While there are health issues that are not gender-specific, some diseases are more common in either men or women.
The health challenges that affect women include conditions of the reproductive organs or heart, osteoporosis, and cancer of the breast and cervix.
Health problems affect men and women in different ways. For example, here are some observations based on studies.
Women are more likely to die following a major heart attack than men.
Women are more likely to show serious signs of anxiety and emotional stress than men.
Sexually transmitted disease infections in women can be more serious.
Urinary tract infection (UTI) is more common in women.
But there are other health challenges that women should know about.
For months, 35-year-old homemaker Ana thought that her ultra-sensitive skin was due to stress. One morning, she could not stand the alternating episodes of pain, exhaustion and numbness any longer.
A rheumatologist explained matters to her. Laboratory tests and physical examination will not detect this common condition for women called fibromyalgia. There are tender points in the body. And if you have more than 10 painful areas, then you are suffering from this problem.
Natural remedies include mind-body massage and stress relievers like calming music. It has been noted that patients who are emotionally stressed experience more pain.
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) knows no cause. It is suspected that there are dormant viral infections, stress and hormonal imbalances which could act as its trigger.
Women in their 40s and 50s are more prone to suffering from this debilitating disorder. CFS doesn’t improve with stress. It can make one deteriorate to the point of inability to do simple chores like cleaning up a room.
There are no tests to detect CFS, which is why doctors will have to rule out thyroid problems, depression, Lyme disease and mononucleosis.
While there is a medication to ease the symptoms, doctors recommend mild exercise and avoidance of caffeine and alcohol. Also, once the hormones are balanced, relief is experienced.
Lupus, an autoimmune disorder, is often discovered in patients aged between 15 and 45. An alarming 90 percent are women.
Scientists believe that hormones may be the culprit. Symptoms include painless mouth sores, low red blood cell or white blood cell count, facial or body rash after sun exposure and kidney disease.
Apart from corticosteroids, doctors recommend a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, stress management and increased physical activity.
Polycystic ovary syndrome is a hormonal problem that affects one in 10 women of child-bearing age. This is due to abnormal levels of male hormones (androgens) caused by insulin imbalance.
Its symptoms are rapid weight gain, acne and baldness. While there in no known cure, medications to regulate insulin levels are prescribed. This, plus a healthy regimen, is recommended.
Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune problem that attacks the myelin (protective covering) of the nerves, which eventually leads to nerve damage. This disease affects more women than men, detected between the ages of 20 and 40.
The symptoms are numbness, fatigue, vision problems, tingling and weakness in the limbs. There are medical protocols addressing this condition. Doctors recommend exercise to improve muscle strength, rest and avoidance of heat.
Irritable bowel syndrome symptoms are gas, diarrhea, constipation and abdominal pain. Common in women, this bothersome condition can be treated with medication. However, medical experts advise the following: consumption of vegetables and fruits, fiber supplements and more whole grains.
There are millions suffering from urinary tract infection sufferers worldwide. Most of them are women. The unpleasant symptoms are burning pain while peeing, or a feeling of a full bladder even when it is empty. There is a percentage of women who test negative for bacterial infection.
While lab tests are not infallible, findings suggest that women with UTI may have a negative test, but could still harbor the E. coli bacteria in their body.
Tips from the experts: strict hygiene, proper hygiene methods (note: direction of wiping the genital area is from the front to back) and hydration (10-15 glasses of water daily). Doctors advice women to empty the bladder after intercourse. Never restrain yourself at any time.
Other remedies are cranberry juice, coconut water, and sambong tea or tablets thrice daily.
The operative advice is, don’t hold it. Avoid feminine products with harsh ingredients, do not douche unless suggested by your gynecologist and avoid tight jeans, especially during summer.
Prevention is still the best policy to adopt for health management. If women were more aware of themselves—body, mind and spirit—then the risks for contracting a disease could be reduced dramatically. Begin with self-awareness.
This week’s affirmation: “I am a perfect being, whole and complete.”