Women & Health


Medicine has always seen women first and foremost as reproductive bodies.  Our reproductive organs were the greatest source of difference to men – and because they were different, they were mysterious and suspicious.  But the fallout of this difference is that, for a long time, medicine assumed it was the only difference.  Because women had reproductive organs, they should reproduce, and all else about them was deemed uninteresting.

In the early 20th century, the endocrine system, which produces hormones, was discovered. To medical minds, this represented another difference between men and women, overtaking the uterus as the primary perpetrator of all women’s ills.  Still, medicine persisted with the belief that all other organs and functions would operate the same in men and women, so there was no need to study women.  Conversely, researchers said that the menstrual cycle, and varied release of hormones throughout the cycle in rodents, introduced too many variables into a study; therefore females could not be studied.”

Source: The Guardian - The female problem: how male bias in medical trials ruined women's health

Two centuries of women's health in two minutes

History of the Women’s Health Movement in the 20th Century

30 Achievements in Women's Health in 30 Years (1984 – 2014) | womenshealth.gov

Honoring the past: A history of women's healthcare

The female problem: how male bias in medical trials ruined women's health

Gendering the History of Women's Healthcare


“Hysteria is undoubtedly the first mental disorder attributable to women, accurately described in the second millennium BC, and, until Freud, considered an exclusively female disease. Over 4000 years of history, this disease was considered from two perspectives: scientific and demonological. It was cured with herbs, sex or sexual abstinence, punished and purified with fire for its association with sorcery and finally, clinically studied as a disease and treated with innovative therapies. However, even at the end of the 19th century, scientific innovation had still not reached some places, where the only known therapies were those proposed by Galen. During the 20th century several studies postulated the decline of hysteria amongst occidental patients (both women and men) and the escalating of this disorder in non-Western countries. The concept of hysterical neurosis is deleted with the 1980 DSM-III. The evolution of these diseases seems to be a factor linked with social “westernization”, and examining under what conditions the symptoms first became common in different societies became a priority for recent studies over risk factor.”

Source: NCBI Women & Hysteria in the History of Mental Health

Women and Hysteria in the History of Mental Health

History of the Women’s Health Movement in the 20th Century


Mental Health Facts for Women

Module 2: A Brief History of Mental Illness and the US Mental Health Care System

History of Mental Illness | Noba