Women’s History Month begins on March 1, and it serves as a great reminder for all women that prioritizing health all-year-round is essential. While some women’s health issues, like diabetes, are also common for men, other diseases more common in women require extra vigilance. Below, we have listed some of the most common female health problems today, and how they can be prevented.
Heart disease is one of the most pressing women’s health issues, as it is the leading cause of death of women in America. Unfortunately, heart attack or heart disease symptoms can differ between men and women. For example, men often experience sudden chest pain, while women are more likely to feel nauseous or fatigued. This leads some women to delay treatment or medical care and have poor outcomes as a result.
To avoid heart disease, women should:
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Exercise at least 30 minutes a day
- Eat a diet full of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
- Have bloodwork performed regularly to measure cholesterol and blood sugar levels
- Avoid smoking
- Limit alcohol consumption
- See the doctor regularly for preventative care
Women experience a stroke when proper blood flow to the brain is interrupted for various reasons. Due to this blockage, cells in the brain may start to die. Strokes are more common in women than men, and symptoms might appear suddenly without warning.
Some of the most common symptoms of a stroke in women include:
- Difficulty seeing from one or both eyes
- Numbness or sudden weakness in legs, arms, or face on one or both sides of the body
- Trouble understanding speech or speaking
- Loss of coordination
- Severe sudden headache
If you notice the signs of a stroke, getting medical attention immediately is critical.
With diabetes, your blood sugar levels are elevated, and your body cannot regulate them properly. Beyond diabetes being one of the most common female health problems, it can also lead to a variety of other health problems, including:
- Heart disease
- Chronic kidney disease
- Oral health problems and gum disease
- Nerve damage
- Depression and mental health challenges
By preventing diabetes, you can also protect yourself from other diseases more common in women and preserve your health.
Maternal Health Issues
Due to women’s reproductive organs, there are numerous maternal and gynecological health issues, which can lead to common diseases in women. Some of the women’s health issues include:
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Uterine fibroids
- Interstitial cystitis
- Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
Having a good relationship with your primary care physician and a gynecologist can help you detect any of the aforementioned female health problems.
Urinary Tract Infections
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are a common problem for many women, and are sometimes referred to as bladder infections. Over 50% of women will experience a urinary tract infection at some point in their lives, partially due to hygiene habits and natural bacteria in the vagina. Many UTIs can be resolved with antibiotics, but some can be severe enough to lead to kidney infections if not treated promptly.
Some of the signs of UTIs include:
- Urine with a foul smell
- Burning or pain when urinating
- Blood in urine
- Cloudy urine
- Having a fever with no other cause
- Frequent urges to urinate despite not having much urine volume
- Pressure in the lower abdomen
STDs and STIs
Sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs) and Sexually-transmitted infections (STIs) impact both men and women, but women are uniquely susceptible to some of them for anatomical reasons. Over 9 million women are diagnosed with an STI yearly in the United States. Additionally, some STIs can be particularly dangerous for pregnant women, as the infection or condition can ultimately impact fetal health.
If you are concerned that you may have an STI, it’s critical to seek prompt medical treatment. Some types of STIs have severe consequences if left untreated, including permanent infertility. Ask your doctor about STI tests, including a blood test, urine test, or pelvic exam.
Women can experience a broad range of types of cancer, but breast cancer disproportionately affects women. Breast cancer can metastasize and spread to other parts of the body if it is not detected early. The two most common types of breast cancer in America are invasive lobular carcinoma and invasive ductal carcinoma. Other types of breast cancer are less common but still very serious.
Some of the symptoms of breast cancer include:
- Dimpling of breast skin
- Pain in the nipples
- Flaky skin or redness on the breast or nipple
- A lump in the breast or underarm area
- A change in the shape or size of the breast
- Swelling on one part of the breast
- Pain in the breast
Because some of these things are not symptoms of cancer but other things less concerning, like premenstrual syndrome, it is critical to seek consultation with your doctor at the first sign of any symptoms.
Osteoporosis is often diagnosed in older women, but preventing it is a lifelong journey. Osteoporosis affects the bones and leads to decreased bone mass. This puts women at an elevated risk of experiencing broken bones when they fall. Because the bones inside your body undergo the effects of osteoporosis over the years, some women go decades without symptoms or a diagnosis until a bone is broken.
Some of the risk factors that put you at an increased risk of developing osteoporosis include:
- Being past menopause
- Not getting enough calcium
- Having a petite body
- A family history of osteoporosis
- A history of disordered eating
- Not having enough physical activity
- Taking certain types of medications
Your doctor can evaluate you and your risk for osteoporosis and guide you on prevention.
A whopping two-thirds of all adults in the United States with Alzheimer’s over 65 are women. Some of this is because women tend to live longer than men; however, the incidence of Alzheimer’s is also more common than in men. It is believed that the amyloid plaques that are correlated with Alzheimer’s disease are a byproduct of the immune system. Women tend to have stronger immune systems than men, so they may accumulate more amyloid plaque and have an increased risk of the disease.
Stay Healthy All-Year-Round with TopLine MD Alliance
Understanding the diseases that are most likely to impact women and working with a doctor can help limit risks. Whether you are concerned about current symptoms or want to assess your risk, TopLine MD Alliance is an easy way to find high-quality healthcare providers.
If you want to schedule your appointment with a TopLine MD Alliance affiliated physician or specialist, use the Find a Provider button above. This free tool makes it simple to find a healthcare provider in your area.
The TopLine MD Alliance is an association of independent physicians and medical practice groups who are committed to providing a higher standard of healthcare services. The members of the TopLine MD Alliance have no legal or financial relationship with one another. The TopLine MD Alliance brand has no formal corporate, financial or legal ties to any of the affiliated physicians or practice groups.