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

Hormone therapy: The next chapter

Hormone therapy (HT) was a mainstay of postmenopausal health care. Besides relieving hot flashes and other troublesome symptoms, it was thought to offer protection against a host of degenerative disorders. Perimenopausal women were commonly urged to consider HT, not just for symptom relief but also for benefits that included protection against osteoporosis and possibly heart disease, colon cancer, and Alzheimer's disease. Its risks were thought to be limited — mainly increased susceptibility to breast cancer and gallbladder disease. Today HT is linked not only to these conditions but also to an increased risk for stroke, blood clots, and Alzheimer's disease. Amid the growing evidence of harmful effects it's still too early to close the book on HT. More »

What to do about gallstones

Women under 40 are at much greater risk of developing gallstones than men, due to the actions of the hormones estrogen and progesterone. More than 25 million people in the United States have gallstones. Fortunately, for most people, gallstones are "silent" — they don't cause major symptoms. When they do act up, there are effective ways to address the problem. More »

In the news: Report sets new dietary intake levels for vitamin D and calcium

Studies suggest that we take much more vitamin D than we do now — especially those of us living in northern climes who may get too little sunlight to produce adequate amounts in the skin. Many scientists have advocated vitamin D doses much higher than the present recommended dose to prevent a host of chronic conditions. But the report of an expert panel convened by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) concluded that high doses of vitamin D aren't necessary and might even be harmful. Many people — including many clinicians and researchers — were taken by surprise. (Locked) More »

Job strain and heart disease risk in women

Harvard researchers have uncovered strong links between women's job stress and cardiovascular disease. Findings from the Women's Health Study (WHS) — a landmark inquiry into disease prevention involving more than 17,000 female health professionals — show that women whose work is highly stressful have a 40% increased risk of heart disease (including heart attacks and the need for coronary artery surgery), compared with their less stressed colleagues. More »

What to do about dry skin in winter

Wintertime poses a special problem because humidity is low both outdoors and indoors, and the water content of the epidermis (the outermost layer of skin) tends to reflect the level of humidity around it. Fortunately, there are many simple and inexpensive things you can do to relieve winter dry skin, also known as winter itch or winter xerosis. More »

Abnormal uterine bleeding in peri- and postmenopausal women

Abnormal uterine bleeding (AUB) is a common problem for women of all ages, accounting for up to one-third of gynecologic office visits. The two main types are heavy bleeding that occurs at an appropriate or expected time, such as a heavy menstrual period (menorrhagia), and any type of bleeding that occurs unexpectedly (metrorrhagia). Many women experience abnormal uterine bleeding in the years leading to menopause, as hormone levels fluctuate. After menopause, any uterine bleeding is considered abnormal and should be investigated. (Locked) More »