Why is the Parkinson’s Foundation looking at the specific needs of women? Sex and gender differences can drastically impact one’s health and are important to consider across all diseases, including Parkinson’s disease (PD).
Women have not been and are not adequately represented in Parkinson’s research. Biological and socio-cultural sex and gender differences are often not considered when determining PD research and care priorities.
The limited research that has been done shows that women with PD have different experiences than men with PD as they relate to risk, symptoms, treatment and care. Research shows differences and disparities including:
- Women have a lower risk of developing Parkinson’s disease than men, but research cannot give a clear explanation why women are less often diagnosed.
- Women and men with PD report different symptoms and severity to their provider, but researchers have yet to identify symptoms that preferentially impact women (women-specific symptoms).
- Small changes in medications or schedule can cause women to experience big changes in their symptoms, with dyskinesias being the most frequently reported side effect.
- Despite greater reported improvements to quality of life than men, women are less likely to receive deep brain stimulation (DBS)
- Women are less likely than men to be cared for by a PD specialist, neurologist or movement disorder specialist.
After identifying significant gender differences in Parkinson’s treatment and care, as well as the lack of any coordinated effort to address them, in 2013, the Parkinson’s Foundation filled the gap with the creation of the Women and PD Initiative. We are shedding light on and finding solutions for women-specific issues to help improve the health and well-being of women with PD.
The Parkinson’s Foundation Women and Parkinson’s: Closing the Gender Gap in Research and Care is the first national research and care agenda specific to women with PD to address the disparities that they experience.
If you would like to learn more about this initiative or find a local Women and Parkinson’s event in your area, contact the Parkinson’s Foundation Helpline at 1-800-4PD-INFO (473-4636) or firstname.lastname@example.org.