Aside from obvious physical characteristics — the indispensable need for a new pair of shoes or indulging in the latest Cosmo quiz — does female biology differ enough from men’s to warrant separate research and comparative analysis?
Dr. Ann M. Gronowski, a professor of pathology, immunology, obstetrics and gynecology at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, says yes.
“Women have a unique physiology and set of health conditions that arise from complex reproductive organs as well as pregnancy. Women also differ in their risk for developing some diseases common to both men and women and how they respond to that disease and treatment can be unique to their sex,” she said.
Gronowski and colleagues penned the forward article for a special edition of Clinical Chemistry. The article showcases a collection of nearly 50 recent key studies and expert opinion articles looking at how shared health issues manifest differently in males and females.
The special issue, called Advancing Women's Health, casts a light on how those uniquely female differences might be incorporated into screening, treatment and monitoring to enhance outcomes. It looks at the current state of women’s health care as well.
“Until recently, much of the medical literature that was published focused predominantly on male populations. Slowly, over the last century – and specifically since 1993 – researchers have come to appreciate the differences in normal physiology, as well as disease pathology, between men and women,” Gronowski said.
Researchers have found that these hardwired differences matter.
While both sexes may have a similar probability of being diagnosed with a particular health condition or disease, all things are not equal. The age range at which the condition manifests, risk factors, response to treatment and social and economic dynamics, are just a few areas that differ significantly between men and women.