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Culture & Religion

What Every Woman Should Know

2010 marks the 40th anniversary of the Boston Women’s Health Collective, also known as “Our Bodies, Ourselves.” Executive Director Judy Norsigian sat down with Big Think to talk about the current state of women’s health. What are the most pressing issues right now? Norsigian brings up drugs, for starters; women are taking too many of them. Her major piece of advice: women need to understand that the literature associated with drugs today is often biased, compromised, and ripe with conflicts of interest. “You have to look deeper beyond the 20 second bullet points. Even physicians are inappropriately influenced by pharmaceutical advertising and educational programming, so you can’t always depend on your physician,” says Norsigian.

Another barrier to the female understanding of medical issues? Media. Mainstream media messages lead us to be totally dissatisfied with who and what we are—and make us into consumers of products and procedures rather than contributors to our community. Norsigian’s advice: throw out the magazines. “Don’t buy the standard glossy magazines filled with ads and articles that will lead you to self loathing. They will lead you to body hating.”

To finish off the interview, Norsigian talked about the current state of reproductive health. When it comes to maternity, the U.S. has actually slid backwards; the maternal mortality rate is on its way up. One reason for that? We’re performing way to many C-Sections; some New Jersey hospitals have a 50-70 percent rate when it comes to the surgery. “This is unacceptable and of course it’s going to produce harm because cesarean section is a major abdominal surgery. Even if the surgery goes well you have all kinds of infections that occur in hospital settings,” says Norsigian.


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