Stigma Against Childlessness Could Hurt Women's Health

A new study shows that women without kids may have poorer health than moms do, and bias against childlessness could be part of the reason why.

According to HealthCanal, Australian researchers studied 50 women between the ages of 30 and 45, all without kids. They found that the women "reported statistically significant poorer general health, vitality, social functioning and mental health when compared to the adult female population of Australia." Confusingly, the childless women had better "physical functioning" than average. It's not clear how this is distinct from general health, but maybe ladies without kids had more time to exercise and keep their fitness levels up. They also ate more veggies than average — again, perhaps because they had time to prepare kale instead of tater tots.

The study authors note that they can't prove childlessness causes poor health — says Dr. Melissa Graham, "Poorer health among childless women may mean they are less likely to have children, rather than their poor health being a result of their childlessness." However, Graham also cites her previous research showing that "childlessness is perceived predominantly negatively and this may have consequences for the health of childless women." A previous study she co-authored has a pretty telling title: "‘Unnatural', ‘Unwomanly', ‘Uncreditable' and ‘Undervalued': The Significance of Being a Childless Woman in Australian Society." It's certainly true that some health problems can make it difficult or impossible to have children, but of the 50 women Graham and her team studied, nearly half were childless by choice. This suggests that childlessness might in fact give rise to unique health challenges, and bias may be part of the reason why.

Childless Women At Greater Risk Of Poor Health, Study Finds [HealthCanal]

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