Back in 2011, NASA and the National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI) began investigating the current body of knowledge about human and animal spaceflight. The groups focused on cardiovascular, immunological, sensorimotor, musculoskeletal, reproductive and behavioral implications on spaceflight adaptation for men and women.
Wanting to find the difference of the effects of life in space on both men and women, the researchers took into account both sex and gender.
"Although in recent years the definitions have become more nuanced in the clinical community, "sex" is defined here as the classification of male or female according to an individual's genetics and "gender" refers to a person's self-representation as male or female based upon social interactions. We know that on Earth, major components of the human body are influenced by sex and gender factors. Taking gravity away from the equation imposes an entirely new element on our understanding of the health implications of sex and gender differences."
Here's a summary of the major findings:
- The inability to stand without fainting for protracted periods, is more prevalent upon landing in female astronauts than in their male counterparts.
- Women have greater loss of blood plasma volume than men during spaceflight, and women's stress response includes a heart rate increase while men respond with an increase in vascular resistance.
- Radiation presents a major hazard for space travel. It has been reported that female subjects are more susceptible to radiation-induced cancer than their male counterparts.
- Upon transition to microgravity after arriving at the International Space Station (ISS), female astronauts reported a slightly higher incidence of space motion sickness (SMS) compared with men.
- Hearing sensitivity, when measured at several frequencies, declines with age much more rapidly in male astronauts than it does in female astronauts.
- There is no evidence of sex differences in terms of behavioral or psychological responses to spaceflight.
They are continuing their research, and I am looking forward to more of their conclusions!