HealthSmart Q & A-7

Dear HealthSmart, 

I’m a marathon runner and I admit to prior drug use. Can either of these variables, or prior surgeries, hinder my fertility?

HealthSmart asked Dr. Richard J. Paulson, M.D., Director of University of Southern California Fertility. Here’s his response:

Actually, a woman has a better shot at conceiving if she’s in good physical shape and has a healthy body weight; obesity can cause fertility problems. Dieting and exercise are okay in moderation, but not eating a balanced diet and intensive physical activity can cause a woman to skip periods due to increased strain on the body. If you’re trying to conceive, staying away from drugs, tobacco and alcohol are also encouraged to avoid the stress reactions they produce. Prior surgeries usually don’t affect a woman’s ability to have children unless they involved major abdominal surgery.


Dear HealthSmart,

I suffer from anxiety and find myself lying awake in bed worrying. Even when I do fall asleep, I toss and turn and wake up feeling anxious. How can I cope with this problem?

HealthSmart asked Dr. Debra Kissen, Ph.D., Clinical Director of the Light on Anxiety Treatment Center in Chicago. Here’s her response:

It’s common for worries to intensify at night when we have some time to think without such day-to-day distractions as work. I recommend that before you go to bed you set aside time—even if only 15 minutes—to address problems that are weighing on you. It’s especially helpful to designate a specific space, like a ‘worry chair’ where you can go to jot down your problems. This practice allows your worries to come up ahead of time so you don’t feel an immediate surge of anxiety the moment you hit the pillow. If you do find yourself in bed worrying for longer than five minutes, it’s important to force yourself to get out of bed and move to another area of your home so your bed doesn’t become associated with anxiety. It’s also helpful to have a book close by so that reading can serve as a distraction until you’re able to sleep. But choose a book that’s not too stimulating, like a thrilling page turner.


Dear HealthSmart,

I have chronically dry eyes and recently — since I began doing computer work in a small cubicle at a new office – they’ve gotten much worse. I’m paid more at the new job, so I don’t want to quit. But what could be causing this worsening problem?

HealthSmart asked Dr. Kelly Nichols, O.D./M.D., Dean of the School of Optometry at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Here’s her answer:

People who work with computers all day long often suffer problems with chronic dry eye. That’s because you’re not blinking as much when you’re staring at a screen. I’m a big advocate for prevention – including periodic ‘blink breaks’ throughout the day. Also, if your monitor is under an air vent that’s blowing dry air on you, I suggest you move the computer or attempt to cover the air vent. Better still, ask your company to move you to a cubicle elsewhere in the office. Small changes can make a big difference.


Do you have questions on health or wellness you’d like answered by the nation’s leading medical researchers? If so, you can send to HealthSmart is a national newspaper column from the Washington News Service in DC. Due to demand, we are unable to reply to all inquiries. Responses through the column are no substitute for care from physicians or other medical professionals.

Copyright Ellen James Martin 2021


Back to Top