Is sex important?

Getting women’s health issues on the national radar, Florence Haseltine, M.D., said during a visit to Yale in October, first meant taking sex out of the equation. “Ten years ago, two headlines related to women,” she quipped, “PMS leads to murder and the pill causes cancer.” Haseltine, a gynecologist and director of the Center for Population Research at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, said health institutions dominated by men and the largely male U.S. Congress were leery of anything related to sex. The key to bringing attention to women’s health issues resided in a simple statistic. Most medications for women are taken by women over 50. Researchers decided to eliminate from study women under 50, Haseltine said. “That got rid of sex,” she told members of the Yale-New Haven Hospital Auxiliary, which sponsored her talk, “Is Sex Important?” “You don’t have kids, you don’t have abortions and you don’t have sex. That’s wrong, but it’s the reality in Washington.”

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