Senator Harry Reid on Interstitial Cystitis

Senator Harry Reid educated colleagues about interstitial cystitis (IC) Tuesday during a discussion about the 20th Anniversary of the NIH Office of Research on Women’s Health (ORWH). Speaking in support of a resolution proposed by Senator Barbara Senator Harry ReidMikulski to recognize the tremendous role that ORWH plays in advancing scientific research on women’s health, Mr. Reid highlighted IC as an example of a condition that primary affects women.

Senator Reid explained to the US Senate that IC “…can best be described as the pain is like shoving slivers of glass up and down someone's bladder. The pain is excruciating and awful. It was a disease that people said was psychosomatic because it was only women who had the problem, so they overlooked it. If it had been men—and we were an all-male legislature at the time—I am sure it would have gotten more attention. I added my assistance to Senator Mikulski, and we were able to establish a protocol. Now people understand this, and it has made a lot of progress. This is one example of why the work of Senator Barbara Mikulski has been so important.” Senator Barbara Mikulski

Barbara Mikulski also shared a story from the 1990s when a group of female senators recognized the vital need to change the then NIH policy not to include women in clinical research trials. Senator Mikulski said, “We had a big problem. Women were being systematically excluded from NIH clinical research. It was not sound science, and it was not acceptable. Our worst concerns were confirmed by a 1990 GAO report, which proved that women were not being included in clinical trials.

I had to do something about it. I remember it well: I called up my women colleagues, and they agreed. We piled into the car on a hot August day, and we drove to NIH in Bethesda, MD. Our aim was to assemble all 12 institutes, communicate our concerns, and see what goals they could come up with to resolve this unfair exclusion. We showed up: Connie Morella, Olympia Snowe, Pat Schroeder, and I—and so did the TV cameras and Time Magazine. We made it clear that the time had come to include women in scientific research, remember their place in the Federal budget, and treat them with respect.”

Thanks to Senators Reid and Mikulski for helping to get the word out about the need for expanded interstitial cystitis and women’s health scientific and clinical research!

Posted December 08, 2010