The Impact of Sex and Gender on Adaptation to Space: Executive Summary

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This review article is a compendium of six individual manuscripts, a Commentary, and an Executive Summary. This body of work is entitled “The Impact of Sex and Gender on Adaptation to Space” and was developed in response to a recommendation from the 2011 National Academy of Sciences Decadal Survey, “Recapturing a Future for Space Exploration: Life and Physical Sciences for a New Era,” which emphasized the need to fully understand sex and gender differences in space. To ensure the health and safety of male and female astronauts during long-duration space missions, it is imperative to examine and understand the influences that sex and gender have on physiological and psychological changes that occur during spaceflight. In this collection of manuscripts, six workgroups investigated and summarized the current body of published and unpublished human and animal research performed to date related to sex- and gender-based differences in the areas of cardiovascular, immunological, sensorimotor, musculoskeletal, reproductive, and behavioral adaptations to human spaceflight. Each workgroup consisted of scientists and clinicians from academia, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and other federal agencies and was co-chaired by one representative from NASA and one from the external scientific community. The workgroups met via telephone and e-mail over 6 months to review literature and data from space- and ground-based studies to identify sex and gender factors affecting crew health. In particular, the Life Sciences Data Archive and the Lifetime Surveillance of Astronaut Health were extensively mined. The groups identified certain sex-related differences that impact the risks and the optimal medical care required by space-faring women and men. It represents innovative research in sex and gender-based biology that impacts those individuals that are at the forefront of space exploration.

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doi: 10.1089/jwh.2014.4914
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