Posted by on July 13, 2009 - 11:44am


It might seem kind of obvious, but the real first question about women’s health is, “Who do we categorize as a woman?” Right off the bat, we’d like to state a strong objective to be welcoming and inclusive to all women, including all racial or ethnic groups, transsexual and transgendered individuals, and those who lie across the LGBTQQ spectrum. We will typically use “woman/women” alone to refer to cis-gendered/sexual women, but both the Illinois Women’s Health Registry (if you’re an Illinois resident, join it!) and this blog are looking for active participation from women of all communities. What we don’t want to do is make stories interesting or relevant to only one racial or biological group. There may be no shared female experience, but we can certainly share information and the individual experiences of being female. As readers, please let us know when there are new topics you’d like us to delve into, or when we’ve overlooked something.

When we think of women's health, why do only obvious topics such as reproductive health and breast cancer pop up?  We often forget that there are many health differences between men and women that relate to far more than what is covered by our swimsuits. The Society for Women’s Health Research highlights several less obvious differences concerning healthcare between women and men that may surprise you.  For example, 500,000 American women become victims of heart disease every year, a number 10% larger than the number of men affected every year. Women are also twice as likely as men to suffer another heart attack during the year of the first one. Differences between men and women also exist in mental aspects.  Because a woman's brain typically produces less serotonin than a man’s, women are two-to-three times more likely to experience depression than men.  Women also have very different reactions to medications and drugs than men do.  Surprisingly, women often wake up from anesthesia earlier than men do, and some pain killers tend to be more effective in women than men.

For us, women’s health issues are therefore anything that influences the physical or mental wellbeing of women. We want to continually question the prevailing idea that a 45 year old white male can be the test subject for all of us, that one group’s response to treatments or risk for disease is the same as all other groups. We intend to make women aware of the new technologies or issues that may affect them differently from the men, who currently make up most of research study subjects. We plan to educate women on the importance of participation in their healthcare, providing you with vital information to be able to make the best decisions for you and your family. The goal of this blog is to be an educational resource for information regarding women’s health, but even more so to create a community where women can ask questions and share experiences. We’ll have guest bloggers, sometimes experts from the surrounding hospitals, medical schools and research universities, and sometimes even blogs from the young women (our future scientists, doctors, and policy makers) who work with us about their perspectives on women’s health. So welcome! Please have a look around, learn a bit about us from our bio posts, and start commenting on the stories that affect your health every day!

Posted by on July 9, 2009 - 2:04pm

Since we’ll be pretty regular fixtures around here for a while, we’d like to introduce ourselves, as well. We’re both fourth year graduate students, which means (if all goes according to plan) we’ll be “Dr. So and So” some time in the next year or so. We’re currently both involved in that arduous scientific research that Dr. Bristol-Gould outlined in her bio. Alison is working on a project that looks at how certain metals are important in female reproduction, while Candace is studying how oocytes develop and die in pre-pubertal females. Pretty awesome, we know. We also like karaoke, pop music in any language (we’re currently expanding our stock of Hindi and Korean selections!), and Ryan Reynolds, just to show we’re not JUST science nerds! We will typically post every Friday about the newest stories involving women’s health, but we’re open to ideas, so drop us a comment!

Posted by on June 29, 2009 - 2:48pm

Welcome to the Institute for Women’s Health Research Blog!

Established in November of 2007, the Institute for Women’s Health Research was created at Northwestern University to help accelerate basic science and clinical research that will advance our knowledge of women’s health. Our mission is to increase the women’s health research portfolio at Northwestern University and our clinical affiliates; we focus on 5 ambitious goals to accomplish this mission:

  • To foster research that explores the sex and gender determinants of health and disease with an emphasis on women
  • To encourage interdisciplinary research, diversity inclusiveness and a comprehensive approach to women’s health research
  • To prepare researchers, scientists and clinicians who understand the sex and gender determinants of health and disease; develop leadership among women and girls interested in science
  • To accelerate the translation of basic science research into clinical practice
  • To become the authoritative resource for the community on women’s health issues and provide opportunities for the community to engage in the advancement of women’s health

Please check back soon, we will be updating often and we welcome feedback!   What do you think are the top issues related to women's health?