Being a woman comes with so many blessings. Our bodies can do unique and amazing things — like growing life. But if you’re a woman, you’re also at greater risk for a number of diseases and conditions that are less common in men. We’re here to spread awareness about 12 of them, what they are and where to find help.
Women are twice as likely as men to be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder in their lifetime. While it’s normal for all of us to worry at times, an anxiety disorder is constant, severe and negatively impacts day-to-day living. The five most common anxiety disorders are generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), panic disorder (PD) and social anxiety disorder (SAD). Prioritize taking care of your mental health.
There are more than 80 autoimmune diseases, and more than 75% of patients who have them are women. Autoimmune illnesses occur when the body’s immune system goes into overdrive and mistakenly attacks its own healthy cells. A few of the most common autoimmune diseases are lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, Type 1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis. Eating well is key to staying well if you have an autoimmune disease.
Breast cancer in men is a possibility, but it’s 100 times more common in women. The average risk of a woman developing breast cancer in her lifetime is about 12%. You can reduce your risk by living a healthy lifestyle — eating a balanced diet, choosing not to smoke, limiting alcohol intake and staying active.
Broken Heart Syndrome
Broken heart syndrome is a temporary heart condition that mimics a heart attack. It’s often triggered by stressful situations, extreme emotions, surgery or a serious physical injury. The stress is usually sudden and acute, emotional or physical, and quickly weakens the heart muscle from the overwhelming amount of adrenaline produced in response. According to the American Heart Association, broken heart syndrome is more common in women than in men.
Like anxiety, which is often comorbid with depression, women are also twice as likely as men to have depression. Depression can be caused and influenced by biological factors like fluctuating female hormones during the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, the postpartum period and menopause. Environmental factors like stress, pain, medical problems and level of family and social support also come into play.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a condition that occurs when digestive complaints such as cramping, diarrhea, constipation and bloating last for three months or more. It’s more common in women, and their symptoms tend to worsen at the start of each menstrual period.
Migraines are severe, sometimes chronic headaches. They can cause nausea, vomiting, light and sound sensitivity and vision changes. They affect more than 30 million Americans, but women are three times more likely than men to get migraines. They could be triggered by hormone changes.
In osteoporosis, the bones become weak and more likely to break. Of the ten million Americans estimated to have osteoporosis, 80% of them are women. The older you are, the higher your risk gets when menopause sets in. Estrogen levels drop and bone loss increases as a result. To slow bone loss, get plenty of vitamin D, calcium and exercise.
Strokes block the blood flow to the brain and kill more women than men. While risk factors like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking and family medical history apply to everyone, women have some unique risk factors for stroke. They are pregnancy, taking birth control pills, using hormone replacement therapy and having frequent migraines.
One in eight women will experience thyroid problems in her lifetime. Thyroid issues, like hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) and hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid), can interfere with the menstrual cycle and cause problems during pregnancy.
While the name is less commonly known, trichotillomania is an impulse control disorder that causes the person to repetitively pull out their hair. It occurs at the same rate between boy and girl children, but 80 – 90% of adult sufferers are women. It can cause bald spots on a person’s head, eyelashes and eyebrows.
Its sister condition, dermatillomania, is a skin-picking disorder that can lead to bleeding, painful sores and even infections. It also occurs in women at a much higher rate, 75%. The two conditions often run together. These are serious conditions that can be managed with treatment.
Urinary Tract Infections
Women have a higher rate of UTIs than men. Experts believe that because women have shorter urethras, they’re more prone to bacterial transmissions in the genital area.
Comprehensive, Compassionate Women’s Care for Every Need
From annual wellness visits to guided prenatal care to finding solutions for your most sensitive health concerns, the dedicated team at AdventHealth delivers care that’s as individual as you are. Whatever your age and stage of life, and however complex your medical condition, we’re here to help you feel whole.
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