Are female specific health issues give a lower priority than male specific health issues?
We recently attended a medical conference focusing on new age medicine. The focus of this conference was learning how to prevent illnesses in the future rather than treating the symptoms or diseases after they have happened.
One of the female presenters at the conference seemed to match almost perfectly the experience that Dr. Maupin has experienced and this week we want to share some of the information that she presented and discuss it in light of Dr. Maupin’s experience.
In the last five years, medicine has begun to focus on the difference in the ways that men and women experience heart attacks. There are different symptoms that women have than those that men have. This focus meant that medicine would need to look at women differently than they had in the past when considering heart problems.
Dr. Angela DeRosa, medical director of Belmar pharmacy was the presenter that we want to discuss. Up until recently medical research is beginning to include women in their test populations in ways that they did not do before. Women have been historically excluded from research protocols because they might have been pregnant at the time of the research experience and that pregnancy might have damaged the child or the mother. Now medical researchers are learning what they need to know in order to avoid these concerns and now they regularly include females in the research population. In fact, many of the norms that are established for lab tests have been normed on men alone. Women have historically been considered as men without a penis, but generally needing the same medical dosage and expecting the same numbers on their blood tests in order to indicate health or illness concerns.
Dr. DeRosa talked about the gender bias that has always existed in things medical and that it posited a negative impact on the health of women. She also talked about the political binds that have limited the freedom of women to behave in the same ways as men and required them to be treated as almost secondary to men in terms of their health. Sexual matters regarding men have always received more attention, been given more value, and been more socially and religiously accepted in ways that sexuality in women has not.
Question: if men need testosterone and or ED medicine, should insurance pay for it? If women want birth control medicine, should insurance pay for it? If women want or need some sexual desire or arousal medicine such as ED meds for men, should one be developed? And if so, should it be paid for by society? Insurance?
Dr. DeRosa also talked about fear, and media and celebrities with regards to women’s health and the approach that medicine takes for treating and studying the concerns of women.
Celebrities are not doctors and yet they offer advertisements suggesting that they have written books, or have experienced concerns and experienced relief from medicines and therefore you should too. Dr. Maupin maintains that fear is how society manages women. Men are managed by data. Society is often manipulated by false data. In statistics, there is a statement “figures never lie, but liars always figure!” it is the manipulation of this fear that sells products and services. Please learn the difference between opinion and fact and focus on the numbers used in the statistical claim in order to make your own decisions.
An example of fear impacting medical care is the turmoil surrounding the Women’s Health Initiative research protocol. Early returns of data suggested an increase in breast cancers if women were given hormone replacements. The data was interpreted as saying that hormone replacement would cause women to get breast cancer and probably die. The research protocol was stopped, and the results were that doctors were told not to give women hormone replacement, or they would die! This is not true, and we now know it. But the media and the medical organizations have not managed to reverse the messaging that women and doctors receive regarding hormone replacement.
Another scare tactic or data -based manipulation regarding women was the change in the standard of yearly mammograms. The recommendations were changed to say that women should not get mammograms each year because it was too expensive, and the insurance companies did not want to pay for them. Also, when women have breast removals, they need to have reconstruction for their physical and emotional health. This has not been the way it has historically been done. The insurance would pay for the surgery, but the reconstruction was not covered for most women.
Sometimes messaging for women’s health care is erroneous or mis-focused. Look at the issue of sunscreen and sun exposure vs. the need for women to have sun exposure to prevent the development of heart disease.
At the end of the day, the message was that women have been essentially second -class citizens when it comes to the research done regarding women’s health issues, the marketing and advertising for women’s treatments, and the social boundaries that negatively impact women when it comes to sexual matters.
There is progress being made towards gender equity and health equity. Learn what you need to know about healthy aging and speak to your doctor, your insurance companies and your politicians about your own concerns and opinions!
This Health cast was written and presented by Dr. Kathy Maupin, M.D., Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Expert and Author, with Brett Newcomb, MA., LPC., Family Counselor, Presenter and Author. www.BioBalanceHealth.com.