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When medicine discovered women’s health

When medicine discovered women’s health

Update: 2022-08-10


We’ve all heard the expression “the weaker sex”, usually used when describing women. Well, this expression is in fact the reflection of hundreds of years during which society considered women as more fragile, more prone to sickness, and ultimately weaker. Hundreds of years during which time women’s physical and psychological health was dismissed. 

The idea that women are weaker than men dates all the way back to Antiquity. At that time, women were seen as failed derivatives of men. Their body was not as strong and enduring as that of their male counterparts. This vision had a direct impact on science and medicine for centuries.

In this episode, we will take you on a bumpy journey through history, into the difficulties and obstacles women faced before modern medicine finally took them into consideration. Muriel Salle, a French PhD specialist in women's history will accompany us to share her thoughts and knowledge on this topic.

What you will learn in this episode

  • The expression “the weaker sex” is then forcefully documented in medical publications. Thus considered, the nature of women makes them inherently vulnerable. And hundreds of pages are written on the female anatomy, failing by nature, and on female diseases.

  • During the 17th and 18th centuries, symptoms such as hot flushes or dizziness were considered nervous conditions when experienced by women, who were believed to be more emotional and unable to control their feelings.

  • When we think about feminine health issues, we think about reproductive health issues (periods, pregnancies, menopause). When we think about feminine organs, we think about the womb (uterus), ovaries, breast. But women's health is more than that.

  • The first time we considered rethinking medicine and research based on gender was in the 80s in the US?

  • The strong inequality in the way science and medicine approached women accumulated over the years and has left significant deficiencies in our modern health systems.

  • The good news is that, in just a couple of years, we have come a long way in bridging the gap between the way men and women receive care. To continue these efforts, the French High Council on Equality formulated 40 recommendations along four main lines: - - Raising awareness among health care providers about the interactions between sex, gender and pathologies;

    - Supporting multidisciplinary research on sex and gender in health;

    - Taking better account of living conditions and the environment in health inequality;

    - And training current and future health care professionals and ensuring that women have access to positions of responsibility in the public hospital service and the research sector.

More info about women’s health

The health of women is influenced by sex-related biological differences, gender and other social determinants. Women's health includes a wide range of specialties and focus areas, such as: birth control, gynecology, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and other female cancers. 

Women’s health & women's healthcare : facts

(source : World Health Organization)

  • Women live longer than men. Global life expectancy at birth was 74.2 years for women and 69.8 years for men in 2016. 

  • Women experience more morbidity and use more health care services than men, particularly for their reproductive health needs. 

  • Noncommunicable diseases continue to be the largest cause of death among women worldwide. 

  • Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death among women. Among cancers, cervical and breast cancers are the most common, and lung cancer is the deadliest.

Science for Care is a podcast by HealthTech for Care, a non profit organization designed to support and promote access to care for all. If you enjoy our show, please mention it to your friends, family and co-workers, and leave ratings and reviews on your favorite listening platform.

Production: MedShake Studio">MedShake Studio









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When medicine discovered women’s health

When medicine discovered women’s health

Healthtech For Care