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Office of Research on Women's Health (ORWH)

What Is Women’s Health Research?

Photo of five women smiling

A person’s health is influenced throughout their lifespan by many factors. Some of the most important factors include sex, gender, racial ethnicity, culture, environment, and socio-economic status. Researchers are discovering the critical roles that sex (being male or female) and gender identity (a term which includes social and cultural factors) play in health, wellness, and disease progression. The discoveries being made through the study of women’s health and sex differences are key to advancements in personalized medicine for both sexes.

There are striking sex and gender differences in many diseases and conditions, including:

  • autoimmune diseases
  • cancer
  • cardiovascular diseases
  • depression and brain disorders
  • diabetes
  • infectious diseases
  • obesity
  • substance abuse disorders

Women’s health research is an essential part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) research agenda. The field has expanded far beyond its roots in reproductive health and includes the study of health throughout the lifespan and across the spectrum of scientific investigations: from basic research and laboratory studies to molecular research, genetics, and clinical trials. Researchers are investigating healthy lifestyles and behavior, risk reduction and disease prevention as well as searching for best ways to diagnose and treat chronic conditions.

Further Reading

This page last reviewed on June 8, 2015