Clinical research is a critical aspect of medicine that allows us to discover new treatments, new medical devices, and new types of surgeries that can help us lead better and healthier lives. Up until 1993, it wasn’t required that women be included in clinical trials. This contributed to an ongoing lack of understanding and attention placed on women’s health. While there’s been progress within the medical community to address this gender research gap, there’s still more work to be done.
At Axia Women’s Health, helping to educate women about their bodies and providing a more progressive healthcare experience is our core belief and mission. That’s why we’re shedding light on this topic and furthering efforts through our clinical research division to treat some of today’s most urgent women’s health conditions. In this article, we’re reviewing the history of clinical trials, gaps that still exist in research, and how we hope to be a part of the solution.
For too long, education around women’s bodies was lacking and women’s pain was often dismissed. The birth of the women’s health movement in the 1960s and 1970s brought this into greater focus.
Historically, females of reproductive age weren’t equally represented in clinical trials for a few reasons. Namely, researchers and policymakers argued that there were no significant sex differences regarding medication responses, essentially viewing male and female bodies as the same. It was also believed that a female’s fluctuating hormone levels could impact results and make it more difficult to conduct the trial. Researchers also chose to exclude pregnant women from trials. Many researchers and policymakers argued that excluding women from trials based on these criteria could do more harm than good.
Finally, in 1993, Congress passed the National Institutes of Health Inclusion Policy into federal law, mandating that women and minorities be included in clinical research. Following that, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has since implemented a series of policies encouraging diversity in clinical trials. Since then, additional legislation, like the Safe Medication for Moms and Babies Act, has been passed to further the development and research of effective and safe therapies for pregnant and lactating women.
These were significant achievements and a big step forward for women’s health! Today, females make up about 50% of the participants in NIH clinical trials and 72% of FDA clinical trial participants.
However, gaps still exist particularly for women of color. Lack of access and education around clinical trials could be part of the issue. Because certain conditions can affect women of color disproportionately, it’s critical that researchers continue to push for diversity.
While there is still work to be done, it’s important to recognize the progress we’ve made. As you read this, there are researchers across the U.S. studying and developing new treatments for a variety of critical women’s health conditions. A few of those areas include:
Axia Women’s Health is a proud advocate for improving access to clinical trials, making it easier for women, especially minorities, to learn about and enroll in clinical trials. In addition to the clinical trials currently underway at Axia Women’s Health, ClinicalTrials.gov is an excellent resource provided by the U.S. National Library of Medicine for learning more about active trials you may be eligible for. Your Axia provider can also provide more information about any active trials within your care center.
By ensuring equal representation of diverse women in clinical trials, we can help not only improve outcomes for ourselves, but for future generations of women to come.