Women's Health

Health issues affect men and women differently. Women’s unique issues include pregnancy and menopause. For women, emotional, physical, mental, and sexual health are important in all life stages.

Women's Health Overview

Reviewed: May 22, 2014

Women have unique health issues. And some of the health issues that affect both men and women can affect women differently; the symptoms may be similar, but the effects of the condition and the care necessary can differ significantly. In addition, some of these conditions might affect women primarily or more severely than men.

Issues that are unique to women include pregnancy, menopause, and conditions of the female organs. Women can have a healthy pregnancy by getting early and regular prenatal care. They should also get recommended breast cancer, cervical cancer, and bone density screenings.

Several conditions affect women differently than men. For example,

  • women are more likely to die following a heart attack than men
  • women are more likely to show signs of depression and anxiety than men
  • the effects of sexually transmitted diseases can be more serious in women
  • osteoarthritis affects more women than men
  • women are more likely to have urinary tract problems

Emotional, physical, mental, and sexual health are important for women in all life stages, and healthy lifestyle choices can reduce women's health risks.

Women's Health Symptoms

One of the most important things women can do for themselves is to understand the normal functioning of their bodies. Know your body’s normal cycles and be aware of any changes. For many disorders related to female reproductive health, symptoms are vague and difficult to identify. However, self-examination of your body and attention to any pain or discomfort is important for early diagnosis and intervention. Report any changes to your healthcare provider. Also, if you are at increased risk for certain diseases or conditions, learn the signs and symptoms of these diseases in women. Sometimes, the symptoms are different in men than women.

Women's Health Causes

Taking charge of your health requires understanding your risk factors for different diseases.

Risk factors are things in your life that increase your chances of getting a certain disease. Some risk factors are beyond your control. You may be born with them or exposed to them through no fault of your own. Some risk factors that you have little or no control over include your:

  • family history of a disease
  • sex
  • ancestry
  • age

And, having one health problem may raise your risk of having another. For example, having diabetes increases your chances of getting heart disease.

Some risk factors you can control include:

  • what you eat
  • how much physical activity you get
  • whether you use tobacco
  • how much alcohol you drink
  • whether you use illegal drugs
  • whether you use your seat belt

Women's Health Diagnosis

Women should receive annual physical examinations that includes a pelvic exam. Your healthcare provider will look for any abnormalities and ask you about any symptoms you have been having. Blood tests can monitor for certain diseases, such as high cholesterol and diabetes. Be honest with your doctor about your lifestyle choices and about any changes you have noticed in your body or your mood, thinking, or behavior.

Living With Women's Health

Emotional, physical, mental, and sexual health are important for women in all life stages, and healthy lifestyle choices can reduce women's health risks.

All women should:

  • stop smoking
  • eat a healthy diet
  • get regular physical activity

Prevention is important to living long and living well. Preventive screenings and immunizations are among the most important things you can do for yourself. Depending on your age and your reproductive stage, several screenings may be recommended, including:

  • HIV test
  • bone mineral density test
  • mammogram or clinical breast exam
  • Pap test
  • colorectal cancer screening
  • comprehensive eye and ear exam
  • dental and oral cancer exam

Routine vaccinations that can keep women healthy include:

  • yearly influenza vaccine
  • pneumococcal vaccine
  • tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis (Td,Tdap) vaccine
  • hepatitis B vaccine
  • hepatitis A vaccine
  • human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine
  • measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine
  • varicella (chickenpox) vaccine
  • meningococcal vaccine
  • zoster (shingles) vaccine

Other vaccinations may be recommended if you are traveling outside of the United States.

Talk with your healthcare provider about the screenings and immunizations that are needed to keep you healthy.

Women's Health Treatments

Early diagnosis is important in the treatment of many diseases that affect women. The goal of any women’s health treatment is to allow a woman to live a healthy, normal life. Your doctor will help decide what procedures or medications are right for you and your overall health and lifestyle.

Women's Health Other Treatments

Women's Health Prognosis