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
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a collection of symptoms that many women experience during the one to two weeks before a menstrual period. These symptoms may be physical, psychological and emotional. They disappear soon after the start of menstrual bleeding.
Vaginitis is inflammation of the vagina. In premenopausal women, infection is the most common cause. After menopause, a low level of estrogen often leads to vaginal atrophy (atrophic vaginitis). Vaginitis also can be the result of an allergic reaction to an irritating chemical, such as a spermicide, douche or bath soap.
Endometrial tissue lines the inside of the uterus. In endometriosis, the same type of tissue also grows in places outside of the uterus.
Implants or patches of endometriosis may develop in the:
Outside surface of the uterus
Pelvis and lower abdomen
Spaces between the bladder, uterus and rectum
Wall of the rectum, bladder, intestines or appendix (less commonly)
Lung, arm, thigh and skin. (This is rare.)
Misplaced endometrial tissue behaves like endometrial tissue in the uterus. It responds to the monthly rise and fall of female hormones. It also can ooze blood during menstruation. This can cause pelvic or abdominal pain.
The fallopian tubes connect the ovaries and the uterus. Fallopian tube cancer occurs when cells in a tube multiply out of control and form a tumor. As the tumor grows, it presses on the tube, stretching it and causing pain. Over time, the cancer can spread throughout the pelvis and abdomen.
This cancer is very rare. It is more common for cancer to spread to a fallopian tube (usually from an ovary, breast or lining of the uterus) than for a new cancer to develop in it.
Scientists don't know whether environmental or lifestyle factors increase the risk of this cancer. Some researchers think certain women might inherit a tendency to develop the illness.
There is good evidence that women who inherit a mutation in their BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes have a greater risk of developing fallopian tube cancer. Mutations (changes) in this gene have also been linked to breast and ovarian cancer. If you are diagnosed with this cancer, consider being tested for these mutations.
A fever is an increase in body temperature above the normal range. However, body temperature varies between people, with different levels of activity and at different times of the day. Medical textbooks differ in their definition of the highest normal body temperature. Fever generally can be defined as an early morning temperature higher than 99 degrees Fahrenheit or a temperature higher than 100 degrees Fahrenheit at any time of the day.
The cervix is a tubelike channel that connects the uterus to the vagina. Cervical polyps are growths that usually appear on the cervix where it opens into the vagina. Polyps are usually cherry-red to reddish-purple or grayish-white. They vary in size and often look like bulbs on thin stems. Cervical polyps are usually not cancerous (benign) and can occur alone or in groups. Most polyps are small, about 1 centimeter to 2 centimeters long. Because rare types of cancerous conditions can look like polyps, all polyps should be removed and examined for signs of cancer.
The cause of cervical polyps is not well understood, but they are associated with inflammation of the cervix. They also may result from an abnormal response to the female hormone estrogen.
Cervical polyps are relatively common, especially in women older than 20 who have had at least one child. They are rare in girls who have not started menstruating. There are two types of cervical polyps:
Ectocervical polyps can develop from the outer surface layer cells of the cervix. They are more common in postmenopausal women.
Endocervical polyps develop from cervical glands inside the cervical canal. Most cervical polyps are endocervical polyps, and are more common in premenopausal women.
Some women feel pain in the abdomen or pelvis during ovulation, when an egg is released from the ovary. This usually happens midway between menstrual cycles. The medical term for this is mittelschmerz, which comes from the German words for "middle" and "pain." Some women don't feel anything when an egg is being released from an ovary. Other women may feel intermittent or constant discomfort or pain during ovulation.