STD Symptoms in Men

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in men are just as common in men as are in women. The difference is that some of these STDs are not as easily detectable in men. They can be cured through medication or through simple surgery and recurrences of the disease are unlikely. Because it is difficult to detect certain STDs in men it is advised that he gets checked on a yearly basis to ensure that he is in good health and that there are no diseases hiding within his system. This way he can get tested for STDs and begin treatment immediately.

Chlamydia

Chlamydia is one of the more common STDs a man can experience. It develops through contracting microbes called Chlamydia trachomatis. As per the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Chlamydia is the most common STD in the United States. Between 2004 and 2008, the rate of Chlamydia reported increased to 45 percent due to the advancements in STD testing methods and over the counter testing methods such as home STD testing kits. Chlamydia can typically be detected within one to three weeks after symptoms are presented.

Men infected with the disease will experience discharge from the penis, painful urination, and a burning or tingling feeling around the opening of the penis which can also be felt in the testicles. If Chlamydia is found in the rectal area, men will experience symptoms such as rectal discharge or draining and severe pain both during bowel movements and random times throughout the day if not all day. Additionally, Chlamydia can be transmitted to the throat through oral sex.

Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea is developed through contracting specific microorganisms called neisseria gonorrhoeae. Symptoms of gonorrhea include painful urination, white, yellow or green discharge from the penis, and swollen or enlarged testicles. Gonorrhea also affects the rectum and can be extremely painful. Symptoms a man could experience include rectal discharge, soreness, tingling sensations, rectal draining, and painful, hard, solid bowel movements. If gonorrhea has been contracted via oral sex, a man will experience a sore throat that will continue to get worse due to the many different types of bacteria already in the throat interacting with those microorganisms that cause gonorrhea. Gonorrhea can also cause epididymitis which is the curved portion at the back of the testicles where sperm matures; it is the swelling of the tube that connects the testicle to the vas deferens. Side effects can take anywhere from two to thirty days after contracting the disease. If left untreated, it can leave a man infertile and unable to have children.

Syphilis

Syphilis is one of those “silent but deadly” STDs. You could have syphilis for several weeks, months, and in rare occasions, years before experiencing side effects in any stage. The first phase of syphilis presents itself as sores around the genital area. This type of sore is called a chancre sore. It will appear as a hard, indented portion on your skin and typically disappears without treatment within three to six weeks. The second phase of syphilis rears in the form of a rash on the skin and mucous layers in the body. The rash could be extremely red and harsh or as tan spots that are most commonly found on the palms of the hands or the soles of the feet. Other symptoms you may experience include swollen lymph nodes, fever, sore throat, cerebral pain, random male pattern baldness, significant decrease in weight, and being unusually fatigued or exhausted. The rash is the biggest indicator of how severe the disease is; while it will go away on its own without treatment, once it goes away it serves as the primary indicator that the disease is now in the advanced stages. In the late stages of syphilis, a man will not show any visible side effects. However, while side effects may not be visible, the disease will essentially “eat away” and attack the major organs. In this stage, the disease begins to attack the brain, heart, liver, bones, and joints. A man can experience loss of motion, numbness, changes in vision to the point where he may eventually become blind, dementia, and the inevitable, death.

Herpes

Herpes is the most common form of STDs. It develops by contracting the herpes simplex infection 1 (Hsv-1) or herpes simplex infection 2 (Hsv-2). However, genital herpes is most commonly developed by contracting the Hsv-2 virus. The herpes virus first presents itself as one or more rankles in the genital or rectal areas of the body. These are open sores that turn into ulcers on the genitalia and rectum and can take a man five or more weeks to get rid of the virus. When the flare up is first noticed, it is the most painful, the most intense, and the most excruciating pain a man will experience. As time goes on, these episodes are less successive and less uncomfortable.

Human Immunodeficiency Virus

Human Immunodeficiency Virus, or HIV, attacks the immune system leaving a man extremely vulnerable to catching other severe illnesses. Most times when a man who has contracted the HIV virus, he may experience no symptoms of the disease. It isn’t until he becomes ill with another type of illness that HIV is detected. Flu-like symptoms such as a fever, sore throat, and swollen lymph nodes can begin to rear two to six weeks after being infected with the HIV virus. Other very common symptoms of traditional illnesses that are often seen with HIV include diarrhea, unexplained weakness, mouth sores, and a rash. These symptoms may take 10 years or more to even appear if the typical flu-like symptoms don’t appear. Having additional STDs can increase your chances of contracting the HIV virus.

Testing for STDs

Getting STD testing is more accessible than it used to be. Now, you can walk into any pharmacy and buy an STD at home testing kit which will detect certain types of STDs but not all. Testing at home has become the more common method of testing to avoid the embarrassment factor of going to their doctor. If a man suspects he has contracted a more advanced STD than what a home testing kit can detect, it is imperative he be tested as soon as possible by his doctor so the disease can be treated promptly. With home STD testing kits, a man can obtain his test results online and can take those results with him to his doctor to begin a treatment regimen for the disease. If needed, additional testing will be done to pinpoint the exact STD he has contracted.

The Top Three Benefits of Changing Transmission Fluid

There has always been some debate on the pros and cons of changing your transmission fluid on a routine basis, per your vehicle owner’s manual recommendation. One of the many rumored suspicions is that doing so will open your car up to having dreaded transmission issues sooner. To debunk those conspiracy theories, let’s get into the meat of the topic and explore, together, why it absolutely makes sense to change it regularly; and how not doing so could actually cause your car to run sluggishly – potentially costing you precious pennies in the long run!

1) Heat is the enemy

The number one reason that manufacturers recommend you change your transmission fluid regularly is because it degrades as it continually heats up during driving. There are exhaustive studies about the precise temperatures in which its effectiveness actually wanes. Suffice it to say that most owner’s manuals duly recommend changing your fluid every 30,000 miles. There is one exception to this rule: newer vehicles using Dexron III ATF fluid can often go up to 100,000 miles before needing to be changed. As you drive, and the transmission heats up, the viscosity of your fluid changes; over time, this heat causes transmissions to burn up and this is the single-most cause of transmission repairs today – burned up transmissions.

2) Gunk and sludge

As your transmission continues to heat up and it continues to break down, your car’s transmission components begin to get bogged down with gunk and sludge. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to know that gunk and sludge are going to clog up your transmission gears, causing unnatural wear and tear on your vehicle’s transmission. If you want your transmission to continue to operate smoothly, it is vital to keep it clean.

3) Leaky seals and putrid odors

No, I’m not talking about a horror flick here. A well-maintained machine is one whose owner regularly checks the transmission fluid levels – yes, using the dipstick! You should ideally check your transmission fluid level when your engine is warm and idling. Transmission fluid should be bright red and should smell sweet, not putrid or rancid. It shouldn’t be brown or black or even dark red. It should look like the tip of the spindle after Sleeping Beauty pricked her finger. If your transmission fluid level is low, or the color is not right, it’s time to change your transmission fluid and check (or have checked by the mechanic) all of the seals around the transmission for leaks.

If you want your transmission to last throughout the life of the car, it is imperative that you change your transmission fluid regularly, following your owner’s manual guidelines and a few common sense rules. In today’s world of disposable everything – neglecting your transmission can be a rude awakening to your wallet. The potential costs associated with ignoring the routine maintenance guidelines on your transmission could total thousands of dollars that would be better spent on a nice, warm vacation to a sunny spot this summer.

Defuse It – How to Not Let Anger Ruin Your Relationships

If you’re tired of feeling alone and not understood after an argument or conversation, then here’s what you need to do to keep your communications with the people want to open.

Empathize

Empathize with the people around you. You might consider that when these people do things that get to you that maybe they did not intend to do it. Now if you know that the attack was intended then you need to ignore it all. Because if a person can make you angry whenever they want to, they can control you.

But if it is not intentional, consider that the other person does what they do because of a weakness that they have. They might need your help to get some things sorted out.

Situations and circumstances that involve anger are sometimes not easy to deal with.

Soft answers

I bet you did not know that you can get someone to stop being angry by speaking soft and kind words to them. It is important that you recognize this for your relationships because when you show anger to someone, you could expect that in the majority of cases they will return that anger back to you in the form of anger of their own.

So the anger will have to stop somewhere and stopping anger will involve the use of soft answers going back and forth between the people involved.

Your hope and effort is that this way of dealing with anger will be picked up by all involved and that the angry situation would become less of an issue because of the goodwill and cooperation that soft answers are able to produce.

Do you want your relationship?

Another thing you will want to do is really consider if the relationship you are dealing with is important to you and what you are trying to do in life.

If you check it out and find that the relationship is right and you want it, then you will find this reason alone one of the biggest motivators for the persistence that is necessary for success.

If you check and find that the relationship is not worth your time then you will not have the strength to overcome the difficulties that are there. You still do not want anger to destroy it, but then maybe this bad relationship may have something to do with your anger in the first place.

Anger management classes

You do not need to wait until something drastically bad happens before you do an anger management class, so do one. Do an online class. 95% of people with anger problems benefit from taking an anger management class in as little as two months. And anger management classes do not cost much; not even half as much as losing the respect of the people you care about, and the classes can be done very conveniently in the comfort of your home or office when they are done online.

But the bottom line is that if in your heart you feel as if your relationship is threatened because of anger an anger management class can help you get your anger under control and give you a real shot at saving your relationships.

You should seriously consider carrying out these anger management techniques, you will begin to see your anger start to come under control. Angry people sometimes don’t get what they need from their anger management techniques. As for you, start applying these tips, and get yourself controlled today.

Starter Clicks But Engine Does Not Turn Over – Tech in Trunk?

If the car’s starter clicks and the engine does not turn over, this could be caused by several things. The most common cause of clicking when the car is being started is a low battery. Most people would assume that the starter is bad if it only clicks, but low-voltage can cause the starter to make this sound.

The battery is the heart of the starting and electrical system. If the battery has been drained or has a weak cell, this can cause the starter to only click. Many times the battery could just been drained due to a door left slightly open, making the dome light stay on. Other times a vanity light or a phone charger could be left on. During my time as a master auto technician, I’ve had a trustworthy co-worker close me up in the trunk so I could make sure the trunk light went off when the trunk was closed!

In order to test the battery it must have a good charge. If the battery is not charged completely the tester will indicate that it needs to be charged before testing can proceed. The first step when checking the starter and electrical system is to make sure the battery is in good condition. Most parts stores will check batteries for free. Once it’s determined the battery is good the rest of the system can then be checked. Loose or corroded connections can also cause a clicking and for the car not to start.

Starter

The starter solenoid on many Ford vehicle’s is on the inner fender well, on most other vehicles the starter solenoid will be mounted on the starter. The clicking that is heard many times is the solenoid. But low-voltage either from a drained battery, bad battery or poor connections can cause this. Most of the time if the vehicle can be jump-started the starter is okay. This would also indicate that the connections to the starter are good.

Alternator

Once the vehicle is running the alternator output can be checked. If the alternator is not charging the battery, it will be drained during the process of starting the car and driving. When the alternator is checked, the voltage and amperage output can be measured. Also the diode pattern will be checked to make sure the alternator won’t drain the battery when the engine is turned off. In the past do-it-yourselfers could disconnect the battery while the vehicle is running to check the alternator, if the car kept running the alternator was good. Doing this on computerized vehicles can be harmful. If the battery is disconnected while a computerized vehicle is running the alternator output can increase sharply allowing excess voltage to spike the computer.

Battery

When purchasing a replacement battery the cold cranking amps required for the vehicle should be checked. It’s best to purchase a battery with more cold cranking amps than the minimum required. Also when purchasing a battery you should consider if you want maintenance free or not. If the battery is hard to access or has a cover then a maintenance free battery is preferred. For instance on some Chrysler Sebrings and Chevrolet Corvettes the battery is located behind an inner fender and on a Chevrolet SSR. the battery is located underneath the bed where the spare tire would normally go. If installing the battery yourself be sure to notice which side is positive and negative in case you were sold the incorrect battery.

Terminals

The terminals should be free of corrosion and should tighten up well. Sometimes especially on import vehicles the battery terminals will be very thin and can have hairline cracks causing a poor connection. Avoid forcing the battery terminals on by tapping them. The battery casing can be damaged causing a leak, if the battery acid seeps out it can cause fast corrosion. If the battery terminal bolts will not tighten, then replacing the terminals is recommended. When the connections are tight you should not be able to twist them by hand.

Novel Ideas – Six Unique Ways to Introduce a New Novel to Your Class

There is nothing more exciting than introducing students to a great piece of literature. Conversely, there is nothing more disappointing than students’ lack of enthusiasm about a book you truly love. Unfortunately, your fervor about a novel does not always translate into cheers and applause on the part of your students. Reading a novel requires a lot of investment. Even novels with high-action plots take a while to build momentum. How can you quickly bolster students’ interest at the start of a new book? Below are six sure-fire ways to get your class excited about a new novel.

PLOT PIECES. Divide students into groups. Assign each group one page from a different part of the novel. After they have read the page, ask students to compose a paragraph that outlines the plot of the novel. To do this, students will have to use context clues gleaned from their excerpt. Ask students to elect a representative from each group to present their plot summaries. Compare plot summaries and revisit these summaries at the end of the novel. Asking students to conjecture the plot of the novel will pique their interest in the book and help them extract information from context clues.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS. Ask students to read the first page of text silently. Next, ask for a volunteer to read the first page aloud. Then, ask students to write down as many things as possible that they have learned from the first page. Next, ask students to write down three questions they have based on their reading of the first page. This activity will help students read context clues and it will teach them to site text evidence when making generalizations about a novel.

COVER UP. Read a summary of the novel from the back cover, from the inside flaps, or from an Internet source. If you prefer to leave the novel a mystery, read an excerpt from a select part of the book. You can also print out this summary or excerpt so that students can refer to it. Next, ask students to design a cover based on information gleaned from the summary or excerpt. Allow students to explain their cover design. If you are reading a novel that is divided into parts, have students design a cover at the end of each part of the novel. Revisit cover designs at the completion of the novel and ask students to write a paragraph discussing their various understandings of the novel. This activity will help students chart the ways their understanding developed throughout the reading.

FRONT MATTER. Though students read novels throughout their schooling, very few are taught the importance of the title, copyright, and acknowledgments. The pages that contain this information are called the “front matter.” In small groups, ask students to explore the front matter of the novel. Instruct students to list 10 things they learned from these pages. In a more open-ended version of this activity, you can ask students to answer the following questions: What does the front matter tell you about what will and what will not be in this novel? What does the front matter tell you about the novel’s plot and themes? A good explanation of front matter can be found at Vox Clarus Press’ website. Just search “Vox Clarus Front Matter.”

LAST LINES. Instruct students to read the last sentence or the last paragraph of the novel silently. Next, ask someone to read these last lines aloud. From these last lines, ask students to draw a comic strip that shows the plot of the novel. Each frame of the comic strip should contain narrative and dialogue. The last frame of the comic strip should be based on information gleaned from the novel’s last lines. Thinking about the ending of the novel will whet students’ appetite for the actual plot.

BEGINNING AND ENDING. Ask students to read both the first sentence and the last sentence of the novel. Next, ask the students to construct a poem, paragraph, or short story using the first and last sentences of the novel as the first and last sentences for their writing. Your students’ writing should summarize what they think will be the plot of the novel. Revisit these summaries at the middle and at the end of the reading. In a reflective paragraph, ask students to compare their initial impressions to the novel’s actual plot and themes.

When beginning a new novel, consider using one of the above activities in your classroom. These activities provide a new lens through which to view your new novel. Starting the study of your novel in a unique and unpredictable way will bolster your students’ interest and engagement.

How to Calculate Window Tint Visible Light Transmission (VLT)

Window tinting films are measured in visible light transmission levels (or VLT). This means that when we discuss a particular film, be it for fitting to a car or any other application, we normally refer to it with it’s VLT value. VLT is measured in percentage ( % ), so if you hear about a tint product being referred to as a percentage, it is the VLT that defines that percentage value.

For example, a tinting film referred to as Charcoal 5% is a charcoal coloured tint with a VLT of 5% and likewise a film referred to as green 50% is a green coloured tint film with a VLT of 50%. But what does the number actually mean?

Well, in simple terms the VLT value is the percentage of visible light that will be allowed to travel through the window tinting film from the exterior face side of the film to the interior side. This means that a 5% film will only allow 5% light travel through and a 70% film will allow 70% light to travel. In effect, this means that lower VLT films will appear darker. For instance, it is normally 5% tints that we will see on limousines for privacy.

So, fitting a 5% tint to a window will allow 5% light to travel through the glass from outside to inside, right? NO! Because we need to take into consideration the actual VLT of the window before the tint is even installed. There is no such thing as a piece of glass, no matter how clear it appears, with a VLT of 100%. This is because glass naturally filters out a little bit of visible light.

Lets look at car window tinting as this is one area where we speak of VLT often due to the fact that many countries have laws in place limiting how dark car windows should be tinted. Most modern cars come from factory with windows reading a VLT somewhere between 72% and 78%, depending on manufacturer, model and country. Say, our example car’s windows read at 72% and we add a 50% window tinting film, what is the new and final VLT of our car’s windows after installation?

The sum is very simple: V1 x V2 = V3 (Where V1 is the original VLT of the glass before tinting, V2 is the VLT of the window tinting film and V3 is the final VLT value of the glass with tint film applied).

Our car’s windows original VLT = 72% and the tint = 50 %, thus V1 = 72 and V2 = 50

The sum is 72 x 0.50 giving us 36, which we will express as a percentage. So a window with an original VLT of 72% will then have a VLT of 36% after application of a 50% film.

In With the Nu

AS YOU sit in one of the small and scruffy departure lounges at Kunming Airport, waiting for the connecting flight to Xishuangbanna in the southwest, you turn your attention to two large billboards situated prominently near the windows facing the cluttered airstrip. The posters, with glossy defiance, celebrate the ongoing construction of two large hydropower stations on the Jinsha River, the western branch of the Yangtze. The plants, built also to reduce the siltation pressures on the Three Gorges Dam further downstream, are airbrushed in clean and shiny whites and greys, and the water around them remains a perfect and implausible blue.

They are among many such construction projects currently being considered in Yunnan, where economic development has been given the priority above almost everything else, and where power corporations from the east have been rushing to take advantage. A project that will eventually submerge the celebrated Tiger Leaping Gorge – on the section of the Jinsha north of Dali – is also underway, arousing significant international opposition. The International Rivers Network says that the damage caused by the flooding of the valley to the local ‘cultural heritage sites’ will be ‘irreplaceable’. They are also concerned by the irreversible changes to a unique ecosystem.

Meanwhile, the provincial capital of Kunming continues to grow. The train station, renowned as the most unbearable in the whole of China, is still surrounded by rubble and temporary wooden partitions marking some new road or building. The entire city, cowed by roadblocks and scaffolds, picked at by cranes, seems – like many others in China – to be on the verge of an explosion. As the government slogan announces, peremptory and beyond refute, ‘Development is inevitable’.

In the far west of Yunnan, the untouched Nu River seemed to have been given something of a reprieve a few months ago. China’s single remaining virgin waterway, which winds north through some of the province’s most beautiful landscape, was about to be given a big seeing-to by the nation’s energy-mad authorities. Earlier this year, Premier Wen Jiabao was said to have intervened personally, asking developers to reconsider their plans. Still, one imagines that the ‘rape’ of the Nu is just a question of time.

The philosopher, Martin Heidegger, chose to illustrate the two different approaches to nature by comparing the construction of a bridge with the construction of a hydroelectric dam. Modern technology, he wrote, was ‘a manner of unprotecting’ nature. A bridge, connecting up the two banks, shows ‘respect’ for the river, but a hydropower station actually turns nature into part of its own ‘inventory’. The power plant is not built into the river, but the river is built into the power plant.

To illustrate the difference in perspectives, Heidegger compared the Rhine as part of the inventory of modern technology with the Rhine described in a poem by Holderlin. After it has been devastated by technology, the river remains as ‘a provided object of inspection by a party of tourists sent there by a vacation industry’. Such a description seems appropriate in modern Yunnan. While the power companies work their way through the region’s rivers, foreign and domestic tourists have transformed old cities such as Dali and Lijiang, and plans to improve the transportation infrastructure to the west and to the south will see the character of prefectures such as Xishuangbanna and the Nu River changed beyond recognition.

There are a number of small bridges connecting the banks of the Nu, but the favoured means of crossing by the local farmers seems even purer than that. Hooking themselves into a harness consisting of a rope and a piece of flat canvas, they sweep back and forth at massive speeds on a cable attached to a couple of trees, and carry bags of cement, grain and sometimes even livestock between their knees as they do so. One farmer agreed to carry me. Slung across the grey autumn waters and into a patch of worn grass on the Nu River’s left bank, the bowel-shaking fear quickly gave way to a sense of exhilaration.

I was taking a long ride from Dali with an incompetent local tour guide to the town of Liuku in western Yunnan, right on the bank of the Nu River. The area is a picture of health, ruddy and rugged and robustly green. Farmers spin past on motorbikes, trading chunks of meat with local guest houses and restaurants. At one stop along the way, situated on a bend on a country road, a three-legged horse skipped past – cheerfully enough, considering the circumstances. The half-whistle, half-bleat of the local birds could be heard everywhere. Tiny communities lived in wooden shacks on the hills, emerging on Tuesdays to trade at the local markets.

It was tempting to call the place quaint, and worthy of any preservation order that might be made to stick. It was, however, dirt-poor, and though much better and much more lively than a decade or so ago (according to our guide), most of the people living here would love to replace their stilted huts, their latrines, their drafty outhouses, with new buildings and indoor plumbing.

Usually, it is only outsiders who get sentimental. We, after all, can go home somewhere else. One isn’t entirely sure that the life of the poor throughout China would be improved by any degree were their barns, their slums, their shanty towns to become ‘heritage sites’. On the other hand, it is clear that the mass destruction caused by economic growth is not of much benefit to the communities affected. It is also clear that the ecology of Yunnan – one of the most varied and vibrant in China – is being put under threat.

Still, crossing the upper reaches of the Mekong, watching the silt-filled, chocolate-coloured waves and negotiating the old van past the piles of rocks cast down during a recent landslide, one cannot fail to be impressed somehow. I have been bruised, stupefied and generally thrown about by hundreds of poor-quality roads throughout China. Here, the biggest challenge was the occasional ford cutting across a narrow but mostly impeccable mountain pass. In harsh conditions, the road builders had performed well.

Roads are the big thing in Yunnan. Plans are underway to complete a regional high-speed road network that will connect Kunming with Singapore. Coming back from the wild elephant park in Xishuangbanna, we were halted by a fleet of trucks and steamrollers inching along to assist a team of miscellaneously-dressed labourers spreading grit across the tracks. Above us was the skeleton of an overpass, its bare stanchions planted in the fields nearby. The old road will eventually become superfluous for the majority of freight traffic surging through the region and into southeast Asia. Things will change, we thought, and Jinghong, the region’s major city but run at a painfully slow pace, will no doubt be brought up to speed by an opportunistic migrant population from Sichuan or the northeast.

LIUKU is a small urban centre and trading spot for the hundreds of small counties and villages scattered throughout the area, several hundred kilometres west of Dali. Whatever purists might think, the locals would love it if streams of tourists were suddenly to pour in from the more fashionable areas further east, but apart from the way it nestles comfortably – if a little chaotically – in the mountains running along the banks of the Nu, there is little to distinguish the place. Its greatest advantage is its location, and visitors note the great potential of the riverfront, where a couple of cafes now provide much of the town’s nightlife.

As one enters the town, an old Ming Dynasty temple lies on the mountain above the intersection of the Yagoujia River and the Nu River itself. As is customary, the temple appears as if it was built out of papier mache and painted yesterday morning by industrious local schoolkids. A huge laughing Buddha decked out in gold paint seems to dominate the gaff from his little stage. Dogs patrol the high steps, and spiders, each two inches long, nest in the frames of doors and in the overhead lights.

Across on the other side of the river, the effects of the previous night’s rain storm were clear to see, with policemen knee-deep in mud and the road – the only route north – blocked by piles of displaced rock.

The foreigners, so prevalent in Dali, and less so in Jinghong further south, were nowhere to be seen. Hardcore travellers head north to see the enclaves of Tibetans, or the old ethnic ways of the Lisu, the Nu and the Drang nationalities. Some come to see the immense volume of indigenous butterflies, with a couple of Japanese collectors even managing to steal a few rare specimens under the noses of the local authorities a few years ago. There were also stories of a pair of American travellers crossbowed in the back by Lisu hunters after trying to abscond with some significant local religious icon – the man with the story wasn’t quite sure what the object was. The rest of the local legends about foreigners involve them being attacked by Tibetan dogs and carried out of the forests, bleeding. Still, foreigners here are once again the objects of fascination, rather than the sort of seen-it-all-before scorn one gets in Shanghai, or the dollar-sign gazes in Dali and Lijiang.

Guidebooks such as Lonely Planet abhor the current pace of Chinese development, of course, and as the years pass and the new editions enter print, the laments about the high-rises and highways seem to get longer and longer. China is losing its character.

We can understand this. And yet, after a week on the road along the Nu River, speaking no English and staying in the dingiest of guest houses, we still longed for the pizzas, banana pancakes and foreign influences in Dali. Many agreed, and many long-hatched tour plans are thwarted by the magnetism of the town’s bars and cafes. Some foreigners on year-long tours find themselves stuck, unable to leave, trapped in a perpetual marijuana haze and remaining lucid enough just to teach a few classes in the main city and pay for their lodgings.

Travelling further north from Liuku on the way to Fugong the following day, rain clouds lingered like smoke on the mountains, and dozens of blue, three-wheel buggies chugged down the slope on the only road out. We drove through building sites, where workers squatted on dunes of mud, and through villages in which cattle and old nags wandered wearily past, and where tiny, friendly little dogs lounged on almost every stoop. Streams of water, bloated by a heavy rain storm the previous evening, cascaded into the rough Nu waters.

We stopped off in a small market village called Gudeng, close to the Binuo Snow Mountain, and watched the local farmers manhandling a couple of disobedient black pigs. Another offered us a glass of warm corn liquor he had just produced at a makeshift stove attached to a dirty plastic pipe. The dominant presence in the town was the family planning centre, where government slogans about improving the quality of the population were pumped out from a pair of loud speakers, drowning out the Chinese disco beats emerging from the market itself. Apart from the family planning centres, there are other things that seem ubiquitous throughout China, from Xinjiang to Shanghai and from Guangdong to Yunnan. One of them is the pool table. Another is the bill poster advertising cures for sexually-transmitted diseases.

WE CAME to understand that in the pretty little town of Fugong, where we spent Mid-Autumn festival, the local residents – mainly of Lisu minority – would also have longed for the sort of opportunities afforded to Dali. Cafes, restaurants, and a place on the tourist trail would revitalize the place, and would ultimately be of far more value than a hydropower station. Can the two be disconnected? Some of the villages along the banks of the Nu River didn’t even have a watt of electricity until the last decade. It is a fact of life that further development – including the tourist industry – requires more power.

Purists are unlikely to consider the contradiction, and may indeed prefer to slum it – for a week in any case – in tents or in the dingy, second-rate guest houses available en route. Still, the woman at the reception of the guest house in Gongshan seemed apologetic. ‘Are you sure you want to stay here?’ she said.

Heading across the river, we came across a large wooden public house built on an old water mill. Wheels driven by the Nu River itself churned away beneath a section of rooms lined with soggy woven carpets and old Lisu paraphernalia – the traditional costumes and weaponry of the bulk of the local people. A dozen girls from a local hair salon were dancing in the middle of one of the stages on the upper tier of the building, moving two steps forward and two steps back, hand in hand. They greeted us favourably, encouraging us to join in their drinking games. We had a ‘one-heart drink’ (tongxinjiu) – where two people drink from the same glass, their cheeks and mouths touching – with every one of them, the sweet local liquor dripping onto our clothes.

Hours later, after crossing the bridge again and singing Lisu songs as we parted company with our new friends, we managed to stumble through a tunnel and into the grounds of the local Public Security Bureau, where the Fugong police were also celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival with a form of dance which, by the time we started to participate, seemed to involve running at top speed while kicking our legs as high as possible in the air. Local police chiefs, conforming to the stereotypes of drunkenness that seem more or less international, told us that national boundaries didn’t matter, and that friendship transcended all countries. We agreed.

The next morning, driving out of the town and past a long row of old wooden buildings with red sliding doors and a range of shoddy garages that serve as shops and diners, we headed for Gongshan along a spectacular stretch of scenery, part of a 300-km gorge lined with waterfalls, brooks and white cloud pierced by the mountains on both banks. Houses seemed to balance precariously on the plateau, only a storm away from complete collapse. Women carried large squares of corrugated iron along the slopes, their children following.

The whole Gongshan region, an old man in the guest house told me, has now been renamed the ‘Three Rivers Gongshan Region’. ‘They are creating a trademark,’ the man said, shrugging his thin shoulders. The Mekong, the Nu, and the Jinsha all pass through before reaching their source, and the local government are trying to draw in the trade.

The town itself, another sleepy cluster of apartments, restaurants and trading posts all piled up in layers along the slopes leading from the river to the mountain, was actually far from untouched. As was the case in Liuku, the missionaries had already been and gone, leaving a curious legacy of Roman Catholicism among the local minority communities. Mothers sat weaving on the steps of a church – a square, squat one-storey affair with a bright red cross built on the mountain – waiting for evening prayer. Prayer notices on the wrought-iron door of the church were transcribed in a romanized version of the local Lisu language. Some hours later, an implausible disco beat pounded out from a wooden house further up the hill, and the church was empty.

A Tibetan girl, working in a curious entertainment complex close to another Catholic church further down in the valley, asked us if we were fellow believers. She answered to her Catholic name of Mary, and was from Dimaluo, an ethnic mishmash of Tibetans, Lisu, Drong, and others some way further north along the river. There was a sadness to her as she told us her life story, about her stalled education, about the death of her father after a sudden and inexplicable ‘infection’, and about her preference for the countryside from which she hailed.

In the stores nearby, posters of Zhou Enlai, Sun Yatsen and the Panchen Lama swayed slightly in the wind, and beneath them lay the usual clutter of mooncakes, cigarettes and cheap, defective batteries.

What worried us about ‘untouched’ places like Fugong or Gongshan was not so much the prospect of development, and the ‘exploitation’ or ‘despoliation’ or ‘swamping’ of the local culture and character, but the thousands of local residents, educated to a degree, certainly aspirational, but cut off even from the possibility of ambition, marooned in a remote town that is linked to the nearest city only through a single mountain pass that requires two days to traverse. As we did at the Three Gorges, we started to wonder whether the sacrifice of the local scenery could somehow be made worthwhile, if it could allow these people a way out. After all, it might be more appropriate to judge the vitality of a culture by its porousness, and more pertinently, by the opportunities it gives its members to escape and try something new.

Heidegger hated the way the Rhine had become an object of the tourism industry as well as the hydropower industry, but on the Nu River, we had to allow for the fact that the proposed construction of an airport in remote Gongshan, the construction of highways, and the development of local industry might actually be good for the area, in the absence of any other options. Heidegger hated TV and spent most of his final, disgraced decades in a wooden shack in the Black Forest, but he had choice. The local residents in Fugong and Gongshan have TV, and they see the glitter of wealth and opportunity. But they have no wealth. And no opportunity.

And yet, the ‘current mode of development’ is all about exploitation, and the further enrichment of China’s east coast at the expense of the west. The scenery is ruined, the ecology is damaged, and old farming communities are moved to nearby urban slums, where they have little prospect of work or prosperity. Here, as in the Three Gorges and other regions, one imagines that the local people will reap little of the rewards of ‘opening up’.

A Fragile Lifeline: Lessons I Learned Answering The Aids Hotline

Dial 1-800/AIDSNYC

Every Monday and Wednesday morning, promptly at 10 a.m., I leave behind

my daily life and turn to volunteering as an AIDS Hotline counselor at New York

City’s GMHC [Gay Men’s Health Crisis], the nation’s largest social service

agency for AIDS.

For the next four hours, my co-volunteers and I sit in front of a bank of

constantly-ringing telephones, talking to men, women, and teens who call in

from across the nation with urgent questions about AIDS, the ravaging disease

that has left 13.9 million people dead worldwide.

After almost 20 years, a whole generation, families are still facing the

heartache of tending the sick, while scientists continue to be confounded by

this stubborn, ravaging virus.

Although the federal government currently spends$4 billion per year on

AIDS research, and $15 billion worldwide, there is no cure in sight for the viral

infection and no vaccine available. Small wonder that the GMHC AIDS Hotline,

the nation’s first, is flooded with more than 40,000 calls each year.

Listening to callers 8 hours each week, I often think the Hotline is actually a

direct link to the soul of callers–an anonymous forum that allows each to

reveal secrets and fears that they might otherwise never discuss with anyone.

A Morning in May

This is the way it began: “Good morning, GMHC AIDS Hotline, can I help

you?”

“Yes…I have a question…[hesitantly] My son…he’s 21…and he just found

out…he’s HIV-positive [voice breaking] I’m…..alone, divorced. And I need some

help…someone to talk to…”

“Of course….happy to talk to you…it sounds like this has been devastating

for you….”

“It’s terrible. He told me two nights ago….he’s…he’s so young….I don’t

want him to die. He’s my only child….why did this have to happen?” [crying]

Her son, she explains, had sometimes neglected using condoms, convinced

he wouldn’t contract HIV infection from his female partners.

“How could he be so stupid?” she now asks angrily. “Why didn’t he know

how to protect himself? I don’t understand. What am I going to do?”

We talk for 35 minutes, and by the end of the conversation, I notice I’m

barely breathing. The distraught woman’s anguish is palpable. Her situation is

every mother’s worst nightmare.The life of her child is in jeopardy and she

feels helpless and afraid. I can’t imagine anything worse.

During the call, I do my best to employ the GMHC Hotline protocol of “active

listening,” which involves using silence, empathy and gentle probing with

open-ended questions. I’m also having my own emotional reaction to the panic

in her voice, and I’m worried about whether I’m doing enough.

Toward the end of the clal, when she exclaims: “I don’t want my baby to

die,” my heart plummets: “I know….I understand that, but there is hope,” I tell

her. I find myself on the verge of tears.

The Bad News

This mother’s story is too common. According to the Centers for Disease

Control in Atlanta, Ga., 40,000 Americans (half of them under 25) are newly

infected with the AIDS virus each year. Unprotected sex and intravenous drug

use remain the principal modes of   transmission .

“Teenagers,” notes AIDS activist Elizabeth Taylor, “are being very hard hit.”

She refers to the three million adolescents who contract a sexually-transmitted

disease annually.

“Heterosexual teenage football players who are healthy and drink milk can

get it too!” says the 71-year-old actress, who has singlehandedly raised $150

million for AIDS research. “But teens are very ignorant and feel invincible. They

believe there’s an invisible shield protecting them from the virus, when it’s

actually aimed right at them.”

Taylor believes in addressing the problem head-on: “Tell your teenage son:

‘Maybe a condom doesn’t feel as good, but if it saves your life, it’s better than

being six feet under.’ Intelligence must replace random sex.”

Although a new generation of AIDS-fighting medications is prolonging the

lives of thousands, nearly half of the 900,000 people infected with HIV in the

U.S. cannot afford these drugs. Since the virus was discovered in l981, 410,800

Americans have died from AIDS-related complications, and the disease has left

13.9 million dead worldwide.

Who Calls a Hotline?

Not long ago I took a call from a 15-year-old boy living in a small town who

said he feels guilty about his sexual attraction to other boys and is scared to

discuss this with his parents. I ask him if there’s a school counselor or relative

he might talk to, but he says he’s too afraid to confide in anyone.

Being a teenager is hard enough, I thought, without the pressure of

keeping this kind of secret. I felt angry and saddened that this child can’t

comfortably discuss his feelings with his own parents.

I encourage him to call the Gay Community Center Youth Program in a

nearby city. In the meantime, I assured him that he could call our Hotline

anytime, that we’d be there for him.

This call was typical of the many we get from teenagers,whispering from

their parents’ homes, confiding their blossoming sexual feelings and concerns.

Our Hotline also receives calls from married men who phone from their offices,

worried about extramarital sexual encounters; gay men suffering side effects

from medications; mothers caring for a sick child or grieving for one lost to

AIDS; even health care professionals themselves confused and requiring

burnout support.

One particular morning, I’m struck by the number of single women who

turn to our hotline for help. At 10:15 a.m. a distraught young woman calls,

explaining that she had been dating someone “very charismatic,” after a two-

year period of sexual abstinence.

“At first we used condoms and I was taking the pill to avoid pregnancy,” she

says. But after her partner assured her he was HIV-negative, the couple began

having unprotected sex. A few months into the relationship, she recounts, his

behavior became “unpredictable,” until he finally admitted he was sleeping with

other women and was addicted to heroin. Now she has to withstand the

“terror” of waiting 3 months before getting an HIV antibody test. To help her

cope, I give her the names of three terapists in her area. The call lasts 43

minutes.

At 11:15 a.m. I take a call from a woman who is breathing heavily.

She says that four months earlier she’d had a brief affair with a limousine

driver, “not out of passion, but because I felt lonely. This was so totally unlike

me,” she continues. “I come from a traditional Orthodox Jewish family…”

Although they used condoms, and she has since tested negative for HIV, she

feels deeply ashamed, and has stopped seeing him. And because she has both

a persistent vaginal yeast infection and a rash on her neck, she’s convinced she

must be infected by HIV.

Although rashes, high fever, swollen lymph glands, heavy night sweats, sore

throat, or other flu-like symptoms may indicate HIV, they can just as easily

accompany the common cold or flu, or other type of infection. I encourage her

to seek medical help and counseling, but the calls ends on a down note. “I

must have it [AIDS],” she moans. I’m exasperated because it doesn’t sound

that way to me, yet I can’t get through to her. The call lasts 22 minutes.

It’s 11.38 a.m. when a well-spoken woman, who says she’s an attorney,

calls from her office, asking for the names of anonymous testing sites. At first

very businesslike, she calmly takes down all the information. I ask her why

she’s considering a test. Total silence. Then she begins to cry: “I….I can’t

talk….I’m sorry…you see, I have swollen lymph glands….[crying]….And my

doctor wants to rule out HIV…I feel overwhelmed…” Then, abruptly: “Where

can I send a donation?” She thanks me and hurries off the phone after just 3

minutes.

These were one-time callers, but, as in any epidemic, an element of panic

prevails, and our hotline also attracts an army of “chronic” or repeat callers

who are intensely fearful no matter how benign their risk, many revealing

continued misconceptions and paranoia about a disease that can be effectively

prevented. We do our best to help them, but often they’re impervious to

counseling.

Most poignant are calls we get from AIDS patients, phoning from their

hospital beds, attempting to navigate the exhausting labyrinth of insurance

and health care matters. One man, in hospice care, said he craved

companionship and missed the “good old days” when he was handsome and

healthy.

That call was a tough one for me as just the day before a close friend of

mine, Joe, who had battled HIV for 16 years, had finally succumbed. Although

at the end Joe was a mere skeleton, he was nonetheless at peace. “I’ve done

what I wanted to,” he told me on our last visit. An avid gardener, he insisted

on a final trip to his country house to see his garden one last time. For a

moment the caller’s reality and the memory of my deceased friend blurred in

my mind and I was overcome. Time for a break.

Face to Face

One of the most and unique services GMHC offers is called “A-Team

Counseling,” a one-time, in-person session that’s free and anonymous.

Recently, I was on an A-Team counselling a 26-year-old HIV-infected

mother from the Midwest. She had traveled to Manhattan by bus to find her

estranged boyfriend, who, she recounted tearfully, had kidnapped her 7-year-

old son. Disheveled, painfully thin, the woman was a disturbing sight. She’s

learned that the two had already returned home where the boyfriend was, and

the child put in his grandmother’s custory. custody of his grandmother.

Meanwhile she’d run out of money for the return trip, been refused a loan by

her family, lost her ID, gone hungry and spent two nights on the street.

Fortunately, this woman was registered at a local AIDS organization in her

town. I telephoned her caseworker and persuaded him to buy her a one-way

Greyhound bus ticket for $115.00. I also gave her subway tokens, a basket of

food, juice and coffee. Smiling shyly, she thanked me for caring.

Shaking hands good-bye with this woman was a bittersweet farewell. What

will happen to her? I wondered will her health deteriorate or improve? Will she

gain control of her life and be able to provide for her son? I’ll never know. One

thing I do know: She’d appeared with the sorrow of a difficult life in her eyes,

but when she left, she was elated at the thought of being reunited with her

child. It seems that with faith and a helping hand, almost anything is possible.

* * * * *

10 BIGGEST MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT AIDS AND HIV

(This list would probably be most effective when presented in a vertical chart,

the misconception on the left, the correct answer on the right.)

1)The AIDS virus can be transmitted through saliva, sweat, tears, urine or feces;

also through deep kissing.

1) HIV can ONLY be transmitted through four bodily fluids: blood, semen,

vaginal secretions and breast milk–and can also be transmitted from a mother

to her child before birth, during birth, or while breast feeding. The exchange

of saliva through kissing is no-risk, unless the saliva has blood in it and both

you and your partner are bleeding in the mouth simultaneously.

2) HIV may also be transmitted through casual contact with an infected person.

2) You can’t get infected from toilet seats, phones or water fountains. The virus

can’t be transmitted in the air through sneezing or coughing. You can’t get

HIV from sharing utensils or food or from touching, or hugging. HIV dies after

being exposed to the air. Therefore, touching dried blood on a shaving blade, a

toothbrush or a bathroom counter top is no risk. In any case, unbroken skin is

impermeable, like a rubber raincoat, and cannot absorb the virus whether it’s

alive or dead.

Blood transfusions and medical procedures in the U.S. are safe. Giving blood is

completely risk-free. The chance of getting HIV from dentists or other health

care providers is too low even to measure.You can’t get it from mosquitoes or

other insect or animal bites.

3) Oral sex is just as risky as vaginal or anal intercourse.

3) Although not 100% risk-free, oral sex is considered a low-risk

activity,except if: you have bleeding gums, recent dental work, open sores such

as a herpes lesion, any cut, blister, or burn in the mouth, or if you’ve just

brushed or flossed your teeth. Also, oral sex with an infected woman is riskier

if she is having her period, since menstrual blood can contain HIV. Overall,

latex barriers, (such as condoms or dental dams) used during oral sex reduce

the  transmission  of not just HIV, but other sexual transmitted diseases.

4) Animal skin, latex and polyurethane condoms are all equally effective in

preventing HIV infection and you can use ANY lubrication on the condom

desired.

4)Only latex or polyurethane condoms may be used, as HIV can pass through

an animal skin condom. With latex condoms, only water-based lubricants–like

K-Y jelly or H-R jelly–may be used. No lubricants with oil, alcohol, or grease

are safe.Petroleum jelly,Vaseline, Crisco, mineral oil, baby oil, massage oil,

butter and most hand creams can weaken the condom and cause it to split.

However, with polyurethane condoms, petroleum-based lubricants can be

used.

5) Women have to rely on men using condoms during intercourse to protect

themselves against HIV.

5) Women may employ the “female condom,” a plastic sheath that can be

inserted in their vaginas and used for protection against HIV. It can be inserted

up to 8 hours before sex, has rings at both ends to hold it in place and can be

lubricated with oil-based lubricants that stay wet longer. In addition, women

can carry conventional condoms for their male partners’ use.

6) If a woman is HIV-positive, her offspring will automatically be born infected

with HIV.

6) With no medical treatment taken, about 25% of HIV-positive women will

give birth to infants who are also infected. However, the use of anti-HIV

medications has resulted in a significant decrease of mother-to-child

 transmission  of HIV in utero and during delivery to less than 5%. (NYT 10/19/

99].

7) AIDS is fundamentally a gay disease contracted by white males.

7) Recent data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

indicate that young gay Hispanic and African-American men and heterosexual

women are the fastest growing segment of the population being infected with

HIV. Women now account for 43% of all HIV infected people over age 15. [NYT

11/24/98] African-American and Hispanic women account for more than 76%

of AIDS cases among women in the U.S.

8) Heterosexual men are not really at risk for contracting HIV, even if they

don’t use condoms.

8) The inside opening of the penis is composed of highly-absorbent, sponge-

like mucous membrane tissues, which can provide a route for HIV-infected

vaginal secretions or blood to enter the bloodstream. Proper condom use

protects men from infection.

9) The AIDS epidemic is largely over because new AIDS medications like

protease inhibitors and others have turned AIDS into a chronic, not a terminal

disease.

9) In the U.S., AIDS is the fifth leading cause of death for people 25-44 years

old. Roughly half of all those infected with HIV in the U.S. are not receiving any

medications or medical care. AIDS now kills more people worldwide than any

other infection, including malaria and tuberculosis.[NYT 11/24/98] In 1998

alone, 2.5 million people died of AIDS worldwide. 13.9 million people have

died since the virus was discovered in 1981.

10) If you think you’ve been exposed to HIV through unprotected sex, you can

take an HIV antibody test 2 weeks later and get an accurate result.

10) The standard “window” or waiting period remains a full 3 months. However,

because the widely-used HIV antibody tests (The ELISA and Western Blot) have

become so sensitive, about 95% of people will procure an accurate result 4-6

weeks after a possible exposure to the virus.

* * * *

[Note:The information stated above was reviewed for medical accuracy by Dr.

Todd J. Yancey, an infectious disease specialist practicing in New York City and

affiliated with New York Presbyterian Hospital, NY, Cornell Campus.]

THE CHILD LIFE PROGRAM

“Mommy takes a lot of medicine and Mommy’s really tired sometimes and she

can’t take you to the park as much as she used to. It’s not that I don’t love

you…and that I don’t want to…but Uncle Jack’s going to take you to the park

today.” –A mother living with AIDS, a client at GMHC, talking to her 6-year-

old son.

In New York City alone, 28,000 children have been orphaned by AIDS since the

epidemic began [NYT 12/13/98]

GMHC’s unique Child Life Program serves HIV-infected parents and their

children–who may, or may not, be infected with the virus. “We help families

strengthen their ability to cope, relieve the pressure of parenting with support

services, and teach parents how to talk to their kids,” says Child Life Program

Coordinator Alison Ferst. “Unfortunately, should a parent or child be sick

enough to be facing death, we also help them walk through it with grace and

dignity—as opposed to feeling alone, isolated and frightened.

“We also encourage sick parents to make stable legal plans for their

children who may be left behind,” adds Ferst, “and to have disclosure

conversations with the children in advance, so you don’t have a child standing

at her mother’s funeral, not sure where she’s going next.”

When an HIV-infected Mom arrives at GMHC to have lunch, attend a support

group, consult with a lawyer, or access the acupuncture clinic, she can leave

her children in a spacious playroom, decorated with fanciful murals and a giant

tree hand-painted by the famed children’s story writer and illustrator, Maurice

Sendak, who donated his art. [see photos] The program provides: child-

sitting, nutrition services, a food pantry, art and magic classes, and

recreational trips–church picnics, seasonal apple-pumpkin picking,

amusement parks, zoos, museums, beaches. Also: homework help sessions,

holiday parties, hospital visits, summer sports and weekly support groups for

HIV- positive parents and their HIV-negative children.

This unique program also features: Cooking classes for kids who sometimes

prepare meals for sick parents; Pediatric Buddies, GMHC adult volunteers who

play with sick children and also assist with family chores; Fun With Feelings

Support Group, Friday Evening Family Time, Birthday parties, and a Holiday Gift

Drive.

“Children infected or affected by AIDS,” concludes Ferst, “want to be like

other kids: They want to play with their friends, want to know that someone

will always take care of them, want to know they’re not alone, and often

wonder if it’s their fault when Mom or Dad gets sick.” These children need a

helping hand and any of us can provide one.

5 Simple Steps to Having a Healthy Pregnancy

If you’ve decided to have a baby, the most important thing is that you care a lot, so that both you and the baby are healthy in the future. Girls who receive proper care and take the right decisions are highly likely to have healthy babies.

Prenatal Care

If you discover you are pregnant, see a doctor as soon as possible to begin receiving prenatal care (care during pregnancy). The sooner you begin receiving medical care, the better the chances that both you and your baby are healthy in the future.

If you can not afford to visit a doctor or pay for the consultation in a clinic for prenatal care, social service organizations exist that can help. Ask your parents, school counselor or another trusted adult to help you find resources in your community.

During the first consultation, the doctor will make a lot of questions, such as date of your last period. In this way, you can calculate how long have you been pregnant and what date you expect your baby.

Doctors estimate the duration of pregnancy in weeks. The due date is estimated, but the majority of babies born between 38 and 42 weeks after the first day of last menstrual period of women, or between 36 and 38 weeks after conception (when the sperm fertilizes the egg). Only a small percentage of women giving birth at the estimated delivery date.

The pregnancy is divided into three phases, or quarters. The first quarter runs from conception to end of week 13. The second is from week 14 to 26. The third, from week 27 until the end of pregnancy.

The doctor will examine you and perform a pelvic exam. The doctor will also order blood tests, urine tests and tests to check for sexually transmitted diseases (STD by its acronym in English), including an HIV test, an increasingly common condition in adolescents. (Because some STDs can cause serious health problems in newborns, it is important to get appropriate treatment to protect the baby.)

The doctor will explain what are the physical and emotional changes that are likely to experience during pregnancy. We also learn to recognize the symptoms of possible problems (complications) during pregnancy. This is essential, because teenagers are at greater risk of crossing certain complications such as anemia or hypertension, and give birth before the expected date (premature labor).

Your doctor will want to start taking prenatal vitamins containing folic acid, calcium and iron away. Your doctor may prescribe vitamins or can recommend a brand you can buy without a prescription. These minerals and vitamins help to ensure the good health of baby and mother, and avoid certain birth defects.

Ideally, you should visit your doctor once a month during the first 28 weeks of pregnancy. Then you should visit every 2 weeks until week 36 and weekly thereafter until delivery. If you have a disease like diabetes, which requires careful monitoring during pregnancy, it is likely that your doctor wants to see you more often.

During consultations, your doctor will monitor your weight, blood pressure and urine, in addition to measuring your belly to go record the baby’s growth. When the baby’s heartbeat can be heard with a special device, the doctor will listen to every time you visit. It is likely that your doctor will also indicate other tests during pregnancy, such as an ultrasound to make sure the baby is in perfect condition.

Also part of prenatal care to attend classes where women who are expecting a baby learning how to have a healthy pregnancy and delivery, as well as what are the basic care for the newborn. It is likely that these classes are conducted in hospitals, medical centers, schools and universities in your area.

If adults can be difficult to talk to your doctor about your own body, this is even more difficult for adolescents. The role of your doctor is to help you enjoy a healthy pregnancy and have a healthy baby… and it is likely that there is nothing that a pregnant woman has not told. So do not be afraid to ask about everything you need to know.

Always be honest when your doctor will ask questions, even if they are embarrassing. Many of the issues that your doctor wants you to cover could affect the health of your baby. Think of your doctor as someone who is not only a resource but also a friend you can trust to talk about what is happening to you.

What changes can you expect in your body

Pregnancy creates many physical changes. Here are some of the most common:

Growth of breasts

The increase in breast size is one of the first signs of pregnancy and the breasts may continue to grow throughout pregnancy. It is possible to increase several sizes of support during the course of pregnancy.

Skin changes

Do not be surprised if people’s comments that your skin looks “glowing” when you’re pregnant: pregnancy produces an increased blood volume, which can make your cheeks are a little more pink than usual. In addition, hormonal changes increase the secretion of the sebaceous glands, so that your skin may look brighter. For the same reason, acne is also common during pregnancy.

Among other changes that pregnancy hormones generated in the skin are yellowish or brownish spots that appear on the face, which are called melasma, and a dark stripe running from the navel to the pubis, which known as linea nigra.

Also, moles or freckles that you had before pregnancy may increase in size or become darker. Even the areola, the area around the nipple becomes darker. Stretch marks may also occur (thin lines of pink or purple) in the abdomen, breasts or thighs.

Except for the darkening of the areola, which is usually permanent, these skin changes will disappear after delivery.

Mood swings

It is very common to experience mood swings during pregnancy. Some girls may suffer from depression during pregnancy or after childbirth. If you have symptoms of depression such as sadness, changes in sleep patterns, desires to hurt yourself or negative feelings about yourself or your life, ask your doctor for advice about starting your treatment.

Pregnancy Discomforts

Pregnancy can cause some unpleasant side effects. Among such disorders, include the following:

  • nausea and vomiting, especially during the first months of pregnancy;
  • leg swelling;
  • varicose veins in the legs and the area around the vaginal opening;
  • hemorrhoids;
  • heartburn and constipation;
  • back pain;
  • fatigue and
  • sleeping problems.

If you suffer from one or more of these side effects, remember that you are not alone. Ask your doctor for advice on how to handle these common problems.

If you are pregnant and have bleeding or pain, contact your doctor right away, even if you decided to terminate your pregnancy.

What you should avoid

If you smoke, drink alcohol or use drugs during pregnancy, both you and your baby are at risk for serious problems.

Alcohol

At present, doctors believe it is not advisable to drink a drop of alcohol during pregnancy. If you drink alcoholic beverages can damage the developing fetus and the baby is at risk for birth defects and mental problems.

Smoke

Smoking during pregnancy carries some of the following risks: the birth of a dead fetus (when a baby dies inside the womb), low birth weight (which increases the possibility that the baby has health problems), infants infants (babies born before 37 weeks) syndrome and sudden infant death (SIDS for its acronym in English). SIDS is the sudden death for no apparent reason, a baby under one year.

Drugs

Illegal drugs such as cocaine or marijuana during pregnancy may cause abortions, premature births and other health problems. In addition, babies can be born with an addiction to certain drugs.

If you have trouble quitting smoking, drinking alcohol or using drugs, ask your doctor to help you. Consult your doctor before taking any medication during pregnancy. This includes medicines sold over the counter, prepared herbal supplements and vitamins.

Unsafe Sex

Talk to your doctor about sex during pregnancy. If your doctor allows you to have sex during pregnancy, you should use a condom to avoid contracting a sexually transmitted disease (STD in English). Because some STDs can cause blindness, pneumonia or meningitis in the newborn, it is important for you to protect yourself and protect the baby.

How to take care during pregnancy

Feeding

Many young people are concerned by the appearance of your body and fear of weight gain during pregnancy. But this is not the time to cut calories or go on a diet because you are feeding two people. Both you and your baby need certain nutrients for the baby to grow properly. If you eat a variety of healthy foods, drink enough water and you reduce the junk food, high fat, help to both you and the baby are healthy and growing.

Doctors generally recommend adding about 300 calories a day to the diet, so as to provide the baby with adequate nutrition growth. According to the weight you had before becoming pregnant, you should gain between 11 and 15 kilos (25 to 35 pounds) during pregnancy, mostly during the last 6 months. Your doctor will advise you about this depending on your particular situation.

Eat more fiber from -25 to 30 grams daily, and drinking enough water can help prevent common problems such as constipation. Fruits and vegetables and whole grain breads, cereals or whole wheat muffins are good sources of fiber.

It is necessary that you avoid some foods and beverages during pregnancy, such as:

  • some types of fish such as swordfish, canned tuna and other fish that may have a high content of mercury (your doctor can help you decide which fish to eat);
  • foods containing raw eggs, such as mousse or salad type “Caesar”;
  • raw meat, fish or just cooked;
  • processed meats such as sausages or cold cuts;
  • Unpasteurized soft cheeses such as feta, brie, blue or goat, and
  • milk, unpasteurized juice or cider.

It is also desirable to limit the consumption of artificial sweeteners and caffeine and artificial sweeteners.

Exercise

Exercising during pregnancy is good for your health when you have no complications with the pregnancy and choose appropriate activities. Doctors generally recommend low-impact activities such as walking, swimming and yoga. In general, you should avoid contact sports and high impact aerobic activities that pose a higher risk of injury. It is also not recommended to do a job that involves heavy lifting for women during pregnancy. Talk to your doctor if you have questions about what kind of exercises are safe for you and your baby.

Sleep

It is important to get plenty of rest during pregnancy. During the first months of pregnancy, trying to acquire the habit of sleeping on your side. As pregnancy progresses, lying on your side, knees bent, will be the most comfortable position. It will facilitate the functioning of the heart, since the baby’s weight will not exert any pressure on the vein that carries blood from the feet and legs back to the heart.

Some doctors specifically recommend that pregnant girls should sleep on his left side. Because some of the major blood vessels are in the right side of the abdomen, lying on the left side helps keep the uterus puts pressure on them. Ask your doctor what your recommendation. In most cases, the trick is to lie on either side, to reduce pressure on the back.

Throughout the pregnancy, but particularly in the later stages, it is likely that you wake up frequently at night to go to the bathroom. While it is important to drink plenty of water during pregnancy, try to drink more during the day instead of night. Go to the bathroom before bed. As the pregnancy progresses, you might be hard to find a comfortable position in bed. You can try placing pillows around and under the stomach, back or legs to feel more comfortable.

Stress can also affect sleep. Perhaps you’re concerned about the health of the baby, birth, or how it will play this new role of mother. All these feelings are normal, but can produce insomnia. Talk to your doctor if you have trouble sleeping during pregnancy.

Emotional Health

It is common for pregnant adolescents experience a variety of emotions such as fear, anger, guilt, confusion and sadness. Maybe you take some time to adjust to the fact that you are having a baby. It means a huge change and it is natural for pregnant teens wonder if they are ready for the responsibilities involved in becoming mothers.

The feelings of a young often depend on how much support received by the baby’s father, his family (and family of the baby’s father) and his friends. The situation of each youth is different. Depending on your situation, you may need to seek more support for people who are not part of your family. It is important to talk with people who can support you, guide you and help you share and sort out your feelings. Your school counselor or nurse can guide you to find the resources offered to help your community.

In some cases, teenage pregnancies and spontaneous abortions have lost the baby. This can be very sad and difficult to overcome for some, but to others it causes a feeling of relief. It is important to talk about these feelings and receive support from friends and family, if this is not possible, go to counselors or teachers.

The school and the future

Some girls plan to raise her baby by themselves. Sometimes grandparents or other family members help them. Some young people choose to deliver her baby for adoption. These difficult decisions involve a great deal of courage and concern for the baby.

Young women who have completed high school will have greater chances of getting a good job and enjoy a more successful life. As far as possible, you should finish high school now instead of trying to go back to school later. Ask your school counselor or a trusted adult that you provide information about what programs and classes offered in the community for pregnant teens.

Some communities have support groups especially devoted to teen parents. In some schools, no childcare. Perhaps a member of your family or a friend can take the baby while you’re at school.

You can learn more about what happens when you mother if you read books, attend classes or consultations reliable websites on parenting. Your pediatrician, your parents, your family members and other adults can guide you when you’re pregnant and when you become a mother.

5 Daily Habits That May Shorten Your Life Span

The human body is considered as the greatest wonder. You are the person who is responsible for habits that may shorten your life span. No one else is to blame. The body of the humans is believed to be built for living more than a century, but the present situation shows that only the half of that can be taken as an average life span. The life span is shortened mainly due to the habits developed by the humans. Those habits can harm the whole system adversely. Any habit will take a fixed period of time to turn into a regular pattern. Avoiding the habits which are harmful is not such a Herculean task. So it is high time you reclaim the control of your life and live. There are mainly five habits that shorten your life span and that should be avoided.

Unbalanced Diet

You take in food to provide your body with the necessary nutrients which are inevitable for the proper working of the various systems of the human body. But think once more, do your diet has all the essential nutrients? If your body is not getting the vital nutrients it will not function properly. This is sure to shorten your life span considerably.

Drugs

Taking in drugs and toxic substances is another grave problem. Alcohol and such other intoxicating substances are silent killers of your body organs. Alcohol can cause damage to you heart, liver and such other vital organs. The effect of cardiac and liver problems is well known to every one. Thus the intake of intoxicating substances can shorten your life span dramatically. Not just that, these substances can make the living period itself as painful as hell.

Tobacco

Tobacco also comes under the category of toxic substances. It can destroy the cells in the lungs. Smoking is a major cause of cancer around the world. Chewing of tobacco and other like substances can cause mouth cancer. Once you are affected by these diseases, it will be a great distress not only for you but for the people closer to you also. Smoking is a huge factor that shortens your life span.

Stress

The busy life has a very bad level of stress. Stress has a lot to do with the health of a person. The life of a person can be worth living only if his mind and body work in perfect harmony. The mental breakdown is one of the main reasons which leads people to the habits of alcohol consumption, drugs and smoking. Avoiding stress can work wonders in one’s life. Stress is the sure by-product of this ultra modern era, but there are ways to avoid it. It should be avoided. Otherwise you will be the hunt of many diseases and your life span will also be affected.

Lack of Exercise

With the development of technology the human body is having very less workout. The adverse effects of having less or even zero exercise is very disturbing. If your body is not getting enough exercise, the calories taken in will get deposited in different parts of your body. These unwanted fat deposits will eventually cause health problems