Published by

Beatrice Aliprandi

Principal

September 9 2020 • 5min read

September 9 2020 • 5min read

A one-stop shop for female healthcare reading materials

Following Beatrice's research into the femtech space, we've provided a reading list for you to wise-up on the topic.

After publishing my thoughts on the female healthcare sector last month, I was so glad to hear that it had provoked so many further (and necessary!) conversations on the topic.

The article I published is really only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to understanding the complexities of female healthcare. So, to supplement further conversations on the topic, I’ve decided to pull together a list of resources that inspired me to write the research piece in the first place.

Please note: as you’ll all be aware, I am not a scientist and I cannot guarantee that everything written in these books is substantiated by solid medical research. This is primarily because the data gap between male and female medical research is incredibly real — but I think these are the best quality sources of information that I found in the realm of non-scientific publications. I hope that sharing these will help to continue sparking the debate, and most importantly, keep this important conversation alive.

As ever — please do let me know if you’ve got any more suggestions for reading on the topic: I’d love to build this reading list out. And — as you may assume from reading my writing on the topic! — we’re actively looking to speak to companies in the female healthcare space. You can reach me at beatrice@taliscapital.com — cold intros welcome!

BOOKS

INVISIBLE WOMEN: EXPOSING DATA BIAS IN A WORLD DESIGNED FOR MEN — CAROLINE CRIADO PEREZ

Invisible Women is a must-read for both women and men. It explains how essentially every sector has been shaped in accordance with the male body and its behaviours. Everything from how urban planning is structured, to clinical research, from disaster relief to the design of a stove, fail to take into account a woman’s body and her behaviours, because women were originally excluded from the idea stage altogether.

While some might think this can be attributed to straight-up gender discrimination, the majority of these issues exist because men just don’t — or at least, didn’t — think about it. Why would they? The world works perfectly for them and is tailored to their thought processes, journeys, and bodies. Women need to push for better representation, but men should read this book in order to understand the extent of how the world has been built specifically for them and their anatomies.

I also encourage you to read a piece written by Amelia Townsend on the matter, including some thoughts on the book.

IN THE FLO — ALISA VITTI

This is one of the best books on the topic I’ve read so far. Following on from the thread above, this book explains the commonly-known thesis on how everyone’s bodies are based on the circadian day and night rhythm. You wake up, your energy is high, and it progressively decreases until you go to bed and re-energise for the following day. You wake up again and the 24-hour cycle repeats itself until we die.

But — hold on! This works perfectly for the men’s body. Indeed, their testosterone levels are high in the morning and decrease gradually as the day goes on. We’re forgetting, though, that women adhere to another rhythm in addition to the circadian one — the c.28 days menstrual cycle which Alisa Vitti defines as infradian rhythm. It has 4 phases, each corresponding to different levels of hormones and energy. Why is that not accounted for?

The author has also put together a method in which the menstrual cycle is not seen as a liability, but rather a superpower. We can boost our productivity and creativity if we tailor activities, nutrition and exercise in accordance with the phases of our cycle (reminds you of anything? → hello Wild.ai). The photo on the left was taken from the book and gives you an idea of how technical and precise it gets.

Here’s a couple of quotes that particularly resonated with me about the mentality of never-ending productivity: “If you’re wondering where our society came up with these values, look no further than a man’s biology. Seriously! This concept of never-ending production mimics the semen production that takes place in the testicles” — and — “We are round pegs trying to fit ourselves into square holes — no wonder we’re exhausted.”

NB: I’m not saying that women are less productive then man, I’m saying they have more energy than average on certain weeks of the month and less energy than average on others. The sum is the same, just distributed differently, and this is not accounted for in modern society.

YOUR BRAIN ON BIRTH CONTROL — DR. SARAH HILL

One of the best books I read in 2019. The author, Dr Sarah Hill, came off contraception in her late 40s and she says she felt like “[she had woken] up from a long sleep”. Naturally, as a doctor, she started investigating why she felt that way. Her research explains that hormonal birth control can influence a woman’s decision-making ability to the point that choices she makes on and off hormonal contraceptive can vary greatly. This can be anything: from minor points such as the food they like, to more significant changes such as the men they feel attracted to: she even notes a suspiciously higher-than-average incidence of divorces in couples that met while the woman was on hormonal contraceptive, but came off years later. The list goes on and on, and sadly includes greater incidences of anxiety, depression and sometimes suicidal thoughts.

What is clear is that more research is needed on the subject to establish if a better matching process of hormonal contraceptives tailored to specific genetic and hormonal profiles can overcome some of these problems (looking at you, Pexxi!)

PERIOD POWER: HARNESS YOUR HORMONES AND GET YOUR CYCLE WORKING FOR YOU — MAISIE HILL

I actually had to pause on some pages, look elsewhere and take a deep breath before continuing through this book: it’s a lot to take in. The books starts with a very scientific and clinical section — I’m alarmed as to why this isn’t included in school education

The author compares the four phases of the cycle to the year’s seasons: menstruation is winter, pre-ovulation is spring, ovulation is summer and pre-menstruum is autumn — and breaks down activities that fit different phases of the cycle so that women can start tuning into their second internal clock.

The book is highly recommended to tech investors too, as, in addition to covering the science and debunking myths behind periods, it also includes several references to start-ups disrupting the sector.

I thought I already knew a lot about the space (because of general self-awareness, curiosity and research), but this book made me feel totally ignorant on periods and it’s a must read for *everyone* (hello, men!)

THE ATHENA DOCTRINE: HOW WOMEN (AND THE MEN WHO THINK LIKE THEM) WILL RULE THE FUTURE — JOHN GERZEMA AND MICHAEL D’ANTONIO

(Thanks Kirill Tasilov for the suggestion)

The book illustrates real world evidence of feminine values being key to a brighter and better future — for everyone. The two authors travelled to several countries to conduct their studies, from the US to Iceland, Israel and Japan, to study how feminine attributes more closely align with qualities associated with effective leadership than masculine traits. Similarly, feminine qualities are also more strongly related to morality and happiness.

There is a pretty good summary of the book here.

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