The study of the differences between the sexes and the development of a gender-specific medicine represent a milestone of great importance in the advancement of life sciences. Gender medicine, or rather gender-specific medicine, is the study of the influence of sex and gender, which is a term that also includes socio-cultural and psychological aspects, on the physiology and on the pathologies that affect both men and women. Differences between the sexes, in fact, are observed in the frequency, symptoms, clinical manifestations and severity of numerous diseases. Moreover, sex differences are also present in the response to therapies and in adverse drug reactions. Gender differences in lifestyle, including response to nutrients and to environmental contaminants, are also relevant, being often different between men and women.
A gender approach in clinical practice can contribute significantly to health promotion through an improvement in the appropriateness of care that can also produce benefits for the sustainability of the National Health Service (NHS).
The Istituto Superiore di Sanità (ISS, the National Institute of Health in Italy) is engaged in basic and translational research activities, in defining training and updating courses for healthcare workers and in promoting communication and information campaigns to disseminate information on gender medicine.