How to close the gender health gap

by The Insights

Menopause may be entering the public consciousness (although, oddly enough, it’s not a compulsory part of the curriculum in 41% of UK university medical schools), but many other areas of people’s health women suffer from a lack of information for clinicians and patients. According to the findings of the Women’s Health Strategy, only 8% of respondents felt they had access to enough information about gynecological conditions such as endometriosis and fibroids. And moving away from conditions and into basic anatomical details, a 2017 survey found that nearly half of women don’t know what the cervix is. “They don’t know their bodies, and we don’t teach them anything about their bodies,” Griffin says.

Too often, women are told their symptoms are “normal” when what doctors really should say is “common.” “Rather than saying, this is what’s happening, how can we improve this? We said, this is just what’s happening, it’s normal. As a result, women are leaving dates at the GP feeling rejected and not having the opportunity to discuss how their symptoms are affecting their life.”The impact was completely lost from the conversation.”

Part of the problem is that many doctors still don’t know a woman’s body. Women have been excluded from medical trials for a number of reasons, including the mistaken belief that their menstrual cycles could skew results, perceived risks to reproductive potential, and fertility issues in women in their 20s and 30s. , and the increased cost of incorporating other populations and/or subpopulations into medical studies. So, to date, researchers have extrapolated that what works for men will work for women, which, to state the obvious, doesn’t always work. Take the sleeping pill zolpidem in the United States, for example, which, because it is released more slowly in women’s bodies than in men, still has an effect on women in the morning after taking their dose. The FDA had to adjust the dosage for women after a number of high-profile traffic accidents raised awareness of the problem.

So how do we close the many gender gaps in health care? The UK Government’s Women’s Health Strategy sets out a number of ambitions and positive actions, including a commitment to conduct surveys of reproductive health experiences every two years, as well as an investment of £2million pounds ($2.48 million) in a randomized controlled trial in endometriosis to examine the effectiveness of surgery versus non-surgical interventions for managing chronic pelvic pain in women. But many of the recommendations, while well-intentioned, are vague, difficult to implement and difficult to measure.

Meanwhile, a new wave of companies is filling in the gaps, invariably driven by founders’ frustration with the alarming lack of options and information available. Take The Lowdown, the world’s leading contraceptive review, advice and prescription platform, which aims to provide an insightful, community-based experience of over 100 contraceptive methods, not just the standard pills prescribed by GPs. Or Juno Bio, the Vaginal Microbiome Test, which says it’s “on a mission to close the gender health gap” by giving personalized vaginal microbe results that empower women to take control of their fertility. and their general health. Or Maven Clinics, a virtual care platform that offers comprehensive care for those planning, starting and raising a family, with a dedicated “care advocate” for all members.

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