Articles on Women Matters:

What Is PCOS? Can I Still Conceive?

PCOS or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is a common harmonal disorder in women of reproductive age. It is characterised by malfunction of the ovaries, which are two small organs located in the lower part of a woman's abdomen. Ovaries contain many follicles, which are tiny sacs filled with liquid that hold the eggs.

Each month, about 20 to 30 follicles start to grow, but only one becomes dominant and matures. As the follicles grows, it accumulates fluid and breaks open to release an egg in the middle of the menstrual cycle by a process called ovulation.

In Women with PCOS, the follicles grow and accumulates fluid. But none becomes mature and ovulate. Many remain as cysts and the ovaries become enlarged as a result. The hormonal imbalance that ensues causes irregular, scanty or an absent menstrual cycle.

If the cycle is long and irregular. It means that ovulation is infrequent or absent. It will be difficult for women to conceive without treatment. This has nothing to do with any long gap of pregnancy.

PCOS is a common cause of infertility. Besides menstrual irregularities, other symptoms include increased growth of hair on the face, chest and abdomen acne, obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes.

These symptoms stem from various hormone abnormalities. There are increased levels of male hormones (androgens), insulin (the hormone that regulates the change of sugar, starches and other food into energy for the body's use or for storage), and luteinizing hormone or LH (one of the hormones that controls ovulation and the menstrual cycle).

Investigations into PCOS include a thorough medical history and physical examination. A viginal ultrasound may reveal multiple small cysts in the ovaries. The lining of the uterus (endometrium) may become thick if periods have been abscent. Blood hormone tests may reveal increased levels of insulin, LH and androgens. With this information, this condition can then be treated appropriately.

Dr Peter Chew
11 Mar 2007

Dr Peter Chew, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at Gleneagles Hospital, is also a founding member of aLife, a voluntary welfare organization dedicated to nurturing a healthy respect for fertility and family life. For more information, visit

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Menstrual Cycle Link To Injuries

Women are more likely to injure themselves at specific times in their menstrual cycle, research suggests.

London's Portland Hospital surveyed 1,000 osteopaths, and studied 17 women with regular menstrual cycles. The study suggests the risk of injury is linked to fluctuating hormone levels which affect the muscles and ligaments.

Both tissues appear to be vulnerable midway through the menstrual cycle, while the ligaments are at greater risk at the end. This is significant for women everywhere who can plan their schedules around their cycles and avoid potentially painful injuries.

Midway through the cycle, the level of the female sex hormone oestrogen, which gives strength to muscles and ligaments, drops dramatically, resulting in sudden weakness.

At the end of the cycle levels of another hormone, relaxin, rise. This is to allow the cervix to open so that menstruation can occur, but it also means the ligaments in general are softened.

Lead researcher Stephen Sandler, an experienced osteopath, compared hormone levels in the blood with the laxity of the forefinger joint. He found joint laxity increased throughout the hormone cycle, then reverted to normal once the period began.

His result also mean that women on the combined pill, who do not experience sudden drops in their oestrogen levels, are less likely to experience injury as the result of loosened joints.

Dr Sandler said, "I had noted that, whereas men often came to me with injuries due to sport or over exertion, women often couldn't explain why simple acts like reaching down to pick something up had caused injury and pain."

Dr Sandler's survey found 21 per cent of oestopath's female patients reported pain in days 12 to 14 of their cycle and 17 per cent in days 24 to 26. The majority of pain reported mid-cycle was lumbar or pelvic, compared with lumbar or neck pain at the end of the cycle.

Ms Rebecca Morrison, of the British School of Osteopathy, said: "Studies have shown before that female athletes and those engaged in recreational sport were more prone to injury at certain times in their cycle and now we understand why...It will also aid therapists in the rehabilitation of their patients."

BBC News

The Art of Seduction

Seduction is a question of subtle strategy with one ultimate goal - to have sex with someone.

The desire for sex is powerful; for some it can be as powerful as the need to eat and breath. Seduction is the road we take to achieve sexual satisfaction.

While the ultimate goal is to have sex, there are lots of smaller goals that need to be reached along the road to the sexual surrender of our chosen partner.

For some, the thrill of seduction lies in the chase rather than the conquest. The excitement of wanting and pursuing someone can give a sense of satisfaction in itself. For others, the electric thrill comes from knowing that another person's sexual attentions are focused on them. Those who thoroughly enjoy the chase are generally people with plenty of self-confidence and their confidence increases the likelihood of success.

Those who are less confident usually find seduction far more difficult. How can you convince a member of the opposite sex to fancy you if you see yourself as being unattractive?

It's important that you choose the right person to seduce. This is more a matter of instinct than anything else but most of us endeavour to make conversation, or at least some eye contact, with a potential partner who we consider to be our equal on the scale of physical appeal.

Once you've sought out your 'prey' you need to decide whether the time and/or situation is right for seduction. If the object of your passion is somebody you see on a regular basis, the time/place being wrong may very well add to the thrill. If you're getting the right feedback, the knowledge that the other person is interested but that you can't do anything about it just yet can increase the feelings of arousal and excitement.

But how do you know that he's interested? The best clues come from reading body language. Non-verbal signals are far better indicators of how a person feels about you than anything they may actually say verbally. Those with an open posture are usually more available than those who stand with their arms crossed. The eyes are the biggest give-away when it comes to seduction. If he returns your gaze, and especially if he holds eye contact with you longer than is usually acceptable, then the chances are you're on to a winner. Trust your instincts. You'll 'feel' whether he's interested or not. Small gestures and tone of voice tell us a lot about how the other person feels about us.

Flirt. Did I really need to mention that? Flirting is used in two ways. We flirt with others to remind our partner that we still need to be wooed by him, but when used for seduction, it's a means of keeping the other person interested and aroused as well as letting them know that they are unlikely to be rejected. Men, who are generally the pursuers, are highly dependent on women's signals to reassure them that they are 'onto something'. Playing hard-to-get isn't particularly attractive to men unless you're sending out enough signals to assure him that it really is just a game and that you are indeed 'gettable'. Let him know that the chase will most likely be worth it in the end.

Once you've made contact with him, you'll need to let him know where the encounter is likely to be heading. People have very different ideas of what sex should be so it's important that you both know that you're looking for the same things. This doesn't mean that you should just blurt out "I'm a dominatrix, how d'ya fancy being whipped?" or anything else quite as obvious. You can if you really must, and you never know, it might just work, but in general the subtle approach is more likely to get you what you want. Men generally take the lead in this area, asking questions and trying to access whether you'd make a satisfactory sex partner. Follow his lead. The questions probably won't be direct (depending upon the man), but they will be based around 'self-disclosure'. He tells you some, you tell him some. People typically discuss sex in a light-hearted, abstract manner when accessing a potential partner, testing each other in a non-committal way.

Now that you're speaking you'll need to sustain his interest. Two people who've found each other through physical attraction may not have the right chemistry to move along the road of seduction once mouths have been opened. Look for signs of acceptance or rejection. If you pick up on any signs of rejection, don't waste your time on something that is very unlikely to happen, no matter how much you fancy him. There are plenty more available males about just waiting to be seduced.

If you're still doing fine and the signals are good, it's time to move onto the final yielding. One of you must surrender. In all probability it will be you, because even if you initialised the seduction, he will probably have taken over the role of pursuer somewhere along the line. The roles of 'hunter' and 'prey' have been decided through thousands of years of evolution, and usually fall naturally into place. Surrender and enjoy!

Sharon Jacobsen
28 Mar 2007

Sharon grew up in East London but moved to Norway at the age of 19, returning to England in 1998. She now lives in Cheshire with her partner and two of her three children. Besides writing, she is currently studying Social Science with The Open University, runs a web site where women in the UK can meet other women for platonic friendship (, potters in her garden, knits and reads everything she comes over.