How male-centric medicine endangers women’s health – and what we can do about it

As the cofounder and Director for the Division of Sex and Gender in Emergency Medicine (SGEM) at the Brown University Emergency Medicine Department and the cofounder for the national organisation Sex and Gender Women’s Health Collaborative, I study sex differences in medicine — particularly in emergency medicine.

My concerns around Covid-19 are numerous, but among them is our lack of understanding about how the virus may affect women and men differently, and how this lack may prevent us from delivering the most appropriate and personalized care for all patients with Covid-19.

Women are biologically different than men from the level of our DNA on up. We are not simply men with breasts and ovaries; we are unique in every cell of our bodies. But because our modern medical system is male-centric — meaning, it is foundationally based on knowledge of, research on, and observation of male bodies and male patterns of illness — women often don’t fit the textbook models by which we as physicians learn to diagnose and treat our patients.

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