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Hormonal health: top female pioneers

06 March, 2024

It's International Women's Day! To celebrate we thought we would shine a spotlight on women throughout history that have furthered the cause for women's sexual and hormonal health. From pioneers of medical research to inspiring advocates, we have compiled a list of influential women who have shaped history. But before we dive in we would like to explain why women’s hormonal health is so important and why it's a particularly pertinent topic as of late that is gaining attention for all the right reasons.

What is the gender pain gap? 

Although women's health has come on leaps and bounds, the gender pain gap has been hitting the headlines recently and with good reason. While women are more likely to suffer chronic pain than men, women’s pain is consistently misdiagnosed and undertreated. As a result this is what has now become known as the gender pain gap

This gap is comprised of a number of reasons that include a depressing mix of social bias, gender stereotypes and persistent lack of research and funding around women’s health issues. This has led to a failure in understanding of  women's sexual health as well as the enormous impact our hormones have on us. 

Chronic pain and hormonal imbalances can impact all aspects of a woman's life including mental health, sleep patterns and sex drive (to name but a few). Women who try to seek help for their problems are often not fully believed, properly understood or sometimes made to feel like they are being overdramatic. But this couldn't be further from the truth.  

Us women experience many gender specific health issues from PMS, to painful childbirth and sometimes severe PCOS symptoms. When it comes to our health and getting the right treatment for symptoms we really do get the short end of the stick compared to our male counterparts!

So, with this in mind here are some inspiring women who have helped us better understand our bodies, sexuality and hormonal health. 

Mary Putnam Jacobi 

Born in 1842 this American physician conducted groundbreaking research on menstruation, menopause, and reproductive health. All of this at a time when women's rights were severely limited. Her work helped dispel the many myths and misconceptions surrounding women's hormonal health that were rife at the time. 

Known as a staunch suffragist, Mary’s extensive research into a woman's menstrual cycle helped disprove the notion, held by many, that a women’s monthly cycle made her unfit for education. Mary’s research was instrumental in the fight for women's rights and helped pave the way for women securing the educational opportunities they had long been denied. 

Betty Dodson 

Born in 1929, Betty Dodson was a sex educator and erotic artist who pioneered the pro-sex feminist movement and turned women’s masturbation into an artform. Betty advocated for sex positivity and the sexual liberation of women. In the 1970s she set up her own women’s sexuality workshops in New York City aptly called Bodysex workshops. 

Each of these workshops saw 15 naked women come together to explore their bodies, practice self love and empower themselves to reach orgasm. Her famous technique known as the Betty Dodson Method has left a lasting impact on women all over the world and helped them to very effectively achieve that oh so elusive orgasm. 

Virgina E. Johnson 

Known as one of the ‘masters of sex’, thanks to the critically acclaimed TV show about her life, American Sexologist Virgina E. Johnson along with her partner William H. Masters conducted one of the largest groups of studies on human sexuality. Throughout the 1950s and 60s the pair watched over 700 women and men getting it on in their laboratory (either solo or with a partner) as they measured participants' arousal. 

Their findings lead them to discover the four stages of sexual response in what they termed the human sexual response cycle. Although the studies were on both men and women, Virginia’s research helped us learn more about  female desire and sexual dysfunction. Her work paved the way for a better understanding of women’s sexuality, a topic that had yet to be openly studied or even spoken about. 

Shere Hite

An American sex educator and researcher, Hite conducted extensive surveys on women's sexual experiences and reproductive health in the 1970s. This revolutionised the way we understand the female orgasm. Building on the findings of Virgina E. Johnson, Shere found that 70% of women were not experiencing the big O and emphasised the importance of clitoral stimulation for women to reach climax. On behalf of women everywhere, we can't thank her enough.  

Published in 1976, her explosive and bestselling book titled The Hite Report lifted the lid on female pleasure and exposed some uncomfortable truths, from faking orgasms to female masturbation. All which was just a little too much for the chauvinist attitudes of the time. Shere faced major backlash and harassment for her work and so renounced her American citizenship in 1995 and left for Germany where she lived out the rest of her days. To this day she  remains one of the most famous and fascinating feminists of her time. 

Harnaam Kaur 

Now on to a more recent woman that has inspired thousands of women to embrace their insecurities and be themselves. A PCOS advocate, model and motivational speaker, Harnaam was diagnosed with PCOS at the early age of 12. Her condition led to her growing excess facial and body hair, a common symptom of PCOS. Faced with bullying by her peers, Harnaam spent her youth trying to get rid of her hair. But once she became an adult she decided enough was enough and to embrace her unique look - this is when she was catapulted to fame!

Turning the tables on society's expectations of how women are expected to look, Harnaam has empowered others to speak about their diagnosis and not feel ashamed about the many symptoms of the condition. Harnaam has used her fame and social media presence to be a champion of body positivity and reach millions of women who may be struggling with their hormonal health and the insecurities it can bring. 

Hormonal imbalances can cause a range of issues for women that can affect both their mental and physical wellbeing. At Hormones & You we empower women to feel their very best through personalised hormonal treatments. 

So if you are experiencing PMS, a low sex drive or a restless night’s sleep due to a hormone imbalance don’t just put up with it, as we are here to help. Start a consultation with us now and get back to feeling like you again. 

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