Empowering Women’s Health: Breaking Down the Bias

Reclaiming the Medical System Women's Empowerment in 2024

Women set to reclaim the male-dominated medical system in 2024

doctor looking at scans with female patient

Image by Studio Firma / Stocksy

Welcome to the VoiceAngel editorial pitch meeting, where the worlds of beauty and fashion collide with the overarching need to champion women’s health. As we dive into the depths of research and knowledge, we realize something perplexing: a disparity in medical research when it comes to women. Strange, right? Especially considering we, an all-women editorial team, are writing for an audience predominantly made up of women. It’s time to bring the focus back to women’s health, and we expect the tides to turn very soon.

Meet the Experts: The Female Powerhouses

Let’s introduce you to Stacy Sims, Ph.D., an exercise physiologist and nutrition scientist on a mission to revolutionize exercise and nutrition for women. With her extensive research background at esteemed institutions like Stanford, AUT University, and the University of Waikato, she’s dedicated to improving the understanding of women’s health and performance.

Then we have Abbie Smith-Ryan, Ph.D., a professor of exercise physiology at the University of North Carolina. Her expertise lies in metabolism, sports nutrition, and exercise performance. With projects funded by prestigious institutions like the National Institutes of Health, Smith-Ryan is leading the charge in bridging the research gap for women in both healthy and clinical populations.

Women Are Not Just Small Men: Unveiling the Disconnect

For decades, women have been left out of medical research, and while the original intentions may have been good, it’s time to unveil the stark reality. From excluding women of childbearing age in thalidomide-related fears to the historical concept of “female hysteria,” there’s no denying that women have been left out of the narrative.

But fear not, change is on the horizon. In 2014, the NIH declared that sex must be considered as a biological variable in all studies. No more exclusion of women without valid reasoning. Let’s leave behind the ludicrous excuses like “exclusion due to a menstrual cycle,” as voiced by Stacy Sims, Ph.D., who justifiably questions the validity of such arguments.

However, even when women are included in studies, there are shortcomings. Many researchers fail to address crucial factors like hormonal status, leading to flawed conclusions. Women’s bodies are not just an afterthought, and shoving them into the same protocols as men does a disservice to both genders.

The Consequences of Reductionist Research: A Reality Check

The repercussions of neglecting women’s health are not just physical but also mental. Women often face adverse drug reactions at double the rate of men due to a lack of gender-specific dosing information. Misunderstandings surrounding blood pressure thresholds leave women with higher risks of heart disease and late hypertension diagnoses. Moreover, women’s pain, both physical and mental, is frequently minimized, leaving them feeling unheard and devalued.

The Building Femtech & Women’s Research Revolution

It’s time to rewrite the narrative. Championing the cause of women’s health are pioneers like Abbie Smith-Ryan, Ph.D., who prioritizes women-specific data in her research lab. First Lady Jill Biden has even announced the White House Initiative on Women’s Health Research, aiming to advance women’s health research in collaboration with various governmental bodies.

And let’s not forget Stacy Sims, Ph.D., who not only sits on ethics boards but also offers a groundbreaking online course called “Women Are Not Small Men.” To revolutionize menstrual health, Sims is developing an at-home testing kit to assess markers from menstrual fluid—an innovation that could bridge the accessibility gap in healthcare.

Watch This Space: A Revolution Begins

That femtech revolution we’ve been awaiting? It’s here. We’re witnessing the birth of women-centric products like the Nella Specula, a modern speculum designed by women for women. No more discomfort during pelvic exams, thanks to a bill designed with the patient’s comfort in mind.

Even long-standing issues like urinary tract infections during catheterization are being addressed, with inventions like the PureWick system, offering a noninvasive solution. And platforms like Allara connect women with chronic hormonal conditions to experts, ushering in a new era of personalized care.

Forecasting the Future: Women-Led Change

Envision a world where women took the reins in shaping modern medicine. Their complex health metrics would be commonplace, an integral part of research design. We’re not quite there yet, but the tides are turning. By 2024, women-led actions will reshape healthcare and research, dismantling the injustices of the past.

So here’s to strong women. May we know them, may we be them, may we raise them—and may we fight for their health. Join us on this incredible journey, where beauty and fashion intersect with empowering women to take charge of their well-being. Together, we will build a future where women’s health is no longer overlooked but celebrated.

What are your thoughts on the current state of women’s health research? Drop us a comment below and let’s keep the conversation going!