Enabling Women to Thrive
How are women uniquely impacted with their mental and physical health? And what services exist to support them?
Mar 8th, 2023
That’s the estimated number of women living in the UK at the time of writing this. That’s slightly more than 50% of the UK’s population.
These women have a significant impact on the wellbeing of their families, communities, and wider society. Yet gender bias and health disparities persist: Worldwide, women do not receive the same access to and quality of healthcare as men do.
Gender bias: Any behaviour or set of beliefs where one gender is favoured over the other.
Effects of gender-bias in healthcare
Gaps in medical research. For a long time, clinical research was mostly conducted with male participants. The result is a lack of understanding how certain treatments, illnesses and drugs affect women compared to men. Furthermore, research into conditions that are specific to women has often been neglected.
Key health challenges for women
Women experience unique health conditions that impact not only their physical but also their mental health and wellbeing, e.g.:
- Pregnancy loss (miscarriage and stillbirth). Apart from physical symptoms, such as pain and vaginal bleeding, experiencing pregnancy loss can have a profound emotional impact on women. It's very common (1 in 4 are estimated to have a miscarriage in the first 3 months) and yet highly stigmatised and not talked about often.
- Menopause and Perimenopause. This is the time when women stop having a menstrual period and are no longer fertile. Common symptoms include joint ache, period pains, hot flashes, lack of sleep, reduction in sex drive, lack of concentration and forgetfulness. Importantly, it’s not only the physical, but also mental health that is affected. Read more here.
- Endometriosis. This is a common (10% of women worldwide) gynaecological condition where tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows in other places in the body. While symptoms differ a lot between those affected, it commonly leads to excessive menstrual pain, infertility, pain during intercourse, fatigue, heavy menstrual bleeding, digestive issues. It's heavily under diagnosed and negatively affects all aspects of a woman's life. Read more here.
A note on Lesbian, Bisexual and transgender (LBT) women's health
Gender goes beyond the male-female binary. While this article focuses on wider women’s health as part of the international women’s day campaign, I want to stress that LBT women are at an even higher risk to experience health disparities.
Join us for International Women's Day!
To join the conversation for International Women's Day on March 8 visit internationalwomensday.com.
The campaign's mission regarding healthcare is clear: 'Assist women to be in a position of power to make informed decisions about their health'.
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