When it comes to diseases common among females, we often think of breast and cervical cancers. While it’s true that those illnesses target females, they’re not the only ones women have to be concerned about. There are more diseases women and girls suffer in silence because we don’t talk about them as much.
Therefore, let’s shed light on these lesser-known diseases:
1. Oral Health Issues
Oral health issues aren’t more common in females. Since females are more proactive in maintaining their oral health, their teeth tend to be healthier than those of males. Women also have higher aesthetic demands than men, especially young ones. Young females, in particular, are the category of dental patients that often visit their trusted orthodontist.
However, a woman’s pregnancy and menopause can affect her oral health. This is due to hormonal changes. Nearly 60% to 70% of pregnant women have gingivitis, an inflammation of the gums. Left untreated, gingivitis can develop into periodontal disease or severe gum infection.
The bones supporting the teeth may wear out and become loose with periodontal disease. This results in tooth loss. Periodontal disease has also been associated with negative pregnancy outcomes, including low birth weight and preterm birth. But more evidence is needed to prove that claim.
Cavities are also common among pregnant women. It’s because of women’s eating habits in their first trimesters often develop. Eating a lot of sweets, for instance, can build up bacteria on the teeth that will eventually rot them.
In menopausal women, on the other hand, Burning Mouth Syndrome (BMS) is common. It affects 18% to 33% of women in their category. A few cases have also been found among premenopausal women.
As with pregnancy, hormonal changes also cause BMS in menopausal women. A drop in estrogen can reduce saliva production, creating a metallic taste in the mouth. This then triggers a burning sensation that some women are highly sensitive to.
Hormone replacement therapy can relieve BMS symptoms in women. Meanwhile, regular dental checkups can prevent most oral problems pregnant women experience.
2. Acne Breakout
Men tend to suffer worse acne breakouts than women when they are younger. But in women, acne breakouts last longer and without an age limit.
Again, we can blame this on hormones. Puberty, periods, pregnancy, and menopause cause hormonal fluctuations, resulting in various health issues, including acne. Stress is another factor. Getting stressed can worsen PMS symptoms and pregnancy discomfort, intensifying acne breakouts.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), a condition that affects around five million women of childbearing age in the U.S., also contributes to acne breakouts. Birth control pills and other forms of contraception, like IUDs, also change the hormones and potentially cause acne as a side effect.
3. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)
CFS used to be a controversial disease, so it might be a reason it’s not commonly discussed. The causes of this disease aren’t fully understood yet, although it’s already officially recognized as an autoimmune disorder. It’s most common among women in their 40s and 50s.
Researchers speculate that the contributing factors of CFS include: hormonal imbalance, stress, viruses, and a weakened immune system. Contracting a viral disease, like rubella, is also associated with it. For now, the only treatment for CFS symptoms is available, and no cure nor treatment for the disease itself. Symptoms include extreme fatigue, chronic insomnia, reduced concentration, memory loss, frequent sore throats, and swollen lymph nodes in the neck and armpits.
4. Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
We often associate RA with senior adults. While aging adults are indeed at risk of it, it affects women — especially younger ones — thrice as often as men.
Some women develop RA when their hormones shift, such as after pregnancy and before menopause. Hence, it might be the fault of hormonal changes yet again. Thankfully, healthy practices, such as a well-balanced diet, regular exercise, enough sleep, and sufficient rest, can reduce women’s risk for RA. It’s important to prevent this illness because it can lead to complications, including heart disease and osteoporosis.
5. Gastrointestinal Disorders
Gastrointestinal disorders, like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (CFS) and more, are found to have links with women’s brains. Research has found that the nerve cells that control food movement through the intestines are slower to respond in women than in men. Females’ nerve cells may suppress the intestinal movement of food, and they’re also less responsive to stimulation. As a result, women’s brains receive more inhibitory signals from food, explaining why digestive issues are common among their sex.
Fortunately, all of these diseases can be prevented easily. Treatments are also available, though not all of them have cures. With a healthy and active lifestyle, women won’t have to suffer any of them. Knowing their history of health issues will also help.