Are periods optional? (Abstract Science, July 12 - 18)
Mary Parker

Are periods optional? (Abstract Science, July 12 - 18)

Also: COVID affecting other diseases, and the immune response to COVID 

No One Has to Get Their Period Anymore 

(Marion Renault, The Atlantic, 7/17/20) 

The article discusses the pros and cons for people who want to use contraception to avoid menstruation. Among the pros are reduced risk of iron deficiency, reduced waste from menstrual products, cost savings for low-income people, and mitigation of symptoms for conditions like PCOS. For the pros, the article discusses the psychological, and in rare cases medical, benefits for some of regular menstruation. 

How the covid-19 pandemic is making malaria and HIV more deadly 

(Adam Vaughan, New Scientist, 7/13/20) 

Interruption in supply chains and delayed access to medical services could affect the mortality rates of diseases like HIV, TB, and malaria, according to researchers from the Imperial College of London. Extrapolating from past scenarios like recent Ebola outbreaks and factoring in anecdotal evidence, the team estimated the mortality rates of those three diseases in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Though their findings are extremely preliminary, it has been reported that shipments of mosquito nets and HIV drugs have been interrupted, among other life-threatening medical delays. 

Beyond antibodies, the immune response to coronavirus is complicated 

(John Timmer, Ars Technica, 7/16/20) 

The article discusses what research has revealed so far on the immune system’s response to SARS-CoV-2 – namely that the results have been confusing. Comparing the virus to similar outbreaks like MERS has shed some light, but research indicates that SARS-CoV-2 is unique. The variability in symptoms is an indication of the variability of people’s immune response to the virus, with patients exhibiting unpredictable T-cell responses regardless of whether they had been exposed to any SARS virus. 

—Stories compiled by Senior Scientific Writer Mary Parker