Women’s Health Research Means Better Care for Women

Woman looks through microscope

You've heard it from us before: only in the past few decades has medical research regularly included women. That's why it's so important to support research in women's health. 

The Women's Health Research Unit at OHSU works closely with leading OHSU researchers who are tackling questions specific to women's health. From contraception to menopause, and pregnancy to cancer, their studies are improving women's health care every day. 

Below are just a few of the studies that are currently seeking participants. Feel free to check out all the options right on our website. 

Treating where it Hurts – Sexual Pain Study 

After menopause, pain with sex is a common problem and there are many gaps in the research into this problem. Additionally, research has shown that women have an increased risk of bladder problems after menopause. This study uses a low-dose estrogen cream, applied by study participants to the location they feel pain. By looking at the bacteria in the vulva and vagina before and after treatment, the research team hopes to determine whether this type of estrogen therapy is effective for post-menopausal women.  

You may be eligible for this study if: 

  • You are a woman between 40-70 years of age 
  • You are in a stable heterosexual relationship 
  • You have gone through menopause 
  • You have experienced pain with intercourse for at least 6 months 
  • You are willing to use a low-dose estrogen daily for 3 months 

There is no cost to you or your insurance to participate in this study. There is no compensation for participating in this study. However, patients who complete both biopsies in the optional sub-study will be compensated $100. 

Emergency Contraception and BMI 

This study is trying to improve the effectiveness of emergency contraceptive pills for women of higher BMIs and weight. We are seeking women who are between the ages of 18-35 who: 

  • Have normal menstrual cycles 
  • Have a BMI of 30 mg/k2 or greater and a weight of 176 lbs. or more 
  • Are willing to use non-hormonal contraception during the study or are not sexually active with men 
  • Are not currently using a hormonal form of birth control 

There are two parts to this study. Qualified participants may be able to participate in one or both parts and will be compensated up to $2,140 for time and travel. Study participation for both parts would last approximately 5 months and would include approximately 39 visits. Study visits are timed with the start of a woman's menstrual cycle and are concentrated during a 2 week period in the beginning to middle of each menstrual cycle with gaps of time in between where no study visits would occur. 

Contraceptive Vaginal Ring Study  

This study is exploring the effectiveness of an investigational contraceptive vaginal ring. There is currently only one vaginal contraceptive ring approved for use by the FDA in the United States –the NuvaRing, which requires using a new ring each month. The Population Council and NIH are investigating a series of longer use vaginal rings containing Nestorone® and ethinyl estradiol. This study will be looking at a 90-day version. You may be eligible for this study if: 

  • You are between the ages of 18 and 35 
  • You are pre-menopausal and at risk for pregnancy 
  • You are in good general health 
  • You have regular menstrual cycles 

Qualified participants will be compensated up to $470 for their time and travel. Study participation involves use of the vaginal ring for a year, as well as 6 visits to the Women's Health Research Unit clinic.  

For more information or to see if you are eligible to participate in any of the studies, please call the confidential recruitment line at 503-494-3666 or email whru@ohsu.edu.