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

Certain symptoms may be early signs of ovarian cancer

Ovarian cancer has long been called a "silent killer," because symptoms are thought to develop only after the disease has reached an advanced stage and is largely incurable. But health experts have identified a set of physical complaints that often occur in women who have ovarian cancer and may be early warning signs. These symptoms are very common, and most women with them do not have ovarian cancer. But for the women who do, the hope is that greater awareness will lead to earlier diagnosis and treatment. Four symptoms are more likely to occur in women with ovarian cancer than in women in the general population. These symptoms are bloating or increased abdominal size; pelvic or abdominal pain; difficulty eating or feeling full quickly; and urinary frequency or urgency. The statement recommends that any woman who experiences one or more of these complaints almost daily for more than a few weeks should see a clinician for a pelvic exam. Pelvic exams that raise suspicions are usually followed up with a noninvasive test called transvaginal ultrasound and possibly a blood test for a marker called CA-125, which is sometimes elevated in women with ovarian cancer. The only way to diagnose ovarian cancer is during surgery, which is best performed by a gynecologic oncologist or other surgeon skilled in ovarian cancer. More »

Repaying your sleep debt

Besides the effects of fatigue and irritability, a sustained sleep deficit can lead to a greater risk of other health problems such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. More »

New view of heart disease in women

A landmark study found that women are susceptible to a different type of heart disease called microvascular dysfunction. It affects both larger and smaller blood vessels, but is not detected by the standard cardiac tests. More »

Gender matters: Heart disease risk in women

We've come a long way since the days when a woman's worry over heart disease centered exclusively on its threat to the men in her life. We now know it's not just a man's problem. Every year, coronary heart disease, the single biggest cause of death in the United States, claims women and men in nearly equal numbers. In a survey conducted by the American Heart Association, about half of the women interviewed knew that heart disease is the leading cause of death in women, yet only 13% said it was their greatest personal health risk. If not heart disease, then what? Other survey data suggest that on a day-to-day basis, women still worry more about getting breast cancer — even though heart disease kills six times as many women every year. Why the disconnect? Breast cancer affects body image, sexuality, and self-esteem in ways that a diagnosis of heart disease does not. Also, heart disease tends to show up at an older age (on average, a woman's first heart attack occurs at age 70), so the threat may not seem all that real to younger women. Most 50-year-old women know women their age who've had breast cancer but none who've had heart disease. More »

The cervical cancer vaccine

A vaccine aims to prevent cervical cancer by fighting the strains of human papillomavirus that cause it. The CDC recommends the vaccine be given before puberty, because it is more effective if received before exposure to HPV. More »

What are bioidentical hormones?

Some women who opt for hormone therapy are choosing bioidentical hormones, which are manufactured instead of occurring in nature. Researchers are still examining the long-term effectiveness and risks of these medications. More »

Body heat: Older is colder

The long-held idea that 98.6° is the normal body temperature is now considered outdated. Actual normal body temperature tends to be lower, and tends to lower more as we age. More »

Natural disasters and terrorist attacks

The devastation left in the wake of recent natural disaster and terror attacks provides graphic evidence of just how destructive they can be. Residents can be forced to evacuate from their homes at a moment's notice in an atmosphere of panic and chaos, and many of them will not be able to return for months. In light of these potential disasters and their aftermath, it has become clear that preparation for the unknown is of the utmost importance. No matter where you live in the United States, you are vulnerable to some sort of natural disaster such as a blizzard, earthquake, flood, hurricane, or tornado. In addition, terrorist attacks on America are also possible. Both natural disasters and terrorist attacks can disrupt power, communication, and transportation for days or even longer. It is best to be prepared in advance so that if a disaster occurs, you know what to do and have the supplies you need on hand. Regardless of the type of event, three basic steps will help you cope. More »