The first year the penalty is $ 95, and it progressively increases as we move forward (the fee increases to $ 325 for 2015 and $ 695 for 2016). It’s important to note that in Massachusetts when they launched their health care reform—and that’s one of the best examples we can use—a lot of people were subject to a very small fine. We didn’t find people paying that fine. You found people excited to get insurance and wanting to enroll, and we hope that same thing happens here.
WH: The ACA points out that being female can be considered a pre-existing condition. How do you know if you’re being charged more by your insurance company for simply being a woman?
MA: When we’ve done analyses and looked at different research, we’ve found women were paying 150 percent more for a premium than a same-aged young man would pay. It was pretty astronomical. We expect more of the same types of surveys and analyses to be done (and that information to be included on the Health Insurance Marketplace that launches in October) so we can be informed about the market and what it looks like for women and men. The idea of this Health Insurance Marketplace is to level the playing field and do away with these unfair practices.
WH: So is there any way to know right now, before that launches, if you’re being charged more just because you’re a woman?
MA: It’s interesting because it’s got a lot to do with where you live right now, so it’s hard to say. Insurance companies can also charge more for other pre-existing conditions, like disabilities or health problems. All of these market reforms, they don’t take place until 2014. So they will go into effect on January 1, 2014, and insurance companies will no longer be able to discriminate because of these conditions.
It’s so important that not only do we do away with the gender discrimination, but the idea that we can’t turn people away because of pre-existing conditions. For women that have had breast cancer, for women who were pregnant, or women who were victims of domestic violence—these could all be considered pre-existing conditions. These were real women who were turned away from health insurance because of circumstances beyond their control. This is literally a lifeline for them.
WH: You hear about lawsuits over the ACA. Is there a possibility that it will be overturned? What would happen then?
MA: The Supreme Court made their decision in June to uphold the ACA, and we’re very excited about that opportunity because it means we can move forward with ensuring millions of people have access to health insurance. Obviously there continue to be people raising questions and we’ll continue to want to educate folks on the law as we move forward. This law is like any other law; it would have to be overturned by both houses of Congress, and the President has confirmed over and over again his commitment to the law. So onward we’re charging and ensuring that we make sure everyone has access to health insurance.
Check back on Friday for the final installment in this week’s ACA series.
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You already know that it takes time to slim down after a pregnancy. But new moms should expect delays in the bedroom department as well. Most women wait at least six to eight weeks after giving birth to have sex again, according to a new study published in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
Researchers at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Australia collected data from 1,507 first-time moms at 3, 6, and 12 months after giving birth, asking when they first attempted vaginal sex. The results: 41 percent of women had sex by 6 weeks, 65 percent by 8 weeks, and 78 percent by 12 weeks. Whether they had complications during the birth was a big factor in how long they waited. New moms who’d had a C-section, episiotomy, or other complications were far less likely to resume having sex at the six-week mark.
The study shows that there’s no universal cutoff for when you should start to ease back into your old sex life. “It is very important to dispel the myth that everything will be ‘back to normal’ by six weeks,” Stephanie Brown, an associate professor at The Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and lead author of the study, wrote in an email. Recovery is mental as well as physical: according to Brown, many new moms are too busy or too tired for sex while attending to the demands of a newborn. Others are afraid of the pain of trying to have sex again. These concerns are normal, she says, and you shouldn’t feel guilty about having them.
Whether or not you’re contemplating having a baby any time soon, there’s no reason to walk around with bad information that will only freak you out. Alyssa Dweck, MD, co-author of V is for Vagina, dispels the biggest myths surrounding sex and pregnancy.
Myth #1: Your Libido Will Tank
It’s totally normal for pregnant women to feel a dip in their sex drive, says Dweck, especially in the side-effect-heavy first trimester. But that’s not true for everyone. “The good news is that plenty of other women have a soaring libido when they’re pregnant,” she says. The hormonal changes during pregnancy can cause some women to feel a pleasant spike in sexual desire. And don’t be surprised if your newly arrived curves make you feel irresistibly hot. Plenty of couples manage to maintain an active sex life for all nine months, says Dweck. Just don’t get caught up in what’s “normal.” “There is no normal,” she says. “A lot of it has to do with what your sexual activities were before pregnancy.”
Myth #2: Sex Can Hurt the Baby
If you remember that scene from Knocked Up, you probably know that sex during pregnancy can’t damage a fetus. But this myth still stubbornly lives on. “A lot of times the male partners are more frightened to have sex than the women,” says Dweck. In most cases, sex is 100% safe for mom and baby. There are some exceptions, which your OBgyn will warn you about. Among other issues, if you have an incompetent (or weakened) cervix, unexplained bleeding, or suffer from a condition called placenta previa, your OBgyn will advise you not to have sex while pregnant. If you have concerns, just ask your doc, but chances are she’ll give you the green light.
That said, not all positions are fair game. You may have to switch up your routine, as some of your old standbys may not be as comfortable for you. At 15-20 weeks, you’ll want to avoid lying flat on your back (the weight of your uterus can compress your vena cava, causing a dangerous drop in blood pressure) –which means traditional missionary is out, says Dweck. Doggy-style and side-by-side are popular alternatives.
Myth #3: You Should Be Having Sex By 6 Weeks Postpartum
If you’re going at it at the 6-week mark, congratulations! Just know that you’re in the minority. Six weeks is the bare minimum for how long you should wait to heal fully after giving birth. Many women will need more time than that. Basically, after you give birth, your delicate bits are raw, exposed, and vulnerable to infection. Plus, your cervix needs time to close up again, says Dweck, and it typically takes about six weeks for that to happen. If you had an episiotomy, it needs to heal completely. (In fact, the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute study indicates that only 10% of first-time moms will give birth with an intact perineum.) Having sex too early increases your chances of pain and infection. Dweck recommends external play instead: cuddling, kissing, and general adorableness with your partner. Just make sure to hold off on any activity in or near your vagina until you’re fully healed.
Myth #4: The First Time You Do It Will Hurt
“Most women are really afraid of pain with sex after pregnancy,” says Dweck. But if you allow enough time for your body to heal completely, sex won’t be a problem. Keep in mind that new moms become ready for sex at very different rates, as the study shows. When you decide that you’re ready, it doesn’t hurt to be extra-careful. Your estrogen levels dip while you’re nursing, which can cause vaginal dryness, so Dweck recommends using plenty of lube when you decide to take the plunge. Communicate with your partner about your fears, take it slow, and go easy on yourself. And don’t forget to use contraception, says Dweck — you’ll need it even when you’re nursing.
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Segue into the crisp cool of Autumn’s turning with fresh radish greens, almond pesto pasta followed by Mexican chocolate, or …
javahut healthy feed