Open Science: Gender | Summary and Q&A

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November 4, 2016
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NASA
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Open Science: Gender

TL;DR

Sex and gender differences affect astronauts' adaptation to space, including visual impairment, radiation limits, and cardiovascular changes.

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Questions & Answers

Q: What are some important differences in adaptation between male and female astronauts?

Male astronauts experience more significant visual impairment issues and changes in eye shape. Female astronauts have stricter radiation limits due to a higher cancer risk, leading to fewer days in space. Women may also experience orthostatic hypotension.

Q: How do men and women respond differently to stress in terms of cardiovascular health?

Women tend to have increased heart rate responses to stress, while men respond by clamping down their blood vessels, maintaining blood pressure. This can lead to orthostatic hypotension in women due to changes in volume and stress response.

Q: Are there gender differences in bone density adaptation in space?

While osteoporosis is more common in older women on Earth, there seems to be no gender effect on bone density adaptation in space. However, individual differences exist, with some astronauts experiencing increased muscle and bone mass, while others experience less.

Q: How does the study of sex and gender differences in space benefit medical technologies on Earth?

Studying how the body adapts to space can provide insights into aging, bone loss, immunological responses, and stress tolerance. These findings can help prevent bone loss, improve immunity, and develop countermeasures for health issues on Earth.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Both men and women adapt well to space, but there are subtle and pronounced differences. Male astronauts experience more significant visual impairment issues and changes in the shape of their eyes.

  • Female astronauts have stricter radiation limits due to a higher risk of cancer, allowing them to spend fewer days in space.

  • Women may experience orthostatic hypotension, a drop in blood pressure, putting them at risk of fainting. Differences in vascular responses to stress can cause these effects.

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