Women's Health

Women have many unique health concerns — menstrual cycles, pregnancy, birth control, menopause — and that's just the beginning. A number of health issues affect only women and others are more common in women. What's more, men and women may have the same condition, but different symptoms. Many diseases affect women differently and may even require distinct treatment.

We tend to think of breast cancer and osteoporosis as women's health diseases, but they also occur in men. Heart disease in a serious concern to both men and women, but risk factors and approaches to prevention are different. Women may also have specific concerns about aging, caregiving, emotional health issues, and skin care.

Women's Health Articles

Another drug prevents breast cancer in postmenopausal women

Exemestane (Aromasin), tamoxifen (Nolvadex, generic) and raloxifene (Evista) are three drugs used to prevent breast cancer in postmenopausal women who are at elevated risk for the disease. Exemestane appears to have less frightening side effects — hot flashes, joint pain, and loss of bone density. All three of these drugs target estrogen, which fuels the growth of most breast cancers, but exemestane belongs to a different class of drugs, called aromatase inhibitors, which work by blocking the body's production of estrogen. Previous studies have shown that aromatase inhibitors are more effective than tamoxifen in preventing breast cancer from recurring. This study, funded Pfizer, and conducted under the auspices of the National Cancer Institute's clinical trials unit, looked at whether exemestane could reduce the likelihood of a first occurrence of breast cancer. (Locked) More »

Fibroid embolization and surgery have similar five-year outcomes

Uterine artery embolization (UAE) — a minimally invasive procedure that shrinks fibroids by cutting off their blood supply — is an alternative treatment for women wanting to avoid surgery. Short-term studies have shown that UAE and surgery produce similar improvement in symptoms and quality of life. Now, a controlled study has found that the same is true even after five years. (Locked) More »

Experts urge intensive lifestyle measures for lowering triglycerides

In recent years, scientists have learned more about how triglycerides contribute to atherosclerosis, the clogged arteries that raise the risk of heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular problems. High triglyceride levels are often correlated with low HDL and a type of LDL cholesterol that is particularly likely to produce harmful deposits in the arteries. High triglyceride levels are also a component of another heart disease risk factor — metabolic syndrome, a condition that occurs in most people with type 2 diabetes and includes high blood pressure and a large waist size. The American Heart Association (AHA) issued a scientific statement about triglycerides and cardiovascular disease that sets a new, lower optimal level of triglycerides and recommends intensive lifestyle measures for reducing elevated triglycerides. (Locked) More »

Major depression more likely during perimenopause than during premenopause

Perimenopause begins several years before menopause (the end of menstruation) and ends a year after the last menstrual period. During this transition, ovarian hormones are in flux, resulting in irregular periods and sometimes vasomotor symptoms (hot flashes and night sweats). In a study, approximately one-third of women in perimenopause had at least one episode of major depression. (Locked) More »

Soy may be okay for breast cancer survivors

Soy seemed to be just the ticket for women: heart-healthy, good for bones, and helpful for hot flashes. And then there was the low rate of breast cancer in soy-consuming countries. Early research indicated that soy protein could lower LDL (bad) cholesterol. The latest study suggests that breast cancer survivors can eat soy foods in moderation. (Locked) More »

Ask the doctor: Heavy bleeding, fibroids, and polyps

  I am 53 and have experienced heavy menstrual bleeding. An ultrasound showed fibroids and polyps. My doctor gave me three choices: monitor with ultrasound, get a hysterectomy, or freeze the fibroids and polyps. I am not sure what to do.   (Locked) More »

Hysterectomy linked to increase in heart disease

Women who have a hysterectomy, especially those under 50 who also have their ovaries removed, seem to be at increased risk of heart disease. A sudden and dramatic reduction in female hormones after the procedure may explain why. Emerging evidence linking hysterectomy to increased risk of cardiovascular disease should prompt a rethinking of the operation's balance of benefits and risks, especially among younger women and those who have their ovaries removed as part of a hysterectomy. (Locked) More »