It amazes me to think that women’s health care in the 21st century is still drastically inferior to men’s in many ways, and both men’s and women’s health care is not where it should be. Women’s issues are lagging in research efforts and in dollars invested. And communication about women’s health issues is not as clear as it needs to be.
I learned this first hand when I was told at age 42 that I needed a complete hysterectomy. I didn’t know what I was getting into. But the doctors said I needed it, so I had it. And I was immediately plunged into menopause. My body was in shock at the loss of all the hormones that it could no longer produce.
It took a lot of time and effort to get my health back on track. When I did, I became a women’s health advocate to make sure other women would have access to information and resources so they wouldn’t be blindsided like I was.
I also wanted to find a way for women to be heard by the heath care community. We need an outlet for two-way communication to make our health needs and wishes known. That’s another key reason I founded EmpowHER.
And, boy, is there a lot of work to be done! Let’s start with research. Most research subjects have historically been men. That means the information collected was specific to the hormone levels and muscle mass of men.
Women are different! Our hormones fluctuate all month, every month. So it doesn’t make sense to assume drugs will work the same on us, or the doses should be the same for our lower weight and body composition.
Then there’s testing. Breast and ovarian cancers kill thousands of women every year. But we don’t have an accurate test to provide early detection. I can’t help but believe if this was a concern for men, developing an accurate test would have been a bigger priority.
And don’t forget communication. We know that heart disease is a leading health threat for women. But women don’t receive the same warnings or the same tests to head off the condition. Many women don’t know that our heart attack symptoms are different from men’s. How can we protect ourselves when we don’t have the information we need to tell when something is wrong!