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‘Women are from Venus, men from Mars’

WOMEN’S HEALTH is entirely a different medical field of its own. We usually refer our female patients to our OB-gynecologist colleagues for more competent care when it comes to such problems as menstruation, maternal and reproductive health, contraception, child birth, menopause and breast masses. But women’s health extends beyond issues specific to the human female anatomy and include areas where biological sex differences between women and men exist.

There are research papers indicating significant biological differences between the two sexes in rates of susceptibility or risk to various ailments in organs other than the reproductive organs; symptoms and clinical presentation to common medical conditions including heart, lung and gastrointestinal problems; and response to treatment in many major areas of health. So dosages of medications may have to be adjusted and some medicines may have to be avoided in women.

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One good example of medicines to avoid in women are proton pump inhibitors which are commonly prescribed for ulcer or hyperacidity. These drugs decrease stomach acid and relieve the ulcer symptoms but they also decrease absorption of calcium in the stomach and increase the risk of women—particularly postmenopausal women—for bone fractures if taken for two or more years. Therefore, other drugs for ulcer have to be prescribed.

The psycho-emotional differences between men and women are already well known. Everyone must have read or at least heard of the famous book of John Gray, “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus,” which highlights the diametrically different communication styles, emotional needs and perhaps even personal values of the two genders which would seem like they come from different planets—an exaggerated metaphor, of course. Gray rationalizes that his “Martians” and “Venusians” are only broad generalizations and should not be applied to individuals.

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So, all doctors have to be conscious about these distinct biological and psycho-emotional gender differences when dealing with women patients, even for other problems other than gynecologic conditions.

Glenn Orion, our assistant editor in Zen Health magazine, which caters to women readers, compiled several health news on women’s health. I excerpted some of them and I’d like to pass them on to our readers.

Blood type ‘O’ linked with fertility problems in women

Based on tests conducted on a group of women in their 30s, those with blood type O, one of the most common blood types, are more likely to have fewer egg cells, or they may have egg cells which are unlikely to have been successful in vitro fertilization.

However, the study’s author said the research does not aim to scare women into thinking that their blood type can compromise their fertility. On the other hand, should the study findings be confirmed to be correct, this association can open doors to earlier fertility diagnosis and therefore more effective preventive and treatment measures.

Oral contraceptives may cause blood clots to new moms

Women over 34 who have just given birth or those who delivered by Cesarian section should stay away from oral contraceptives—should they decide to take one to prevent subsequent pregnancies—as these can cause fatal blood clots.

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Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that estrogen-containing birth control pills raise the risk of blood clots for mothers within three weeks of giving birth. This applies especially to older women six weeks after delivery and to those who have had C-sections.

Blood clots, once they reach the lungs or the brain, are known to cause shortness of breath, stroke, or even death.

Caffeine could cause infertility in women

One recent study on experimental animals suggests that caffeine—equivalent to two cups of coffee daily—can reduce the activity of the muscles in the fallopian tubes and might impair fertility in women.

A study published previously in the American Journal of Epidemiology showed that drinking at least three cups of coffee a day lowered the chance of conceiving a child by 27 percent.

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