Disclaimer: The information, articles, and tips portrayed on this blog, while based on research, do not constitute medical advice. The opinions expressed are meant to educate and inform, but not to dictate lifestyle choices or personal beliefs. These articles are meant to provoke thought on issues surrounding college health and to inform the Hopkins community of healthy information and resources.


Thankful Today

Today, we are thankful for the Hopkins students we see each day.  Whether we work with you in one of our student groups, collaborate together for events, or speak with you on the Breezeway about different health topics- we are thankful for every interaction and opportunity to improve the health and wellness on campus.  We hope you take today to rest, eat, and enjoy a well deserved break.

Happy Thanksgiving Break!

Planning beyond Plan B

This week's sexual health headlines are all about "the morning after pill", also known as Plan B in the US.  The European version of this pill, Norlevo, recently noticed that the pill has been ineffective for women over 176 lbs.  These new revelations spurred the need for a new warning label which explains that the pill loses effectiveness for women who weigh more than 165 lbs and is therefore, not recommended for women in this weight range.  Not ideal news for many sexually active women who are 165 lbs or more.

At this point, the European manufacturer is the only one to discuss and provide a warning about this issue, while the American manufacturer have remained silent.  However, given the similarities between the pills, it is something to keep in mind if you or a partner may use this pill in the future.  We'll be keeping an eye on this as any news continues to develop.

While the news above may be startling, it is not the only option available.  It is also not the most reliable method of birth control for anyone- whatever the weight of the user.  Plan B/Norlevo should be used sparingly as there are many hormones packed into that little pill.  Taking that after every sexual act is not recommended, nor is it economical.  Instead, take a look at the options available and consider talking to someone about what methods might be best for you.  You can make an appointment at the Student Health and Wellness Center for this by calling 410-516-8270.  You can also try Planned Parenthood or your own physician. 

If you, a partner, or a friend are sexually active, remember that using barrier methods such as condoms and dental dams are the only way to prevent both STIs and pregnancy.  If you are also concerned about pregnancy prevention, consider a combination of a barrier method and hormonal method like the pill (the pill taken daily, not the morning after pill) or an IUD (which can last anywhere from 5-12 years depending on the IUD).  By doing this, there is a higher chance of prevention.  If plan B is needed, consider the potential effectiveness for you, including weight as well as timing.  We know the effectiveness of the pill is also affected by time, meaning the sooner Plan B is taken after the sexual act, the more likely it will work.  Also, Plan B should not be used any later than five days after the sexual activity.

Plan B is a good option for emergencies, but instead of relying on it, look into ways to be prepared with a plan a.  Talk to a reproductive health provider for more information about how to keep you safer when it comes to your sexual health.


SEE a DIY project


SEE tip:  Doing activities like crafting, puzzles, and other creative outlets are great for reducing stress.  By reducing stress, better sleep can occur.  And with better sleep, a less stressful day can follow and so the cycle can continue.  Less stress, better sleep, even less stress, and better sleep.

A happy JHU student after making a sleep sachet earlier this year!

Another boost for better sleep and reduced stress is lavender.  Try lavender's calming effects out for yourself by doing a "do-it-yourself" project of creating a lavender sachet today.  The sachet takes less than 1 minute to make.  The process of making it can calm you instantly.  And the effects of the lavender near/under your pillow can help you sleep better.  Try it for yourself- stop by SEE tabling with PEEPs today from 10:45-12pm in Gilman Atrium!

HKB Quit Tip:  Are you or a friend thinking about quitting tobacco?  Start by making a plan.  When will you quit by?  How will you do it?  Need help planning- go to MDQuit.org for resources or to talk to someone to walk you through the process.

Mellow Out Monday Tip:  Sleeping well does wonders for stress relief.  Ever notice how much more easily the small things can stress us out when we've only had about 3 hours of sleep?  Yet, on a day when you've slept well, you can appreciate the birds chirping (instead of wishing they'd just shut up).  The power of sleep reflects on our ability to handle stress.  Strive for better sleep and your stress will become more manageable.  Want help with your sleep?  Try making a lavender sachet to put under your pillow or near your bed for increased calm before rest.  Join PEEPs today from 10:45am-12pm to make your own sachet in Gilman Atrium.

Want another way to shrug the stress away? Stop by MSE tonight starting at 8pm for a free back rub from Stressbusters!  Look for them on Q-level.  Reduce the stress for better sleep tonight!


Sip Tip: Thanksgiving Eve Buzz

The night before Thanksgiving is known for two things: 

1. The worst traffic of the year.  Avoid it if you can!

2. The busiest and most crowded nights at bars/clubs.

If you are going home for the holidays, does that mean more or less chances that you may be drinking alcohol?  

For some, spending time with family can increase the chances of alcohol use, for others, it may decrease any drinking, and for another group it may not make a difference.  We're curious to know-- when you go home- does your behavior around alcohol change at all?

If you do plan to drink while on break, consider keeping yourself safe.  If using a vehicle to get from place to place, have a sober driver.  Be sure to eat before going out- have a little Thanksgiving preview (someone has to test it out, right?!).  And keep drinking water throughout the night to reduce the effects of a possible hangover.


Awkward moments: STI talk

In a recent study of not so shocking research, it was found that having a discussion about one's sexual history, specifically about STIs, is awkward.  The same study found that the awkwardness was reduced when the people involved were more informed about STIs and how to prevent it.

If you are engaging or considering the possibility of sexual relationships, consider starting with getting yourself (and your partner) tested for STIs.  If you both know where you stand in the beginning and routinely get tested, it can promote continued safer sexual practices, better intimacy, and even better communication for the length of the relationship.

Testing can be done at the SHWC for a fee.  It's $15 for chlamydia and $15 for gonorrhea testing, while HIV testing is free.  Additional tests may be available and costs will depend on the lab processing fees charged by the State.  Testing can also be done off campus at places like Planned Parenthood on N. Howard Street.  Planned Parenthood offers a sliding scale for payment, especially useful for college students and does not require insurance (though it is accepted).

Get Your Test.  Know your results. Use protection.  Keep you and your partner safer.


SEE how the music moves you


SEE Tip: Listening to music while exercising can be a great motivator! While for some it can be distracting in a bad way, others love it for that quality. It seems to make time go by faster and helps push you up that last hill, through the last set, or run one more lap. Why is music just so great?

British researchers discovered that bikers pedaled faster and had a stronger pedal stroke with a higher tempo song playing versus a lower tempo. Even when it was the same song just slowed down or sped up, the participants reported liking the higher tempo song more. Although it didn't make the workout seem easier, it pushed the bikers to do more.  As the researchers wrote, when “the music was played faster, the participants chose to accept, and even prefer, a greater degree of effort.”

Now that we know music is a great motivator, what are some great workout songs? Here are some of the best!

"2012 (It Ain't the End)" - Jay Sean, featuring Nicki Minaj
"Club Can't Handle Me" - Flo Rida, featuring David Guetta 
"Not Afraid" - Eminem 
"DJ Got Us Fallin' in Love Again" - Usher, featuring Pitbull 
"I Like It" - Enrique Iglesias, featuring Pitbull 
"Only Girl (in the World)" - Rihanna 
"Roar" - Katy Perry
“A Little Party Never Killed Nobody” Fergie
"I Love It" - Icona Pop
"Counting Stars" - OneRepublic
"Safe and Sound" - Capital Cities

What are your favorite workout songs? Share below in the comments or stop by Nolan's tonight from 6-7:30 and tell the PEEPs for a chance to win an itunes gift card!

source: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/08/25/phys-ed-does-music-make-you-exercise-harder/

HKB Quit Tip:  Thinking about quitting smoking? Join a nation of other soon to be ex-smokers this Thursday, November 21st for the Great American Smoke Out!  Use this national quit day to start fresh and build a healthier you.  Have questions about how to do it?  Find HKB members on the Levering courtyard from 11-1 giving out quit cold turkey subs and at Nolan's from 6-7.  Ask questions, learn how to help yourself or others, and get some goodies.  

Mellow Out Monday Tip:  Music can motivate workouts and create a total mindset change.  The beats can help move your body or move you into a less stressful state of mind.  When you're feeling stressed, try putting some music on to help yourself de-stress for a bit.  You can take a 5 minute dance break or if you are a musical person, take the time to make your own music by singing or playing your own music. 

Need another stress reliever?  Try a free back rub from Stressbusters!  Tonight, Stressbusters will be back in the library on Q level from 8-10pm.  Free back rubs for a happier you!


Sip Tip: What's the Limit


"Know your limit" is often thrown around in college when it comes to drinking.  But how does one really know their limit when it comes to drinking?  It seems like some people can drink a lot and be fine, while others can drink the same amount and be smashed.  So, is it a personal limit that is set or does everyone have the same limit?   

Seems more like a person by person kind of thing.  A person's limit can be based off things like gender, weight, age, amount of alcohol, and even how much or how little someone has had to eat prior to drinking.  So for example, if a 180 lb male and a 140 lb female go drink for drink, the female is going to "hit her limit" faster.  

If you are considering drinking, but haven't figured out your limit (or just don't want to go over your limit) - try doing things like pacing yourself when drinking.  You could also alternate each alcoholic beverage with a non-alcoholic one, preferably water to help with hydration (and reduce the chances for a rough morning).  Try spending time talking to friends, dancing to music, meeting new people, or listening to whatever music is playing.  Give yourself reasons to slow up and enjoy the moment-- not spend it looking down the bottom of a solo cup.  

Knowing your limits can be helpful, but knowing how to stay in the blue zone by using the tips above can keep you within your limits and having fun for the long run.


Condom Confusion

So many condoms to choose from- how can anyone decide?

There are a variety of condoms out there, including, latex or latex-free (perfect if someone has a latex-allergy), to ribbed or non-ribbed, and even flavored.  If you're engaging in sexual behavior, consider using a condom if that's appropriate for the acts you are doing and try the varieties out there.

Some people prefer ribbed, some prefer a snug fit, others like flavored instead of plain (for oral sex).  Note: As a student mentioned to us, flavored condoms are recommended for oral sex specifically, given the higher chance of yeast infections with vaginal intercourse.

So why use condoms with oral sex?  It protects both partners from the spread of STIs, such as, herpes, syphilis, HPV, etc.  Condoms can be used on males and females.  For non-penises (i.e. vagina or anus), simply cut the condom length-wise and use that over the area, or if one is around use a dental dam.  By using a flavored condom- everyone is protected and the pleasure giver has less of a plastic taste to deal with.  Win- win!

Try out the variety-- make a spreadsheet, even!  Safely testing out your options just adds more fun to the experience and can enhance relationships and intimacy since it takes communication to discuss these options.  Talk to your partner about what you each like and discover what makes you both feel amazing.


SEE the awesome almond


SEE Tip:  Want a snack while studying tonight?  Try something that will help, not hinder, your brain.  Almonds are a perfect source for brain power.  They have the right combination of protein, fiber, and healthy fats to increase your brain's ability to function and provide you with the energy needed to power through a study session.  Pair them with some water or tea (little to no caffeine as needed).

Get some samples of the energizing snack today starting at 6pm while supplies last at the MSE Q level from PEEPs!

HKB News Tip:  Recently, states across the country, including Maryland, have been putting forth bills to make smoking in cars with children illegal.  Most have included a fine for violating the law.  According to a recent poll, 82% of American adults support the ban for the health of children.  Be on the lookout for updates as the bill in Maryland moves to the House of Delegates.  

Mellow Out Monday Tip:  Almonds not only boost the brain's productivity, they also reduce stress!  Nuts, right?!  The nutrient-rich snack boosts the immune system which can help the body deal better in times of stress.  Grab a handful to munch as a snack break from studying, or while studying as an alternative to some less helpful snack foods.

Remove the stress on your body tonight- try a back rub from Stressbusters tonight!  Stop by MSE Q level starting at 8pm for a free 5-7 minute back rub.  Get a back rub, lose the stress, and feel awesome!


Sip Tip: Alcohol + Tylenol

Recently reports have come out about the risks associated with Tylenol use.  The active ingredient in Tylenol is acetaminophen which is processed by the liver.  Since alcohol is also processed by the liver- when we combine the two, it can put a lot of stress on the liver.  This could ultimately lead to liver damage or liver failure.  If someone has been drinking and wants to take a pain reliever, Ibuprofen is recommended to reduce the risks to the liver.

Interestingly, a new study has come out about similar negative effects that combining alcohol and Tylenol can have on not only the liver, but the kidneys.  Just another reason to avoid taking these two things together and also being mindful of the dosages (for both, really).

Of course, the best way to avoid the risks associated with alcohol use and Tylenol is to reduce your use.  That can be by keeping the amount of Tylenol used to a minimum or by choosing not to drink or to stay in the blue zone if someone chooses to drink.  Safer choices will yield healthier organs.


Testes, Testes, 1, 2, 3?

Have you seen the Movember campaign around Hopkins?  Or perhaps you've seen a larger number of mustaches being grown than usual.  The "Movember" campaign is in support of all kinds of Cancer Awareness.  Those that participate in "No Shave, November" do so to donate money towards cancer awareness and prevention funding.  While the campaign is open to all genders participating in the anti-razor behavior and promoting awareness for all types of cancer, often it is associated with prostate cancer and other cancers that affect men, in particular.  Are you or someone you know participating in the campaign?

Aside from participating in the campaign, it is important to remember that PREVENTION IS KEY.  Most testicular cancers can be found at an early stage due to some noticeable lumps that are noticed by the testicle owner or a doctor.  Self exams can be done on a monthly basis to check for any abnormalities.

Don't let embarrassment stop you from checking out your body or making an appointment with a doctor.  Your health is a priority!


SEE gets the ZZZs


SEE Tip:  There is truth behind "power naps".  Taking a 20-30 minute nap in the middle of the day can truly re-energize a person.  They are particularly helpful for the sleep-deprived.  Couldn't get 7-9 hours of sleep last night and now you're barely able to add 2 and 2 together?  A power nap can boost brain functioning and assist with memory- perfect before heading into a mid-term...because falling asleep during the midterm is definitely not going to go well.

Want to take a quick nap, but don't have time to head back to your bed?  Stop by the Glass Pav from 11-2 today for a quick rest.  We'll have yoga mats and calming music to help you relax and hopefully take a quick nap.   Take a power nap to give you energy for the rest of your day!

HKB Quit Tip:  People often turn to smoking when stressed or even as a way to stay awake.  Try listening to those cues and let your body rest by taking a 30 minute nap.  If the addiction is calling, but you don't want to give in, consider trying an NRT (Nicotine Replacement Therapy) to help get you over the hump.  Things like the patch, the gum, or the lozenge can help get through those tough moments and make quitting much more possible.

Mellow Out Monday Tip: Stress can do a number on our sleep cycle.  If you've been pulling all-nighters because you're freaking out about midterms your stress may be out of control.  Without proper sleep, every little thing can turn into a huge problem.  Get back on top of things by taking a power nap.  Sleep for just 30 minutes in the middle of the day to re-charge and avoid messing with your sleep later.  You'll do better on those midterms with a more rested version of yourself.

Need more stress relief?  Stressbusters are back again this week!  Look for them on Q level in the MSE starting at 8pm tonight.  They will calm you with free back rubs and help melt the stress away!


It's All in the Family

Take a step back and examine your drinking choices.  Now look at your family's history with drinking.  Do you notice anything?  Research shows that there's a good chance you'll see a link.  Most people who choose not to drink grew up with a family that did not have much alcohol involvement.  On the other hand, those who choose to drink, tended to have family patterns around alcohol use.  Particularly, the earlier memories a person has of parents drinking, the earlier their own drinking tends to start.  

While that is what the research says, what do you think from your own anecdotal evidence?