The term “women's health” is now commonly used to describe all the efforts under way to improve women's soundness of mind and body. Self-evidently, women experience health problems that differ from those of men – an old idea alive in classical times when Hygeia, the daughter of Asklepios, the god of medicine and healing, was venerated as the goddess of health. To return to the present, the workplace is increasingly the defining element in the lives of women, as it has always been for men, yet the care of the family and the task of raising children – often as a single parent – remain the woman's domain, a dual role that may have unknown long-term health consequences.
Fortunately, and this allows us to take a fresh look at women's health, or rather at those conditions that interfere with it, women's health has become a scientific discipline. The research literature, and in particular studies on hormones, reveal ever more complex findings which show that biologic factors are interwoven with and altered by human behavior, environmental influences, and social forces. There is, we think, an urgent need to draw on the results of new research to protect the health of women.