What is Sex and Gender Based Medicine?


Defining Sex and Gender

  • Sex: biological differences between females and males, such as endogenous hormone profiles, chromosomes, and sex organs.
  • Gender: socially constructed and enacted roles and behaviors which occur in a historical and cultural context and vary across societies overtime.

Differences in Medication Response:

  • Several peer-reviewed and published studies show that there are sex and gender differences in pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, dosage, effectiveness, and side effects.
  • According to a 2001 report released by USGAO, 80% of drugs withdrawn from the market between 1997-2001 were primarily due to adverse effects found in women rather than men. This is likely due to the fact that 80% of animals used in animal based research are male, 76% of cell based research is not specific by sex, and 67% in human trials are male, yet women compose 51% of the population.

Differences in Disease: 

  • Numerous scientific findings and health databases reveal sex and gender specific differences in symptom presentation, pathophysiology, incidence, and severity.
  • Examples include differences in symptom presentation of heart attack, diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s Disease, depression, alcohol use disorder, etc.

Our goal as student leaders is to spearhead advocacy initiatives to incorporate Sex and Gender Based Medicine (SGBM) into medical school curricula, our everyday interactions with patients as future providers, and to raise general public awareness on sex-specific differences in disease pathology and symptom presentation.

The Ted X Talk by Dr. Alyson McGregor below is a great way to learn more!

What You Can Do Next

Simple hints on quick, effective things you can do to stimulate introduction of sex and gender concepts into your learning experience

Ask Faculty

  • Has this been tested in women?
  • How will this look in the other sex?
  • Advocate for case studies that show sex and gender differences.

Be a Leader in Advancing Sex and Gender Health Education

  • Teach your peers about what sex and gender based medicine (SGBM) is and why it is essential to know for clinical practice. You can check out our  SGBM Student Peer Education section to access great educational materials, crunch sheets, and toolkits.
  • Use the SGHC Student Brownbag Toolkit to introduce SGBM to your peers.
  • Distribute the handouts as an easy take away to your peers.
  • Persuade your local medical society or other professional groups to support inclusion of sex and gender content into medical education.

Teach Yourself About SGBM

There are many resources for teaching yourself about SGBM.

  • There is an introductory student course on This Site.
  • For more detailed information about specific topics: The Sex and Gender Specific Health website sponsored by the Laura W. Bush Institute for Women’s Health at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center
  • For sex and gender research modules and resources: The NIH Office of Research on Women’s Health Sex and Gender page

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