Women's Health Updates — June 2020
Learn about recent developments in women's health as well as SWHR's activities that promote the study of sex differences and serve our mission to improve women's health through science, policy, and education.
As a country, we are witnessing a national movement in response to centuries of racial injustice and the tragic deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless other Black men and women. The Society for Women’s Health Research stands with the Black community against racial injustice. As we work to make women’s health mainstream, our commitment to ensuring that this includes Black women and other women of color has never been stronger.
Leading medical societies   are speaking out against systemic and institutional racism as a longstanding public health issue. Patterns of bias and discrimination in health care have long made already marginalized communities more vulnerable to disease and death. The COVID-19 pandemic is the latest example of how racial inequities in health care are  costing people of color their lives .
Since our founding  30 years ago, SWHR has advocated for the inclusion of women and people of color in medical research to ensure that they also benefit from advances in health care and medicine. We are committed to raising awareness of health disparities facing women and especially women of color, who face the compounded harms and challenges associated with both their gender and race. We are committed to ensuring the inclusion of diverse voices in all of our programs and activities. We know we can do better and welcome your feedback.
SWHR’s vision to make women’s health mainstream must be inclusive of women of color. We are committed to supporting communities of color in our work, and we acknowledge that there is much more work to do.
The COVID-19 pandemic is placing burdens on women that negatively influence their physical, mental, social, and financial health. In these challenging times, SWHR is committed to continuing our work to raise awareness about issues impacting women’s health. On our COVID-19 information hub webpage , you will find original content from SWHR as well as information from reliable, evidence-based sources.
Women are more prone to certain sleep difficulties than men. They take longer to fall asleep, are more often sleep deprived, and are at higher risk for insomnia. Now, the COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating these sleep problems. Read more on SWHR's blog.
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, pregnant women and new moms are being forced to confront unexpected challenges during delivery and the postpartum period. Experts are concerned that the pandemic may increase the prevalence of perinatal mental health disorders.
Menstrual products are as essential as toilet paper — and for some women equally as hard to access during the pandemic. A recent SWHR blog post describes how the pandemic is exacerbating period poverty and menstrual health issues as well as policies that may mitigate some of these effects.
While COVID-19 infection rates tend to be similar in women and men, men are more likely to have severe disease or to die from COVID-19. Lack of research on gender and sex differences has left us without the data necessary to understand why. Read more from Brigham and Women's Hospital.
Upcoming Webinar: On June 10 from 4:30-6 p.m. ET, the Mary Horrigan Connors Center for Women’s Health and Gender Biology will host a webinar on sex and gender factors related to COVID-19 research and care. Register now.

SWHR's Drs. Lucy Erickson and Melissa Laitner weigh in on the barriers to endometriosis diagnosis and treatment in a recent Mic.com article about Rep. Abby Finkenauer's experience with the condition and her founding of a new House Endometriosis Caucus.
Related: Learn about the work of SWHR's Endometriosis and Fibroids Network.
Screening and diagnostic testing are critical to preventive health care and disease treatment. For women, some of these tests are woefully outdated or nonexistent, resulting in uncertainties about their disease risk and difficulty with diagnosis. Read the latest blog in SWHR's series highlighting the need for advances in diagnostic and screening tests for women.
AARP and the Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement released a report detailing a strategic plan to improve women's brain health. Women are disproportionately affected by Alzheimer's disease as both patients and caregivers, but have historically been underrepresented in related research.

Related: Learn about the work of SWHR's Alzheimer’s Disease Network.
New treatments may have drastically different value to different people because drugs don’t work the same in every individual. Because assessing the value of health care interventions is so challenging, SWHR engages with organizations like the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER) to ensure women’s unique needs are taken into account. Read more on SWHR's blog.
SWHR CEO Kathryn G. Schubert provided testimony to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies regarding Fiscal Year 2021 (FY2021) appropriations. Schubert urged funding for women's health research, including studies on maternal mortality and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on pregnancy and delivery nationwide. Read the testimony.
In comments to U.S. Reps. Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Fred Upton (R-MI), SWHR provided feedback on the planned "Cures 2.0" legislation. SWHR's feedback included suggested language regarding sex as a biological variable in clinical trials research and inclusion of women in research.  Read the letter.

Related: Read SWHR's report detailing how the original Cures Act positively influenced women's heath research.
SWHR has rescheduled its 30th Anniversary Annual Awards Dinner to Thursday, October 22 (originally scheduled for April 30). All previously purchased sponsorships and tickets are transferable to the new date. Join SWHR in October to honor three leaders in science and medicine who have significantly contributed to the advancement of women's health. Sponsorships and tickets are still available.
From June 26 to July 31, the Health of Women 2020 will take place as a live online six-part series on Fridays from 1:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. The agenda caters to the learning needs of primary care physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, physician assistants, and other health care professionals focused on women’s health in family practice, internal medicine, and obstetrics and gynecology.  Register today.
The Biology of Sex Differences journal seeks reviews or original articles — in animal models or humans — on sex differences in infectious diseases such as COVID-19 and on the consequences of COVID-19 during pregnancy on the mother or in the offspring. All manuscripts will undergo expedited (7-day) peer review. Submit today!