Women's Health: Identifying Women's Health Issues and Concerns
Everyone attempting to critically analyze women's health issues must start from a common idea of what "health" means. According to a 1978 edition of Webster s Dictionary, health is " ... physical and mental wellbeing; freedom from disease, etc." (Guralnik, 1978, p. 345). The Allegheny University Mep Hahnemann School of Medicine (1996) has compiled an expanded version of this definition by stating that "Women's Health is devoted to the maintenance of women's wellness and disease prevention over the life span. It includes treatment and prevention of the diseases, disorders, and conditions that are unique to, more prevalent among, or more serious in women or for which there are different risk factors or interventions for women than for men. It recognizes a multidisciplinary approach, acknowledges gender differences, and respects and includes the values and knowledge of women" (p. 3). This chapter will only brietly discuss a few of the women's health issues with which society is dealing in the 1990s, such as women and societal images, reproductive rights and health, and feminist perspectives in medical ethics. These discussions will not only acknowledge and define some very real health concerns, but should also serve to provide appropriate questions that need to be satisfactorily answered if society is to define a healthy woman, and if all women are to make informed and responsible decisions about their personal health.