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5 Inventions that Improved Women’s Health

baby-18937_960_720Women’s health has grown in leaps and bounds over the years as the health needs of women have received more research and attention. Here are some inventions that have significantly improved women’s health over the past century.

HPV Vaccine

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a very common sexually transmitted infection (STI) that affects both men and women. If left untreated in women, it could lead to the development of genital warts and cancer. With the introduction of the HPV vaccine in the 1980s by Ian Frazer, women protect themselves from the types of HPV that causes different kinds of cancer, like cervical cancer. Any girl and woman aged 11-26 can safely receive the vaccine, but as with any medical decision, talk to your doctor first.

Mammograms

Breast cancer has received a lot of awareness in recent years. While women are encouraged to do regular breast exams, the invention of the mammogram by Albert Salomon in 1913 meant doctors can detect breast cancer and treat it early—potentially saving women’s lives. While mammograms do not prevent cancer, they reduced breast cancer deaths between 1991 and 2009 by 30%.

Menstrual Products

American women today tend to have it pretty easy when managing their periods compared to women decades ago when sanitary belts were invented in the late 1800s. With better knowledge and education surrounding menstruation and sanitary product safety, there are now a wide variety of product options, including:

  • Sanitary pads, both reusable and disposable
  • Tampons
  • Menstrual cups
  • Sponges

Antidepressants

Women are twice as likely as men to experience depression, though the reason why is unknown. Antidepressants can help treat the symptoms of depression, especially postpartum depression, in women and prevent them from getting worse. Remember, medication alone is not enough to treat postpartum depression. Seeing a therapist and having a support system at home can greatly improve your chances of recovering.

Before starting a treatment plan, talk to your doctor about treatment options. With an increased understanding and effort to destigmatize mental health, women don’t need to feel embarrassed or ashamed to seek help.

Ultrasounds

The quality of maternal care has drastically increased in the last century. Now, with the invention of ultrasounds in 1956 by Dr. Ian Donald, doctors are able to screen and monitor the health of a fetus for conditions or risks that may affect them. In addition to monitoring health, ultrasounds can also be used to:

  • Confirm a pregnancy
  • Diagnose an ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage
  • Determine the baby’s sex
  • Detect a multiple pregnancy
  • Check fetal heartbeat

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