#EachforEqual is the theme of International Women’s Day 2020, which falls on Sunday, March 8. The goal is to create a gender equal world for women of all ages. In my practice and in my work leading MiddlesexMD, I see the inequality that exists in our healthcare system. One example? Guidelines for treating heart disease in women are based largely on research that was conducted on men, a factor that might help explain the higher death rates among women with heart disease, as compared to men.
I also see the double standard when it comes to advertising sexual health (and pleasure) products for men versus for those for women. Ads for Viagra? You’ve see them anywhere and everywhere, and have for years, but ads for sexual wellness companies like MiddlesexMD are often deemed inappropriate by social media platforms. That hurts women because it’s an obstacle to getting the word out to women that sex is good for you—and still possible and pleasurable, well beyond menopause.
In the workplace, menopause continues to be unmentionable, even though most (75 to 80 percent) of women of menopausal age are working. Menopausal symptoms can affect job performance and satisfaction. There are fairly easy ways to address these problems (like with flexible policies and a supportive environment), but first we have to simply help people get comfortable with talking about menopause in work settings.
This International Women’s Day, let’s fight the bias by talking about it. Talk to your doctor about issues you’re having, talk to your friends about the biases they experience, especially related to their sexual health and menopause. Talk to your significant other and your sons about your own experiences with gender bias. Small steps lead to big change!
Dr. Barb DePree, M.D., has been a gynecologist and women’s health provider for almost 30 years and a menopause care specialist for the past ten.