When it comes to medical conditions, a common risk factor is that of sex—women are more prone to some conditions while men are more prone to others. In this article, we zoom in on 5 common conditions that usually affect women more.
This condition is second only to osteoarthritis in terms of health conditions that affect the musculoskeletal system. There are theories but no proven causes as to why women are more prone to developing fibromyalgia than men – as many as 95% of patients are women.
It is characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep and mood problems. It is thought that fibromyalgia increases pain sensations by affecting the way your brain processes pain signals.
 Sjögren’s Syndrome
A chronic autoimmune disorder that is more common in women, the white blood cells attack its own secretory glands and tissues, leading to dry mouth and eyes as the tear and saliva production is affected. The vaginal gland which keeps the vagina moist can also be affected.
Diagnosis is difficult as Sjögren’s symptoms vary and affects multiple organ systems, all of which come with their own set of symptoms and mimics other autoimmune diseases.
Some symptoms are but not limited to: dry eyes, dry mouth, joint pain as well as a persistent dry cough.
The most common of all bacterial sexually transmitted infections (STDs), chlamydia can infect both men and women, the likelihood of it happening to women over 30 is at 50%. Also known as the ‘silent’ infection, it is usually asymptomatic but can still cause serious damage to a woman’s reproductive organs.
As it is usually asymptomatic, they tend to go undiagnosed and untreated. Untreated infections in women can spread to the uterus and fallopian tubes, causing abdominal and pelvic pain. In the long run, it can cause infertility and pregnancy complications.
‘The Disease of a 1,000 Faces’, lupus is a chronic autoimmune disorder that can affect just about any organ of the body. It makes the immune system hyperactive, forming antibodies to attack anything and everything in the body. 90% of individuals of this disease are all women, majority aged between 15 – 44 years old.
Like Sjögren’s, it is hard to diagnose since no two lupus patients share the same set of symptoms. Lupus also evolves, meaning that new symptoms can arrive and some symptoms may never show up again. There is no one definitive test but rather a series of tests to determine if a patient has lupus.
The most characteristic symptom is the butterfly-shaped rash found on the face—even then, not all lupus patients have it. Other symptoms include painful joints, extreme fatigue, excessive hair loss and more.
 Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
MS is a chronic neurological disorder that, once again, affects women more than men. While commonly diagnosed in people aged 20 to 40, it can occur in individuals of all ages.
A substance known as myelin protects the nerve fibres in the central nervous system, which comprises the brain and spinal cord. MS destroys the myelin by making the immune system recognize it as a foreign body.
This results in a disruption of message transmissions sent from the brain to the spinal cord. MS can cause permanent loss of function and damage myelin-producing cells which prevents the brain from repairing myelin.
The onset of MS gives rise to blurred or double vision, followed by weak and stiff muscles with painful muscle spasms. Tingling or numbness can be felt in the limbs, torso or face; and patients with MS may also find difficulty balancing, among others.
However, do not overly worry—should you notice any onset of abnormal symptoms or discomfort, visit a doctor to get it checked out. Early detection and intervention always go a long way in controlling disease progression and producing better outcomes.