For the most part, conditions that are harmful to women equally impact their male counterparts, exceptions being women-only ailments like cervical or ovarian cancers and Turner Syndrome. However, in recent years, clinicians have found over a dozen disorders and conditions that statistically affect women more severely and in greater numbers than men. Oohvie highlighted the top three you should keep in mind as you manage your healthcare goals.
Anxiety & Depression
Let’s be clear: anyone can suffer from anxiety and depression, but the numbers say that anxiety strikes women twice as often as men. Women living in North America and Europe are at even greater risk. The question is, why? One theory is that the reproductive changes and hormonal shifts throughout a woman’s lifespan cause more stress on her mind and body, making her more vulnerable. On a cultural level, women are also more likely to experience physical, emotional, or mental abuse, leading to anxiety and depressive disorders. The exact reason for this gender gap in anxiety and depression rates is unknown, but simply knowing it exists helps experts target healthcare efforts to those who need them most.
You can think of autoimmune conditions as anything where the body’s immune system attacks the healthy cells. Some you might be familiar with include lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and Celiac Disease, but there are over eighty more affecting 23 million Americans, 75% of whom are women (AARDA, 2018). The reason for this disparity is unknown. We know that shifting hormones and inflammation impact these conditions and that greater amounts of estrogen can exacerbate these issues.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
There’s a small passageway between the bones in your wrist that make up the area where tendons and nerves travel from your arm into your hand, the carpal tunnel. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is what we call swelling or damage of the tendons, which irritate the nerve and cause pain or numbness. Once, we thought only people who engaged in repetitive motions with the hand lower than the wrist needed to worry. Now we know that anyone can develop Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, but especially women. Women are three times more likely than men to develop the condition (Goecker, 2019). Women typically have smaller bones and thereby narrower carpal passages, putting them at greater risk. Women also experience fluid retention due to pregnancy and other hormonal changes, which adds additional stress to the carpal tunnel.
What You Can Do
Knowledge is your best defense against conditions like these. Stay informed with resources from HealthLynked, the fastest-growing patient network. Use these tools to keep your medical records and review of systems up to date, and your doctor will always have the most accurate information to create the best treatment plan for you.
Goecker, Liesl. “Women Are Three Times More Likely Than Men to Develop Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.” The Swaddle, 11 Dec. 2019, theswaddle.com/are-women-more-likely-to-get-carpal-tunnel-syndrome/.
“Women & Autoimmunity • AARDA.” AARDA, 2018, www.aarda.org/who-we-help/patients/women-and-autoimmunity/.