Women’s health is unique. Some issues are only specific to us, and some affect women differently than men. For example, women are more likely to die from a heart attack than men and show more signs of depression. It is important to acknowledge the differences in women’s health because many of them are preventable. Besides the more well-known concerns like breast cancer and osteoporosis, here are five important women’s health topics you need to know.
With the onset of the pandemic, a record number of women left the workforce. Many factors were attributed, including the stress of a family at home while juggling the demands of a full-time job. According to a study by the American Psychological Association, stress is on the rise for women. It stated that 50% of women reported their stress increased in the last five years. High-stress levels in women are even attributed to difficulties in conceiving. Also, Research even says women are more likely to feel the symptoms of stress than men.
Depression and Anxiety
Depression is the most common mental health problem in women. With women twice as likely as men to show symptoms of depression and more likely to develop anxiety disorders. Besides biological reasons related to hormones involving menstruation, menopause, and pregnancy, environmental factors contribute to the prevalence of depression by:
- Unequal power and status
- Work/life overload
- Abuse related issues
- Coping Style
In addition, women are more likely to report and seek help for depression. Researchers suggest because of the emotional nature of women; depression manifests itself in an amplified way. Men may go underdiagnosed with depression because of the social differences between the emotions of men and women.
Anxiety occurs as a direct result of depression symptoms amongst women. The increased stress coupled with depression leads to anxiety.
Heart disease is the number one killer of women in the united states, with two conditions affecting women the most: coronary microvascular disease (MVD)and broken heart syndrome. Here is how women are at a higher risk for these conditions.
Coronary Microvascular Disease
Increased risk in women is associated with:
- Low estrogen levels before menopause
- High blood pressure before menopause
- Intense or irregular menopause symptoms
Broken Heart Syndrome-
Triggered by a surge of stress hormones causing stress-induced chest pain. Because women experience more symptoms of stress, they are at a higher risk.
Women are more likely to experience different heart attack symptoms than men, which is why treatment could be delayed. Therefore the risk of death is higher because uncommon symptoms are overlooked. Here are the symptoms to look out for:
- Neck, jaw, and shoulder discomfort
- Shortness of breath
- Pain in arms
- Unusual fatigue
An autoimmune disease occurs when your body can’t tell the difference between foreign cells and your own cells. These conditions occur in women at a rate of 2 to 1, with an increased prevalence every year. According to a review, 80% of the 100 different autoimmune diseases occur in women. This is becoming a known disparity in women’s health.
Why do women have a higher prevalence of autoimmune diseases? There is no clear answer, but scientists have narrowed it down to a few hypotheses. For starters, most autoimmune disorders occur on the X chromosomes, and we have two of them. This creates a greater possibility of a mutation—secondly, the hormonal changes associated with puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause. Because women experience more hormonal changes than men that affect the immune system at different life stages, it increases the chances of immune disorder.
You may be at an increased risk of an autoimmune disorder if you have a family history, obesity, smoke regularly, or have an infection. Although autoimmune disorders are hard to diagnose, it is important to be in tune with your body and seek medical help if you feel something is off.
Although men are more likely to become addicted to alcohol, abuse is increasing amongst women. In fact, women have a higher risk of developing certain alcohol-related problems. The alcohol-related problems start sooner in women than men because of our size and biological differences. Because of this, if a woman and a man have the same amount to drink, the blood alcohol will be more concentrated in a women’s body than a man.
In addition, there is a strong association between alcohol consumption and breast cancer. Women who consume alcohol have a 5-9% increased risk of developing breast cancer. In addition to breast cancer risks, women are more likely to show signs of liver damage, alcohol-related heart disease, and brain damage with alcohol misuse.
Tips to Mitigate Women’s Health Concerns
It can become overwhelming to think about the unique differences in women’s health. The main takeaway here is to pay attention to the things you can control. Most of the conditions mentioned are best managed by living a healthy lifestyle. Knowing the signs and symptoms will help to identify these issues quickly. Here are some tips to control them:
- Exercise regularly
- Eat a nutritious diet.
- Practice self-care
- Develop and recognize coping skills for stress and depression
- Limit alcoholic beverages