Monday, 12 September 2011

4 Embarrassing Health Questions—Answered

Bothersome bladder problems, alarming odors, hair growing in all the wrong places. We all have issues that we’re too embarrassed to bring up with anyone—including our doctors. But rest assured, your doc has heard it all before. “It’s our job to help you, not judge you,” says Laura Dean, MD, a spokeswoman for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists who practices in Stillwater, Minnesota. Still, inquiring about a delicate health problem can be uncomfortable. That’s why we decided to start the conversation for you by asking experts to address six common blush-worthy complaints.
Q: Sometimes I pee a little when I laugh or run, but I don’t want to take medication. Should I even bother mentioning this to my doctor?
A: Absolutely, says ob-gyn Lissa Rankin, MD, author of What’s Up Down There? And in fact, medication doesn’t work for stress incontinence, which is what you’re describing. Stress incontinence—the most common form of incontinence in women, as it often occurs post-pregnancy when the muscles and connective tissue around the bladder and urethra weaken or stretch out—is prompted by laughing, coughing, exercise or other physical exertion. (Increased or sudden pressure on the bladder forces urine out.)
One of the best fixes is Kegel exercises, which involve squeezing your pelvic floor muscles to strengthen them. Your doctor can explain how to do the exercises properly, Some women also benefit from “timed voiding,” which means emptying your bladder on a regular schedule, such as every hour. The less full your bladder is, the less likely you are to leak.
Sometimes the problem is caused by prolapse (when your bladder has fallen out of place a little, which your gynecologist can detect). In that case, a device called a pessary can help. You can wear it all the time or just put it in when you think you’ll need it—like when you plan to go running—and it will push your bladder back into its proper place.

Q: I’m losing my hair. Could I be going bald?
A: It’s normal to lose up to 100 hairs a day at any age. But the sad truth is that women’s hair (like men’s) may naturally get thinner with age. And some women do experience female-pattern hair loss—the top and front of the head is most affected. (It can start as early as your 30s, but it may worsen around menopause.) Still, you should definitely raise this issue with your doctor, especially if you’re starting to see bald spots or your hair is coming out in clumps. “There are many reasons for hair loss, including stress, thyroid conditions and infections,” says Sonia Badreshia-Bansal, MD, a member of the American Academy of Dermatology and a clinical instructor of dermatology at the University of California, San Francisco. Numerous medications, including antidepressants, birth control and blood pressure drugs, can also cause hair loss. Hormonal changes (for example, if you’ve recently given birth or stopped taking birth control pills) can cause your hair to thin as well, but once your hormones stabilize, your hair should return to normal in about six months.
Dieting can cause your hair to thin, especially if you’re not getting enough protein, iron and B vitamins, as they are essential for healthy hair. Dr. Badreshia-Bansal sometimes recommends a biotin (B vitamin) supplement.
If your doctor determines that so-called “normal” female-pattern hair loss is to blame, she’ll probably recommend over-the-counter minoxidil (Rogaine), a topical solution that slows down hair loss and stimulates new strands. She may also prescribe spironolactone (Aldactone), an oral medication that blocks the hormone receptors that cause hair loss. 

Q: I’m never in the mood for sex. Is this just a normal part of aging?
A: No. “It’s a myth that sex drive peaks at a certain age,” says Joy Davidson, PhD, a psychologist, certified sex therapist and author of Fearless Sex. That said, it is true that hormonal fluctuations that occur around menopause can lead to vaginal dryness and discomfort, which in turn can cause your sex drive to take a nosedive. If that’s the case, ask your doctor to prescribe an estrogen cream or pill or a vaginal ring containing estrogen, which should restore some moisture and make you more comfortable, says Dr. Dean.
Or try Zestra, an over-the-counter topical oil that has been through clinical testing, says Dr. Davidson, who explains that it can increase sensation. Zestra may also help if you’re taking a medication (such as an antidepressant) that causes sexual side effects.
But much of the time, physical issues aren’t to blame. There are so many reasons that sex drive could temporarily wane, ranging from job-related stress to relationship problems and plain old fatigue. Improving your sex life usually means addressing the underlying problem. If you can’t sort it out on your own, consider consulting a sex therapist (alone or with your partner).

Q: I brush and floss twice a day but I still have bad breath. Why?
A: You may be forgetting a crucial factor: your tongue. Since bad-breath-causing bacteria and plaque can build up there, use a tongue scraper once or twice a day. And make sure to get the back of your tongue in particular, since that’s where plaque tends to accumulate, says dentist Catrise Austin, DDS, author of 5 Steps to the Hollywood A-List Smile. Chewing sugar-free gum (look for the ingredient xylitol, which helps inhibit the growth of bacteria) can also help a little, as can chewing on mint leaves or parsley or drinking cardamom, anise or peppermint tea—they’re all natural breath sweeteners, says Dr. Austin. And of course, you’ll want to steer clear of foods like garlic and onions; their pungent oils can haunt your breath for up to three days!
If none of that works, see your dentist. You may have gum disease, a cavity or an abscess. But if your dentist doesn’t detect an oral health problem—or if whatever treatment she suggests doesn't help within a few months—you may need to see a gastroenterologist. About 10 percent of chronic bad breath problems stem from digestive problems such as ulcers, acid reflux and lactose intolerance. Another possible cause: a sinus infection, in which the sinuses become inflamed and mucus may drip into the throat. If that’s the case, an ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctor can help you get the right treatment. 
Article originally appeared on

Saturday, 27 August 2011

The Leadership Motivation Assessment

How motivated are you to lead?

© iStockphoto/Andresr
The first and most basic prerequisite for leadership is the desire to lead. After all, becoming an effective leader takes hard work. If you're not prepared to work hard at developing your leadership skills or if, deep down, you're really not sure whether you want to lead or not, you'll struggle to become an effective leader.
Are you motivated to lead? This assessment helps you find the answer.

How to Use the Tool:

To use this tool, show the extent to which you agree or disagree with each of the following statements on a scale running from 1 (Strongly Disagree) to 5 (Strongly Agree).
For each question, click the button in the column that most applies. Click the 'Calculate My Total' button to add up your score and check your result using the scoring table underneath.
#Question1. Strongly Disagree2.3.4.5. Strongly Agree
I am energized when people count on me for ideas.
As a practice, I ask people challenging questions when we are working on projects together.
I take delight in complimenting people that I work with when progress is made.
I find it easy to be the cheerleader for others, when times are good and when times are bad.
Team accomplishment is more important to me than my own personal accomplishments.
People often take my ideas and run with them.
When involved in group projects, building team cohesiveness is important to me.
When involved in group projects, coaching others is an activity that I gravitate toward.
I find pleasure in recognizing and celebrating the accomplishments of others.
When involved in group projects, my team members’ problems are my problems.
Resolving interpersonal conflict is an activity that I enjoy.
When involved in group projects, I frequently find myself to be an “idea generator.”
When involved in group projects, I am inclined to let my ideas be known.
I find pleasure in being a convincing person.
 Total = 

Score Interpretation

14 – 27This implies a low motivation to lead.
28 – 55This implies some uncertainty over your motivation to lead.
56 – 70This implies a strong motivation to lead.
Source: This set of questions was constructed for this self-assessment and for illustrative purposes only. No prior validation work has been conducted that enables us to address the construct validity of this assessment. This self-assessment was patterned after that of A. J. DuBrin in Leadership: Research Findings, Practice and Skills (2nd edition) (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1998). Pp. 10-11.
Armed with the results from this self-test, your next step depends on your situation.
If you have found that you're strongly motivated to lead, and you're already a leader - great! And if you're not already a leader, this is definitely an area you should investigate as you plan your career development.
On the other hand, if your score indicates that you don't have a strong motivation to lead, and you're considering moving into this area, you may want to look at other career options before you make a decision. Our article on Finding Career Direction will help you work through a process to find out what type of work does motivate you.
But if you're already a leader and you're just going through a low patch in the role, try out leadership motivation tools and regain the enthusiasm for the job that took you into leadership in the first place!

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