Yesterday morning, while I was making my way to the Knesset to open the Lobby for Women’s Health in Israel, one of the conference’s organizers rang on the line. She shared with me that when she invited a guest to honor the conference in his presence, he jokingly replied: “Why women’s health and not men’s health?”. Although the sentence is said as a mere joke, it reveals the root of the problem and the information gaps that must be narrowed.
The biological difference between men and women is not limited to different reproductive organs but much more. In a woman’s body the hormone composition changes frequently, the structure of the heart is smaller than that of the man, the blood vessels in it are narrower and the pulse is faster. And there are many more differences.
Why is this significant?
To illustrate, when a man experiences a myocardial infarction, he will have a symptom in the form of a sharp chest pain, while a woman suffering from the exact same problem will report difficulty breathing, nausea and fatigue.
The problem is the same for both sexes but the symptoms are different. In most cases, the man will be diagnosed and given optimal diagnosis and treatment while the woman will usually get a misdiagnosis. It does not happen on purpose but also does not happen by chance.
In medicine, despite the marked biological and medical differences between men and women, most medical studies are still based on the male body, often due to research convenience considerations or economic considerations. 75% of clinical trials do not yet include women. This figure has significant health implications for women. It is now known to indicate that there are diseases that appear more frequently in women such as osteoporosis, or diseases that appear only in women such as endometriosis.
There are diseases that are mostly common in women, and only recently have they been recognized by Social Security, such as fibromyalgia. This is indicative of the struggle of women to prove their eligibility for assistance to government bodies due to their dysfunction resulting from illness. These knowledge gaps, and the lack of public awareness, often lead to a situation in which the medical system is ‘suspicious’ of women who report such and other pain or symptoms.
How do you change the situation?
Already today, we are witnessing more and more new studies in the field of drugs and diseases that are being done and tested on female populations, which makes it possible to produce much more tailored treatment and assistance pathways.
In addition, a fruitful and extensive discourse is required, which includes a comprehensive explanation of the types of common diseases and the symptoms that accompany them. This is in addition to raising awareness for periodic early detection tests to be performed. This is in addition to the resonant increase that will resonate from end to end – build bridges over the abysses of ignorance and grow an understanding of the need for dedicated clinics; Of medical education; Of the necessity to conduct comprehensive and dedicated medical research.
Public consciousness is the name of the game
As chair of the Health Committee and chair of the Lobby for the Advancement of Women’s Health in Israel, together with my colleague MK Katie Sheetrit, we will lead consistent parliamentary oversight and assist in the promotion of equal and fair gender medicine.
Women’s health in all the fields of medicine that accompanies it, should not be deprived and we as a society should not be left behind. Together, shoulder to shoulder, we will create another better, more inclusive and much healthier reality.