The True Cancer Bodies photo series is here to highlight the reality of cancer

The True Cancer Bodies photo series is here to highlight the reality of cancer

true cancer bodies
Credit: Binky Nixon Photography

A new photo series campaign has been created to highlight the ‘real face’ of cancer.

True Cancer Bodies is headed by Vicky Saynor, a mother of four who was diagnosed with a Grade 3 stage 1 Breast Cancer in November 2018. She found a lump high on her breast after learning how to examine herself on the Coppafeel website after hearing the story of a young woman passing away from breast cancer in her twenties because she wasn’t diagnosed early enough.

Shortly after surgery, just one month later, she started a blog on Instagram and Facebook to ‘show the true face of cancer’ and quickly amassed over 4,000 followers.

View this post on Instagram

GAMMY TIT I’ve gained quite a lot of new followers 👋 mainly because of @truecancerbodies (thank you for your support), so I wanted to just remind you all why I’m here ☺ // Last year in July, shortly after getting married, I started to properly check my boobs. When I say ‘properly’ this is very important…. boob checking is from armpit to collarbone to bottom of breast tissue and back across to armpit. My lump was between the top of my breast and collarbone, and many have been shocked by that. Including me! Before ‘proper’ checking, I just randomly gave my soft breast tissue a squidge and that was pretty much it. Finding the charity @coppafeelpeople and learning the checking method meant I found my lump, hopefully a better outcome for me, immediate treatment and hopefully a better prognosis. The type of tumour I had, left unchecked for even another six months, would have resulted in a drastically different outcome for me and my family // I am a True Cancer Body. Early detection for ANY cancer is key. It’s not an exact science – I know that! But please get checking your breasts regularly; get anything you feel or see has changed in your body checked; go for your smear!; @coppafeelpeople offer monthly FREE text reminders. There’s no excuse … please don’t think it won’t happen to you! // If you’ve been affected by any cancer our @truecancerbodies community is welcoming and safe. Male, female, parents of children with cancer, any background, we’d love to hear from you! We’re currently focusing on gynae cancer throughout May, with the help of @eveappeal. In June we’re focusing on Men & Cancer. I’d love to get more men involved, and ultimately see better representation of men with cancer in the media. If you can help with this in any way please let me know! // Happy Boob and Body checking Sunday! Xx #coppafeel #checkyourboobs #checkyourballs #fuckcancer #chemohead #chemotherapy #bodyaware #truecancerbodies #boobs #eveappeal

A post shared by Gammy Tit (@gammy_tit) on May 12, 2019 at 3:23am PDT

But earlier this year, after seeing a breast cancer campaign that enlisted celebrities and models as spokespeople and used hashtags such as ‘two is better than one’, she launched True Cancer Bodies as a way of authentically representing those living with cancer.

She explained: ‘Although always well-meaning, the use of glossy celebrities and happy, smiling models in cancer campaigns, just did not reflect the reality of what we, the cancer patients, and our families have to endure.’

The photo series captures 38 ‘true cancer bodies’ from across the UK, aged between 26 and 57, representing 10 different cancers from breast to bowel, multiple myeloma to Ewing’s sarcoma and it offers a safe space for people to tell their stories, speak their mind and get much needed support.

true cancer bodies

Credit: The Voyage UK

The aim is to show the real face of cancer in a way that isn’t ‘happy, fluffly, pink’, and the campaign’s Instagram page alone had over 8,000 views in the first week.

true cancer bodies

Credit: The Voyage UK

True Cancer Bodies is now collaborating with cancer charities to help raise the awareness of specific cancers every month, and the community has quickly evolved and includes over 25 different cancers, with people ranging in age from just 6 years old up to 79 years old.

Vicky said: ‘The prognosis of so many cancer cases could be better if the population’s awareness was improved.

‘We strongly feel that the best way to do this is by showing what cancer really looks like – the bald heads, the scars, the mastectomies.

‘A picture of a 35-year-old women with a stoma bag is the real face of cancer, and is exactly what is needed to be shared to increase awareness of early detection techniques.’

The post The True Cancer Bodies photo series is here to highlight the reality of cancer appeared first on Marie Claire.

Here’s what you need to know about the chilling new abortion legislation

Here’s what you need to know about the chilling new abortion legislation

Elisabeth Moss as Offred in The Handmaid's Tale
Handmaid’s Tale

This week saw the passing of the most restrictive abortion ban in the US, with Alabama lawmakers making history on Tuesday for passing a bill that outlaws abortion in almost all cases – including rape and incest. It’s a near-total ban, with the only exemption being when the woman’s health is in life-threatening danger.

And who voted to pass it? 25 men, with the four women in the Alabama senate all being in the minority to vote against the bill.

But Alabama is no isolated case, coming in a chilling series of proposed restrictions to women’s reproductive rights across America, introducing the fetal heartbeat bill, with Georgia’s ban being passed just days before.

There are reportedly sixteen other states seeking to impose new restrictions on abortion, restrictions that actually echo those in Northern Ireland.

Pro-Choice campaigners via The Guardian pointed out that under a piece of Victorian legislation – the Offences Against the Persons Act 1861 – anyone procuring an abortion in Northern Ireland, whether medical staff or pregnant women, can face life imprisonment.


Here’s what you need to know about the new abortion legislation…

Alabama abortion law

The near blanket ban in Alabama is a proposed law making abortion illegal in almost all cases, including rape and incest. The only reported exemption is when a woman’s life is at risk. Getting an abortion could lead to imprisonment and even doctors who perform the surgery could reportedly face up to 99 years in prison.

The law could reportedly be blocked in court, but with an appeals process could be brought before the Supreme Court, which due to the conservative majority, could criminalise abortion.


Georgia abortion law

Georgia criminalised abortion this week, changing the state law from outlawing abortion after 20 weeks to outlawing abortion after six weeks of pregnancy.

The proposed bill in question is the fetal heartbeat bill, deeming an abortion illegal as soon as a heartbeat can be detected. The ban, similar to Alabama’s, would ban almost all abortions unless the mother is at serious risk.


What is the fetal heartbeat bill?

The fetal heartbeat bill is part of the proposed abortion legislation in the US. As its name suggests, the bill determines that an abortion becomes illegal once the fetus’ heartbeat can be detected, reasoning that a heartbeat makes it a human life. Anti-bill campaigners however have been quick to point out that a fetal heartbeat can often be detected before a woman finds out that she is pregnant.


Which US states are looking to ban abortion?

Abortion ban bills have already passed in Alabama, Ohio, Mississippi and Georgia, with the proposed bills failing in Arkansas, Iowa, North Dakota, Pennsylvania and Wyoming (the bill in Kentucky has also been temporarily blocked). Other states that are moving to restrict abortion laws include Florida, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia.

We will continue to update this story.

The post Here’s what you need to know about the chilling new abortion legislation appeared first on Marie Claire.

How to nail strength training like an absolute pro

How to nail strength training like an absolute pro

Strength training can be a bit daunting to begin with, especially as it’s in the past been quite exclusive to men.

However, more and more women are getting into weight lifting and muscle gaining exercises, so there’s not better time to try something new.

Kate Maxey, Strength and Conditioning Master Trainer at Third Space, shares her knowledge.

Have you noticed more women take up strength training? And if so, why?

With the myths of lifting weights being solely for men becoming a thing of the past, it’s clear to see why are seeing a rise in women strength training. Take crossfit as an example, we have seen huge growth in recent years with inspirational women showing that they too can push their bodies to extremes and lift weights. Crossfit has created an environment where women feel confident to train alongside men, in a less intimidating setting than the mirror covered, bicep curling weight room. The first ever Strongwoman competition was held in 2016 – and since, there has been significant growth in women training like this. Strongwoman training involves using different equipment that is not readily available to most gyms e.g. log bars, atlas stones, farmer’s carry etc.

At Third Space, we have seen a +12% increase year on year participation in our Strength and conditioning group exercise programmes, which has subsequently led to the launch of the Yard at Canary Wharf and Yard Strong – a strong-man inspired, strength class and it’s interesting to see that over 50% of our Yard Strong participants are in fact female.

It’s important to also take note that the fitness market isn’t the same as what it was a decade ago, with more women partaking in sport and in the gym. We have witnessed an evolution of the ‘strong, not skinny’ movement – women are now more focussed on training like athletes and looking to achieve strong and athletic bodies, contributing to the rise in strength training for women.

Are there any common misconceptions surrounding it?

Previously, there have been misconceptions that lifting weights will make you bulky and we are now seeing more women embracing the athletic, lean and powerful bodies. However, lifting weights can be one of the most effective ways to reduce body fat and increase muscle mass, creating a lean, athletic figure, not the bulky image that has been created. If you stick to good diet and ensure resistance training is include within your workout, you can maximise your fat loss while minimising muscle loss, which help you gain an athletic, lean body.

Often classes have been given the reputation that it is where women go to practice their favourite 90s style workout routines. However, times are changing (at last!) The development of classes has led to both male and females entering the studios.

What advice would you give women wanting to get started?

Consistency is key: in the gym we are seeing more and more women and men making the gym their lifestyle. In turn, results are expected for time and effort with clients wanting to see their results in the weight that they are lifting or the meters they are rowing. Results are expected for time and effort spent in the gym. Via strength training you are able to physically see the benefits of lifting, not only through your bodies but more so from the number of kilograms lifted or how many meters rowed in a test.

The Yard Strong is inspired by the world’s strongest man competitions – think farmers carries and atlas stones which is a class at our functional training space, The Yard at Third Space Canary Whard. The aim is only ever to develop, and each week be able to lift a little bit more. It is a strength class, it’s not about burpees – it’s about lifting. Come ready to learn correct technique and push yourself in each class.

Ask questions and seek the help of a trainer. Ensuring you have the correct technique is extremely important to make sure you are training effectively and in order to maximise your results.

Any particular exercises that are good for beginners? Tips?

Strength training is low impact, but offers rewarding results. When lifting weights there is little to no impact, which when practiced correctly makes it safe for all ages.

My top three exercises for beginners that you want to ensure you are including in your workout, whilst perfecting your technique each time are:

1. Squat – working nearly every muscle in your legs this compound full body movement is a must have in any workout. You can begin with body weight, then begin to increase the weight using a DB or a KB.

2. Shoulder press – working your upper body and importantly your core, this exercise will soon begin to sculpt your upper body and make you feel like a gym pro in no
Time. Begin with DB’s and progress to using a barbell in no time.

3. Back row – time to work that back. Most of us sit down all day and sit in one poor posture, we need to train in a different way to the movements we perform all day. Therefore, training your posterior chain (back/glutes/hamstrings) is a great way to improve posture and develop that great defined back, arms and core. Begin with DB’s, and begin to see the difference.

Don’t be afraid of going and lifting weights, trust me and in a few weeks you’ll have achieved more than ever before!

The post How to nail strength training like an absolute pro appeared first on Marie Claire.

Apparently, this will be the biggest regret of your life

Apparently, this will be the biggest regret of your life


how do bloggers travel

Some of the most common regrets we have include working too hard, losing touch with friends, turning down a dream job opportunity and not making time to travel.

But what is the one thing that most people would say is the biggest regret of their lives?

Psychologists at Cornell University have released a new study revealing that the biggest regret we have in our lives is ‘failing our ideal selves’.

Rather than regretting the things we have done – ‘why did I say that?’ or ‘I wish I had done this instead!’ – our ultimate worry is that we haven’t followed our dreams.

Professor of Psychology and lead author of the study, Tom Gilovich, said: ‘When we evaluate our lives, we think about whether we’re heading toward our ideal selves, becoming the person we’d like to be.

‘Those are the regrets that are going to stick with you, because they are what you look at through the windshield of life.

‘The ‘ought’ regrets are potholes on the road. Those were problems, but now they’re behind you. To be sure, there are certain failures to live up to our ‘ought’ selves that are extremely painful and can haunt a person forever; so many great works of fiction draw upon precisely that fact.

‘But for most people those types of regrets are far outnumbered by the ways in which they fall short of their ideal selves.’

So if you’ve been looking for the courage and motivation to get out there and turn your dreams into a reality – this is it.

The post Apparently, this will be the biggest regret of your life appeared first on Marie Claire.

Meet the women using Acupuncture to keep Millennials’ minds in check

Meet the women using Acupuncture to keep Millennials’ minds in check

As part of Mental Health Awareness Week, we sat down with Georgie and Grace, the 27-year-old co-founders of The Elements Project, to discuss the role that acupuncture can play in a healthy body

Words by Niamh McCollum

The conversation around mental health has become one that we can’t get away from. Nor should we try – considering almost five times as many young people suffer from a mental health condition compared to just 10 years ago.

As specialists grapple to ascertain the exact source behind the mental health epidemic we’re currently facing, millennials too have struggled to find ways to cope with their own fluctuating mental wellbeing.

From meditation apps, to talking groups and medication, the complicated reality about mental health is that there’s no one clear path that works for everyone.

But the good news is that more people are facing up to their own anxiety, depression and other mental health problems by taking action in the form of holistic therapies, such as meditation, aromatherapy and acupuncture.

We sat down with Georgie and Grace, co-founders of The Elements Project, an acupuncture practice modelled on the principles of Five Element Acupuncture.

Together, we discussed the potential healing benefits of acupuncture on worried and frantic minds, and why it could be worth bringing the 2,000 year old practice back within the reach of modern day society.

How did you get into acupuncture?

Georgie: I was in a really dark place, and my friend recommended that I see an acupuncturist. I was reluctant and thought, ‘well what the hell are needles going to do?’ It was a very subtle and gradual change, but slowly things just weren’t so awful, and then there was a real sense of peace.

Grace: I had an incredibly strong reaction to acupuncture when I felt totally disconnected after University. Within six months of starting treatment I had moved out to Morocco and set up a business on my own, which is an absolute delight to run. I put that down to having had acupuncture – it’s about making you thrive and giving you access to your potential.

How was The Elements Project created?

Grace: We both took a nine-month intensive training course which is run by Gerad Kite (a leading Five Elements Acupuncture practitioner, renowned for his work in treating a range of conditions.) We lived and breathed acupuncture, and it showed us a totally new way of looking at life. Since then, we started treating and set up our own practice – we’re really excited about where this is going to go.

The Elements Project Treatment Room

What conditions can acupuncture be used to treat?

Georgie: Because it is a holistic form of medicine, you can treat many things. The majority of ailments that we treat are related to mental health – anxiety, depression, insomnia, nausea, and just a lack of energy.

Grace: It comes from the idea that a very healthy body, if imbalanced, can correct itself. We are built to heal ourselves, the fact we can just cut our leg and it heals is quite magical. We should be able to do that mentally as well.

How do the individual sessions at The Elements Project work?

Grace: A patient will come in and talk with us, so we can get the full picture of everything that is going on. Then we move on to treatment. The needles allow us to activate energy within the body and guide it to the right place.

Georgie: We recommend that patients come once a week for the first month, but the gap in between sessions may increase as the person gradually feels stronger, to once every two or four weeks.

Grace: Acupuncture is about maintenance though. A big thing with Western medicine is this idea that you fix the problem and then you’re done, but life continues to happen. We are constantly having external circumstances thrown at us that create stress. So even if you’re feeling fantastic, it’s important to continue treatment.

What do you think is having the biggest impact on millennial’s mental health?

Georgie: I think it’s just the information age in general because we are absolutely inundated, and we don’t know what we’re reading is real and what’s not. We’re also constantly comparing ourselves on social media.

Grace: There is also this idea that because we are a generation that exists in a post war era, we have never had to live through this idea of ‘survival’. This has enabled us to stop looking externally at ‘the panic’, and starting to look within, becoming more aware of ourselves. We have been privileged enough to be able to look internally, but that’s why I think anxiety is becoming increasingly common. Our goal is to make sure that people know that acupuncture and holistic medicine is about mental health, and it should be accessible.

The Elements Project has two practices based in Brixton and Vauxhall. Visit the website for more details.

The post Meet the women using Acupuncture to keep Millennials’ minds in check appeared first on Marie Claire.

‘I’m having an abortion in the UK and this is what it feels like’

‘I’m having an abortion in the UK and this is what it feels like’

‘No one wants to have an abortion, they just don’t want an unplanned pregnancy’

Written by Samantha Lewis in 2017

I’m pregnant, but I’m not going to have the baby. I’m having an abortion. It feels like a weight off my shoulders just to admit it.

I’m currently around 6 weeks, exhausted and emotional. I haven’t told many people that I’m having an abortion besides my partner, my Mum, a few carefully selected close friends and my line manager. (I have to organise time off work for the abortion).

As tiring as it is growing a little human inside you, while getting up to pee four times a night and struggling to eat or keep down food, nothing is more tiring than the silence I feel enveloped by. An unplanned pregnancy is stressful and abortion is not an easy topic to discuss, but I can’t help feeling that it would make life so much easier if women like me were able to share their experiences outside of the Marie Stopes helpline.

I keep crying at work because I can’t stop thinking about it. One of the hardest things is that it is constantly on my mind. It doesn’t matter how straight-forward the decision might seem, it doesn’t make having an abortion any easier. I’m exhausted from keeping it a secret.

After a discussion with my partner, he encourages me to talk about it online. Cautiously, I do, and within an hour I’ve received around 40 beautiful, kind, supportive messages. Women get in touch to share their personal experiences of having an abortion, and someone even calls for half an hour to talk me through what happened to her. I’m crying down the phone to a relative stranger but I feel so much less alone. It’s great having a strong support network but it’s completely different speaking to women who’ve already dealt with the same thing. I’m overwhelmed. All women deserve this much support when going through the abortion process.

having an abortion

At the abortion clinic

My first assessment is surprisingly smooth – I don’t even cry. Routine blood and STI tests are done. An ultrasound is done, and I’m grateful that the screen is turned away with the sound off. We talk through my medical history and the type of abortion I’d prefer to have – I’ve decided on surgical, rather than medical – and whether I’d like to be sedated or anaesthetised. (A medical abortion means passing the pregnancy at home, alone, and the side-effects can include vomiting and diarrhoea). Neither option sounded great but I’ve decided I would prefer to leave the clinic without the pregnancy, and recover at home with my partner.

The abortion is in two days and it’s only just struck me how sad I feel about it. It feels strange that in two days’ time I’ll no longer be pregnant – my body will be mine again. No one wants to have an abortion, they just don’t want an unplanned pregnancy. I’m sure that no one wants their first experience of pregnancy to be like this. It’s supposed to be something happy, a cause for celebration. The worst thing is that I don’t even have time to deal with it fully. I have to work. I have to be stoic and bottle everything up during the day and get on with things, but I really need time to just be able to cry about it. It’s been about two weeks since finding out I’m pregnant until now. I’ve had to make decisions quickly, and the time has flown before I’ve really got my head around it.

having an abortion

Having the abortion

We wait in the clinic for hours. I’m grateful to have my partner there as a distraction from the awkward silence in the waiting room. My stomach growls from not having eaten since the night before – no food for six hours before the procedure and no water for two. The wait is so long that I just feel bored and tired and hungry, rather than anxious or fearful.

I go through multiple checkpoints with different nurses. I’m given white slippers and a surgical sheet to wrap around my lower body as I undress. I’m ushered in to the operating room, with five different people I’ve never met before. Nurses, anaesthetists, the surgeon. I sit back on the bed as the anaesthetist asks me questions, one nurse instructs me how to lie while another places heart monitors on my chest. I can’t concentrate – so many voices speak at once. Now I’m scared. My legs are hoisted into stirrups and I start to cry, asking for someone to hold my hand. I’m overwhelmed and scared.

Waking up bleary, about an hour later, I’m moved into a wheelchair with a basket of belongings on my lap, and taken to the recovery area. All the women I’d seen in the waiting room are here: heat packs on stomachs, hot tea, biscuits, blankets. I’m too drowsy to wake up properly. I cry. My stomach cramps like period pains and I want to be home in bed immediately. I text my partner asking him to buy a hot water bottle, fearing I’ll be in pain all day – without the option of painkillers for another 4-6 hours.

I’m quiet on the hour-long journey home. I start to bleed as I change into pyjamas, ready to spend the rest of the day in bed. I just want to sleep.

After the abortion

I wake up the day afterwards feeling so relieved. I feel like my body is my own again. Two days after the abortion, I have my third counselling session. Recovery after having an abortion is an emotional time, and there is so much intimacy in experiencing this with your partner. I know now that he will be an amazing father one day, and how much I would like to have children with him in future. Just not yet.

The post ‘I’m having an abortion in the UK and this is what it feels like’ appeared first on Marie Claire.

Five common myths about cervical screening busted by an OBGYN

Five common myths about cervical screening busted by an OBGYN

Because attending your smear test is seriously important, and nothing to worry about

cervical screening

Getting your cervical screening might not feel like a walk in the park, but it’s nowhere near the ordeal that you may be freaking out about.

But smear tests are SO important and it’s absolutely essential that you know your stuff and – most importantly – attend your appointment.

The number of women going to their cervical smear test is at a 20 year low, with 25% of women not attending their appointment. However, Treatwell noticed that bookings for intimate waxes was up by 84% year on year.

This year they’ve launched the ‘Life Saving Wax’ campaign in partnership with Public Health England, an initiative encouraging beauty therapists to open up the conversation around smear tests and ultimately get more women to attend their appointment.

With this in mind, we turned Dr Christine Ekechi, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, to clear the fog and break down the most popular myths about cervical screening. Here’s what you need to know…

Myth 1: Cervical screening detects the presence of cancer

A smear test doesn’t actually test for cervical cancer, but pre-cancerous cells known as cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN). ‘I frequently get asked by women whether cervical screening detects the presence of cancer so, if you are one of these people, then I assure you that you are not alone, says Dr Christine. ‘As a matter of fact, it appears that many women of all ages are confused as to the purpose of cervical screening, which in some cases may lead them to delay or not attend. But this needn’t be the case.

‘Cervical screening is a test to check the health of the cells of the cervix, which involves taking a small sample of cells from just within the cervix to do so. Most women’s test results show that everything is normal, but for around 1 in 20 women, the test shows some abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix. Most of these changes won’t lead to cervical cancer and the cells may go back to normal on their own. But in some cases, the abnormal cells need to be removed so they can’t become cancerous.

‘In this way, regular screening, which only takes a few minutes, can help stop cervical cancer before it starts, as the test identifies potentially harmful cells before they become cancerous and ensures women get the right treatment as soon as possible. In a similar way, some women believe a cervical screen is the correct test for abnormal vaginal bleeding to rule out the presence of cancer. A cervical screen is unhelpful in this situation and any abnormal bleeding must be investigated by a doctor.’

View this post on Instagram

Hello everyone! I’ve finally decided to listen to the calls of friends, family and patients to create a space on IG for health and well-being information for black and ethnic minority women (BAME) 😁 ………………………………………………… Who am I? I am a London based Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist and a women’s health advocate. My job involves helping women manage their health concerns from young adulthood through pregnancy and the amazing years beyond that! ………………………………………………… Why am I doing this? The health statistics for BAME women are still appalling. Working with government, charities and other organisations I want to address this issue. What better way than direct education and discussion here? I am a black woman. I am a doctor. I am a patient. What affects you affects me so let’s rewrite the narrative. Let’s own our narrative. All are welcome to follow including our men! So let’s get started…..

A post shared by Dr Christine Ekechi (@dr_christine_ekechi) on Mar 20, 2019 at 10:12am PDT

Myth 2: Smear tests are always extremely painful

One of the main reasons women cite for not attending their smear is that they’re too scared that it will be painful. ‘Everyone’s experience of cervical screening is different, some women find it painful, some find it uncomfortable and some may just experience a small scratch,’ the doctor explains.

‘However, it is important to remember that the nurses are trained to work with their patients and put them at ease and the test should only take 5 minutes. There are also many things that you can do to put yourself at ease or make the experience more comfortable, which many people are unaware of. For instance:

  • Talk to your nurse during the test and remember you are in control and can stop the test whenever you want to
  • Ask for a smaller speculum
  • Ask to lie in a different position
  • Take someone you trust to the appointment like a friend or family member
  • Ask your nurse about breathing exercises, as these can help
  • Take in music or a podcast to distract you.’

Myth 3: If you’ve had the HPV vaccine, you don’t need to go for your smear test

‘This is another common myth I get asked frequently. Although the HPV vaccine protects against 7 out of 10 (70%) cases of cervical cancer, a woman may still contract a type of high-risk HPV which the vaccine does not protect against. Therefore it is still important to attend routine screening when invited as this will help to detect early whether one of the other high-risk HPV infections have been contracted or whether there are any changes to cells (abnormalities).’

Myth 4: Only heterosexual, sexually active women need cervical screening

‘This is most definitely not true. Everyone with a cervix should take up their cervical screening invitation, regardless of their sexual orientation or what gender they define themselves as. Most changes to the cells of the cervix (abnormalities) are caused by persistent infection with HPV. As HPV can be passed on through skin-to-skin contact in the genital area, sexually active lesbian and bisexual people are still at risk. This is also true for transgender women who still have a cervix, and women.

‘Sadly, due to the lack of awareness around this, the uptake rates of cervical screening is significantly lower for lesbian, bisexual women and trans women, as they may believe that they don’t need screening because they don’t have sex with men. But, as mentioned earlier, HPV can be passed on through simple skin-to-skin contact in the genital area.’

Myth 5: An abnormal smear = you have cancer

Many women understandably worry about the results of their test, but one crucial thing to always bear in mind is that having an ‘abnormal’ smear does not mean you have cancer. Cervical screening isn’t a test for cancer, instead it can stop cancer before it starts by checking the health of your cervix and identifying any abnormal cells that could develop into cancer in the future.

Dr Christine Ekechi is a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at NHS Imperial College Healthcare, specialising in early pregnancy and acute gynaecology. You can follow her on Instagram at @dr_christine_ekechi

The post Five common myths about cervical screening busted by an OBGYN appeared first on Marie Claire.

Harry, Meghan, William and Kate have launched a 24/7 mental health text line

Harry, Meghan, William and Kate have launched a 24/7 mental health text line

The royals are joining forces

Prince William, Kate Middleton, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have joined forces to launch a mental health text line, Shout, which aims to support those in crisis.

The free anonymous text service allows those in distress to talk to trained volunteers 24/7 and the initiative has been backed by the royals with a £3 million grant from their Royal Foundation.

Prince William told those at the launch event: ‘With the biggest investment by the Royal Foundation to date we are today able to formally launch Shout – a new UK-wide service that connects vulnerable people in a state of crisis to trained volunteers who are there to help.

‘The service is free to use, anonymous, and operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

‘The conversations are run by volunteers who have completed 25 hours of online training, and are monitored by an exceptional clinical team. Over the course of the last year 1,000 volunteers have signed up, and 60,000 conversations have taken place.

‘That is 60,000 moments when people who were feeling scared, frightened and alone were able to use their phone to connect with someone who could support them.’

It has been modelled on the US-based Crisis Text Line, and will connect individuals with trained volunteers whenever they need support.

The Duchess of Cambridge added: ‘For the last few years, I’ve been focusing much of my work on the importance of prevention in the earliest years of life to help avoid problems in later life.

‘But, sadly, for so many, they have already reached a crisis situation. This is why Shout is so important. It is able to offer support when it is crucially needed, and the opportunity to turn lives around.’

To use the service text ‘shout’ to 85258.

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Having a dog as a child makes you less likely to suffer with anxiety

Having a dog as a child makes you less likely to suffer with anxiety

We knew it!

We don’t know about you, but we’re very much of the opinion that life is much better in the company of a dog. And it seems that science is very much on our side on that front.

Not only do dogs love their owners five times more than cats do, but studies have shown that simply walking your dog makes you happier all-round.

Research has even proven that it’s better for you to sleep next to a dog than another human at night. They really are man’s best friend.

Now, a recent study published in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease suggests that children who grow up in the company of a floof are significantly less likely to struggle with anxiety.

Researchers compared two study groups of children, 370 who lived with a pet dog and 273 who did not. After a screening test for anxiety, 12% of the dog-owning children were positive for anxiety, compared to 21% of the non-dog owning children.

‘What we actually found was children from homes with pet dogs had lower anxiety scores than children in homes with no pet dog,’ research scientist and the study’s author, Dr Anne Gadomski explained.

‘Interacting with a friendly dog also reduces cortisol levels, most likely through oxytocin release, which lessens physiologic responses to stress. These hormonal effects may underlie the observed emotional and behavioural benefits of animal-assisted therapy and pet dogs.’

Go doggos!

The post Having a dog as a child makes you less likely to suffer with anxiety appeared first on Marie Claire.

The best fitness classes for every level, from beginner to bootcamp veteran

The best fitness classes for every level, from beginner to bootcamp veteran

It doesn’t matter if you’re a seasoned gym bunny, there’ll be a class suited to your skill level

fitness classes

Legend has it that some people are actually motivated enough to maintain a strict fitness regime. The rest of us mere mortals rely on the best fitness classes the UK has to offer.

They’re not to everyone’s liking, but classes offer structured exercise that in my opinion make it much easier to commit to improving your fitness levels – and, dare I say it, can be quite fun too.

There are an overwhelming number of different options in the capital and beyond, so team Marie Claire has played guinea pig to find out which are worth signing up to.

So whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned gym class pro, there’s something for you. And when you’re done here, check out the best yoga classes in London for something a little more restorative.


fitness classes Psycle

What is it?

Spin class, but seriously upgraded. Lights down, music turned right up, you’ll be put through your cycling paces on the bike with the addition of weights for a full body workout. It’s intense, but you do have a little bit of room to take things at your own pace (don’t feel you need to match your instructor’s stamina on your first session). And as it’s dark, nobody can really see if you’re struggling. Result. The instructors’ high energy coaching encourages you to push yourself to your own limits, whatever those might be. As well as their Ride classes, Psycle also offers Yoga and Strength options too.

Where is it?

You’ll find Psycle studios in Mortimer Street, Canary Wharf, Shoreditch and Clapham.

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Define London

What is it?

This New York style high-tempo barre fitness is the brainchild of former Broadway performer and celebrity master trainer Ashley Verma and suitable for all fitness levels. The classes – ran by a group of the loveliest women – are a mixture of barre and floor-work, incorporating bosu balls and ankle weights in certain classes, for non-stop, head-to-toe intense body-burning, stretching and strengthening systems. It’s hardly surprising that millennials are flocking here for improved posture, muscle definition, weight loss, increased flexibility and reduced stress levels.

Where is it?

Define London studio on Great Portland Street, Fitzrovia.

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Barry’s Bootcamp

fitness classes

What is it?

Barry’s is not for the feint-hearted, but a workout that burns 1,000 calories was never going to be easy. An hour long class that’s a mix of cardio and strength, the idea is to ‘shock’ your body into burning fat and building muscle, as well as increasing your metabolism over time. A mix of running and weights, instructors will push you to your limits  there are also ‘Double Floor’ classes for those who don’t fancy the treadmill). Each day targets a different muscle group and it’s recommended that you attend three times a week.

Where is it?

There are Barry’s studios in King’s Cross, Canary Wharf, Shoreditch, Victoria and Bayswater, as well as Manchester city centre for our friends in the north.

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fitness classes F45

What is it?

It’s all in the name, ‘F’ for functional training and 45 for the number of minutes each class lasts, combining different styles of training for the best possible results. The workout is a mixture of HIIT, circuits and functional training with 31 different interval workouts on offer (and more in the pipeline). You can read all about the different workouts on offer here.

Where is it?

F45 have studios all over the UK – find your nearest on their website.

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Un1t London

What is it?

With the slogan ‘we train as one’, Un1t places emphasis on the group workout. You’ll have to work together with your fellow classmates to complete these fitness classes – meaning you really can’t slack here. Classes begin with discussing the ‘Game Plan’, or agenda for the session, followed by a warm-up and the class, with a short hydration break in between. You’ll be dripping with sweat by the end but pumped full of endorphins.

Where is it?

You’ll find Un1t in London Bridge (and also Munich, for something ever so slightly further afield).

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Heartcore @ Sweaty Betty

What is it?

Heartcore’s Dynamic Pilates is a new form of ‘CoreFormer pilates’. Based on the concept of the original Reformer, using continual resistance of spring tension, the low impact class combines strength, conditioning and balance to achieve body postural strength, alignment, tone and mobility. Plus, it’s very, very fun.

Where is it?

There are Heartcore classes all over London from Notting Hill and Mayfair to Hampstead and the City. The most Instagrammable location has to be its newest, The Studio @ No. 1 Carnaby, inside Sweaty Betty‘s flagship store.

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What is it?

Boxing, but better, Kobox classes are 50-minutes, high-intensity and in the dark with music. Your taught through the ‘boxing by numbers’ method, learning six key boxing moves numbered one to six. Half of the class time is spent boxing on the bag, the other strength conditioning your body. It’s a serious workout but instructors will help you on your way to becoming a Kobox pro – don’t worry if you’re not a complete fitness freak just yet.

Where is it?

Marylebone, Chelsea and the City.

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Row Strong at Virgin Active

What is it?

Fan of the rowing machine? You’ll get the most out of it with this intense rower class in which you’ll ‘train like an athlete’. Sessions focus on either upper, lower or total body strength depending on the day, giving each of your muscle groups an intense workout in HIIT format. Stick with it and you’ll see a huge improvement in your flexibility, mobility and fitness levels. When it comes to fitness classes, this is a scorcher.

Where is it?

Virgin Active Mayfair

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Want more exercise inspiration? Head to our Health & Fitness section for more content

The post The best fitness classes for every level, from beginner to bootcamp veteran appeared first on Marie Claire.