What else we're reading

Do American women need to be more disciplined about beauty? Plus: the kibosh on black cohosh.

Published December 22, 2006 12:56AM (EST)

Fashion faminist: In the Wall Street Journal, Garance Franke-Ruta savages the myth of natural beauty as propounded by "self-esteem brigades" that favor self-acceptance rather than treating "beauty as a form of discipline." Citing familiar stats on American's bad eating habits and slothful ways, she sides with the fashion industry as a healthy meritocracy standing up against the wages of morbid obesity.

You've got eggs! Wired's Jenn Shreve reports on a new online tool that allows women track their fertility cycles based on the popular baby-brewing classic "Taking Charge of Your Fertility." The software comes complete with email alerts with impending ovulation and breast-exam reminders, as well as the opportunity to crunch and display the data in a variety of ways. What sounds like a quirky, high-tech enhancement for something as basic as checking the viscosity of one's cervical mucus has taken on a larger role as a forum for women's self-diagnoses. Participants can post their charts to an online gallery, then compare their charts with those of women diagnosed with a variety of infertility issues.

One woman, two wombs, three babies: Most people consider the birth of their children pretty amazing, but one new mother in England has performed a statistical miracle with the birth of three babies via two wombs. From one womb, twin girls were born; her second womb conceived of a singleton. The BBC article says that the odds of having triplets from two wombs is about 25 million to one -- about as unlikely as winning some lotteries.

Hot flashes here to stay? Black cohosh, a popular herbal remedy for hot flashes and childbirth induction, has gotten the thumbs down from a large trial by the National Institutes of Health. The study found that hormone therapy did decrease menopausal symptoms, however. But given the potential link between hormone therapy and breast cancer, the decision of whether to live with hot flashes or manage them with hormones will likely remain a tricky one.

By Carol Lloyd

Carol Lloyd is currently at work on a book about the gentrification wars in San Francisco's Mission District.

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