Living in a developed country does not mean we stop seeking better treatment or ignore flaws. It is important to regularly analyze important overlooked issues in society, and as women, our health is a huge one.
Women’s reproductive health is a very important part of living in a functional society, but unfortunately can be severely under-researched.
In the 1970’s, the Food and Drug Administration excluded all women of child-bearing potential from their “General Considerations for the Clinical Evaluation of Drugs”. This guidance established a precedent that existing and developing drugs would only be tested on a very specific and narrow population of candidates.
The effects of this guidance were long lasting, and I personally believe the attitude present in the establishment of this guidance is very much present today. That is, the notion that women’s health is too complex to understand, mainly because of menstruation.
Women were excluded from these clinical evaluation populations because of the idea that irregular hormones would skew or convolute the trials’ results. They also feared that testing would potentially cause infertility in these women. However, the same hesitations were not expressed with male fertility amidst testing.
Over 50% of America is female, the neglect of women during FDA clinical trials is the neglect of health research for more than half our population. It is also expected on average that American women will outlive American men by 3 years, thus needing more healthcare and aid.
Beyond just these overlooked statistics, we know the female body is the vessel for carrying life. Women who decide to have children today are still dealing with the consequences of inadequate research and development on their reproductive health and medication.
To say this is just a women’s health issue would still be undermining. Race and socioeconomic backgrounds are also factors of disparity in the underdevelopment of women’s medicine. Black women in America experience the highest rate of maternal mortality during childbirth and pregnancy. Thus, this is a multifaceted issue.
The Society for Women’s Health Research is an organization that is actively working against this problem, and attempting to undo the long lasting effects of the FDA’s exclusion of women from their trials. They highlight the important differences between the male and female bodies.
Below are some of the important statistics SWHR highlights:
- 1. “Ninety percent of women with sleep apnea go undiagnosed because they may not report the same ‘textbook’ symptoms as men.”
- 2. “Two-thirds of those with Alzheimer’s disease are women and some research suggests women are at greater risk for AD than men.”
- 3. “Eighty percent of people with osteoporosis are women and they experience rapid bone loss at menopause due to hormonal changes.”
These are a few of many problems that stem from the insufficient research regarding the female body and its reproductive health. Organizations like SWHR are crucial to the progress of this issue, and deserve more time, attention, and funding.
We as women should demand to know how our body’s work, and more importantly, how modern medicine and healthcare will affect us. Do what you can by learning about your body via the right resources, and never hesitating to ask questions.
Women’s health should not be brushed aside simply because of complexity or lack of funding.
Let us know how you inform yourself with women’s health resources! @HerCampusSJSU