Not too long ago women’s health was based on ill-founded theories, misconceptions and straight out chauvinism. We’ve come a long way since then, but there’s still a lot of room for progress. That’s why we at Vital Updates are celebrating National Women’s Health Week by bringing our readers stories that will shed light on some of the many health issues and obstacles women face today. National Women’s Health Week is an effort organized by various government agencies, aimed to empower women to take care of their health. Women’s bodies are amazing, complicated and ever-changing — they more than deserve this spotlight.

Here are just a few incredible facts you may not have known about women’s health:



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During National Women’s Health Week, we at Vital Updates want to hear from you! Record a quick video telling us why your health is vital and what you do to take care of your health. Then post it to either Facebook or Twitter using the hashtag #MyHealthIsVital. Spread the word, and empower other women to make their health vital.


Melinda Gates
Through her work as the co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Melinda Gates is a fierce advocate for global health, and specifically women’s health.

Show MoreBy 2020, Gates says her foundation will help 120 million more women gain access to contraceptives.

Nina Tandon
Nina Tandon, biomedical engineer and CEO of EpiBone, is revolutionizing medicine through her work with stem cell research. EpiBone is the first company in the world to use a patient’s stem cells to grow human bone, which could then be used to repair bone defects and bone loss. 

Show MoreShe’s a senior fellow in the Lab for Stem Cells and Tissue Engineering at Columbia University, a 2012 senior TED Fellow, and holds three patents.

Cecile Richards
Cecile Richards is an activist and president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Since joining Planned Parenthood in 2006, Richards has expanded access to health care and services for women.

Show MoreShe also serves on the board of the Ford Foundation.

Risa Lavizzo-Mourey
Risa Lavizzo-Mourey was the first woman and African-American to become the President and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), the largest philanthropic organization in the U.S. focused only on health.

Show MoreDuring her tenure at RWJF, she launched programs to combat childhood obesity and expanded programs that helped people gain access to health insurance.

Nellie Bly
Nellie Bly, born Elizabeth Cochran in 1864, was a trailblazing journalist known for her daring reporting. In 1887, Bly went undercover as a mentally ill patient at the Women’s Lunatic Asylum on Blackwell’s Island, where she revealed the horrible abuses and neglect of patients.

Show MoreHer 10-day stint and following exposé caused such an uproar that a grand jury launched its own investigation, resulting in increased funding for the mentally ill and improvements in medical examinations.

Betty Ford
Using her influential position as First Lady, Betty Ford was forthcoming about her struggle with breast cancer, an illness that was then considered taboo.

Show MoreThis influenced thousands of women to seek treatment. Later, when she recovered from her alcohol and pill addiction in 1982, Ford went on to open the Betty Ford Center, which helped all people but specifically women who were overlooked in many addiction rehabilitation programs.

Clara Barton
Clara Barton, born in 1821 in Massachusetts, was many things — a teacher, a U.S. Patent Office employee and an independent nurse during the Civil War. After the war, Barton traveled to Europe and worked with a relief organization called International Red Cross.

Show MoreWhen she came back to the states, Barton lobbied to open an American branch of the organization and thus the American Red Cross was founded in 1881; Barton served as its first president.

Mary Beatrice Davidson Kenner
Mary Beatrice Davidson Kenner was an inventor who probably made your trip to the bathroom much easier. She invented not only the bathroom room tissue holder, but also the sanitary belt with the moisture-proof napkin pocket in the 1920s.

Show MoreIt wasn’t patented until 1956 — 30 years after she invented it — because the interested company rejected it upon learning Kenner was African-American.