Though women may have a longer life expectancy compared to men, they don’t mostly get to enjoy healthier lives. According to a study in 2009 World Health Organization, millions of women globally suffer from health issues yearly. Also, the British medical journal BMJ asserts that women globally are likely to have received inferior health care compared to their male counterparts right from birth.
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Let’s look at some common health issues women are susceptible to.
Breast cancer and Cervical cancer
Major causes of breast cancer includes;
- Lack of exercise
- Poor diet
- Drinking alcohol
Major signs of breast cancer to look out for includes rash around the nipples, lump or mass in the breast, discharge from the nipples, and skin dimpling on the breast. Currently, cervical cancer has overtaken breast cancer as the leading cause of cancer deaths in women globally. Cervical cancer is known to occur because of a virus called the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) transmitted through sexual contact. Some risk factors of cervical cancer includes poor hygiene, early marriage, having too many children with not enough spacing between them, and low nutrition levels.
Endometriosis is known to run in family. It is a condition in which endometrial cells grow in other areas of the body, especially in the area lining the abdominal cavity. Every month the cells of the endometrium or inner lining of the womb swell, become thicker, and are shed during menstruation. This causes severe cramping in the pelvis which may radiate to legs and irregular bleeding. In some cases, endometriosis may cause infertility.
Some premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms that occurs 1 – 2 weeks before menstrual periods includes abdominal cramps, bloating, constipation, breast swelling or tenderness, joint or muscle pain, acne and mood swings. In some women, these symptoms may be severe, leading to a condition called Premenstrual Dysphoric disorder (PMDD).
Fibroids, which are fibrous growths in the uterus, causes severe pain and heavy bleeding during menstruation. Some women with fibroids may have issues with getting pregnant. Fibroids are formed in response to oestrogen and they grow slowly. They mostly shrink after menopause due to the lack of oestrogen hormone in the body. Occasionally, they can grow to weigh several kilograms and cause severe pain during sexual intercourse.
READ ALSO: 10 Warning Signs that You May Have Fibroid
- Vaginal infections
Vaginal infection like vaginitis (inflammation or infection of the vagina), may show symptoms which include severe itching, soreness around your vagina, abnormal vaginal discharge with an unpleasant smell, burning sensation during urination, and pain during intercourse. Some women may not have any symptoms. Potential causes of vaginal infections are douching, sexual activities, fecal contamination of the vagina, creams, tight clothing, and others. These factors can affect the normal bacterial environment of the vagina. Bacterial vaginosis can be treated with antibiotics while vaginal yeast infections can be treated with over-the-counter creams and vaginal suppositories.
READ ALSO: Causes of Recurrent Yeast Infections
- Urinary Tract Infections
Women are more predisposed to having urinary tract infections (UTIs), compared to men because they have a shorter urethras which promotes an upward movement of germs to their bladders. Urinary tract infection (UTI) which is caused by E. coli bacteria, affects the urinary tract. The risk of UTI increases during menopause. Cystitis (bladder infection) is the lower urinary tract infection and pyelonephritis (kidney infection) is the upper urinary tract infection. Some symptoms of UTI include burning pain during urination, frequent urination and/or urgency to urinate. In uncomplicated cases, urinary tract infections are easily treated with a short course of antibiotics.
Women loses blood during menstruation, thereby making them more prone to developing anaemia. Other factors that can lead to anemia are increased demand of blood supply during pregnancy, poor diet, deficiencies of vitamins B2, B6, B12, and folic acid. Chances are that you are anaemic and your blood lacks enough red blood cells. Low RBC count means reduced oxygen carrying haemoglobin (Hb) count which translates to low oxygen in blood making you feel exhausted, irritable and dizzy. Other signs include pale skin, brittle nails, smooth, swollen painful red tongue, cracks or fissures at the corners of the mouth and sore and pale mouth.
Sources: Onlymyhealth.com, Tigerlilyfoundation.org
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