While both men and women are at risk of various medical conditions, certain health problems affect women differently and more often.
In addition, many women’s health conditions go undiagnosed, and most drug trials do not involve women. Despite the research shortfall, women continue to face exclusive health challenges.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 56 percent of women recognize that heart disease is the leading cause of death for women. In addition, most women between the ages of 40 and 60 have at least one or more risk factors for heart disease and may not even realize it. Menopause as well as early menstruation are risk factors for heart disease that are specific to women.
The most common type of cancer in women is breast cancer. The main identified categories of risk factors for this type of cancer relate to hormonal and family history. In addition, other medical problems can increase the risk of developing it. While these factors are important, 70% of newly diagnosed women have no specific risk factors, beyond female gender and advanced age.
Ovarian and cervical cancer
Ovarian cancer can affect any of the complex cells within the ovaries. It often shows no symptoms until after it has spread outside the ovaries. Even then, symptoms tend to be vague and resemble those of other more common diseases.
Cervical cancer, is the appearance of abnormal growth of cells of the cervix, the lower end of the uterus that connects the uterus to the vagina. In most women, cervical cancer is caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), but this does not mean that women diagnosed with HPV will develop this form of cancer.
Depression and anxiety
Depression affects the whole body. It’s important to recognize that depression is a real medical condition and like any other disease, it often requires treatment. Women are about twice as likely to develop depression as men, with many hormonal factors influencing this rate. Experts explain that women are especially at risk during periods of hormonal changes such as puberty, menopause, pregnancy and childbirth.
Stress is a natural part of the human body’s defense system. In fact, healthy stress levels can be helpful, as they help us deal with any challenges and threats. However, when a person has an anxiety disorder, this response can occur at inopportune times where there is no apparent threat.
Anxiety disorders tend to occur in families and are more common in women and younger people. The good news is that, as with depression, they are treated with appropriate treatment.
Reproductive Health Issues
Infertility is usually defined as the inability to achieve pregnancy after one year of unprotected sex. Women with a known history of irregular periods, over the age of 35, or with a known cause of infertility, should seek treatment earlier or after 6 months of attempted pregnancy.
Some of the most common risk factors for infertility include:
- Age and weight.
- Medical problems that affect hormones, ovulation or the overall function of the reproductive system,
- such as polycystic ovaries or endometriosis.
- Environmental factors and lifestyle choices.
- Medical treatments such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
- Sexually transmitted diseases or previous ectopic pregnancies.
- Surgeries on the ovaries and fallopian tubes.