Streisand Speaks Out on Women and Heart Disease

This week, Barbara Streisand published an article highlighting the gross inequities in heart disease. We would like to thank her for her statement. Unfortunately, heart disease is not the only condition that affects women disproportionately or differently from men.

Before 1990, women were not included in medical research and clinical trials, and to almost everyone women’s health meant reproductive health. After the establishment of the Society for Women’s Health Research (SWHR) in 1990 and legislation that required the inclusion of women in research studies, we have learned that biological sex must be considered in all phases of medical research and in clinical care.

For example, women may have different symptoms when experiencing a heart attack and women are more likely than men to have a second heart attack within a year of the first one. Lung cancer, autoimmune disorders, drug and alcohol addiction, osteoporosis, pain conditions, stroke, and depression are but a few of the conditions that effect women differently; and the differences influence the methods of prevention and diagnosis, the symptoms and the treatment options.

SWHR advocates for greater research into sex differences and increasing the number of women and minorities in clinical trials to better treat these debilitating diseases.

With the help of celebrities such as Barbara Streisand more people will become aware of the inequities in medical research and health care and support increased funding for sex differences research. For more information on biological differences that affect our health, please visit Click here to read Ms. Streisand's article.

Behind Closed Doors: Americans and Sex

By: Jennifer Wider, MD
November 17, 2010

A recent study conducted by sexual health researchers at Indiana University challenges some of the myths about sexual practices among adolescents and adults in this country. The National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior (NSSHB), which was published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, is the largest, most comprehensive survey of American’s sexual behavior since 1994.

The study includes information from roughly 6,000 American participants, ranging in age from 14-94. Among other things, the study reveals patterns of condom use, same-sex encounters, sexually-transmitted diseases and sexual behavior among men and women.

One of the more surprising findings involved condom use. Adolescents between the ages of 14-17 reported high rates of protected sex. “Our data show that, in fact, the majority of adolescents are using condoms,” said Dennis Fortenberry, MD, MS, professor of Pediatrics in the Indiana University School of Medicine, who led the adolescent section of the survey. The same did not hold true for older adults. “The proportion of older adults using condoms, however, is much smaller.”

This finding was worrisome for the researchers because it poses an increase in risk of disease among an aging population who report multiple sexual partners. And although this age group may not be as concerned about pregnancy, the finding suggests that sexually transmitted disease education and prevention efforts may need to be increased for this population.

“One reason condom use remains low is that misconceptions about condoms are common. For example, many people justify condom non-use by saying that condoms interfere with sexual pleasure,” said Fortenberry. “However, among adults, ratings of sexual pleasure at last intercourse were no different among those using condoms as compared to those not using condoms. We think this means that health care providers and health educators should be more assertive about the idea that condoms do not detract from the quality of sexual experiences.”

There were some similarities in condom use among adolescents and adults; however, “For both adolescents and adults the relationship context in which sex occurs influences the use. Condom use is much higher for less involved and shorter relationships, and is much lower in longer term relationships,” said Fortenberry.

There were some notable gender differences as well:

  • Men were more likely to achieve an orgasm when vaginal intercourse was involved, while women were more likely to experience orgasm when they engaged in a variety of acts, including oral sex.
  • 85% of men reported that their latest sexual partner climaxed during sexual intercourse, while only 64% of women reported having an orgasm during their latest sexual encounter.
  • Roughly 33% of women reported feeling pain during intercourse, compared with only 5% of men.
  • Roughly 7% of adult women and 8% of men identify themselves as gay, lesbian or bisexual. The proportion of participants who reported same-gender sex at some point in their lives was higher among men.

The study revealed a wide variety of sexual experiences among American adults. The number of adults engaging in just one sex act per encounter has gone down over the years. And while vaginal intercourse is still the most common sexual behavior in the United States, many sexual experiences do not involve intercourse, but instead involve partnered masturbation or oral sex.

Maintaining an active and healthy sex life is part of overall total body health. And this recent study highlights the importance of sexual health and education. “Perhaps the most important point is the presence and importance of sex and sexuality throughout the lifespan” said Fortenberry. “Data like those in our study confirm and extend findings of others and give us the empirical basis for continued commitment to sexual health, with education, public dialogue and access to sexual health services as the most important outcome of the work.”


For more information on the Society for Women’s Health Research please contact Rachel Griffith at 202-496-5001 or


SWHR Presents "Science of Sex" at TedX Conference

TedX 2010Washington, DC (November 9, 2010) - The highly anticipated TEDxNASA 2010 event at Christopher Newport University featured an intriguing presentation by Society for Women’s Health Research President and CEO Phyllis Greenberger. The well-received presentation, The Science of Sex, illustrates where sex-based biological research is currently and how it will significantly impact health outcomes for both women and men in the future.

Phyllis Greenberger Speaking at TedX 2010In front of 1650 people at the Ferguson Center for the Arts, Greenberger shared SWHR’s mission and strategic goals with a new audience of policymakers, federal agency employees, and the general public, many of whom had never heard of sex-based biology.

“The opportunity to present to such a new and diverse group is crucial to expanding sex differences awareness to the general populous,” said Greenberger. “I appreciate the energy and feedback the audience provided me during the presentation and hope I inspired some new debate on sex differences research.”

Full Audience TedX 2010Other notable speakers at the jam-packed event were Dr. Bobby Braun, NASA Chief Technologist, who spoke on future space missions and technologies; Dr. Jim Green, Director of the Planetary Science Division at NASA; and Lesa Roe, Director of NASA’s Langley Research Center.

The TED talks have been viewed online more than 100 million times worldwide and an even larger audience is expected this year with the expansion of the talks through NASA’s highly regarded website. Click here to watch her presentation on YouTube.


For more information on the Society for Women’s Health Research please contact Rachel Griffith at 202-496-5001 or


New Sex Differences Journal Launches

Washington, DC (November 4, 2010) - Biology of Sex Differences (BSD), the official journal of the Organization for the Study of Sex Differences (OSSD), has been launched. Biology of Sex Differences is an open access, peer-reviewed, online journal launched by BioMed Central. BSD considers manuscripts on all aspects of the effects of sex on biology and disease.

Articles published in BSD will relate to sex differences and feature articles on the separate and interacting effects of any hormonal, genetic, or environmental factors which cause sex differences in phenotype or disease.

Biology of Sex Differences is dedicated to presenting advanced research on all aspects of the effects of sex on biology and disease,” said Viviana Simon, Ph.D., Vice President of Scientific Affairs at SWHR. “This journal provides a platform for publishing the most advanced research in which sex is a factor, involving animal models and/or humans.”

Some topic areas in BSD include, but are not limited to, sex differences in: the genome, epigenetics, molecular and cell biology, tissue biology, physiology, body interactions, and clinical studies focused on sex differences.

Biology of Sex Differences also publishes articles about sex-specific factors that counteract each other to reduce sex differences rather than cause them. Of particular interest is material about the biological origins of sex differences in disease models, animal or human. BSD welcomes papers reporting on sex differences in clinical studies or other studies of humans, particularly if they affect the biological mechanisms related to human physiology or disease.

Editor-in-Chief Art Arnold, the force behind the journal’s launch, is excited to present the first edition later this week. “BSD will be a great forum for discussion of the causes and consequences of sex differences in human and animal physiology and disease. BSD will bring together scientists from diverse disciplines and from around the world to share information on the common factors that cause sex differences in many tissues,” said Arnold. “There’s never been greater interest in this topic. If one sex is protected from a disease, then studying the sex differences might lead to the identification of the factors that are protective.”

This ground breaking journal is available worldwide at no cost to anyone with an internet connection by visiting To submit an article, please use the online submission system at

The first issue will launch on Thursday, November 4, 2010.


For more information on the Society for Women’s Health Research please contact Rachel Griffith at 202-496-5001 or

The Society for Women’s Health Research (SWHR), a national non-profit organization based in Washington D.C., is widely recognized as the thought leader in women’s health research, particularly how sex differences impact health. SWHR’s mission is to improve the health of all women through advocacy, education and research. Visit SWHR’s website at for more information.

The Organization for the Study of Sex Differences (OSSD) was launched in 2006 in partnership with the Society for Women’s Health Research (SWHR) to promote scientific research on sex differences.

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