Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

The important reason this woman wants to test your period blood


The gender gap in medical health research has long limited how much we truly know about specifically female health conditions – the likes of endometriosis often underfunded, misunderstood and misdiagnosed.

Which is exactly why one woman wants to test menstrual blood.

It’s almost hard to believe that once a month, millions of women experience menstruation – sometimes with excruciating, bed-bound pain – and yet some scientists don’t believe it’s worthy of extensive research.

But Anna Villarreal, CEO of Boston-based LifeStory Health, says she wants to close the “sex gap” in medical research, and is trying to develop the first non-invasive menstrual blood diagnostic test – aimed specifically at treating female-only diseases.

“Think about it – women’s bodies are different from men’s in nearly every way, yet we diagnose women as if they are men,” she writes in CEO World Magazine.


Women uses microscope for lab research.

Villarreal believes gender bias within the medical industry is “putting women’s health at risk” and says that using menstrual blood specifically “provides access to hundreds of unique protein identifiers not found in other blood”.

Even better, she points out that “menstrual blood currently is discarded as medical waste, meaning access to specimens would present an economic approach to testing and research.”

She adds: “It seems incredible that after hundreds of years of research, no one has isolated this approach, but this provides an opportunity to close the sex gap in medical research quickly, effectively, and economically.”

Read more: Fighting for their rights: meet the heroic teens battling period taboos in Nepal

And she’s definitely onto something. In 2014, a study carried out by researchers at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, entitled Sex-Specific Medical Research: Why Women’s Health Can’t Wait, detailed the exclusion of women from health research and its implications.

“The science that informs medicine – including the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of disease – routinely fails to consider the crucial impact of sex and gender,” they wrote.

The researchers found that noting gender in trials is often overlooked and as a result the number of women included within trials isn’t a considered factor.

“This happens in the earliest stages of research, when females are excluded from animal and human studies or the sex of the animals isn’t stated in the published results. Once clinical trials begin, researchers frequently do not enroll adequate numbers of women or, when they do, fail to analyse or report data separately by sex. This hampers our ability to identify important differences that could benefit the health of all.”

Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of women in the USA, but “only one third of cardiovascular clinical trial subjects are female and only 31% of cardiovascular clinical trials that include women report results by sex”, according to the report.

Read more: Idiot complains about colleague’s period cramps – and HR backs him up

Although LifeStory Health is in its infancy, Villarreal is determined to change how we view the testing of menstrual blood and address the lack of female medical research and aid the discovery of diagnoses of female-specific diseases.

H/T: metro.co.uk

Images: iStock



Woman claims she was fired for leaking during a heavy period at work


Another UK supermarket has agreed to pay the tampon tax for customers


Instagram has fallen in love with heart-shaped succulents

The millennial houseplant obsession continues

by Helen Brown
25 Sep 2017

How many of our favourite First Dates couples are still together?

Here’s a look at the couples living happily ever after…

by Kayleigh Dray
25 Sep 2017

The sad reason this type of rescue dog is the most overlooked

Open your hearts, people

by Amy Swales
25 Sep 2017

What is diabulimia? The dangerous disorder in need of a spotlight

A lack of awareness means sufferers could be flying under the radar

by Amy Swales
25 Sep 2017

This is how your friends’ bad moods can affect your own mental health

A new study sheds light on how we ‘pick up’ emotions from our friends

by Moya Crockett
25 Sep 2017

Women have a new word for that annoying thing your male colleague does

Forget mansplaining: there's a new word in town

by Helen Brown
25 Sep 2017

Will & Grace fans, Debra Messing's character has changed in a big way

And we’re on board

by Susan Devaney
25 Sep 2017

Instagram creates automatic Facebook post saying “I will rape you”

How to win friends and influence people?

by Moya Crockett
25 Sep 2017

This Netflix horror about ghostly ex revenge is perfect Halloween TV

This looks absolutely terrifying

by Kayleigh Dray
25 Sep 2017

Sign up to our mouth-watering food and drink email

24 Sep 2017