Nature Outlook |

Women’s health

This Outlook takes a look at conditions that affect only women, or more women than men, as well as those with different symptoms in the sexes. It discusses how to meet the challenges in conducting research in patriarchal societies in Africa; explains why research on sexual arousal in women has finally become a priority; and questions whether girls are entering puberty earlier — and, if so, whether we should be worried.

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Research on women's sexual desire and satisfaction lags behind that on men's, but scientists and drug companies are trying to close the gap.

Outlook | | Nature

Heart disease is a different for women. Researchers must investigate, educate, advocate and legislate to decrease the risks, says Nanette Wenger.

Outlook | | Nature

Girls are entering puberty at ever younger ages. What are the causes, and should we be worried?

Outlook | | Nature

Surveys of the microbes that live in the vagina have revealed unexpected variability. More research might reveal links between these microbes, infection and birth complications.

Outlook | | Nature

There is only one industrialized country where the rate of maternal deaths has risen over the past 30 years. US researchers are trying to find out what went wrong.

Outlook | | Nature

Related articles

Clinical practice regarding the use of hormone-replacement therapy (HRT) has undergone many changes since its introduction in the 1940s. Here, Roger Lobo frames the current thinking on the use of HRT in postmenopausal women, beginning with a historical perspective and then discussing how the interpretation of HRT data has changed over time.

Review Article | | Nature Reviews Endocrinology

John Perry, Ken Ong and colleagues analyze genotype data on 370,000 women and identify 389 independent signals that associate with age at menarche, implicating 250 genes. Their analyses suggest causal inverse associations, independent of BMI, between puberty timing and risks for breast and endometrial cancers in women and prostate cancer in men.

Article | | Nature Genetics

The prevalence of stroke in women is predicted to increase rapidly in the near future. Yet, despite the presence of numerous female-specific risk factors for stroke, women remain under-represented in stroke clinical trials. Here, members of the Women Initiative for Stroke in Europe (WISE) group summarize new advances and future research priorities in the research of stroke in women.

Review Article | | Nature Reviews Neurology

Altered gene activity may promote chronic and recurrent infections in the most common gynecological disorder in women of reproductive age. Bacterial vaginosis (BV) frequently involves the formation of biofilms by Gardnerella vaginalis bacteria. Nuno Cerca and colleagues at the University of Minho in Portugal, with co-workers elsewhere in Portugal and in the USA, studied changes in gene activity in BV biofilms. Their results linked differences in the activity of 815 genes to an ability of the bacteria to enter a protected form of growth when producing biofilms. The differences included increased activity of specific genes associated with antibiotic resistance. This insight into the bacterial ability to undergo drastic changes in gene activity could guide work to understand chronic and recurrent BV. It may also lead to new ways to treat this common and troublesome condition.

Article | Open Access | | npj Biofilms and Microbiomes

Women's health is more than reproductive health. Why does this phrase still need to be repeated? This commentary highlights the urgent need to encourage more women to lead, research, and educate to move beyond stereotypes and to ensure we push forward in improving the lives of women everywhere.

Comment | | Nature Reviews Clinical Oncology

Whole-genome shotgun sequencing and sequencing of the gene encoding the 16S rRNA in samples from a variety of body sites in a large cohort of mothers and their infants reveals that, during the 6 weeks after birth, changes in the composition and function of the microbiome are driven by body site but not by the mode of delivery.

Article | | Nature Medicine

Menopause is the age-related loss of female reproductive function. Here, Davis et al. describe menopause physiology and its impact on women's health. They call for more research to understand the basic biology underlying this transition and to develop new therapies.

Primer | | Nature Reviews Disease Primers

Menopause is the age-related (primary) or iatrogenic (secondary) loss of female reproductive function. Menopausal women are at increased risk for many conditions including cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and some cancers, by mechanisms that are not yet fully understood.

PrimeView | | Nature Reviews Disease Primers