Medicines for Women: Medicines for Half the World

  • Mira Harrison-Woolrych


This opening chapter of Medicines for Women presents an editorial overview of all key issues covered in this fascinating book. Beginning with the historical and social perspectives which provide the backdrop for how medicines (including medical devices, vaccines and herbal products) for women are used today, Dr Harrison-Woolrych then focusses on the main points identified from each of the following 18 chapters. This chapter provides a summary of the whole book, with additional (and sometimes controversial) editorial comment. Amongst the evidence-based information presented on the benefits and risks of medicines for women, there are many fascinating stories – some familiar, some less so – and important themes emerge throughout. In the latter part of this chapter, general principles for prescribing medicines to women are presented from a clinical viewpoint. This section challenges prescribers to re-evaluate how they consult with women about medicines and other treatment options. A series of questions are proposed and the advice given is supplemented by information provided in the other chapters.


Cervical Cancer Human Papilloma Virus Zoledronic Acid Risk Communication Genital Wart 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Acknowledgement Many thanks to Dr Jonathan Woolrych (general practitioner, Mornington Health Centre, Dunedin, New Zealand) for his clinical advice and peer review of this chapter, especially for the section “How to Prescribe Medicines for Women”.


  1. Bahri P, Harrison-Woolrych M (2012) Focusing on risk communication about medicines: why now? Drug Saf 35(11):971–975PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Banu NS, Manyonda IT (2005) Alternative medical and surgical options to hysterectomy. Best Pract Res Clin Obstet Gynaecol 19(3):431–449PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Breen KJ (2003) Misconduct in medical research: whose responsibility? Intern Med J 33(4):186–191PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. CDER (2001) Approval letter for NuvaRing. Retrieved August 2014, from
  5. Collaborators for the Million Women Study (2003) Breast cancer and hormone replacement therapy in the Million Women Study. Lancet 362:419–427Google Scholar
  6. Dickinson D, Raynor DK, Duman M (2001) Patient information leaflets for medicines: using consumer testing to determine the most effective design. Patient Educ Couns 43(2):147–159PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. DrugWatch (2014) NuvaRing overview. Retrieved August 2014, from
  8. FDA (2014) Overview of device regulation. Retrieved August 2014, from
  9. Gallo MF, Lopez LM, Grimes DA, Carayon F, Schulz KF, Helmerhorst FM (2014) Combination contraceptives: effects on weight. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 1, CD003987PubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Goodman A, Schorge J, Greene MF (2011) The long-term effects of in utero exposures–the DES story. N Engl J Med 364(22):2083–2084PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Harrison-Woolrych M (2014) Prescription event monitoring in New Zealand. In: Mann’s pharmacovigilance, 3rd edn. Wiley, Chichester, pp 385–403CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Harrison-Woolrych M, Hill R (2005) Unintended pregnancies with the etonogestrel implant (Implanon): a case series from postmarketing experience in Australia. Contraception 71(4):306–308PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Harrison-Woolrych M, Ashton J, Coulter D (2002) Insertion of the Multiload Cu375 intrauterine device; experience in over 16,000 New Zealand women. Contraception 66(6):387–391PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Harrison-Woolrych M, Ashton J, Coulter D (2003) Uterine perforation on intrauterine device insertion: is the incidence higher than previously reported? Contraception 67(1):53–56PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Hausken AM, Skurtveit S, Rosvold EO, Bramness JG, Furu K (2007) Psychotropic drug use among persons with mental distress symptoms: a population-based study in Norway. Scand J Public Health 35(4):356–364PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Kaufman M (2005) FDA official quits over delay on Plan B. 2014, from
  17. Kaufman DW, Kelly JP, Rosenberg L, Anderson TE, Mitchell AA (2002) Recent patterns of medication use in the ambulatory adult population of the United States: the Slone survey. JAMA 287(3):337–344PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Livshits A, Seidman DS (2010) Role of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in gynecology. Pharmaceuticals 3:2082–2089PubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Lopez LM, Edelman A, Chen M, Otterness C, Trussell J, Helmerhorst FM (2013) Progestin-only contraceptives: effects on weight. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 7, CD008815PubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. MDU (2011) Advice to GPs inserting contraceptive implants. 2014, retrieved from
  21. Price J, Farmer G, Harris J, Hope T, Kennedy S, Mayou R (2006) Attitudes of women with chronic pelvic pain to the gynaecological consultation: a qualitative study. BJOG 113(4):446–452PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Ringheim K (1993) Factors that determine prevalence of use of contraceptive methods for men. Stud Fam Plann 24(2):87–99PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Roberts H, Redberg R (2013) Gender disparity in statin response: are statins less effective in women? Clin Lipidol 8(2):161–163CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Robson MS (2001) Can we reduce the caesarean section rate? Best Pract Res Clin Obstet Gynaecol 15(1):179–194PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Sandberg S (2013) Lean in: women, work and the will to lead. Random House, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  26. Shelton J (1998) Birth control. As the Romans did, vol 1. Oxford University Press, New York, pp 26–27Google Scholar
  27. Stumpe JDM (2009) Abortion doctor shot to death in Kansas church. 2014, from
  28. Thornton A, Lee P (2000) Publication bias in meta-analysis: its causes and consequences. J Clin Epidemiol 53(2):207–216PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. van der Gaag N (2008) The no-nonsense guide to women’s rights. New Internationalist, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  30. Zhou L, Harrison-Woolrych M, Coulter DM (2003) Use of the New Zealand Intensive Medicines Monitoring Programme to study the levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine device (Mirena). Pharmacoepidemiol Drug Saf 12(5):371–377PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dean’s Department, Dunedin School of MedicineUniversity of OtagoDunedinNew Zealand

Personalised recommendations