It’s no secret that women’s health care has been shrouded in mystery, misogyny, and misinformation. From hormones to mental wellness to the location (and function) of the clitoris, our society hasn’t exactly been a beacon of female medical empowerment. But now, two lawmakers are seeking to change that.
Representatives David B. McKinley (R-WV) and Cynthia Axne (D-IA) introduced H.R.8774, The Menopause Research Act, to the House in September 2022. If passed, the National Institutes of Health would spend $100 million in 2023 and 2024 on evaluating and conducting new research on menopause and midlife women’s health.
“Millions of women in America experience symptoms from menopause every day, yet there is little being done to find new treatments to improve their quality of life,” McKinley said in a statement.
Axne added: “Menopause-related symptoms take a toll on [millions of working-aged women’s] families, disrupt their lives, careers, mental health, and so much more.”
As for us? We couldn’t agree more. While we wait to see if the bill will make it to the Senate, here are our top 10 reasons why we hope Congress passes this much-needed legislation.
1. Women Will Make Up For Lost Time
The lack of information about women’s physiology is a cynical truth joke that makes women simultaneously cringe and shake their heads. From dismissive doctors to disappointing sex, it’s clear that our bodies are enigmas to many.
When you consider this 1977 FDA guideline that banned women of “childbearing potential” from participating in clinical trials, it’s not exactly surprising. While it was created to protect vulnerable populations, its bigger consequence is the sheer lack of data on female anatomy in a clinical setting.
2. Menopause Research Will Be Rebolstered
Since the 1977 guideline was rescinded in 1993, scientists have conducted some female-based research. But much some it falls painfully short—namely, the Women’s Health Initiative of the early 1990s. The WHI sought to study women’s health regarding cardiovascular and other diseases, cancer, and menopause care.
Twenty years later, some doctors are catching on and calling it the “biggest screw-up of the entire medical field in the last 25 years.” The study’s results are largely responsible for the inaccurate stigmas we have around hormone replacement therapy (and menopause in general).
RELATED: ‘The Biggest Screw-Up Of The Entire Medical Field In The Last 25 Years’—The Inaccurate Misconceptions Of HRT
3. We’ll Learn More About Symptoms
From burning mouth to frozen shoulder, women are expected to “just deal with” myriad unsavory menopause symptoms, and not everyone experiences the same symptoms or severity.
As a result, many of us are left with more questions than answers, which is an even harder phenomenon to grasp in the throes of menopausal brain fog. The Menopause Research Act could finally clear the smoke and mirrors around menopause’s elusive—yet pervasive—symptoms.
4. We’ll Learn More About Treatments
When we know more about the symptoms, we can start to find ways to address them. The infamous WHI study had a catastrophic effect on the progress of hormone replacement therapy, and the Menopause Research Act could finally pave the way for data that would reverse that.
The act could also reveal new, non-hormonal treatments available to women who cannot or prefer not to take hormones. Either way, anything is better than suffering in silence.
5. A Huge Portion Of The Population Will Benefit
The Menopause Research Act isn’t some niche legislation that will affect only a small population subset. Some reports estimate that by 2030, the global population of menopausal and postmenopausal women will increase to 1.2 billion, with 47 million new people in those categories each year.
According to the North American Menopause Society’s Menopause Practice: A Clinician’s Guide, the exact figures of the US menopausal population are difficult to obtain. But it estimates that 6,000 people enter menopause every day. That’s a lot of people who will benefit from McKinley and Axne’s proposed legislation.
6. It Will Lessen The Stigma Around Women’s Health
Generally speaking, our society tends to fear the unknown. We shy away from and project negative assumptions and fears around things we don’t understand. This can be especially true of women’s health.
Midlife is a great time to stop giving a flying you-know-what about what other people think. But that’s often easier said than done. Many women still struggle to hide their symptoms or needs as a result of the overwhelming stigma around female bodies.
RELATED: Menopause Even Brought Oprah Winfrey Down, Here’s How She Built Herself Back Up
7. It Will Help Us Celebrate Midlife
In that same vein, the more we know about menopause, the easier it will be to celebrate the good parts about it. For far too long, we’ve dubbed menopause “the change” and not the good kind. Too often, we hear about its most negative symptoms.
And while there are plenty of those, menopause does have its plusses: no more periods (read: PMS), sex without pregnancy scares, and greater self-assurance. Midlife isn’t the beginning of the end; it’s the beginning of something great.
8. It Will Pave The Way For Future Generations Of Women
Our children and grandchildren deserve a better menopause experience than we had. The Menopause Research Act could do just that for future generations. Hopefully, the idea of women’s health care is so shrouded in mystery will become a relic in just a few decades.
The Menopause Research Act brings the race toward women’s equality one step closer to the finish line. While we still have a ways to go, we’re keeping all our fingers and toes crossed that Congress pushes this bill—and women’s empowerment—forward.
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