Doctor, doctor: Mice and health, and 16 years on the pill | Dr Tom Smith

We've had mice in our kitchen for a number of months and can't seem to get rid of them. Should I worry about the health aspects – we have two young children – or are the risks pretty minimal?
Yes, they are. I assume, obviously, that you keep up good kitchen hygiene standards and the mice aren't actually rummaging around in the food. However, mice do dribble their urine constantly, so that if they are on the kitchen surfaces there is a high chance of contamination of anything that you place on them, unless you repeatedly clean them. As for any illness you may catch from them, the one that springs to mind is infection with salmonella typhimurium (mouse typhoid), which produces diarrhoea and vomiting in humans. That said, I can't remember a case in the practices with which I've been associated, so the risk must be small.

I'm 32 and have taken the pill consistently since I was 16. I'm not asking you to pronounce on my fertility, and I'm not planning any life decisions on your answer, but shouldn't that mean, since I've ovulated only about 20 times in my life, that I have "saved" most of my eggs?
You have effectively stopped about 190 of your potential egg cells from maturing into ova that could be fertilised. This is a very small fraction of the many thousands that you have on the surfaces of your ovaries. Without the pill, on average, women have around 400 menstrual cycles between puberty and the menopause, so that they use up only 400 or so of these potential eggs. That's a tiny proportion, so that, strictly biologically speaking, your decision not to use 190 of them makes no significant difference to the overall state of the ovary and your ability to conceive if you stop taking the pill. Your fertility is not simply a matter of your remaining egg cell numbers. The fact that you have not had a pill-free period since you were 16 means that you don't know whether or not your menstrual cycle will return when you stop taking it, although there are high odds on that it will.

• Do you have a medical question for Dr Tom Smith?


Thanks to who have provided this article. View the original here.