If you are a women and you live in America, then your health is, quite likely, being neglected. And many women don’t even realize it.
A significant report on the future of women’s health published today reveals that women are still being left out of research, despite a 1993 government mandate that required women to be included in government-funded trials.
Here are some of the statistics from the report:
The latest statistics are indeed grim:
Less than one-third of cardiovascular clinical trial participants are women, and only one-third of trials that include women report sex-specific outcomes. Yet, cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death among U.S. women.
Less than 45 percent of animal studies on anxiety and depression use female animals, although depression is a leading cause of disease among women worldwide.
Lung cancer researchers often fail to include an analysis of data by sex or gender-specific factors, despite the fact that lung cancer behaves differently in nonsmoking women than in nonsmoking men. This disease kills more women each year than breast, ovarian and uterine cancers combined.
A woman’s overall lifetime risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease is almost twice that of a man, and it has been thought that this is simply because women live longer. However, hormones may play a role.
Read the full report: Charting the Course: A National Policy Summit on the Future of Women’s HealthRead the synopsis of how Women are Still Left Out of Medical Research
Mother’s Health Neglected Even More
But there is more than one way women’s health is neglected in the US, and that is mother’s health.
Georgetown University researcher Ryan McAllister asks this question about American birth, “Would you pay full price for something that is broken?” The work Dr. McAllister presents is what I spend much of my time lecturing on and advocating for mothers as both a blogger and women’s health physical therapist. Read more about my work toward Better Birth. Also read my post on A Mothers Declaration of Rights
I had no idea how broken birth was until I was pregnant with my first son, Michael, in 2005. It was because of my dogged tenacity and my education in health care that I had enough confidence and knowledge to question my baby doctor (who at that time was an ob/gyn).
At the most exciting time of my life, visits to my doctor left me feeling alone and neglected. I did not feel well cared for, much less respected. Every time I had an appointment I saw a different person, who treated me as if I had no education or right to an opinion every time I asked a question.
American Mothers Deserve Better
Dr. McAllister lays out the facts, supported by the evidence, of why midwifery-attended births are not only more compassionate and nurturing for mother and baby, but they are also safer for low-risk births, which constitute the majority of births in the US. Read my full post on Better Birth Starts by Watching This
Also, read my post on the failure of the American birth system: American Childbirth: A Human Rights Failure?
In short, American women AND American mothers deserve better health care. Currently, we are not getting it. I wrote a post several years back on the How America’s Broken Health Care System Affects Women. It is a wake-up call for all women, especially when researchers admit that there is a lack of knowledge about the problem of women’s health. It is also a distinct call to arms to demand action. We can do better, and everyone has a role to play – from physicians, midwives, and women’s health physical therapists to women and mothers and those who care about them.