Standing Up for Women’s Health

Why we need collective action to see change.

Recently, BBC reported that Dr. Astrid Linder has invented a female crash test dummy. Now here’s why this piece of news deserves a mention…

First, the idea for this invention stemmed from the need for a stark change in matters of women’s safety and health awareness— the most commonly used dummy has been based on the average male build. In addition, the example illustrates how scientific innovations are one of the ways in which the status quo can be challenged. This invention could inspire a change in how we view women’s health and nutrition and leverage technology to explore viable solutions for the same.

Lack of women’s health awareness

Based on a recent survey, we now know that a whopping 51% of women in India are dealing with health issues. A healthy diet and other lifestyle changes may be important for general well-being. However, in order to improve women’s health and nutrition, we need to address the inadequacies in our understanding of women’s bodies.

Gaps in knowledge — the need to make research inclusive

Did you know that women with diabetes are more susceptible to heart disease than men, or that women present heart related issues differently than men?

Even though there are biological differences between women’s and men’s bodies, women have largely been under-represented in clinical trials. Our understanding of the causes, consequences, and treatments of various diseases, therefore, is aligned with the male physiology. This historical lack of research of women’s health concerns has impacted women’s awareness about their own bodies, as well as the healthcare they receive. The lack of women’s health awareness around reproductive health issues like endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) has led to a knowledge gap in the causes and treatment methods of these health conditions, too.

Social stigma and taboos — the need to change mindsets

Social conditioning also plays a role in the way women access healthcare. Stigma around menstruation makes it difficult for women to open up about these aspects of their health. A recent study showed that 87% people believe menopause can significantly impact a woman’s life. Yet, conversations around this subject are limited. Menopause can be a challenging period in a woman’s life, physically, mentally, and emotionally— not something that should be endured in silence. It is also necessary to find out if your symptoms are due to menopause or a different underlying condition that needs medical attention— such as hypothyroidism— which not only shares symptoms with menopause but also exacerbates them. It is thus crucial for women to test for thyroid disorders.

Breaking the silence and de-stigmatizing issues around women’s bodies is absolutely essential in timely and accurate diagnoses and treatment.

Leveraging technology to level the playing field

Technological innovations have the potential to transform healthcare and make it more inclusive. Diagnostic tools are imperative to detect conditions specific to women’s health and provide efficient and clinically meaningful test results. Regular screenings, mammograms, and Pap smears can help in the early diagnosis of diseases and disorders and make a life-saving difference. High sensitivity cardiac troponin tests can also help in the early detection of heart attacks in women.

Women must take control of their health, but the onus to bring about this change should not be solely on them. We need more inclusive conversations about health, education of women’s bodies and safe spaces that acknowledge women’s health as a critical aspect of healthcare. Only then will women feel encouraged and assured to take charge of their own health. The journey of a well-rounded life begins with health, and it’s time we empower women to embark on it.

Disclaimer: The information mentioned in this document is only suggestive /for patient education and shall not be considered as a substitute for doctor’s advice or recommendations from Abbott. Please consult your doctor for more information.