Inspire Inclusion

Amplifying Women’s Voices in Healthcare for International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day 2024 has a powerful mantra: “Let’s Inspire Inclusion.” This year at This Is Perimenopause, our focus is making space for all women, with a special focus on our health journeys through perimenopause, menopause, and postmenopause. For too long, many of us have felt like we’re going through this alone. Tangled in confusion, frustration, isolation, anger and sadness. But now, things are starting to change. There’s a spark of hope lighting us up, bringing more support and understanding to these phases of our lives. And it’s on us to keep that spark alive and turn it into a roaring fire. Join us on International Women’s Day. Together we’re amplifying women’s voices in healthcare.

It’s time to talk about our experiences, push for better healthcare, and really advocate for ourselves. We need to ask—no, demand—better care, answers, protocols, and support. We deserve a healthcare system that understands us and supports us. Together, we can make this happen. Let’s join forces and make sure our health journeys are recognized and supported every step of the way.

A Brief History of Women’s Health

For far too long, the realm of health research has put women on the back burner. It’s incredible to think that it wasn’t until 1993 that inclusion of women in clinical trials became policy. Before that time, women were excluded under the guise of ‘protecting’ their future reproductive capabilities. Also, the natural fluctuations of women’s hormones throughout their monthly cycle were deemed too complex to factor into research considerations.

The trouble with this is that women are not smaller versions of men. We have unique biological systems and needs. And medical products often impact men and women differently. When women are excluded from trials, products and dosages may not be safe or effective for them.

Even more concerning, women present differently for some critical illnesses, like heart disease. As a result, women are seven times more likely to be misdiagnosed in mid-heart attack and sent home from the Emergency Department as compared to men.

Women are frequently infantilized and gaslit by the medical community.  From breast cancer screening guidelines that puts women off early screening for fear of false positives. To feeling dismissed and discouraged by our doctors when we ask for support for our perimenopause symptoms. And let’s not forget the Women’s Health Initiative Study that knocked us back decades in getting the right kind of help for perimenopause. It’s a clear sign of a bigger problem where women’s health concerns aren’t taken as seriously as they should be.

The lack of representation and respect for women means that the medical world is flying blind. This is especially true when it comes to understanding perimenopause, menopause and postmenopause.

And this isn’t just a hiccup in academic papers; it’s a real problem affecting real lives. Women across the globe are grappling with symptoms and health challenges without the support or insight they need. All because the research just isn’t there. It’s no wonder we feel like we’re shouting into a void. Invisible and misunderstood.

Women’s Health Today

In today’s conversations, “inclusion” stands out as a critical concept. Particularly when it comes to championing the rights and well-being of women. It shines as a symbol of hope and a prompt for us to act. Urging us to forge a world where every woman feels acknowledged, heard, and valued.

And we’re not talking about including women just to tick a box for diversity’s sake. We desperately need research that genuinely understands women. And research that tackles the changes happening in our bodies during perimenopause and postmenopause.

The significance of inclusion is profound. The journey toward gender equality has illuminated the diverse voices and enduring strength of women. Through great effort, the conversations are starting to change from ones were women are marginalized in crucial health dialogues, to ones that empower women to thrive and not just survive our midlife transition.

The reality is, however, that achieving true inclusion is no simple task. It’s an ongoing journey toward change that requires steadfast advocacy and action. We must wholeheartedly embrace and support the unique experiences and needs of women at every stage of their lives.

Bridging the Gap

Even with the hurdles we face, the chance to forge a more inclusive future fills us with hope. Women in their midlife possess a wealth of experience and wisdom, making them invaluable mentors for the women marching behind us. When we share our journeys and the lessons we’ve learned, it’s like passing a torch of wisdom. Empowering the next generation to stand tall and strong.

Let’s champion health research that really gets us. Having open chats with our doctors. Backing organizations that prioritize women’s health. And even volunteering for health studies are some of the ways we can make a difference. It’s about making sure the health challenges we face today are better understood and managed tomorrow.

Fighting for policies that safeguard our health and well-being is key. Casting our votes for leaders who prioritize women’s health issues. Advocating for workplace adjustments to support menopausal women. And voicing our needs loud and clear are all steps in the right direction. Our goal is a world where women are given the opportunity to thrive. No matter where we are in our life’s journey.

Now’s the moment for brave conversations and daring moves. It’s about supporting each other and pooling our knowledge. Creating a supportive network is crucial. By weaving our stories and strengths together, we’re crafting a brighter tomorrow. A tomorrow that’s not only better for us but also for our daughters, nieces, and friends. We’re laying the foundation for a world that respects and celebrates every woman’s health journey, both now and for generations to come.

Inspiring Inclusion in Our Daily Lives

Acknowledging the gap in women’s healthcare is important. It’s not just about pointing out what’s lacking, but also about applauding the resilience and determination of women who, against the odds, advocate for their health and rights.

Reflecting on our history, we take pride in the strides we’ve made. Yet, our work isn’t done. We must keep pressing the healthcare community for the attention we deserve. They need to listen, learn, and take action. Understanding and addressing the health needs of women during perimenopause and postmenopause is essential.

Now is the time for us to blaze the trail ahead. It’s about action, not just words. Inclusion needs to weave through the fabric of our daily lives. Our conversations, our workplaces, and our communities. Every little step counts.

Let’s champion health research tailored to our unique needs and advocate for policies that bolster our health and happiness. Each woman’s voice is crucial. And should be listened to, valued, and respected.

This International Women’s Day, we’re calling for a healthcare system that genuinely supports, hears, and understands women at every stage of our lives. We envision a future where conversations about perimenopause and postmenopause are not just common but also impactful. By lifting each other up, there’s no limit to what we can achieve.