Canadian Pulse

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Canadian Pulse
Lesbians Don't Trust Docs

Health care providers need to become comfortable treating lesbians.

That's what the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada (SOGC) decided at its Annual Clinical Meeting in Victoria last June.

Studies show that about two thirds of the time, lesbians feel uncomfortable telling doctors their sexual orientation, fearing poor treatment. Many have had poor health care experiences because they choose not to reveal their sexual orientation.

"The safest public strategy for lesbians and the society around them has all too often been to maintain a code of silence," said Dr. Jan Christilaw of the SOGC.

U.S. studies show that 35-50 percent of lesbians felt overt hostility when they did reveal their sexual orientation. Canadian physicians, research suggests, are no more approachable, but a little less overtly hostile.

Christilaw held clinical workshops at the SOGC meeting, encouraging discussion and helping physicians to overcome communication barriers. "These women must first be convinced that they can trust their caregivers completely to deal appropriately with the disclosure of their sexual orientation."

In the House

It's official. After several months of low-key preparation and organization, the Clearinghouse of the Canadian Women's Health Network is now ready to serve you. Check out what we have to offer:

  • A toll-free 1-888 number. Go ahead. Ask us questions related to women's health. We try to refer callers to organizations with first-hand knowledge of the issue in question, often in the caller's own area. E-mail questions welcome (we've had some from as far as France, India, and Brazil).

Toll-free: 1-888-818-9172 or E-mail:

  • The CWHN Clearinghouse Collection. We have plenty of unique materials on women's health. Many of these not-widely-published resources come from our own members and newsletter readers. Also, our staff have found many valuable, cutting-edge resources on the Internet.
  • Databases. Three separate but linked databases were created to store information about individuals and organizations, their resources and their research. With information from women's health organizations from across the country and around the world, the databases are chock full of key information that will help us help you find what you seek. Any organization wishing to contribute information to the CWHN databases through our web site should contact us for instructions and a password.
  • The CWHN Web Site contains a number of documents and links to other web sites of interest. Constantly reviewed and updated, rev-up our site to start your search for information. Very soon you will be able to search the three CWHN databases at our site, and conduct your own search for information about organizations, resources and research.

If you, or your organization, want to join our network and be in our database, contact Patricia Fader, Clearinghouse Coordinator, at (204) 942-5500 ext. 15 to find out how.


Cairo+5 will review government progress since the International Conference on Population and Development.

To work on providing input into Canada's position at the June 1999 review, a series of Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) meetings will be held in Halifax, Montr,al, Toronto, Winnipeg and Vancouver in October and November, looking at international development, international women's reproductive health rights, migration, the environment and other factors.

For more information contact:

Katherine McDonald Executive Director    Action Canada for Population and Development 430-1 Nicholas Street Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7 Phone: (613) 562-0880 Fax: (613) 562-0880    E-mail:



Poison in the Well, Japan

Japan is reaching a heightened awareness of the danger and prevalence of man-made hormone-disrupting chemicals.

The search for what has caused Japan's shrinking birth rate has led to hormone-disrupting chemicals appearing in contaminated food and drinking water.

Japanese researchers have found dangerously high levels of dioxin in Japanese women's breast milk, an increase in the number of abnormalities and growths in Japanese women's wombs and severely low sperm counts in Japanese men.

Women who live near garbage incinerators in Japan, which emit up to 80 percent of the country's dioxin releases, reportedly show higher levels of breast milk contamination that those who live farther away from the incinerators.

Source: Environmental Media Services

Boning up on Bone Density

Capitalizing on women's fear of aging, the private health care sector has created a demand for bone mineral density testing (BMD).

Although research does not support the use of BMD (a bone scan that measures bone mass) to prevent future bone deterioration, limited health care funds will be diverted from more effective approaches to this one, according to a recent paper by Dr. Armin,e Kazanjian.

To order a copy of "Normal Bone Mass, Aging Bodies, Marketing of Fear", contact:

BC Office of Health Technology Assessment Centre for Health Services and Policy Research   University of British Columbia 429-2194 Health Sciences Mall Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z3 Fax: (604) 822-7975    E-mail:


Willow Calling

Breast Cancer information, resources, and support will soon be just a toll-free call away.

Responding to a great increase in the number of service requests from across Canada the group receives, Willow will offer toll-free telephone support and information, in more than a dozen languages, starting this Fall.

In the new year, the survivor-driven group also plans to begin offering training, workshops, resources and networking opportunities to women active in community-based breast cancer groups across Canada.

For more information on these and other services call:

Willow 785 Queen Street East    Toronto, ON M4M 1H5 Toll free: 1-888-778-3100 Fax: 1-416-778-8070 E-mail:   



Les Éditions du remue-ménage (Montréal) published À bout de patience, the French version of Patient No More, published by Gynergy Books. The French version of Sharon Batt's book came out in the Spring of 1998, and costs $29.95.


A New Friend Indeed

For women in the prime of life, there's a new friend publishing the journal made just for them.

A Friend Indeed has changed hands, and cities, to the Women's Health Clinic in Winnipeg.

Janine O'Leary Cobb, who founded and printed the publication since 1984, is moving on to spend more time with her family, to "smell the roses" and put together a book of letters sent over the years to A Friend Indeed.

"We hope that we can retain some of the personal touch that Janine provided and that we have valued so much," writes Sari Tudiver, in her first issue as Acting Editor.

Menopause, midlife, and aging are a focus of many of the Women's Health Clinic's services, so the future issues promise to live up to A Friend Indeed's reputation.

The clinic's first issue, October, has held on to many AFI favourites like "Hot Flashes" updates on research, and other news bits and "The Exchange" letters and replies.

A Friend Indeed for women in the prime of life . . .


Main Floor - 419 Graham Avenue Winnipeg, MB R3C 0M3 Tel: (204) 989-8028 Fax: (204) 989-8029    E-mail: