Women's Health: A Silent Crisis, with hope for the future

Women's Health: A Silent Crisis, with hope for the future

WHO declared “acceptability” & “gender sensitivity” as core components to right to health. Yet, it's a proven fact that women across the globe do not get equal access to healthcare. It's a silent crisis that's been going on for ages, but it's time to bring it into the spotlight. Because ignoring women's health isn't just unfair – it's downright dangerous.

Unveiling the Neglect:

  1. Historical Oversights:

For centuries, medical research has mostly focused on men. Yep, you heard that right. Women were often left out of clinical trials and studies, leading to a big gap in understanding their health needs. It's like trying to solve a puzzle with missing pieces.

Not-so-fun-fact: Even something as basic as car seatbelts, are typically not designed with the female body in mind, leading to a 17% higher likelihood of women dying in car crashes compared to men.

  1. Stigma and Shame:

Ever noticed how women's reproductive health gets swept under the rug? It's like there's this unspoken rule that certain topics – like periods or menopause – are too embarrassing to talk about. But guess what? Ignoring them won't make them disappear. It just makes it harder for women to get the help they need.

And not to mention the serious bias several unmarried women face when it comes to accessing sexual & reproductive healthcare. Stigma around pre-marital sex & a woman’s agency over her own body makes it difficult for women to address possible health concerns & symptoms, without the fear of judgement from doctors or family. 

  1. Pain Bias:

Here's the kicker: when women do speak up about their health concerns, they're sometimes brushed off. Their pain is downplayed, their symptoms dismissed. It's like their voices aren't being heard. Every woman has heard the same old “Period pain hi toh hai, it's nothing serious''. And that can lead to misdiagnosis or delayed treatment, which nobody wants.

  1. Discrepancy in Research Funding:

Want to know something shocking? Despite all this, research funding for women's health is often peanuts compared to other areas. It's like saying, "Sorry, your health isn't worth investing in." Not cool, right?

  1. Lack of medical awareness on Menopause

Globally, numerous medical school curriculums still lack Menopause training (with a 2021 study revealing that 41% of surveyed medical schools didn't offer it). Menopause also carries substantial economic consequences, such as reduced productivity during what is often the peak of a woman's career, due to employer misunderstanding and policy gaps.

  1. Cervical Cancer

In India, cervical cancer accounts for around 6% to 29% of total cancer cases among women. 17% of all cancer-related deaths in women aged 30 to 69 years, are due to Cervical Cancer.  

Commonly used plastic pads contain Phthalates & Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) (carcinogenic substances), that are easily absorbed through the vaginal lining and may cause a host of issues ranging from hormonal imbalances to Cervical & Ovarian cancer. 

All the more reason to switch to safer alternatives when you can. Period Underwear is slowly & steadily becoming a preferred menstrual care product for many women. Not only are they better for your health, safe & hygienic, but also significantly better for the planet! 

Wait… there’s a silver lining:

Fem-Tech businesses are steadily headed towards a brighter future, with more investments starting to flow in (pun intended). The Fem-Tech industry is forecasted to achieve a market value of US$ 5.0 billion by 2033, with a projected compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.2% from 2023 to 2033, according to a press release from Future Market Insights, Inc.

One such innovative Fem-Tech startup, that we thought has been doing some REALLY cool stuff  – NextGen Jane – is pioneering the development of a smart tampon system. The core technology behind NextGen Jane's smart tampon system is the detection of biomarkers in menstrual blood to provide valuable information about a woman's health, including fertility, hormonal imbalances, gynaecological conditions, etc.

So far, NextGen Jane, has raised over 19.7M USD in over 6 rounds of funding and have been featured in various media outlets for its groundbreaking work in the Fem-tech space.

Where do we go from here?

While systematic change – changing attitudes & bias towards women’s health might take years to change completely, what we can do for ourselves is to DEMAND what we deserve. While having access to good healthcare is also a matter of privilege, we must do everything to make our voice heard. Choose better alternatives where you can — switching to better menstrual care products is not the last mile, yet it is a significant step! 

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