50 years of progress in women’s health

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Debates about women’s health have long been controversial, but have also led to significant improvements in areas such as equitable access to health care and survival. But the overall picture is far from perfect. For example, the United States continues to have the highest maternal mortality rate among high-income countries, especially among African American women.

As the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to hear an abortion case in Mississippi challenging the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling, some experts wonder if women may be reversing course.

Cynthia A. Stuenkel, MD, clinical professor of medicine at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, and JoAnn E. Manson, MD, DrPH, professor of epidemiology at Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health School, review 50 years of progress in women prospective article published in the online issue of May 29, 2021 New England Journal of Medicine.

“Reproductive justice is broader than the pro-choice movement and includes fairness and accessibility of reproduction , as well as improved pathways to fatherhood, “the authors wrote.

In addition to Roe v. Wade, advances in reproductive health include:

  • 1972 Judgment of the United States Supreme Court on Eisenstadt v. Baird guaranteeing single people equal access to contraception
  • The Affordable Care Act of 2010 turned contraceptives into an insured preventive health benefit
  • Advances in reproductive technologies, including in vitro fertilization, genetic testing, and preservation of fertility by cancer specialists

Advances in women’s health go beyond reproduction, the authors said. As interest and focus have expanded to all stages of a woman’s life, science has begun to catch up with women’s specialized needs and gender-specific risk factors. per which disproportionately affect women’s health, such as autoimmune diseases, mental health, osteoporosis, and coronary heart disease.

  • Progress in the treatment and prevention of breast cancer resulted in a five-year overall survival rate of 90%
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine reduced cervical cancer mortality by 50%

“To move forward, it will be critical to recognize and study intersectional health disparities, including differences based on gender, race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, income, and disability. Overcoming these challenges and resolving these inequalities will help improve everyone’s health, ”the authors wrote.


Roe v. Wade gave American women a choice about having children and changed their lives


More information:
Cynthia A. Stuenkel et al, Women’s health: medicine and public policy, New England Journal of Medicine (2021). DOI: 10.1056 / NEJMp2105292

Citation: 50 years of progress in women’s health (2021, May 29), retrieved May 29, 2021 at https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-05-years-women-health.html

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