4 Women’s Health Issues We Don’t Talk About Enough

Jul 13, 2023
4 Women’s Health Issues We Don’t Talk About Enough
Women’s health concerns go beyond breast cancer, cervical cancer, and osteoporosis. Find out which health issues you should have on your radar, whether you’re still in your prime childbearing years or you’ve already gone through menopause.

When you think about women’s health concerns, chances are your mind goes directly to the same topics that have been emphasized by the news cycle for years: breast cancercervical cancerosteoporosis, and more recently, maternal health issues during and after pregnancy. 

Reproductive cancers and pre/postnatal health issues are important, to be sure, but they’re not the only health problems that women have a greater risk of facing in life. 

As primary care experts who offer comprehensive women’s health services at Direct Primary Care New Braunfelsour seasoned team of board-certified providers knows there’s a much wider scope of women’s health issues that are just as significant — but aren’t talked about nearly as much.

Read on as Dr. Thomas KayDr. Georgina Bustamante, and nurse practitioner Becky Spencer shed light on four women’s wellness issues we should be talking about more. 

1. Heart disease

A common myth about heart disease is that it mostly affects men. While younger men do have a higher heart disease risk than younger women, this risk begins to equalize in middle age. Why? As women’s estrogen levels diminish through perimenopause and menopause, the cardiovascular-protective effects of this key female hormone decline, too. 

What’s more, certain factors raise a woman’s heart disease risk more than they increase the risk for men. This means that women who smoke or who have diabetes, low levels of “good” HDL cholesterol, or high blood pressure are more vulnerable to heart disease than their male counterparts. 

As a result, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, for men and women alike. Each year, this serious chronic illness causes one in five female deaths (and one in four male deaths). Protect your health by learning how heart disease risk factors and symptoms differ for women — and by making your annual wellness exams a top priority. 

2. Autoimmune disorders

Your immune system is designed to defend your body and safeguard your health by attacking invading microorganisms, like bacteria, viruses, and fungi. An autoimmune disorder occurs when the immune system erroneously attacks its own cells and tissues, leading to a range of worrisome health problems. 

Experts currently know about more than 80 autoimmune diseases. Some — including lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis (MS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and Type 1 diabetes — are well known, while others (i.e., chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia) are less common and often more difficult to diagnose. 

Why should autoimmune problems be on your radar? They affect women twice as often as they affect men. Women who are in their childbearing years (twenties and thirties) are particularly susceptible, as this is a prime age range of onset for many women who develop an autoimmune disorder.

3. Thyroid disease

Located at the front of your neck, your thyroid is a small endocrine gland that makes and secretes vital metabolism-regulating hormones. Because the thyroid directs your body’s complex process of energy use, any problem that makes it overactive (hyperthyroidism) or underactive (hypothyroidism) can lead to a range of bothersome symptoms. 

Women are far more likely than men to develop a thyroid disorder; in fact, one in eight women in the United States develops thyroid problems at some point in life. While being female is a top risk factor for thyroid disease, so is older age. 

This helps explain why some of the most common signs of a thyroid disorder — such as easy weight gain, fatigue, sleep difficulties, dry skin, hot flashes, and low mood — are often initially attributed to menopause when they appear in women who are middle-aged or older.

4. Depression and anxiety

It’s normal to worry and feel stressed sometimes, just as it’s normal to feel down every now and then. But when persistent feelings of worry, fear, emptiness, or hopelessness interfere with your life, you may be dealing with the effects of a mental health problem.

Compared to men, women are twice as likely to suffer from depression — and also twice as likely to develop an anxiety disorder. If that weren’t enough, studies show that about three in five people (60%) with anxiety also have symptoms of depression, and vice versa (three in five people with depression also show signs of a co-occurring anxiety disorder. 

For many women, depression and anxiety disorders are associated with hormonal changes surrounding the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, the postpartum period, or menopause. 

We’re here to support you

These aren’t the only health issues that affect women more than men: Women also have a higher risk of developing osteoarthritis-related joint pain, disabling migraine headaches, and recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs), among other concerns. 

No matter what your health needs, our team at Direct Primary Care New Braunfels can help. Call or click online to schedule a visit today.