General Health

Social, Cultural and Biological factors impacting women’s health

Social and cultural factors

Women’s health is situated within a broader body of knowledge that includes, but is not restricted to, the WHO, and emphasises gender as a social determinant of health. While women’s health is influenced by their biology, it is also influenced by their social circumstances, including poverty, employment, and family obligations. These factors shouldn’t be overlooked because they have an impact on women’s health.

Women have historically had less power and status in society and the economy, which restricts their access to necessities like health care. Women still face disadvantages in comparison to men, despite recent improvements in western countries. In developing nations where women are comparatively more disadvantaged, the gender gap in health is even more severe. In addition to gender inequality, there are still particular disease processes that are only found in women, which present unique difficulties for both prevention and healthcare.

Women have experienced discrimination even after gaining access to health care, a phenomenon Iris Young has dubbed “internal exclusion” as opposed to “external exclusion,” or the obstacles to access. By effectively concealing the complaints of groups already disadvantaged by a power imbalance, this invisibility further entrenches injustice.

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Behavioural differences also play a part; women tend to take fewer risks and use tobacco, alcohol, and drugs less frequently, which lowers their risk of dying from diseases like lung cancer, tuberculosis, and cirrhosis. Vehicle accidents are another risk factor that is lower for women. Women have experienced fewer industrial injuries due to occupational differences, though this is likely to change, just as there is a risk of harm or death during wars. Compared to 6.2 per cent in the United States in 2009, such injuries overall contributed to 3.5 per cent of deaths among women. Additionally, women have lower suicide rates.

Women’s health service delivery is influenced by the social perspective on health and the recognition that gender is a social determinant of health in all nations. One example of a women’s health approach to service delivery is the Leichhardt Women’s Community Health Centre, which was the first women’s health centre established in Australia and has been providing services since 1974.

Women’s health is a topic that many feminists have taken up, particularly when it comes to reproductive health. The international women’s movement was largely responsible for the adoption of agendas to improve women’s health.

When viewed from a global perspective, gender differences in disease susceptibility, symptoms, and treatment response are especially evident. The majority of the information is from developed nations, but the roles and health of women vary significantly between developed and developing nations. The phrase “area for study, research, and practise that prioritises improving health and achieving health equity for all people worldwide” is used to describe the global viewpoint. The World Health Organization named the following as the top ten health concerns for women in 2015: cancer, reproductive health, maternal health, HIV, STDs, violence, mental health, non-communicable diseases, youth, and ageing.

Biological factors

The differences between men’s and women’s health that are specific to those factors that affect reproduction are most obvious, but sex differences have been found on every scale from the molecular to the behavioural. Due in part to the difficulty in separating the health effects of innate biological factors from the effects of the environment in which they exist, some of these differences are subtle and challenging to explain.

It is thought that sex differences in health at the levels of physiology, perception, and cognition are influenced by women’s XX chromosome complement, the hormonal environment, as well as sex-specific lifestyles, metabolism, immune system function, and sensitivity to environmental factors. Drug responses and thresholds for diagnostic parameters can differ between men and women. Because of all of these, it is important to exercise caution when generalising data from biomarkers from one sex to the other. Young girls and teenagers are at risk for STIs, pregnancy, and unsafe abortions, while older women frequently lack resources and are at a disadvantage in comparison to men. They are also more likely to experience dementia and abuse, have poorer health overall, and are more likely to be abused. 









 Yash Batra

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