This just in... men and women are not the same! That may sound like a no-brainer. But when it comes to healthcare, you might be surprised at how many ways women are treated like men when they shouldn’t be.
It all goes back to the start of healthcare as we know it. If you take a look at the history of western medicine, almost all of the early doctors were men. All the researchers were men. And all the patients they did tests on were... you got it... men! At the time, they had what they believed were good reasons for only using men as test subjects. The researchers thought they were protecting women by not doing tests and experiments on them during their childbearing years.
But that also means that at a very basic level, all the foundational information used to make decisions about healthcare came from men. For example, drug doses were adopted based on a man’s body size and weight, with doctors left to figure out how to adapt those doses for women and children. And don’t even get me started on how hormones play into all that! We know as women that our hormone levels fluctuate from day to day and week to week as we go through each month. But basic drug protocols don’t always take that into consideration. So it’s up to us to pay attention to how we react to things, not just the first time we take a new medication, but every day as we go through our monthly cycle.
And don’t think this only applies to prescription drugs. Over-the-counter medicines that are taken by mouth have to get through the digestive process in the stomach before they can start to work. We know that men tend to have more stomach acid than women, and that women’s acid levels drop even lower in the middle of their monthly cycle. So of course men and women absorb those medications at different rates and may need different doses. That’s why it’s so important to pay attention to what’s happening in your own body.
The same kinds of problems also exist in healthcare technology. For example, Dr. Lishan Aklog, who is the Director and Chief of Cardiovascular Surgery at the Heart and Lung Institute of St.