Women's Health Updates — April 2021

Learn about recent developments in women's health as well as SWHR's activities that promote the study of sex and gender influences on health and serve our mission to improve women's health through science, policy, and education.

Join SWHR in honoring achievements, advancements, and innovations in women’s health at our virtual Annual Awards Gala on April 29. Sponsorships and tickets are available now! For more information, contact joy@swhr.org.
As an increasing number of Americans receive the COVID-19 vaccine, it seems like the end of the pandemic is in sight. Yet we are still far from fully understanding the virus and its long-term impact, especially for COVID-19 “long haulers. Read more on SWHR's blog.
Policies that address COVID-19 prevention, treatment, and pandemic relief must consider sex as a biological variable as well as the influence of social determinants of health, including gender. Read more in our new statement.
Women and men tend to respond differently to vaccines — probably because of a mix of factors, including hormones, genes, and the dosing of the shots. A CDC analysis of safety data from the first 13.7 million COVID-19 vaccine doses give in the U.S. found nearly 80% of side effects were reported by women, even though only 61% of the vaccines had been administered to women. Read more in the New York Times.

For Endometriosis Awareness Month, SWHR launched the new Endometriosis Toolkit: A Guide to Patient Empowerment, designed to help people of all ages with endometriosis navigate their care. Download the toolkit.

After long being underrepresented in research, women accounted for more than 50% of participants in clinical trials for FDA-approved new drugs over the past four years. However, more work needs to be done to ensure the appropriate inclusion of women, people of color, and other groups who experience health inequities in research. 

Artificial intelligence products could be transformative for health care, but if a product is not appropriately trained on datasets from diverse populations, it may not work effectively for all patients and may even exacerbate existing biases in the health care system. Read more on SWHR's blog.
Osteoarthritis places a large burden on the individuals that are affected as well as society as a whole. But that burden is not distributed equally — the prevalence of OA is higher among women compared to men. Speaking as a guest on the Joint Action podcast, SWHR's Dr. Melissa Laitner discusses the need to better understand the sex and gender disparities in OA to improve health outcomes for all. Listen now.

During the menopause transition, women may experience symptoms including brain fog, brittle nails, allergies, and hair loss. But experts say the medical industry hasn’t figured out how to provide proper care during or after this transition. Read more in the New York Times.

Read SWHR's blog on unmet needs in menopause care across education, clinical care, research, and policy.
Watch: Webinar on Menopause Care
Now is the time to propel women’s health forward through policy action. Read about SWHR's policy priorities in public health, research and clinical trials, lifespan issues, coverage and access, and the biomedical workforce in our inaugural Women's Health Policy Agenda.

SWHR also recently released our position statements on key women's health policy issues:
At a recent SWHR meeting, experts shared insights about the current opportunities and challenges for the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration in the face of an ongoing pandemic and with a new Congress and new administration. Read more on SWHR's blog.

SWHR endorsed the Stephanie Tubbs Jones Uterine Fibroid Research and Education Act of 2021 to improve funding for research and increase education about uterine fibroids. The bill also highlights the need for improved patient and provider education surrounding the heightened risk for fibroids faced by women of color. Learn more about the bill.
Despite well-known issues around lack of diverse participants in medical research, adequate inclusion of certain populations remains a problem. In a Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute policy briefing, SWHR Director of Public Policy and Government Affairs Dr. Melissa Laitner spoke about barriers to the inclusion of historically underrepresented groups in clinical trials. Read more.
SWHR submitted comments to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) encouraging it to expand upon its draft plan, “Menopausal Hormone Therapy in Postmenopausal Women: Primary Prevention of Chronic Conditions,” to provide a more nuanced exploration of the use of hormone therapy and its risks and benefits. Read more.
SWHR seeks an experienced candidate to support the planning and execution of our growing portfolio of science programs. This person will perform cross-cutting functions to assist in strategic planning and communications related to science programs.

SWHR seeks a highly motivated candidate to be responsible for maintaining and updating our donor database, including data entry and integrity, analysis, and report generation.
Join Johns Hopkins Medicine's A Woman's Journey on April 13 at 7:00 p.m. ET for a live discussion on high blood pressure. Cardiovascular nurse epidemiologist Yvonne Commodore-Mensah, PhD, will talk about the causes of hypertension in various populations, new guidelines, and how to get your blood pressure under control. Register.

Join the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security, and Oxfam America on April 16 at 11:00 a.m. ET to hear thought leaders across policy, public health, and civil society to assess current challenges in COVID-19 vaccine distribution and share recommendations for a more equitable pandemic response moving forward. Register.
Join MendedHearts April 20 at 3:00 p.m. ET for a webinar with Rachel M. Bond, MD, and to learn about resources created by a cardiologist and ob/gyn lipid specialist. Register.
On April 20 at 4:00 p.m. ET, join Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute's scientists as they share their latest research on diseases that affect women differently than men. Register.
The Organization for the Study of Sex Differences will host its virtual annual meeting on May 3-6 with poster sessions, keynotes speakers, roundtable discussions, and networking on hot topics in sex differences research. Read the program and register.
On May 6, this virtual event, organized by the International Gender Medicine Society, will explore the significant differences between women and men in COVID-19, including the lethality of infection, which is higher in men, and in the occurrence of post-COVID syndrome, which is likely higher in fertile women. Register.