Researchers found women face a 20% increased risk of developing heart failure or dying within five years after their first severe heart attack compared with men.
In addition, women were more likely than men to be older and have a more complicated medical history at the time of their heart attacks.
Women face a 20% increased risk of developing heart failure or dying within five years after their first severe heart attack compared with men, according to new research published today in the American Heart Association’s flagship journal Circulation.
Previous research looking at sex differences in heart health has often focused on recurrent heart attack or death. However, the differences in vulnerability to heart failure between men and women after heart attack remains unclear.
To study this gap, researchers analyzed data on more than 45,000 patients (30.8% women) hospitalized for a first heart attack between 2002-2016 in Alberta, Canada. They focused on two types of heart attack: a severe, life-threatening heart attack called ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI), and a less severe type called Non-STEMI or NSTEMI, the latter of which is more common. Patients were followed for an average of 6.2 years.
Women were older and faced a variety of complications and more risk factors that may have put them at a greater risk for heart failure after a heart attack.
In addition to the elevated risk for heart failure among women, researchers found:
A total of 24,737 patients had the less severe form of heart attack (NSTEMI); among this group, 34.3% were women and 65.7% were men.
A total of 20,327 patients experienced STEMI, the more severe heart attack; among this group, 26.5% were women and 73.5% were men.
The development of heart failure either in the hospital or after discharge remained higher for women than men for both types of heart attack, even after adjusting for certain confounders.
Women had a higher unadjusted rate of death in the hospital than men in both the STEMI (9.4% vs. 4.5%) and NSTEMI (4.7% vs, 2.9%) groups. However, the gap narrowed considerably for NSTEMI after confounder adjustments.
Women were more likely to be an average 10 years older than men at the time of their heart attack, usually an average age of 72 years versus 61 for the men.
Women also had more complicated medical histories at the time of their heart attacks, including high blood pressure, diabetes, atrial fibrillation and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, risk factors that may contribute to heart failure.
Women were seen less frequently in the hospital by a cardiovascular specialist: 72.8% versus 84% for men.
Regardless of whether their heart attacks were the severe or less severe type, fewer women were prescribed medications such as beta blockers or cholesterol-lowering drugs. Women also had slightly lower rates of revascularization procedures to restore blood flow, such as surgical angioplasty.
“Identifying when and how women may be at higher risk for heart failure after a heart attack can help providers develop more effective approaches for prevention,” said lead study author Justin A. Ezekowitz, M.B.B.Ch., M.Sc., a cardiologist and co-director of the Canadian VIGOUR Centre at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. “Better adherence to reducing cholesterol, controlling high blood pressure, getting more exercise, eating a healthy diet and stopping smoking, combined with recognition of these problems earlier in life would save thousands of lives of women — and men.”
Based on these findings, study co-author Padma Kaul, Ph.D., co-director of the Canadian VIGOUR Centre, said the next step is to further examine if all patients are receiving the best care, particularly women, and where interventions can address oversights.
“Close enough is not good enough,” said Kaul, who is also the Sex and Gender Science Chair from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. “There are gaps across diagnosis, access, quality of care and follow-up for all patients, so we need to be vigilant, pay attention to our own biases and to those most vulnerable to ensure that we have done everything possible in providing the best treatment.”
Co-authors are Anamaria Savu, Ph.D.; Robert C. Welsh, M.D.; Finlay A. McAlister, M.D., M.Sc.; and Shaun G. Goodman, M.D., M.Sc. Author disclosures are in the manuscript. The Canadian VIGOUR Centre funded the study.
If you’re sitting down, the findings of two major new studies led by University at Buffalo researchers are likely to get you moving.
Women who met the federal physical activity guideline of 30 minutes per day of moderate activity exclusively through walking had a significantly lower risk of developing hypertension, according to a paper published in the November issue of the American Heart Association journal Hypertension.
The study also reports that women who did not achieve recommended levels of walking but who walked at 2 mph (a 30-minute mile) or faster still had a reduced risk of hypertension.
Another study of more than 80,000 postmenopausal women aged 5o to 79, published today in Circulation: Heart Failure, reports that more time spent in sedentary behavior while awake, such as sitting or lying on the couch, is associated with higher risk of heart failure hospitalization.
In fact, women who spent more than 9.5 hours per day sitting or lying down had a 42% higher risk of developing heart failure during the nine years after first assessing sedentary time through the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study. This finding was evident even after accounting for physical activity levels and heart failure risk factors such as hypertension, diabetes, obesity and heart attack.
Taken together, the two papers send a powerful message: “Sit less, walk more for heart health,” says Michael LaMonte, PhD, research associate professor of epidemiology in UB’s School of Public Health and Health Professions. LaMonte was the first author on the Circulation: Heart Failure study published today and senior author on the Hypertension paper.
Both papers relied on data collected over time from participants in the Women’s Health Initiative.
“The WHI participants have provided us information on the importance of walking, regular activity and avoidance of sedentary time in prevention of both hypertension and heart failure,” said Jean Wactawksi-Wende, PhD, a co-author on both studies and dean of UB’s School of Public Health and Health Professions. “Walking and moving are simple activities that can be easily integrated into our daily lives.”
Walking and hypertension risk
The study in the journal Hypertension found that brisk walking — identified as a 30-minute mile — for 150 minutes or more per week is associated with lower risk of hypertension in older women.
“Our work adds to growing evidence that you don’t necessarily have to be an avid jogger or cyclist to gain health benefits from physical activity,” said Connor Miller, first author on the Hypertension paper, which he worked on while obtaining his master’s in epidemiology at UB.
“Just going for regular walks can have meaningful impact on important risk factors for cardiovascular disease, in this case blood pressure. This is especially important to appreciate for older adults, because walking is an accessible activity for all ages,” added Miller, who is now an epidemiologist at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Few studies have evaluated hypertension in relation to walking, a common physical activity among adults. Miller and his colleagues examined the association between walking and hypertension incidence in 83,435 postmenopausal women between the ages of 50 and 79 and who had no known hypertension, heart failure, coronary heart disease or stroke, and reported the ability to walk at least one block without assistance.
During a mean 11-year follow-up, 38,230 hypertension cases were identified. After controlling for sociodemographic, lifestyle and clinical factors, researchers observed significantly lower hypertension risks of 11% and 21% in postmenopausal women reporting the highest walking volume and speed.
Walking speed remained significantly associated with lower hypertension risk after adjusting for walking duration, suggesting that walking faster might have greater blood pressure benefits over volume or duration.
“To put it simply, get your steps in, and try to make them quick,” Miller said.
The researchers also note that women whose walking speed was slower than 2 mph had a significantly higher 5% to 8% risk of hypertension compared with non-walkers. This slower walking speed, Miller points out, has been associated with increased cardiovascular disease in previous WHI studies.
If further studies confirm the group’s findings, it’s possible that a randomized clinical trial could be established to evaluate walking for the primary prevention of high blood pressure in adults, Miller said.
“When recommending ways for a patient to modify lifestyle factors, clinicians can use this research to emphasize that even a relatively minor behavioral change — in this case, going for walks regularly — is a step in the right direction for cardiovascular health,” according to Miller.
And for someone who thinks their blood pressure levels seem to indicate there’s nothing they can do, Miller has a message. “Our research says otherwise. Even among those women who initially had blood pressure levels inching close to the hypertension threshold, walking volume and speed were still associated with lower risk of developing hypertension later on.”
Kathleen Hovey, data manager/statistician in the Department of Epidemiology and Environmental Health at UB, was also a co-author on the paper.
Sedentary time and heart failure
Very few studies have examined sedentary time and heart failure risk, and none have focused on older women in whom both sedentary behavior and heart failure is common, LaMonte says of the Circulation: Heart Failure study he led. It’s a follow up to a 2018 paper that was the first to show an association between increased physical activity and reduced risk of heart failure.
During an average of nine years of follow-up, 1,402 women were hospitalized due to heart failure. Compared with women who reported spending less than 6.5 hours per day sitting or lying down, the risk of heart failure hospitalization was:
15% higher in women reporting 6.6-9.5 hours daily spent sitting or lying down;
42% higher in women reporting more than 9.5 hours daily spent sitting or lying down.
Compared with women who reported sitting less than 4.5 hours a day, the risk of heart failure hospitalization was:
14% higher in women who sat between 4.6 and 8.5 hours each day;
54% higher in women who sat more than 8.5 hours a day.
Researchers saw the 42% higher risk of developing heart failure among women who were sedentary for more than 9.5 hours per day even after accounting for several factors, including age, race-ethnicity and menopausal hormone therapy use. When they further accounted for heart attack — a major cause of heart failure that also leads to more sedentary time — the significantly increased risk of heart failure continued to be seen with prolonged sitting time.
“Even among women who reported recreational physical activity levels that meet current guidelines, heart failure risk was elevated in the women who also reported more than 9.5 hours per day in sedentary activity,” LaMonte said. “This latter finding points to the need to not only promote more physical activity for heart failure prevention, but to also promote interruption of sedentary time throughout the day.”
The team will soon have results from a separate WHI study using accelerometers, which will show that simply standing up to break up sedentary time is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
Sedentary behavior promotes poorer cardiometabolic risk factor profiles, which increases the likelihood of onset and progression of arterial atherosclerosis and blood clots in arteries, LaMonte explains. These are precursors to angina and heart attack, of which heart failure is a major consequence. Sedentary time also reduces the pumping effectiveness of the heart, which is a major manifestation of clinical heart failure.
“Whether sedentary time directly causes reduced cardiac pumping effectiveness or exacerbates the effect of some other cause remains unclear. An observational study like ours cannot disentangle these complex mechanistic questions,” LaMonte said.
Researchers from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Harvard University, University of California San Diego, University of Alabama at Birmingham, University of Arizona Cancer Center, University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center, University of California San Francisco, Brown University, and Stanford University contributed to the paper.
References: Connor R. Miller, Jean Wactawski-Wende, JoAnn E. Manson, Bernhard Haring, Kathleen M. Hovey, Deepika Laddu, Aladdin H. Shadyab, Robert A. Wild, Jennifer W. Bea, Lesley F. Tinker, Lisa W. Martin, Patricia K. Nguyen, Lorena Garcia, Christopher A. Andrews, Charles B. Eaton, Marcia L. Stefanick, Michael J. LaMonte, and WHI Investigators, “Walking Volume and Speed Are Inversely Associated With Incidence of Treated Hypertension in Postmenopausal Women”, Hypertension. 2020;76:1435–1443. https://doi.org/10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.120.15839https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.120.15839
“Women who remained physically active and met guidelines for more intense physical activity, reported fewer symptoms associated with the menopause,” Dr Bailey said.
“The main benefits were reduced depressive symptoms and reduced somatic symptoms, such as nausea, dizziness, tiredness, muscle and joint pain, as well as some improvement in sleep patterns and sexual function.”
Dr Bailey said menopausal symptoms were common in women treated for early-stage breast, reproductive and blood cancers.
“Menopausal symptoms arise when radiotherapy to the pelvic field, surgical removal or systemic chemotherapy damage the ovaries, initiating ovarian failure,” he said.
“In women who are premenopausal or perimenopausal before treatment, cancer therapies result in a sudden and sometimes irreversible menopause, the symptoms of which can be far more frequent and severe than in natural menopause.
“Women often report treatment-induced menopausal symptoms as a distressing side effect that goes on long after they resume their usual work and social roles.”
The Women’s Wellness After Cancer Program trialled a digitally-delivered holistic lifestyle intervention for women treated for early stage breast, reproductive and blood cancers.
More than 350 women treated for such cancers within the past two years took part in the study.
Lifestyle behaviours targeted in the program included physical activity, nutrition, sleep, stress management, smoking cessation and reduction of alcohol intake.
Dr Bailey said the results of the trial could help inform future programs for cancer services that do not currently provide post-treatment support.
“There are currently no programs tailored for the menopausal symptoms that eventuate from these types of cancer treatments and many women are unable to, or decide not to take hormone therapy, as it may exacerbate cancer growth,” he said.
“Supervised and individualised exercise training that improves cardiovascular and physical fitness could be of most benefit in women for alleviation of menopausal symptoms, and we hope to investigate this next.
“Undertaking regular moderate to vigorous physical activity has also been shown to reduce the risk of other treatment-related chronic conditions, mortality, and cancer recurrence.”
References: Bailey, Tom G., Mielke, Gregore I., Skinner, Tina S., Anderson, Debra, Porter-Steele, Janine Balaam, Sarah, Young, Leonie D.Univ, McCarthy, Alexandra L., “Physical activity and menopausal symptoms in women who have received menopause-inducing cancer treatments”, Menopause, 2020. doi: 10.1097/GME.0000000000001677
The new study projects that more than seven per cent of men with two copies of the faulty haemochromatosis genes would develop liver cancer by age 75, compared to just 0.6 per cent in the general population. Hemochromatosis causes the body to absorb too much iron from the diet and affects one in 327 Canadians.
Reliable tests are available to identify those at risk – blood tests for measuring iron levels (serum ferritin, transferrin saturation) and genetic testing (HFE C282Y genetic blood test). Symptoms can include feeling tired all the time as well as muscle weakness and joint pains. The researchers say it can often be misdiagnosed as the signs of aging. Most of those with liver cancer develop liver damage first, often progressing to cirrhosis of the liver. Once diagnosed, the condition is easily treated by a process similar to donating blood several times a year in order to lower iron levels.
The team analyzed data from 2,890 men and women with two copies of the faulty gene (called HFE C282Y homozygous), from the UK Biobank, a large database of more than half a million British men and women recruited between 2006 and 2010 from across England, Scotland and Wales. People were aged 40 to 70 at the start of the study and were followed for a nine-year period. Twenty-one of the 1,294 men with the faulty genes studied have developed liver cancer so far, of whom 14 died due to their liver cancer. Ten of these 21 men were not diagnosed with haemochromatosis by the time they had a liver cancer diagnosis.
“The UK Biobank project is a glimpse into the future of medicine where all known genes are tested and then treatable conditions are offered treatment before serious complications develop,” said Dr. Adams, professor at Western’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, and associate scientist at Lawson Health Research Institute who has been studying haemochromatosis in Canada for more than four decades. “An early diagnosis of hemochromatosis can be treated by regular blood donation in Canada.”
Haemochromatosis is more serious in men, with women partially protected because they lose iron through menstruation and childbirth, although some younger women do develop the disease. The study found no increase in liver cancer risk in women with faulty haemochromatosis genes.
“Tragically, men with the haemochromatosis faulty genes have been dying of liver cancer for many years, but this was thought to be rare. The UK Biobank study allowed us to measure the cancer risk accurately. Finding that over seven per cent of men with the faulty genes are likely to develop liver cancer by age 75 is shocking. Fortunately, most of these cancers could be prevented with early treatment,” said David Melzer, professor at the University of Exeter Medical School, who led the research team.
The research is led by the University of Exeter Medical School in the UK, in collaboration with the University of Connecticut, Western University and South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust and is funded by the UK Medical Research Council.
References: Janice L. Atkins, Luke C. Pilling, Jane A. H. Masoli, et al., “Association of Hemochromatosis HFE p.C282Y Homozygosity With Hepatic Malignancy”, JAMA. 2020;324(20):2048-2057. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.21566
A team of scientists led by Lukasz Jach of the University of Silesia in Poland conducted two studies to better understand the preferences for male facial hair among men and women. They found that women’s preferences for male facial hair were ambiguous; in some cases they liked it, in other cases they didn’t. Men, on the other hand, preferred facial hair for themselves but not for other males.
The finding that men prefer facial hair for themselves but not for others has a clear Darwinian explanation.
“These results are in accordance with a signaling role of beardedness in intrasexual competition,” say the researchers. “Men may prefer having facial hair to deter their enemies and display greater masculinity or a higher social position.”
This is consistent with other research that has found angry faces to be recognized more quickly when they are accompanied by a beard.
Moreover, the lack of consistent results among women underscores just how context-dependent ratings of attractiveness can be. In Poland, for instance, researchers found women to prefer clean-shaven faces over faces with stubble or full beards. Research in the United Kingdom has found British women to prefer light stubble over full beards and clean-shaven faces.
In this study, the researchers recruited 287 men and 285 women to take part in a short survey. The researchers asked women to indicate whether, in general, they liked men to have clean-shaven faces or faces with facial hair. They asked male participants the same question in relation to their own faces.
They found that 57% of women indicated a preference for facial hair while 43% preferred clean-shaven male faces. Among men, 77% preferred facial hair for themselves while 23% preferred a clean-shaven look.
The scientists conducted a second study in which male and female participants were asked to view five visual examples of male facial hair (clean-shaven, light stubble, heavy stubble, light beard, and full beard) and were asked to indicate which look they preferred.
Preferences differed by gender. The authors write, “The majority of women preferred clean-shaven male faces (43.84%), followed by heavy stubble (26.03%) and light stubble (16.44%). Faces with light beard (10.96%) and full beard (2.74%) were the least preferred.”
For men, approximately 60% preferred some type of facial hair for themselves while 40% preferred a clean-shaven look. When judging other men, the results narrowed: approximately 50% of men preferred other males to have a clean-shaven look while 50% preferred some type of facial hair.
Perhaps the most convincing finding in this research is that women care a lot less about men’s facial hair than men might think they do. “The hypothesis that men’s preference to have facial hair is greater than the female preferences associated with male facial hair was supported,” write the authors.
References: Jach, Ł., & Moroń, M. (2020). I Can Wear a Beard, but you Should Shave… Preferences for Men’s Facial Hair From the Perspective of Both Sexes. Evolutionary Psychology, 18(4), 1474704920961728.
This article is originally written by Mark Travers, who is a psychologist and writes about human potential and the science of reaching it and is republished here from psychology today.
Mangoes, like other orange fruits and vegetables, are rich in beta-carotene and provide antioxidants that may delay cell damage. A new study from researchers at the University of California, Davis, finds eating Ataulfo mangoes, also known as honey or Champagne mangoes, may have another benefit — reducing facial wrinkles in older women with fairer skin. The study was published in the journal Nutrients.
Postmenopausal women who ate a half cup of Ataulfo mangoes four times a week saw a 23 percent decrease in deep wrinkles after two months and a 20 percent decrease after four months.
“That’s a significant improvement in wrinkles,” said lead author Vivien Fam, a doctoral student in the UC Davis Department of Nutrition. But the findings are very specific and come with a caveat.
“Women who ate a cup and a half of mangoes for the same periods of time saw an increase in wrinkles. This shows that while some mango may be good for skin health, too much of it may not be,” Fam said.
Researchers said it’s unclear why consuming more mango would increase the severity of wrinkles but speculate that it may be related to a robust amount of sugar in the larger portion of mangoes.
The randomized clinical pilot study involved 28 postmenopausal women with Fitzpatrick skin types II or III (skin that burns more easily than tans). Women were divided into two groups: one group consumed a half cup of mangoes four times a week for four months, and another consumed a cup and a half for the same period of time. Facial wrinkles were evaluated using a high-resolution camera system.
“The system we used to analyze wrinkles allowed us to not just visualize wrinkles, but to quantify and measure wrinkles,” said Robert Hackman, professor in the Department of Nutrition and corresponding author of the study. “This is extremely accurate and allowed us to capture more than just the appearance of wrinkles or what the eye might see.”
The study looked at the severity, length and width of fine, deep and emerging wrinkles. Fam said the group that consumed a half cup of mangoes saw improvements in all categories.
Fam said further research is needed to learn the mechanisms behind the reduction in wrinkles. She said it may be due to the beneficial effects of carotenoids (orange or red plant pigments), and other phytonutrients that could help build collagen.
Researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign have studied a population of women in rural Poland for the past four years to understand how their lifestyle affects their bone density. The age group and lifestyle of these women are often overlooked in such studies.
The study “Bone density and frame size in adult women: effects of body size, habitual use, and life history” was published in the American Journal of Human Biology.
“My work focuses on understanding how our activities shape our skeleton and what it means for the modern population,” said Katharine Lee, a recent graduate of the Clancy group, which is affiliated with the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology.
The study focused on a population of farmers whose lifestyles involve substantial farm and domestic labor, such as growing fruits and vegetables, churning butter, beating rugs, washing windows, and caring for children. “We made some basic body measurements and looked at the physical activity patterns of these women,” Lee said. “We also used a bone sonometer, which was provided through Beckman’s Biomedical Imaging Center. It is a portable device that can be conveniently used to carry out bone density measurements.”
Previous studies in the field have looked at bone density measurements in menopausal women. The researchers wanted to focus on women between the ages of 18 and 46, an age group that is not often looked at in bone density studies. “We wondered why there was so little research on premenopausal women, since presumably their bone density and activity predicts postmenopausal osteoporosis,” said Kathryn Clancy, an associate professor of anthropology at Illinois and a part-time Beckman faculty member.
“We saw that measures such as grip strength and lean mass are associated with the bone density and frame size of these premenopausal women. We also saw that the bone density of the radius, which is the bone at the base of your thumb, is very high compared to an average white woman of European descent,” Lee said. “Interestingly, we don’t see this increased bone density in Polish American women. We don’t fully understand what factors are causing it.”
The researchers believe that this study sheds light on the specific contexts of this lifestyle. “A lot of these measures have looked at large populations and averaged, so they have missed many of these details,” Lee said. “It is also important to think about which populations are not represented in the literature and look at lifestyles that are different to the modern, sedentary lifestyle that most people in the U.S. have.”
Moving forward, the researchers are interested in understanding whether the childhood environment has helped shape the bone health of the women. “We have interviewed them about the different types of work they did when they were growing up. We asked whether they grew up on a farm, whether they had farm animals, or whether they tended a garden. Those activities, rather than the ones they are doing now, might be associated with the bone health measures,” Lee said.
Gleen Geher, a psychology professor at University Of New York once invited by Gordon Gallup’s presentation at the 2007 meeting of the NorthEastern Evolutionary Psychology Society. Geher had never heard him speak prior to this particular talk, but he’d heard that his presentations are in a class of their own.
His talk, titled Competition for Paternity: The impact of evolution on human genital morphology and behavior, was based on a now-famous paper (Gallup et al., 2003) arguing that the human erection is shaped as it is primarily for the purposes of displacing any seminal fluid in a woman’s reproductive tract that may have been deposited by a competing male. In short, he argued (and provided strong evidence for) the idea that the coronal ridge at the end of the erection serves the purpose of pulling out any seminal fluid that is already in the female’s tract. The research by his storied team of behavioral scientists found, using artificial male and female genitalia (along with artificial seminal fluid), found that anatomically correct and textured phalluses removed substantially and significantly more artificial seminal fluid (from artificial female parts) compared with phalluses that did not replicate the standard texture of a human erection.
This research essentially answers the question as to why the human erection is shaped with the unique characteristics that it has. From an evolutionary perspective, any adaptation that increases the likelihood of an individual being able to achieve reproductive success at a cost of the reproductive success of competitors will be naturally selected. And this explanation accounts for the unique nature of the human erection in a way that matches the data, along with the accompanying evolutionary framework, quite well.
But What About Men Displacing Their Own Semen in the Process?
Dr. Gallup’s talk at this conference in 2007 was more than a little provocative. When he finished, it was almost like people didn’t know what to say. This research sheds light on just so much about human sexuality and, in some ways, the human experience more generally.
Gleen Geher said, he was fortunate to have sat behind a woman with big hair during this talk because some of the slides were quite graphic, and at times he felt a need to look away.
During the question and answer session, a young male student asked an interesting question. He essentially asked about the possibility of a male pulling out his own seminal fluid. And, in addition, he asked if this clear possibility posed something of a problem for Dr. Gallup’s framework.
Dr. Gallup, a seasoned academic, did not hesitate in his response. He first acknowledged that it was a good question. He then paused, looking for the right words, and said essentially this: You may have noticed that after an ejaculation, an erection dissipates quickly. And it becomes uncomfortable for the penis to be touched at that state. Gleen Geher hypothesize that this is an adaptation to reduce the likelihood of the male pulling out any seminal fluid that he, himself, has just released into a female’s reproductive tract.
At that moment, every single male in the room, automatically let out something of an ohh response. As if something about their sexual experiences across their entire sexual histories was just, in one fell swoop, explained with crystal clarity. It was quite a moment, much more interesting than the experience of a typical academic conference.
Why Women Can Have Multiple Orgasms and Men Cannot?
For women, having continued orgasms after a male’s ejaculation during sex does not have any adaptive costs, as it would for men. In fact, quality and frequency of orgasms may be used as cues by women in efforts to determine various features of a mate’s quality (see Gallup et al., 2014). Thus, having multiple orgasms may provide women with a higher amount of useful data regarding a mate. On the other hand, due to human erections seemingly shaped as they are for the purpose of displacing seminal fluid that is already in a woman’s reproductive tract, anything that would motivate continued thrusting post-ejaculation would be counter-productive from an adaptationist perspective. For this reason, male erections and concomitant sex drive dissipate quickly after ejaculation. And these facts, in combination, make it so that multiple orgasms generally aren’t possible in men.
The evolutionary perspective has been wildly successful in helping us to better understand human sexuality (see my books, Evolutionary Psychology 101 or Mating Intelligence Unleashed (with Scott Barry Kaufman) for detailed treatments of this area). The work of storied behavioral scientist, Dr. Gordon Gallup, has shed light on an extraordinary number of phenomena related to human sexuality. Conceptualizing the human erection as a semen-displacement device helps us to understand a number of features of human sexuality. Including the long-standing question as to why women can have multiple orgasms and men cannot.
References: (1) Gallup, G. G., Jr., Ampel, B. C., Wedberg, N., & Pogosjan, A. (2014). Do orgasms give women feedback about mate choice? Evolutionary Psychology, 12(5), 958–978. https://doi.org/10.1177/147470491401200507 (2) Gallup, G. G., Jr., Burch, R. L., Zappieri, M. L., Parvez, R. A., Stockwell, M. L., & Davis, J. A. (2003). The human penis as a semen displacement device. Evolution and Human Behavior, 24, 277-289. (3) Gallup, G. (2007). Competition for paternity: The impact of evolution on human genital morphology and behavior. Invited address at the meeting of the NorthEastern Evolutionary Psychology Society. New Paltz, NY. (4) Geher, G. (2014). Evolutionary Psychology 101. New York: Springer. (5) Geher, G., & Kaufman, S. B. (2013). Mating Intelligence Unleashed. New York: Oxford University Press.
This article is republished here from psychology today under common creative licenses
American women living in states with less restrictive reproductive rights policies are less likely to give birth to low-birth weight babies, according to a new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, published by Elsevier. The findings show that women, particularly US-born Black women, giving birth in states with less restrictive reproductive rights policies have a seven percent lower low-birth weight risk, compared to women in states with more restrictive policies.
“Our study provides evidence that reproductive rights policies play a critical role in advancing maternal and child health equity,” said lead investigator May Sudhinaraset, PhD, of the Department of Community Health Sciences in the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, Los Angeles, CA, USA.
Compared to infants of normal weight, low birth weight babies may be more at risk for many health problems. Some infants may become sick in the first six days of life or develop infections. Others may even suffer from long-term problems, including delayed motor and social development or learning disabilities.
This research contributes to understanding how broader social policies affect birth outcomes measured by examining race and nativity status. The events of 2020 sharpened national focus on structural racism, which historically and culturally reinforces racial inequities through discriminatory practices and unequal distribution of resources, such as wealth, healthcare, and housing. This dynamic may be an important factor in producing reproductive disadvantages via stress-induced physiological pathways that are exacerbated by racism and tied to poor health outcomes.
The study analyzed birth record data for the nearly four million births that occurred in the 50 states and the District of Columbia in 2016 to assess the associations between reproductive rights policies and adverse birth outcomes. The investigators further evaluated if the associations were different for women of color and immigrants. Compared with women living in states with the most restrictive reproductive rights policies, women living in the least restrictive states had a 7 percent lower low-birth weight risk. Low-birth weight risk was 8 percent lower among Black women living in states with the least restrictive reproductive rights policies compared with their counterparts living in the most restrictive states.
The study indicates that expanding reproductive rights may decrease the risk of low-birth weight, particularly for US-born Black women. Specifically, the findings showed significant associations between low-birth weight and states’ reproductive rights climate among US-born, but not foreign-born, Black women. This finding is in line with the growing literature on the context-dependent nature of race as a determinant of population health. It may be that US-born Black women’s reproductive health is affected by the cumulative impact of lifetimes and generations within a systematically racist society.
The national reckoning on racial injustice and the Black Lives Matter movement underscore the critical importance and urgency of addressing longstanding systemic racism and its adverse effects on the health and well-being of black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) women and families, in particular. Black women are more likely to die in pregnancy and childbirth than any other race group, experience more maternal health complications than White women, and experience lower quality maternity care, including disrespectful care during childbirth. Moreover, adverse birth outcomes constitute a major public health priority; yet significant inequities exist across race and nativity status.
Dr. Sudhinaraset concluded, “Addressing the adverse consequences of structural racism requires examination of the historical and present-day policies that negatively affect women of color. Future studies should assess specific evidence-based policies, particularly highlighting women’s lived experiences of policy exclusion or inclusion, and the effects on women and newborn health. Important policy levers can and should be implemented to improve women’s reproductive health overall, including increasing abortion access and mandatory sex education in schools.”
References: May Sudhinaraset, Dovile Vilda, Jessica D. Gipson, Marta Bornstein, Maeve E. Wallace, “Women’s Reproductive Rights Policies and Adverse Birth Outcomes: A State-Level Analysis to Assess the Role of Race and Nativity Status”, AJPM, October 13, 2020 DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amepre.2020.07.025