National Women’s Health Week, May 9-15, is a nudge to look after your body because—it’s your body! Time to take stock. This week, tune into how your body is feeling. E.g., #YOURBODY. Not your kid’s, not your partner’s.
You’re the first to tell us straight up that self-care isn’t always enough, though. Individually we can only do so much to protect our health as long as some corporations choose profit over consumer safety. It’s 2021, and yet women still suffer disproportionately from the effects of dangerous and defective drugs and medical devices.
Since women’s healthcare cannot be separated from reproductive health, we’ll start there. According to the American Association for Justice (AAJ), “Birth control has long been both a multi-billion dollar industry [with] a litany of corporate neglect incidents and serious health risks.”
So, how do we hold manufacturing giants accountable for potential injuries?
Increasingly, women are working with plaintiff attorneys to file lawsuits against the potentially negligent makers of birth control devices.
For example, women are coming forward to allege that the non-hormonal IUD made by Teva, Paragard, may be prone to break internally during attempted removal by healthcare professionals. If its “T”-shape splinters, sharp plastic fragments and copper coils may be sent drifting inside the uterus where they can perforate tissue or become buried in the uterine wall. Finding and retrieving these fragments may require invasive surgery; worse, a hysterectomy, leaving healthy young women infertile.
Meanwhile, Bayer’s Essure IUD was pulled from shelves in 2019 after injured women claimed that Bayer covered up known and potentially life-altering side effects. This recall was only made possible after countless women stood up about what happened to them, alerting the FDA by filing adverse event reports and working with plaintiff attorneys to speak out against Essure
Different sex, different symptoms, different research.
Women take more medications than men, respond to medications differently than men, and are more likely to suffer adverse events. Never mind. The same dose is all too often prescribed for both genders because women are often underrepresented in clinical trials for new medications, especially Phase I trials. Sadly, women may have more side effects to certain drugs from incorrect dosages or biological differences.
“Women have been woefully neglected in studies on pain. Most of our understanding of ailments comes from the perspective of men; it is overwhelmingly based on studies of men, carried out by men,” The Guardian reports on researching pain and women’s health. “Very little data can be found on the subject because these conditions are under-researched and often go undiagnosed and untreated.”
Research on migraines, autoimmune disorders, and endometriosis, diseases that disproportionately or even exclusively affect women, are also underfunded. Migraine and headache disorders receive the lowest amount of funding from the National Institute of Health (NIH) compared to other conditions with the same level of disease burden. Similarly, endometriosis received just $7 million in NIH funding in fiscal year 2018, putting endometriosis near the very bottom of NIH’s 285 disease/research areas. And yet, how often do you meet a woman suffering from endometriosis?
Why is women’s health research in America still so deprived? It bears repeating: it’s 2021 and there’s still not nearly enough attention paid to women’s bodies and health outcomes. Enough already! So may we suggest finding some time to stand up for your body this week. After all, your body is the only thing you can never get rid of. This week, check it out. How are you feeling, really?
If you or a loved one has been hurt, we want to hear from you. A Case for Women is a women-owned and women-run organization dedicated to helping individuals get the justice and monetary compensation they rightfully deserve. Contact us by email us or simply submit this form. We are here for you.