Tag Archives: sex

How well do clinical studies take sex and gender differences into account?

Silhouette of a couple walking

Photo: meltwater via Flickr

The history of inequity in medical studies is long and harrowing, and it continues today. But at least today, there is more awareness of the history and the present-day problems that persist. For example, the Endocrine Society recently released a scientific statement demanding more research into sex differences for the sake of public health.

The fact that males and females — not to mention individuals who do not identify as either binary category — do not respond the same way to different diseases, drugs and other interventions has been a relatively new development in the history of clinical trials. As recently as 1977, women of childbearing age were explicitly excluded by the FDA from phase 1 and 2 drug trials. In practice, that often extended to phase 3 trials and other types of studies for various reasons. Continue reading

Women more often misdiagnosed because of gaps in trust and knowledge

Maya Dusenbery

Journalist, author, and editor Maya Dusenbery first became interested in why women are so often misdiagnosed about five years ago, right after she learned she had rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic autoimmune disease.

Dusenbery, an executive editor at Feministing and author of “Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick,” spoke at the recent Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine conference about her research and reporting on the gender gap surrounding medical diagnosis. Continue reading

Adding context to studies on sex and aging adults

Photo: Patrick via Flickr

Photo: Patrick via Flickr


Now that I have your attention, let’s talk about it. There’s good news and bad news on the older adult sexual health front.

First the good news, at least if you’re an older woman. Frequent, enjoyable sex can lower risk of hypertension according to a new study by researchers at Michigan State University. Continue reading

Sex & money: When correlation isn’t causation, studies can still inform

Image by Susan Sermoneta via flickr.

Two recent studies in the news have been clear examples of the correlation vs. causation question that’s part and parcel of covering observational research studies.

And they’re worth taking a look at because the correlations are inherently interesting, even though they almost certainly aren’t causal.

First up is “The Effect of Sexual Activity on Wages”, which was published by Germany’s Institute for the Study of Labor.  Predictably, and probably in part due to its terrible title, this study generated lots of headlines like “Have more sex, make more money”, from The Wall Street Journal‘s Marketplace, and Cosmopolitan‘s “The More Sex You Have The More Money You Make“.

Well, not exactly. The study found an association between sex and wages. As self-reported sex increased, so too, did income. Of course, that doesn’t mean that having more sex causes people to make more money, a point that wasn’t stressed clearly enough in some articles for Scientific American blogger Evelyn Lamb’s tastes. Continue reading

Housework-hurts-sex study causes a dust up

You may have seen — and let’s face it — given a giant eye roll to a recent studythat claimed men who helped out with chores traditionally deemed the province of women, i.e. laundry, dishes, and dusting, had less sex than men who cut the grass and changed the oil but generally left the more feminine chores to their wives.

Health reporters cried foul.

One of the best ledes came from The Telegraph’s Michael Hanlon:

The relationship between sex, marriage and gender roles is so complex that unravelling it makes the work of the Large Hadron Collider look like playschool.

Hanlon’s story had plenty of strengths, including a quote from an expert who questioned the reliability of the data:

The fact is that people lie about, or at least misremember, how much housework they do almost as much as they lie about the amount of sex they are having.

His expert also pointed out that the two variables – sex and housework – might correlate, but may not necessarily be causal. Continue reading