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Inclusivity. Diversity. Why they matter.

This blog will talk about inclusivity and diversity and why they matter. PhenomX Health invited a special guest, Shay Fredericks (she/her), Inclusion Champion and Changemaker, to review this blog - check her out on LinkedIn, too!

PhenomX Health strongly supports real world research. A consent form for research is included in the PhenomX Health smartphone app, and on 24 January 2024, the Sleep + Stress Reset clinical study and pilot program was launched. Your consent to participate in our clinical studies means that your results can be added to the growing pool of data needed in research on the health of cis-gendered women, particularly in midlife.

The aim of the Sleep + Stress Reset Study is to gain insights on sleep and stress and increase well-being in peri and postmenopausal cis-gendered women. We do acknowledge that anyone with a female reproductive system who identifies as a male, but hasn’t undergone medical procedures, is likely to go through menopause eventually. Some trans men might have started transitioning by the time they reach perimenopause, but not all. This can be an area of great unease and misconceptions - this article is a good source of information on menopause for trans men and non-binary people. It is clear that more work needs to be done on that front.

Historically, women, in general, have been underrepresented in clinical trials, and this extends to studies involving menopause. This can result in a lack of understanding of the unique health needs and experiences of menopausal women. Moreover, all Black, Asian and women of Colour are even more so underrepresented within healthcare. For example, Black women in the US and UK are 4 times more likely to die in pregnancy than White women - this inequality extends to studies involving menopause transition and midlife health. 

It is well-documented that including women from different ethnicities and genetic makeup in clinical studies allows researchers to consider genetic background and cultural and social factors more deeply, leading to a more comprehensive understanding of the complexities of personalised healthcare. This is crucial for developing interventions and treatments that are effective for all populations.

Our research and clinical experience at PhenomX Health shows that cis-gendered women going through menopause are impacted by a multitude of factors impacting sleep, stress and quality of life - not only by the changes in hormone levels that directly cause symptoms, such as hot flushes, but the interactions between symptoms that can amplify the magnitude of the impact (e.g., brain fog can impact stress, which impacts sleep; pains impact well-being and sleep, and the cycle goes on). All of this happens at a busy time in their lives, with stressors that could include ageing relatives, increased caring responsibilities, a demanding home life, and work. Whilst a busy life is not limited to midlife cis women, of course, this multifactorial and physiological setting is shared by many of those going through menopause, and who would benefit from support during this period.

On this topic - Studies in the UK have highlighted the difficulties in access to menopausal care for women of minoritised ethnic backgrounds, and finding trustworthy information that works for them. Public Health England has also highlighted the inequalities of menopausal care amongst women with health conditions and/ or impairments - the level of knowledge about the menopause has been found to be generally lower in women with learning difficulties, and carers report being poorly trained to help them during this period. This study highlights the underserved needs of neurodivergent people experiencing menopause (in fact, recent estimates indicate that up to 1 in 7 people in the UK are neurodivergent) - all of which demonstrates the need for more specific, tailored care and improved access to information for all.

The PhenomX Health App has been designed with the objective to empower unique users to track their unique symptoms, respecting their individuality instead of “one size fits all”. All those who might be impacted by the menopause are encouraged to trial the App e.g all ethnicities, all genders and all abilities -  as App users can have their own data at hand and their own symptoms tracked to facilitate conversations with their doctors, clinicians, friends and family - as privately as they prefer. The App is a tool for users to find what works for them, but can also be an incentive to talk about menopause and start to break the taboo - which is unfortunately still present in society at large, and particularly present in marginalised communities. This can be a step to help remove another barrier to seeking care and adjustments for all populations, reducing the impact of health inequalities

We are starting the waves of change, and hope this short blog has motivated you to join our research.  Inclusivity and personalisation are at the core of PhenomX Health values, and we hope you will find great value in jumping on this journey with us.

Please connect with Shay on Linkedin to learn more and sign up for the PhenomX Health Newsletter!

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