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 socioeconomic status. Researchers are discovering the critical roles that sex (being male or female) and gender identity (including 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 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, and searching for the best ways to diagnose and treat chronic conditions.

For additional information, see the page "Sex/Gender Influences in Health and Disease."