Women’s Health is more than a “Women’s” Issue

Graphic created by Petra Molina.

A few weeks ago, I found myself doubled over in excruciating pain, feeling waves of nausea washing over me. Despite taking medications, I remained unable to function as they failed to even dull the sharp, stabbing sensations coursing through my pelvis. After months of enduring pain and anxiety over my menstrual health, I couldn’t stop wondering: Why is there such a profound lack of understanding and research dedicated to the female body? 

As I began discussing my own experiences and frustrations regarding the lack of medical solutions for painful menstrual conditions, I found that more and more people started to open up and share their own similar feelings.

 “A lot of modern medicine doesn’t reflect the wants and needs of the very diverse population doctors and scientists should be serving with their work,” said Allisson Jhonson, a member of the UNLV Feminist Club on campus.

Despite significant strides in healthcare over the past few decades, critical gaps persist in research and treatment capabilities, particularly in areas unique to women’s health. It’s crucial to note that The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) omitted women deemed to be of “child-bearing potential” from participation in clinical trials from 1977 to 1993, a practice that even extended to trials involving mice. 

Although the FDA’s exclusion was officially attributed to concerns about potential reproductive adverse effects, a report on the historical involvement of women in drug trials identified a different underlying cause. Specifically, the report pointed to the perception of female bodies as confounding variables and more expensive test subjects due to their fluctuating hormones.

In our society, women’s health has frequently taken a backseat to the prioritization of male health. Women have often been viewed as ‘complicated’ individuals, leading to a neglect of efforts to improve their overall well-being. “Women are routinely ignored, gaslighted and not taken seriously in the world of healthcare,” said Sophie Dagostino, president of the UNLV Feminist Club. 

A 2014 report by the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston extensively documented the systematic exclusion of women from health research. They found that, despite cardiovascular disease being the leading cause of death among US female individuals, only one-third of cardiovascular clinical trial participants were female. Although the disease affects female and male bodies differently at every level, a mere 31% of cardiovascular clinical trials provide results separated by sex. 

“Personally, I feel that a lot of modern medicine is still operating under the unconscious bias that women’s bodies are here for the sole purpose of child-rearing,” said Johnson. 

Times have changed, and it is time to put to rest the traditional ideas that female bodies are not important enough to be studied. We deserve quality healthcare tailored to our biological needs.


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