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Traditionally, women's health has been defined in mainly biologic terms.The various contexts within which women's health can be considered have been ignored, and many people have been unable to recognize the need for such a clinical entity as "women's health" in the first place. It is time for a change in attitudes and approaches. We need a more inclusive definition of women's health, one that takes into account social, cultural, spiritual, emotional and physical aspects of well-being. Case histories that have recently received media attention and statistics on the impact of poverty and violence on women also show how urgently a redefinition of "women's health" is needed. Regardless of whether "women's health" will always have to be viewed as a separate discipline or whether it can be brought within mainstream medical practice, it is clear that, by altering their perception of women's health and of the problems unique to women, physicians can improve both health care and medical education to the benefit of all members of our society.