Today I went to a seminar hosted by the Centre for Gender Studies titled “Gender in Medicine: Is There Benefit or Harm in Sexless Healthcare?”. For this seminar, I traveled to St. Catharine’s College for the first time. I’m glad I live in more modern accommodations, but I love going into these old buildings. Anyway, Dr. Anita Holdcroft was the speaker, and she talked about sex, gender, and pain.
Much of Holdcroft’s work is related to anesthesia and analgesics. When anesthesiologists set doses, doctors prescribe medicine, or pharmaceutical companies label drugs they need to know what the “normal” amount of medicine is. This is a bit hairier issue than you’d think. In the ’70s, tests would be run on mixed groups of men and women, and the results from these whole groups were used. This was done in an effort of equality but wasn’t overly beneficial. What researchers have learned since then is that women are more sensitive to most kinds of pain than men are. In addition, the amount of pain women experience when the same stimuli is used increases when there is more estrogen in the body–the way women experience pain fluctuates with our menstrual cycles. This means women typically need higher doses of painkillers than men but finding that “normal” dose is quite tricky.
In addition to many other things, Holdcroft mentioned that, on average, women experience headaches more often than men. What I thought was odd is that women more often experience headaches for physiological reasons (something having to do with the reproduction setup) while men’s headaches are usually caused by lifestyle. I know I get headaches way more often than Zach, and there’s usually no good reason for my headaches.
Oh! And here’s something: you know how women going into labor want drugs? Well, due to legal restrictions, boards, etc. saying NO to researchers who want to experiment with pregnant women (what if something happens to the fetus?!) the best and newest technologies aren’t used with these women and the anesthetics they get are a bit outdated. At least that’s so in the UK–I don’t know how generalizable Western medicine is.
Since I was fairly close to the market, I decided to buy an aubergine (our grocer usually doesn’t have any) and saw this little guy (reference to picture on right). It’s a cyclamen plant, and I hope it doesn’t die.
Also, remember how shaky I was on my bike? No more! I’m not ready to test my skills at the Tour de France, but I can hold onto a plastic bag with a small plant in it.
As a final note, Zach and I are working to catch up on Modern Family, season three. We watched “Phil on Wire” tonight in the Gates Room with Gates scholars.