Thursday, September 16

The vaccination of women, again in the blind spot of medicine?

Women, as in the rest of the fields, are also more invisible than men in medicine. To start somewhere, during the 90s Carme Valls counted in Invisible Women (Captain Swing) that women were not included in studies of heart-related diseases. Only men were studied and then the results were applied to all people equally and it was, to say the least, risky. In fact, in medical schools it has always been taught that the atypical presentation of myocardial infarction is that of women, while the typical and classic one is that of men.

A few months ago, the Lancet magazine published the Commission report on cardiovascular health and women, made up of 17 researchers; In this report, it indicated that, despite accounting for 35% of the burden of cardiovascular disease, there was still a lack of knowledge and study about the particularities of these diseases in women, that there is still a lack of representation of women in clinical trials on cardiovascular diseases and that, in addition, it is a growing health problem especially in young women.

Landing this so-called gender bias In the Community of Madrid and in the healthcare field, care for women’s sexual and reproductive health has deteriorated in recent years due to the worsening of the system as a whole. While other Autonomous Communities improve access to contraceptives, increase the role of midwives in primary care or promote accessible strategies in Primary Care for sexual health care, in the Community of Madrid health care for women continues to be one of the points weakness of the system, with models of early diagnosis of breast cancer unemployed for months due to problems in contracting with private companies and with a total absence of leadership and resources so that 50% of the population is present in 100% of the organization of the system.

The wonderful thing about having a health system that largely preserves the premise that it should be public, and that the health of the population is everyone’s business, is that when something like the COVID-19 vaccine arrives, has supplied free of charge and to everyone equally. Thanks to a political commitment to universality, which has not always been maintained by all the parties and which even today puts obstacles in the way of access to specific population groups, we are achieving a very high percentage of vaccination of the population, regardless of the money , race or gender and that has placed us at the top of the list of countries in the process of vaccination.

Now, one of the great mistakes that has been made with the subject of vaccination is to repeat patterns that were developed in the 90s, that is, to analyze the safety of the vaccine against COVID-19 with eminently male eyes. While on this occasion women were represented in the clinical trials in which the safety and efficacy of the vaccine were determined, without falling into the selection bias that only men were represented (or did so in the majority) ), when it comes to analyzing possible adverse effects, an area that seems frequently altered has seemed to be overlooked. Converting man back into the universal subject and interpreting that the same would happen to menstruating women has been the mistake we have stumbled on again, as we have stumbled on for decades. This has caused women to be a blind spot in vaccination and that, consequently, the information that has been given when administering the vaccine has been partial, many of them not being able to interpret or name the symptoms they feel after the vaccination. vaccine.

In a small survey carried out on social networks about whether she had felt changes in menstruation, we have received amazing answers such as that of a woman in her 70s who, after the vaccine, has returned to have vaginal bleeding and when she told her group of friends. It seems that it has not been the only one, it is being a side effect among older women.

Most of the young women who answered this survey explained that the days of bleeding, periods that in some cases last up to 15 days, the pain or the moods have increased. It was already difficult to understand the cycles that women go through during menstruation in a country that we have barely had training on menstrual health to understand now without anyone giving us the tools to do so.

According an article published by Agencia SINC in September it was held, within the Eva project, a first online questionnaire on changes in menstruation after vaccination that has already received more than 14,000 responses and according to which 70% of the women who have participated report having had changes in their menstruation after vaccination.

Under this reflection and the need that women cannot be second-class subjects, that it is necessary that we have information equally, that we are cared for and cared for, from Más Madrid we have asked the Ayuso Government for three basic initiatives. The first, that the incorporation of a gender perspective is guaranteed in pharmacovigilance studies on the possible side effects of COVID-19 vaccines carried out in our community. With this we want to ensure that the characteristics of menstruating women are taken into account. The second, that it supports with specific funding the lines of research in the Community of Madrid to analyze the impact of COVID-19 on menstruating women in a differential way. And finally, that it present these results to all parties and that they be disseminated throughout the region and thus provide us with the tools to better understand what these effects are.

Gender bias in medicine, as in many other areas of knowledge generation, is part of a structural problem that must be constantly and decisively eliminated, and the study of the adverse effects of the COVID-19 vaccine is a unique opportunity for it.



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