30 Achievements in Women's Health in 30 Years (1984 – 2014)

The Capitol Building

Creation of Offices on Women's Health at the federal level

Within HHS there are several offices and agencies dedicated to women’s health. Congress has played a key role in establishing and authorizing these offices on women’s health in the federal government, in addition to funding the work of the government each year. The 2010 Affordable Care Act codifies the establishment of several Offices of Women’s Health within HHS and gives these offices, all of which were already in existence, new authority, agency, and protection from termination or reorganization without the direct approval of Congress.

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Genetic research

Cancer and Steroid Hormone (CASH) study

Family planning, and the modern era of birth control that was ushered in by the first approval of birth control pills in 1960, has been named one of the Ten Great Public Health Achievements in the 20th Century by the CDC. But, a number of studies suggested possible links between birth control pills and cancer or heart disease that required further research.

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Contraception pills

Approval of emergency contraception

Emergency contraception can help prevent pregnancy in women who had sex without using birth control, whose birth control method failed, and who were sexually assaulted. Emergency contraceptives, which are much like birth control pills, prevent pregnancy by stopping release of the egg from the ovary and by blocking sperm's access to the egg. The copper IUD can also be used as a method of emergency contraception.

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Women walking in exercise clothes

Building better osteoporosis treatments

Osteoporosis is a disease that weakens bones, causing them to become fragile and break more easily. Osteoporosis can occur in both men and women and at any age, but it is most common in older women. Women lose bone mass at a faster rate after menopause, when the body stops making the hormone estrogen. Osteoporosis causes half of all women over age 50 to break a bone in their lifetime.

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A doctor showing a tablet screen to a pregnant woman

Efforts to improve pregnant women's health and outcomes

Today, most women in the United States receive excellent health care during pregnancy. As a result, the U.S. infant mortality rate has dropped to an all-time low of 6 deaths per 1,000 births. However, pregnancy-related deaths and serious complications for mothers have increased in the United States during the last 30 years, for reasons that are uncertain. The increase could be due to a combination of circumstances, including improved data collection on pregnancy mortality, an increase in the number of older mothers, and the increase in obesity among women.

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