On the one hundredth anniversary of its creation, I want to use this year’s International Women’s Day to talk about a rant that I had over on Tiny Temper’s blog last week. You see, I pointed out the sad fact that much of the research done in pharmaceuticals and medicine is rarely done for the benefit of women. Or rather, researchers fail to account for the differences between male and female brains when researching and developing drugs, and only seem to test on men when it comes to types of drugs that women use more, such as painkillers. Or research just doesn’t happen into the conditions that affect women beyond the “big C”.
This 2008 article from New Scientist (you need to be registered/subscribed to fully read it) explains a lot about the pain killer issue. In the US there at least appears to be a drive by groups such as the Society for Women’s Health Research that tries to put a focus on the unique needs women have when it comes to health compared with men. They fund research into sex-based biology, which is not simply trying to find the differences between the sexes.
What I’m walking about is beyond the usual research realms of the various female only or female prevalent cancers, I’m talking about non-cancer conditions that affect mainly if only women. So, research into ways to diagnose and deal with birth injuries, more research into PMT and the menopause, water retention and leg ulcers, research into keyhole techniques to fix bladder weakness/incontinence and obviously painkillers would be a damn good start.
Sadly, even with my Google search hunt abilities, I was unable to find a UK equivalent group for the Society for Women’s Health Research. Which is quite pathetic. Many of the conditions that women mainly/only suffer from probably could be treated easily and in an affordable way if only the R&D was funded to help it happen.
Chronic pain, PMT, bladder weakness/incontinence and birth injuries are all conditions that seriously affect the quality of life for millions of women every day. Such conditions pile on unneeded stress and sometimes extra work on top of what women have already got to deal with. Considering that in countries such as the UK, not only are women often expected to have a job/career, but that they’re also often expected to care for children or/and elderly/disabled relatives – tackling the health conditions that afflict these women head on would make their lives even easier.
And also after having had to clear up my own grandmother’s piss on several occasions recently I would like to know why there is no keyhole technique that can be done using an epidural (rather than general anesthetic) in order to fix bladder weakness/incontinence. Seriously, if we can replace the valves of a fucking heart, then modern medicine should be able to replace the Urethral sphincter.
(What’s that? Women should do Kegel exercises? (Entering the hypothetical) Is that in between dropping the kids to school and cleaning up your parent’s sick, whilst cooking and cleaning in two different houses and taking your mother-in-law to a doctor’s appointment before you start work at the office? Yes, say Kegel exercises and many a woman would gladly punch you in the mouth and tell you to sod off.)
And one final bit to add to this rant: why the hell do women have to pay any VAT on sanitary products in the UK? (And yes I know that compared to women in developing countries we’re lucky to have any access to clean sanitary products for our periods.) I don’t care if its a reduced rate of VAT, I think it is fucking disgusting that the UK government makes money off a biological process that women have have no real choice about whether they go through it or not.
VAT on sanitary products should be scrapped. Women do not choose to bleed.