The Way We Approach Female Health Isn't Working: The Critical Need for Uterine Health Research

The Way We Approach Female Health Isn't Working: The Critical Need for Uterine Health Research

Underfunding in reproductive health research, exclusion from clinical trials and general misinformation or dismissal by doctors on an epidemic level mean women are being underserved by medical science.

It’s time for that to change. 

At Phenxx, we’re building the world we want our daughters to live in, where equality and information, quality of life and of health are equally available and accessible. Without shame, without issue. Every purchase you make via Phenxx funds critically important research into uterine health and wellness solutions via our university and laboratory partnerships in Australia and the United States. 

Governments and health institutes focus on life spans of people, and by that measure, we are globally improving. Over the past two centuries, the rise in life expectancy—for both men and women—has been a tremendous success story. Global life expectancy increased from 30 years to 73 years between 1800 and 2018 (Roser 2018).

But life span and health span are quite different and more attention needs to be put on the health span of women. Women's health is so largely ignored that women spend more of their lives in poor health and with degrees of disability. A woman will spend an average of nine years in poor health, which affects her ability to be present and/or productive at home, in the workforce, and in the community and reduces her earning potential (Ellingrud, et al, 2024).

A report published by McKinsey in January 2024 titled "Closing the women’s health gap: A $1 trillion opportunity to improve lives and economies" suggests that addressing the 25 percent more time that women spend in “poor health” relative to men not only would improve the health and lives of millions of women but also could boost the global economy by at least $1 trillion USD annually by 2040. They acknowledge that this estimate is probably conservative, given the historical underreporting and data gaps on women’s health conditions, which undercounts the prevalence and undervalues the health burden of many conditions for women.

61% of the health burden women face is from conditions that affect only women or affect women differently. Women are most likely to be affected by a sex-specific condition between the ages of 15 and 50. Other conditions occur throughout women’s lives, but nearly half of the health burden affects women in their working years, which often has an impact on their ability to earn money and support themselves and their families (Elligrud, et al, 2024).

The current approach to female health often falls short in addressing the unique needs of women, particularly when it comes to uterine health. Medical knowledge, including diagnostic criteria, is principally based on a male standard. Women patients’ symptoms are often labelled ‘atypical’, suggesting biases in diagnostic criteria (Galea, 2023). Investing in research focused on uterine health is not only vital for women's well-being but also plays a significant role in enhancing overall quality of health. 

Globally, total spending on women's health research remains disproportionately low when compared to overall medical research funding. Recent statistics from the Imperial College of London suggest that only 2% of medical research funding is spent on pregnancy, childbirth, and female reproductive health. This is despite one in three women reporting a reproductive or gynaecological health problem.  

Of the money that is allocated to women's health, research in women’s health primarily focuses on diseases with high mortality, overlooking diseases leading to disability. There is up to a tenfold higher volume of new therapies in development for some of the most common women’s cancers compared with debilitating gynecological conditions. 

Uterine health is female health. It is a cornerstone of women's reproductive and overall health but is so overlooked. Conditions affecting the uterus, such as fibroids, endometriosis, and uterine cancer, menopausal health and menstrual health all can have profound effects on women's quality of life, fertility, and long-term health outcomes. Few of these conditions cause early death, but have a huge impact on health and quality of life, affecting the health span of women.

Historically, men have both led and been the subject of the study of medicine and biology (Galea and Parekh, 2023). Questions about sex-based differences were rarely investigated or recorded, with the assumption—now known to be false—that there are few important differences in the functioning of organs and systems in men and women beyond reproduction. To understand basic female biology better, fundamentally new research tools should be developed—for example, animal models, computational models, patient avatars and humanized models—that better classify women’s symptoms and manifestations of disease, as opposed to calling those “atypical" (Schulte and Marrovitz, 2023). 

Dr Allyah Abbas-Hanif from the Imperial College of London explains women are consistently excluded from clinical trials.  “The Thalidomide scandal in the 1950s and 1960s saw 10,000 children born with severe deformities after it was introduced as morning sickness medication. Sadly, the horror it caused has led to a protectionism that’s seen huge underrepresentation of women in clinical trials to the extent that women have been excluded entirely. It wasn’t until 1994 that the Food and Drug Administration allowed women to be included in stage three clinical trials - quite far along the drug development process." 

“When you develop a drug in a white 50-year-old male, you are not accounting for the physiological and biochemical differences in others - not just women, but in children and ethnic communities too. But progress has been slow. It was determined only a few years ago that both sexes should be included in clinical trials from much earlier. Even for diseases specific to women, we are a long way off. Endometriosis for example affects 10% of women of reproductive age, but diagnosis takes seven years.” 

Diana Canghizer is a human-centred design engineer and master’s graduate from Imperial College London and the Royal College of Art. She is the founder of vera AI – a platform focusing on hormonal and gynaecological health management through hyper-personalised patient guidance. She proposes that what is keeping women's health underrepresented is “misinformation and miscommunication [as] big factors in late diagnosis and misdiagnosis of women’s health issues. 

“We noticed recently that people lost their trust in certain doctors or in certain medical recommendations coming from the government. People want to know what the data is and why those recommendations have been made but this information isn’t always readily available, nor accessible. So, in its place you have misinformation. “ 

Despite the unique health needs and challenges faced by women, a significant gap exists in the allocation of resources towards women-specific health initiatives. This disparity not only hinders advancements in understanding and addressing women's health concerns but also perpetuates inequalities in healthcare access and outcomes. It is imperative for policymakers, funding organizations, and healthcare stakeholders to prioritize and increase investment in women's health research to ensure comprehensive and equitable healthcare solutions for all individuals.

By investing in research that focuses on understanding, diagnosing, and treating uterine health issues, we can improve the lives of countless women and empower them to take control of their health.

Phenxx are not only contributing to a global movement towards elevating women's health, we aim to set the example for all other companies that claim to empower women. By championing research initiatives that specifically target uterine health, companies can play a pivotal role in advancing women's health outcomes because it lacks serious and committed funding.

By investing in uterine health research, we can improve access to accurate diagnosis, innovative treatments, and comprehensive care for uterine health conditions can lead to healthier, happier women who are better equipped to contribute to their communities and society at large. By prioritising female uterine health, we are prioritising positive change that elevates women's well-being and unlocks their full potential, ultimately benefiting the entire planet. If you want to talk about empowering women, get them healthy, get them wealthy and get them contributing to their community.



  1. Consistent with the National Institutes of Health (NIH); see NIH, “Women’s Health.”
  2. “Global Burden of Disease Study 2019 (GBD 2019), IHME.” Used with permission. All rights reserved.
  3. Global Burden of Disease Collaborative Network, “Global Burden of Disease Study 2019 (GBD 2019),” Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), 2020.
  4. Galea and Parekh, “Ending the neglect of women’s health in research,” British Medical Journal, 2023, Volume 381, Number 1303.
  5. Roser, “Twice as long—life expectancy around the world,” Our World in Data, October 8, 2018.
  6. Schulte and Mavrovitz, “Myocardial infarction signs and symptoms: Females vs. males,” Cureus, April 2023, Volume 15, Number 4.


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