Monthly Archives: January 2012

Alcohol in Pregnancy: It’s Never Safe, Especially Not in the First Trimester

Alcohol in Pregnancy: It’s Never Safe, Especially Not in the First Trimester


Drinking and pregnancy don’t mix, but when are babies most vulnerable to the effects of alcohol?

The end of the first trimester appears to be the period when alcohol can wreak the most havoc on fetal development, causing physical deformities as well as behavioral and cognitive symptoms, according to research in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

According to the March of Dimes, about 1 in 12 women admit to drinking during pregnancy, and 1 in 30 say they binge-drink, or consume five or more drinks at one sitting. Exposure to alcohol in utero leads to fetal alcohol spectrum disorders in about 40,000 newborns every year in the U.S. While adults can break down alcohol relatively safely, still-developing fetuses tend to keep more alcohol in their blood, which can hinder the development of brain and body.

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Going with the flow for great sex

Going with the flow for great sex

When you hear the words ‘heart’ and ‘sex life’ in the same sentence, odds are the speaker is probably talking about love. But your heart – or, more accurately, your cardiovascular system – actually has a lot to do with your ability to perform in the bedroom.

This concept was brought home to me recently when I caught up with my colleague, Dr. Madeleine Castellanos, author of a recent book dealing with male sexual issues. She reminded me that there’s no way we can talk about sexual issues like erectile dysfunction (ED) or other arousal disorders without talking about cardiovascular health.

“When you break it all down, everything in the body, including sex, is dependent on good blood flow,” says Castellanos. “Our body’s way of nourishing itself and keeping itself vibrant and alive is by carrying oxygen, hormones, and nutrients via the bloodstream to all tissues and cells. The more activity that a certain part of our body engages in, the more blood flow is directed to that area.”

Although you might typically associate blood flow with your heart, brain or muscles, it’s also a crucial factor in the way your genitals function. In men, blood flow to erectile tissue produces an erection and stimulates the prostate gland to start releasing pre-ejaculatory fluid. Blood flow also benefits women by increasing the clitoris’s size and sensation and by enhancing vaginal lubrication.

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