In the past, women were not included in research because of two main reasons. One is that we are more biologically complicated than men. The other is that we had too many demands on our time to participate in research studies (you know, with rearing children and all). This meant that up until women were included, treatments were based on how the male body responded. Adding to the list of vital women contributions, inclusion in research is among them. The reasons why may not be so obvious and extend beyond biological differences.

Equal, but Different

Diverse group of women arm in arm in a circle, clinical research, women's health

Though we know women’s bodies are different than men, those differences also make women more challenging to research. In a world that demands fast results for everything, taking longer and costing more can be problematic. For example, in general, women’s hormones fluctuate with their menstrual cycles. These hormones modify their immune system function, which can affect the way an intervention is metabolized. Essentially, this requires additional monitoring over the different phases of women’s cycles to gather data on how the fluctuating hormone levels impact the treatment delivery.

Sure, it can take longer to study women and ultimately cost more. However, the benefits women gain by accurate reporting leads to safer, more effective options.

Social and Economic Differences

A woman is more likely to face an economic disadvantage if she has children. More women who have abused drugs say that the problem originated from a partnered relationship. Domestic violence against women often leads to a cycle of job loss and homelessness. The varying factors women face have a significant impact on healthcare and research. Finances and cultural stigma affect whether or not to seek treatment. Things like increased familial responsibilities and juggling multiple roles affect participation in studies and treatment follow-through.

Underrepresented, Undertreated

The U.S. Women’s Health Services Task Force says that underrepresentation in clinical research puts “women at risk for missed opportunities for prevention, incorrect diagnoses, misinformed treatments, sickness, and even death.” Women can display different symptoms, and there are conditions that only they get or are more susceptible to develop. Not only does more women’s health research need to be done, but we also need more women to participate in research. All ages, races, ethnicities, and social backgrounds comprise the diverse need for women volunteers.

Woman with long curly hair pointing, now is the time to plan for the future, birth control, clinical research

At Women’s Health Care Research, we don’t believe in leaving women’s healthcare to chance. Birth control that is safe and effective for every woman is a growing need as we learn more about the workings of women’s anatomies and how outside factors influence them. To learn more about our enrolling birth control studies and how you can get involved, call (858) 505-8672 or visit our website.

 

References:

https://behavioralscientist.org/the-results-need-to-be-further-explored-in-women-the-hidden-sexism-in-scientific-research/

https://www.brighamandwomens.org/assets/bwh/womens-health/pdfs/connorsreportfinal.pdf

https://www.apa.org/pi/ses/resources/publications/women