Casting doubt on a popular conception that women who play triple roles–earner, wife and mother–are overstressed and unsatisfied, researchers from University College London found that women who ‘triple-task’ tend to be in better health than women who do not perform all three tasks. The researchers followed 1,200 British women between the ages of 15 and 54 and studied longitudinal data compiled by the British government.

Women who had been homemakers for all or most of their lives and had not held a job for long periods were most likely to say their health was poor, followed by single mothers and childless women. Thirty-eight percent of long-term homemakers were obese compared with 23 percent of working mothers who had steady relationships. Weight gain also tended to occur at a faster rate among the homemakers.

Researcher Dr. Anne McMunn said the findings showed good health was the result, not the cause, of adopting multiple roles during the women’s lives.

"It gives the message that the long-term health benefits of being a working mother outweigh the short-term stress," McMunn said.

More News to Cheer About

  • A recent Harvard University study has confirmed what many sexual health educators, including those who spoke at the Center for Disease Control’s annual conference on sexually transmitted diseases last week, have suspected: that programs where teens sign virginity or abstinence pledges may be unreliable in preventing them from engaging in sexual intercourse and their effectiveness is hard to determine because of teens’ suspect self-reporting. The study found that 53 percent of 13,000 adolescents between grades 7 and 12 who said they made a virginity pledge denied doing so a year later, often after they had become sexually active. Another 10 percent who had engaged in sexual intercourse before they signed pledges or became born-again Christians reported themselves as virgins.

  • Experts called for more research into the causes of infection from the rare and potentially fatal bacterium Clostridium sordellii at a May 12 public meeting organized by federal health agencies, the Wall Street Journal reported. It is estimated that the deadly bacteria live in the vaginas of approximately 1 in 1,000 women. After at least four deaths of U.S. women who took mifepristone along with misoprostol to induce a medical abortion were linked to the bacteria, the Food and Drug Administration issued a public health advisory, but agency officials have not been able to link the deaths directly to the drug regimen.

  • A 21-year-old woman who was repeatedly sold into prostitution in China and jailed in North Korea was one of the first six North Koreans granted U.S. asylum this month, the U.S.-supported news service Radio Free Asia reported May 19. When the woman’s brother tried to save her from forced marriage and prostitution in China, both were jailed; he received a life sentence, and she served three years before she was released.

For more information:

Guttmacher Institute–
Teenage Sexual and Reproductive Behavior
in Developed Countries

"Tests of Women’s Hair Find High Mercury Levels":







American female teens have sex at about the same age as their counterparts in Western Europe, but their rates of pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections and abortion are much higher and they use contraception less often according to research by the New York-based Guttmacher Institute, reported by the Washington Post May 15. They are also more likely to have sex before age 15 and not to be in a committed relationship with a sexual partner than are Western European teens.

Using comparative data from 2000, the Post reported that in the United States, the median age for first intercourse is 17, the same as in Switzerland and Germany. In Sweden it is 16. Sixty-two percent of U.S. high school seniors have had intercourse, compared to 80 percent of Swedish 19-year-olds. Sweden’s annual pregnancy rate for teens between ages 15 and 19 is 25 in 1,000; Germany’s rate is 16 out of 1,000; in the U.S. the rate is 84 in 1,000.

In the U.S., 54 in 1,000 female teens give birth and 29 in 1,000 have abortions, rates that far outpace their European counterparts. One-third of U.S. women will become pregnant before they are 20.

Twenty percent of U.S. teens in the lowest socioeconomic bracket did not use contraception during their last intercourse, compared with only 5 percent in Great Britain; 12 to 23 percent of U.S. teens in the higher income brackets did not use contraception while the number is less than 4 percent for the same group of British teens.

More News to Jeer About

  • A study of 484 female inmates in Rhode Island has found that incarcerated women are at an "extremely high risk" of unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections. Over 70 percent reported inconsistent birth control, more than 83 percent had a history of unplanned pregnancy, and more than one-half of the women had a sexually transmitted disease, all numbers significantly higher than the U.S. average. The report, published by the American Journal of Public Health, argued that if prisons could provide comprehensive reproductive health care and education to inmates, women would carry these healthier practices with them after they are released.

  • Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah has told the country’s newspapers to stop publishing pictures of women as they could lead young men astray, The Independent, a British newspaper, reported May 18. Women in Saudi Arabia cannot drive or vote, and newspapers are state-owned.

  • Three brands of tuna that are familiar names in most U.S. households will not have to put mercury warning labels on their products in California, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported May 13. In a victory for Bumble Bee Seafoods, Chicken of the Sea and Starkist, Judge Robert Dondero ruled that the amount of mercury in tuna is below state limits and that it occurs naturally in canned food, thus exempting it from required state warning labels to warn consumers about the risks; he added that current federal warnings are adequate. A recent study from the University of North Carolina estimates that 1 in 5 U.S. women of childbearing age has enough mercury in her body to harm a fetus.


In Pennsylvania, State Treasurer Bob Casey easily won the Democratic Party’s primary election on Tuesday and goes on to face Republican Sen. Rick Santorum in a race that is already garnering national attention. Also in Pennsylvania, Democrats Lois Murphy and Lois Herr and Republican Diana Irey won their party’s primaries and will take on incumbents this fall. Oregon and Kentucky also hosted primaries last week. In Kentucky, Republican Elaine Sue Carlson will challenge Democrat Ben Chandler. And in Oregon, Democrat Carol Voisin will challenge Republican Greg Walden.

–Washington Bureau Chief Allison Stevens contributed to this story.

Elizabeth Dwoskin is an editorial intern with Women’s eNews. She is a freelance writer and radio producer based in New York.

Women’s eNews welcomes your comments. E-mail us at [email protected].