Health-related biometrics, such as heart rate, blood oxygen saturation and body temperature, allow us to track a wide range of data about our bodies. But on their own, without taking into account the nuances of sex and gender, these biometrics tell an incomplete story. This is because many features of women’s physiology differ significantly from men’s.
These differences are in large part influenced by the downstream effects of sex hormones. Estrogen and progesterone are the main female sex hormones that drive physiological changes during the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and menopause, and have a significant effect on many biomarkers, including sleep, resting heart rate, and heart rate variability. Not to mention the effects of differing experiences of pain and body composition. So it's no surprise that changes in biometrics will have different significance in women versus men.
We believe that women deserve a wearable that understands women. A wearable that takes a woman’s cycle into consideration when delivering insights, identifies patterns in partnership with her through logging and is thoughtfully crafted to fit her fingers and her lifestyle. This sparked a question for us that we felt compelled to answer: what are the biochemical and physiological differences between women and men, and how do those differences impact your biometric data? We asked Dr. Kristin Haraldsdottir, an accomplished research scientist with over 13 years of experience in academic and industry-based scientific research, to review the literature on women’s physiology and biometrics.
We hope you’ll join us in reading the “Women and Biometrics: Harnessing the Potential of Gender-Specific Health & Wellness Data” report to dive deeper into this discussion on why there’s a need for different interpretations of certain biometric data for women. You can download the report for free.
A Word From the Author: Kristin Haraldsdottir, PhD
Movano Health commissioned independent researcher Dr. Kristin Haraldsdottir, to author the report. Her research has focused on health and wellness promotion in athletes, with a particular focus on female athletes and approaches to changing behavior and improving well-being.
She has authored and co-authored 52 peer-reviewed scientific papers and is a research scientist in the Watson Human Performance Lab at the University of Wisconsin - Madison. Drawing from her own personal experience as an elite female athlete and coach, Dr. Haraldsdottir is dedicated to furthering research to improve women's health, from identifying predictors of adverse health events to identifying novel methods to improve mental and physical health.
Here’s what she had to say about writing the report:
“I knew before writing this white paper that there were significant gaps in knowledge when it comes to the state of research in women's health. It was only until relatively recently that the NIH made it mandatory to include women in clinical trials. And even still, there is an alarmingly low rate of women's health research.”
“What became abundantly clear to me while doing the literature review for this white paper, though, was the fact that there is an incomplete picture of biological factors that influence women's health throughout their many life stages. The shortage of research on women's health is striking. For example, around 10% of women of reproductive age suffer from endometriosis, but the condition is under-researched and underfunded. This means that there is a lack of innovation in diagnostic and treatment options. Similarly, while nearly 85% of women will have given birth by the age of 50 in the U.S., research on postpartum health and care is lacking in the literature.”
“Women deserve to have a better understanding of their health throughout their life stages from puberty to menopause. With easier access to health-based wearable technologies specifically for women, I believe that women's health research will become easier to prioritize, and I look forward to the advancements in the near future.”