Women's health: what is it and why is it important?

Lisa Scharinger
Women's health: what is it and why is it important?
Table of contents
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipisicing elit. Temporibus, quae?
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet.
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipisicing elit.

In a world that is constantly striving for more equality between the sexes, the concept of "women's health" may seem somewhat counterintuitive. If men and women are equal, why should we at Hello Inside emphasize women's health? Why do we devote so much time and resources to it? "What about 'men's health'?" some may ask. Why don't we just call it 'health'? 

What is "women's health" actually?

So what is women's health and why is it so important? We believe that equality essentially means equal opportunities and equal access. In the case of health, this means that it is simply not enough to just give general and universal advice on health. In the hope that women will find what they need. Women, who make up 50% of the world's population, face unique and specific challenges and circumstances when it comes to their health. For some historical - and in some cases current - reasons, they risk being lost in broader conversations about health, pathologies and disease.

In this blog post we will:

  • explain some of the historical background. And we explain why we believe that we should give women in our product the special attention they deserve. 
  • To look at the challenges or circumstances that men don't have to face. 
  • discuss why we at Hello Inside are proud to offer specialized women's health programs. We want to support them in getting the help, advice and guidance they need to live longer, happier and healthier lives.

Women have been excluded from medical studies in the past

In the United States, a 1977 Food and Drug Administration directive prohibited women from participating in clinical trials or studies. The reason for this was that the female body was considered "too complex" due to hormonal fluctuations. was considered "too complex" . Medical professionals also had other concerns about the possible effects of drugs on women's fertility and childbearing potential.

This ban applied equally to all women, regardless of whether they used contraception or not, or whether they had no interest in having children in the future. 

Although this ban was lifted in 1993, there is still a large knowledge gap. Not only is there a lack of important medical data on how certain diseases or pathologies manifest themselves in women in the form of symptoms, but also on how women's bodies and metabolisms react to preventive and reactive medical measures.

For example, women were excluded from clinical trials to test new HIV drugs. This is despite the fact that 48% of people living with HIV worldwide are women. When antiretroviral drugs for HIV-positive women were introduced, the only conclusive data on their efficacy came from studies conducted exclusively on men. This left a large gray area regarding the safety and efficacy of these drugs in women.

Even if it sounds like stating the obvious, it is worth repeating. Women's bodies are, have always been and will always be different from men's bodies. They are highly affected by the hormonal balance required for their reproductive system, menstrual cycle and fertility. This means that when it comes to important health and wellbeing issues, there can be no one-size-fits-all solution for all genders.

How women's health is affected by certain diseases and pathologies

Heart disease is the most common cause of death in women. However, women often do not show the typical symptoms or signs used to detect and prevent heart attacks. Women tend to show less severe symptoms than men. 

As a result, women wait 30% longer to go to hospital when they experience the first symptoms of a heart attack. the first symptoms of a heart attack of a heart attack. And when they do go to hospital, women are 50% more likely to be misdiagnosed. This is simply because their symptoms are more vague or seemingly less severe than a man's.

Although women can experience chest pain just like men when they suffer a heart attack, understanding women's health also means understanding the more subtle symptoms that are more common in women than men, which can lead to misdiagnosis.

Symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Tiredness
  • Back pain
  • Sweating
  • Jaw pain

If women are unaware that these symptoms could be related to heart disease, they are less likely to get to the emergency room in time. Even if this is not fatal, it can lead to long-term, irreversible damage to the heart. This can lead to further complications such as cardiac arrhythmias or an increased risk of a fatal heart attack later in life.

Misconceptions about body fat and body image

Over the last few decades, the way media is created, used and consumed has revolutionized. Social media platforms and algorithms that play on some of the human instincts and drives bombard millions of us daily with countless images of extremely thin and supposedly attractive or desirable body shapes.

Body dysmorphia and eating disorders are something that affects both men and women. A fundamental difference, however, is that men are generally biologically designed for a leaner and more muscular physique, whereas for many women it is an impossible and defeatist task to achieve the body fat levels that are regularly presented to us on the screens of our cell phones.

Biological factors

Women naturally have a higher body fat percentage and store their fat in different places than men. In fact, a healthy body fat percentage in women plays an important role in a woman's metabolism, hormonal balance and reproductive system. Biologically, women have evolved to store more fat so that they can give birth, feed and raise their children in environments where food is scarce.

Yet the flood of bikini pictures - and unfathomably unscientific concepts such as the gap between a woman's thighs - have left many women feeling that they must undernourish themselves and live in a constant calorie deficit to achieve an impossibly low body fat percentage. To achieve this, many women follow unhealthy and unsafe diets. This means that their immune and digestive systems may not be getting enough nutrients to function optimally.

Aside from the physical effects, the mental health implications in today's world and the particular challenge this poses for women, who - as mentioned - are biologically designed to carry more fat on their bodies than men, are significant. This is another reason why we believe that women's health requires extra attention in this regard.

Women's health and body image

Body image and weight problems begin in women at a young age, but often persist into old age. Studies show that 50% of teenagers describe themselves as "self-conscious" about their bodies, while 26.2% say they are "dissatisfied". At the age of 60, 28.7% of women are "dissatisfied" and 32.6% are "self-conscious" about their bodies.

15% of young women have significantly disturbed attitudes and behaviors towards food. 90% of women suffering from eating disorders are between 12 and 25 years old.

The menstrual cycle

One of the most obvious differences between women's and men's health is that women have a monthly menstrual cycle. The female cycle begins at puberty in the early teens and lasts until the menopause in middle age.

To ensure that the menstrual cycle is as inconspicuous as possible and causes as little discomfort as possible, it is important for all women to lead a healthy and balanced lifestyle and have a balanced metabolism. Under these conditions, a woman's hormone production is stable, making the menstrual cycle much easier to control.

Phases of the menstrual cycle

As you can see in the infographic above, the menstrual cycle consists of four different phases. In each of these phases, the body produces different types and amounts of hormones that can affect mood, energy levels and even cause physical discomfort. The main hormones that move in a monthly dance are: Estrogen, Progesterone, Luteinizing Hormone (LH) and Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH). We won't go into further detail here, except to say that: The dance is complex and highly individualized in the ranges in which hormones fluctuate. And these hormone fluctuations also change across the stages of a woman's life - from puberty through to the menopause. 

A fact that most women are completely unaware of when it comes to their health: an unstable blood sugar level is the most underestimated cause of a number of hormonal problems. The stability of blood sugar levels affects the entire hormonal - the endocrine - system. A key function of this system is the transportation of glucose to the brain, muscles and organs. If even this very delicate process is not working properly, it stands to reason that uncontrolled blood sugar is not the only problem you will face. Other parts of the endocrine system are also no longer functioning as planned. You may be asking yourself: how can you address and solve a fundamental problem that you didn't even know you had before, that you have unstable blood sugar and that this could be related to a hormonal cascade and the challenges you experience every month?

How can I stabilize my blood sugar level?

The good news is that unstable blood sugar levels can easily be improved by adapting your lifestyle habits to your cycle phases. The key to making each of the cycle phases as seamless as possible is to figure out your individual pattern. 

So make sure your blood sugar levels are in balance. This is the simplest starting point, which is related to how you move, what you eat, how you sleep and how much stress you have - and how you feel in this context. 

Make sure that your blood sugar level remains stable in all phases of the cycle. You can keep an eye on this by continuously monitoring your blood glucose levels. You can do this with a CGM device (Continuous Glucose Monitoring) and the Hello Inside app.

You can find out how best to approach the four phases of your menstrual cycle by adjusting your diet and exercise plan. This will help you to best cope with the different stresses and the impact of hormone production on your body.

We go into much more detail in the women's health programs in the Hello Inside app. And we offer even more practical advice, knowledge and tips to help you get a better grip on your menstrual cycle and hormones.

Women's health and blood sugar

Unstable blood sugar levels can put women at significant risk of developing serious diseases later in life. High insulin resistance and poor blood sugar control have been linked to polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), infertility, menstrual irregularities, body weight problems and even skin conditions.

The good news is that women can prevent these problems and their distressing symptoms. This is possible by taking targeted measures to stabilize blood sugar levels. A study has shown that a 24-week low-glycemic diet significantly improves insulin sensitivity in women with PCOS and lowers fasting insulin.

The biomarker "blood sugar" can tell you so much more about what is going on in your body. That's why we should constantly keep an eye on our blood sugar levels. It's amazing and helpful to see how our body reacts to certain lifestyle habits and choices we make.

Take the first step towards hormonal balance and a happier, healthier life. Discover our new Hello Inside programs for women's health.

Back to the blog