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The researchers say gender disparities have led to a largely female unpaid caregiving workforce and have limited women's progression as leaders in the fields of cancer research, treatment, and policy-making. (Credit: MART PRODUCTION from Pexels)

NEW YORK — Ladies, how well do you know your body? Nearly two in five women incorrectly think women’s and men’s immune systems are completely identical. A recent survey of 2,000 women found that 38 percent think immune systems are universal regardless of gender. However numerous studies, such as by the Stanford University School of Medicine, have shown this is not the case.

At the same time, two-thirds (66%) say they’ve become better at identifying what is and isn’t healthy for their bodies. The survey shows the average woman truly yearns to better support her health, including her immune, digestive, and feminine health, at 31 years-old.

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Culturelle Probiotics, the survey also found more women are using products that support, rather than undermine, their health.

Nearly half the poll (49%) frequently use vitamins and supplements, with 41 percent consuming probiotics and prebiotics. Regarding feminine health, 38 percent reported using scented soaps and just over a third (34%) wear tight or synthetic clothing, both of which can increase the risk of UTIs and yeast infections, which can have a negative effect on immune health.

Do you know your own immune health?

While many women felt knowledgeable about their immune (67%), mental (64%), and physical health (64%), this differed across generations. Millennial women felt more in the know about their immune health than baby boomers (75% vs. 39%). About half of women correctly noted that genetics (52%), smoking habits and alcohol consumption (51%), and stress (50%) could affect immune health. However, only 40 percent were aware one’s occupation could also play a role.

When considering how digestive health impacts women’s overall health, only two in 10 (22%) were aware that most of their immune system resides in their gut. Overall, less than half (47%) knew physical fitness could affect digestive health.

“The same factors that can disrupt your gut health, such as stress, your period, diet, and sex, can also affect vaginal bacteria and immune health,” says Lisa Oliveira, Senior Brand Manager for Culturelle Probiotics, in a statement. “Strains of probiotic vaginal bacteria help protect against common infections, so if an unpleasant odor or rash is present, it may indicate an off-balance pH level or acidity.”

Six in 10 (60%) women say they “always” or “often” think about their immune health. However, millennials were more likely to consider their immune health with this frequency compared to baby boomers (67% vs. 39%). Millennial women were also much more likely than boomers to “always” or “often” keep their vaginal health top of mind (63% vs. 29%).

Thirty-nine percent of women turn to their physician or gynecologist for information on supporting their health, with 35 percent relying on women’s health magazines.

“Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about daily probiotics that can help support the good bacteria in your digestive and vaginal microbiomes,” Oliveira adds.

About Chris Melore

Chris Melore has been a writer, researcher, editor, and producer in the New York-area since 2006. He won a local Emmy award for his work in sports television in 2011.

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