In medicine, it’s common to see sex as an important risk factor for all sorts of diseases and conditions. This means that being male or female could increase your chances of developing an illness (i.e., dementia in women and heart disease in men). Then there are also sex-specific conditions that have a lot to do with the reproductive system, like prostate cancer in males and uterine cancer in women. For this reason, it’s important to make a distinction between women’s and men’s health.
Women’s health is mostly concerned with areas like sexual and reproductive health, maternal health and pregnancy, nutrition, cancer risk, mental health, and disabilities. For transgender women and non-binary individuals, women’s health would also encompass hormone replacement therapy, vaginoplasty, obstetrics, and gynaecology-related care.
With so many health issues concerning women, it’s important to educate them about the most common conditions and health issues they are likely to encounter at one point in their lives. This way, they can make more informed lifestyle choices. Read on to learn more about the most common conditions and health issues that affect women.
According to Cancer.org, breast cancer is the most common cancer affecting women. American women have a 13 percent or a one in eight chance of developing cancer sometime in their life. On a more positive note, early screening and increased awareness have been found to help decrease breast cancer incidence and mortality rate.
In fact, at this time, there are over 3.8 million breast cancer survivors in the US alone. The numbers are higher in developing countries, but mortality has also been found to be decreasing. Advanced treatments, better diagnostics like open MRI testing, and better accessibility to medication have been found to play a key role.
In the US, about one in 16 women aged 20 and above have coronary heart disease. As the most common type of heart disease, it’s also the number one cause of death in women. Women age 55 and older and those who smoke, are overweight or obese, and have a sedentary lifestyle, are more likely to develop heart disease. Family history also plays a role. If you want to reduce your risk for heart disease, maintain a healthy diet and weight, exercise regularly, manage stress, keep your cholesterol under control, and visit your doctor regularly.
Ovarian and Cervical Cancer
Gynaecological cancers are also common women’s health concerns. In the US, over 13,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year, while 1 in 75 people with ovaries will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer sometime in their life. Fortunately, these are some of the most preventable and curable types of cancer. For instance, cervical cancer can be prevented with regular Pap and HPV tests or getting an HPV vaccine. Having given birth, having a tubal ligation, breastfeeding, and having used birth control bills in the last five years can reduce your risk of developing ovarian cancer.
Pregnancy is a beautiful thing, but for some women with pre-existing conditions, it can be life-threatening and excruciating. Women who have asthma, diabetes, and depression, for instance, are more likely to have complications if the symptoms aren’t managed properly during pregnancy. Fortunately, obstetricians have more advanced tools and techniques to treat these issues, help you have a healthy pregnancy, and keep you and your child safe during labour.
Depression and Anxiety
Depression and anxiety are the most common health concerns in women. But while the figure shows that more women are diagnosed with depression than men, it could be because women are more comfortable expressing their emotions and being open about their mental health concerns. Regardless, both depression and anxiety are serious health concerns. Fortunately, increased mental health awareness, improved therapies and medications, and decreased stigma are helping men and women beat these disorders.
Obesity & Weight Issues
Weight has a strong link to many conditions and cancers. Thus, it’s important to teach women about the importance of maintaining a healthy weight. It’s alarming to know that nearly half of the adult women population falls in the overweight and obese spectrum. Once a problem more common in high-income populations in developed countries, obesity is now a global concern, and it’s created new diseases and health issues for both men and women.
Women face many health challenges specific to their sex. But many of these are preventable and curable diseases, and spreading awareness and providing better access to women’s health are some of the ways to keep these figures from increasing. If you’re a woman looking to prevent these conditions, it’s important to take proactive measures such as getting regular check-ups and making better lifestyle choices.