The Weekly Rundown: 21 - 31 August

Welcome to #theweeklyrundown where we give you this week's summary of relevant news covering gynaecological health.

Each week, we aim to keep you up-to-date on the latest global trends, breakthroughs and events centering on women's healthcare.

If we missed anything, please feel free to comment below with a link!


1. Scotland becomes first country in world to make sanitary products free for all students

This week, the Scottish government approved a £5.2 million (61.500.000kr) initiative that will make sanitary products free for all schools, colleges and universities - making Scotland the first country in the world to implement such an order, according to The Guardian.

Research from children's charity Plan International shows that 45 percent of girls in Scotland have had to use alternatives such as toilet paper, socks and newspaper during their periods because they could not afford to buy sanitary products. Also, a survey from grassroots group Women for Independence found that one in five women in Scotland have experienced "period poverty" - a phenomenon in which people struggle to pay for basic sanitary products on a monthly basis.

"In a country as rich as Scotland, it's unacceptable that anyone should struggle to buy basic sanitary products," Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell said.

2. Endometriosis: Technique to drain ovarian cysts could help preserve women’s fertility, trial finds

A procedure to drain ovarian cysts without the need for invasive surgery could help more women avoid serious pain and complications of endometriosis without harming their fertility, new research has shown.

Draining the thick fluid found within the ovaries with a syringe is often ineffective, but doctors from Yonsei University College of Medicine in Seoul have now pioneered a new approach with a catheter (kateter) to clear and treat it.

“In our study, the recurrence rate of catheter-directed sclerotherapy was zero percent," Professor Man-Deuk Kim, one of the authors of the study published in the journal Radiology said. "...[It] is very encouraging given that endometriosis measuring up to 13.5cm in diameter or those that had internal septation (multiple chambers) were included in the study.”

3. Contraception app Natural Cycles' Facebook ad banned for being misleading

Swedish startup Natural Cycles, which offers a non-hormonal birth control method using its app to monitor fertility using a temperature-measured algorithm, had an ad banned Thursday in the UK due to exaggerating its effectiveness.

The UK advertising regulator upheld three complaints that an advert the company ran last year via Facebook was misleading.

“We told Natural Cycles Nordic AB Sweden not to state or imply that the app was a highly accurate method of contraception and to take care not to exaggerate the efficacy of the app in preventing pregnancies,” the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said.

Natural Cycles has yet to back up its claims for the app with the scientific "gold standard" of a randomized control trial. Therefore, users who want to compare the app's effectiveness against other solid birth control methods (the pill or condoms) can't.

The company also remains under investigation in Sweden by the medical regulator after a local hospital reported 37 unwanted pregnancies among app users.

4. Australia's Nine presenter Jessica Braithwaite's baby joy: 'We proved the doctors wrong'

"I don't know if we're having a boy or a girl," Australia's 9Honey News weather presenter Jessica Braithwaite said. "But maybe if it's a girl she'll grow up in a world where her health concerns are taken seriously, and where women's health outcomes are treated equally to those of their male counterparts."

After more than 16 months of speaking to more than 30 doctors to gain a proper diagnosis for her crippling daily abdominal pains, Jessica shares her gratitude for eventually receiving both a proper diagnosis for endometriosis and a treatment method that gave her the comfort to plan for a family and become pregnant.

Her mission now: to ensure both the Australian medical system and public are aware of the commonality and severity of endometriosis so the next generation of girls will be taken seriously as they seek gynaecological care.

Click on the link above to read her full story, told by her.

5. Artificial intelligence system detects often-missed cancer tumors

Disclaimer: although this isn't directly related to women's health, this article showcases how machine learning/artificial intelligence technologies - similar to the kind we're using to generate our app - greatly benefits both patients and the future of healthcare.

Medical scientists and engineers from the University of Central Florida have developed an artificial intelligence (AI) system designed to detect often-missed cancer tumors.

The researchers developed the system by teaching a computer platform the optimal way to detect small specks of lung cancer in computerized tomography (CT) scans, originally drawing this information from more than 1.000 CT scans.

After analysing the 1.000 CT scans, the platform eventually learned to ignore tissue, nerves and other common masses found in the images and began to only focus on lung tissues and abnormal formations that could be tumors, essentially learning the difference between cancerous and benign tumors.

In trials, the AI platform was found to be 95 percent accurate - compared to the common scores achieved by human medics, which typically fall within the range of 65 percent.