Health Buzz: Viagra for Women and Other Health News

A tuberculosis threat, a government threat to birth control access, and easing the pain of mammograms

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Could Viagra Be an Antidote for Women's Sexual Dysfunction?

Viagra and related erectile dysfunction drugs appear in a new study to counteract sexual dysfunction in some women taking antidepressants, Lindsay Lyon reports . But there are caveats: Depressed women whose testosterone levels are low are unlikely to find sexual function restored by Viagra, says Anita Clayton, a University of Virginia psychiatry professor and an expert in treatment-related sexual problems. 

Viagra can cause its own side effects, from headache to flushing, and can't be taken with nitrates, medications typically prescribed for chest pain. Lyon lists four alternatives to Viagra for women concerned about sexual dysfunction when taking antidepressants. Viagra celebrated its 10th birthday in March, when Lyon listed five things you might not know about the sex drug.

U.S. Immigrants Face Tuberculosis Threat

Foreign-born individuals accounted for 57 percent of all tuberculosis cases in the United States in 2006, and that population faces an increased threat from the illness, according to a new study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The study, published in the July 23/30 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, found a total of 46,970 TB cases in foreign-born individuals between 2001 and 2006. Twenty-eight percent of these cases were reported in people who had entered the U.S. from other countries in the previous two years.

Last year, Adam Voiland reported on the drug-resistant form of TB, which garnered media attention when Atlanta attorney Andrew Speaker was criticized for traveling around Europe with the illness.

New Proposal Could Impede Access to Some Forms of Contraception

A new proposal written by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services could make it more difficult for women to access some forms of contraception, Deborah Kotz reports. The proposed rule has ignited debate over whether birth control that prevents the implantation of a fertilized egg actually results in abortion. The proposal—a draft of which was leaked to the New York Times last week—would prohibit federally funded medical facilities, including teaching hospitals and Planned Parenthood clinics, from refusing to hire doctors who don't want to dispense birth control pills and other types of contraception that may cause the expulsion of a fertilized egg. The proposed regulation would also override state laws that require hospitals to offer emergency contraception to rape victims and laws requiring employers to provide contraceptives along with other prescriptions. The rule could go into effect in two months, though the timeframe could be extended, according to the Los Angeles Times.

In June, Kotz described pro-life drugstores and the meaning of abortion.

Lidocaine Gel May Ease the Pain of Mammograms

Using a lidocaine gel may help make the pain of mammograms bearable, according to a new study published online yesterday in Radiology . The researchers recruited 418 women between the ages of 32 and 89 who said they expected mammography to be unpleasant and painful. They were randomly assigned to get ibuprofen, acetaminophen, a topical 4 percent lidocaine gel, or a topical or oral placebo. The study participants applied the gel to the breast and chest wall 35 to 65 minutes prior to getting a mammogram. Those who used lidocaine reported significantly less breast discomfort, the study says. The American Cancer Society recommends annual mammograms for women over 40 to screen for breast cancer.

U.S. News 's Deborah Kotz explained in May that you might need an ultrasound with that mammogram. In June, she described how you can avoid a false positive on your mammogram.

—January W. Payne