7 Major Gaps In Women’s Health Research

#1 How Can Research Close The Cardiac Gender Gap?

Only one-third of participants in cardiovascular clinical trials are female, according to the Connors Center report. Less than one-third of trials including women report their findings by sex. Gaps like these aren’t OK, says Carolyn Thomas, founder of the Heart Sisters blog and author of “A Woman’s Guide to Living With Heart Disease.”

#2 Why Do More Women Face Stroke First?

Men and women differ when it comes to their first episode of cardiovascular disease. In a long-term study of nearly 8,500 participants in the Netherlands, stroke or heart failure were more likely first events among women, while men were more likely to have heart attacks or hardening of the arteries.

#3 What Specific Risks Do Drugs Pose For Women?

In 2013, the Food and Drug Administration required drug manufacturers to lower recommended doses for women in sleeping medications containing zolpidem, the active ingredient in Ambien and other brands. Women taking these drugs were more vulnerable to impaired alertness the next day, including while driving.

#4 How Do Health-Research Gaps Affect Men?

Men have been underrepresented in research, too. With conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and lupus, women are disproportionately affected – but men get them as well. “In those cases, there are more studies that are just done on females, because they’re female-prevalent diseases,” says Teresa Woodruff, director of the Women’s Health Research Institute at Northwestern University in Chicago.

#5 Among Nonsmokers, Why Do More Women Get Lung Cancer?

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Twenty percent of people diagnosed with the disease have never smoked. Among nonsmokers, women are three times as likely to have lung cancer.

#6 Which Fertility Options Exist For Women With Cancer?

Clearly, preserving fertility is a significant consideration for young men and women undergoing cancer treatment. Yet, until fairly recently, sperm-banking for men before chemotherapy was the only option offered in the field now known as oncofertility. “Women with the same hope for survival were being told: ‘Don’t worry about your fertility; just focus on the cancer,'” Woodruff says.

#7 How Do Antidepressants Affect Women?

Fewer than 45 percent of animal studies on anxiety and depression use any female lab animals, according to the Connors Center report. However, twice as many U.S. women suffer from depression than men. The hormone-based phases of women’s lives, such as starting puberty, becoming pregnant and going through menopause, are directly linked to higher depression risk.