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While men and women will experience warning signs to various health issues over their lifetime, there are a few typical women’s health Problems that men don’t have to be worried about as much. According to experts, some of the more common women’s health problems

— including breast cancer, cardiovascular health and fertility issues — are usually a by-product of aging.

This Women’s Day, let’s pledge to make our womenfolk more aware of health scares that are typical to them. With that in mind, stated below are the most common women’s health concerns that you should have an eye out for:

Common Women’s Health Problems:

1. Cardiovascular health issues

According to the Centres of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disorders are the primary killer among women, causing about 29-30% of the deaths annually, across the globe. Misdiagnosis (or untimely diagnosis) is a crucial reason behind the rising fatalities.

When one is experiencing a heart attack, the usual symptoms include a tightness in the chest and the left side becoming numb. However, symptoms vary across women, something that results in misdiagnosis.

Common symptoms

  • Jaw pain
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Shoulder ache
  • General discomfort (marked by shortness of breath).

Risk factors

  • Increasing age
  • Heredity
  • High blood pressure
  • High levels of cholesterol
  • Smoking
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity

How to prevent?

A healthy lifestyle is key. The idea is to incorporate regular exercise into one’s regimen coupled with a balanced diet consisting of both micro and macronutrients in the right amounts.

2. Breast cancer

Irrespective of age and race, breast cancer is the most common type of cancer affecting women, according to the CDC. While there are several factors that can lead to breast cancer, increasing age is a crucial link in most cases.

Common symptoms

  • A lump in the breast
  • Swelling (partially or of the whole breast) without any lump
  • Pain in the nipple and nipple discharge
  • Nipple turning inward (retraction of the nipple)
  • Breast skin appearing scaly or with a reddish tinge
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Risk factors

  • Increasing age
  • Genetic mutations
  • Personal or family history of breast cancer
  • Early onset of menstruation (before the age of 12)
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Obesity
  • Certain medications such as diethylstilboestrol (DES)

How to prevent?

Doctors generally advise getting mammograms done, once every year, after the age of 40. In a range of cases, mastectomy may not be needed if diagnosed on time. Besides, limiting alcohol consumption, quitting smoking, staying physically active, keeping weight in check, avoiding exposure to harmful radiations and limiting hormone therapy can help to reduce the risk factor to a great degree.

3. Mental health issues

One of the more common women’s health problems is depression. According to experts, anxiety, depressive disorders and bipolar disease seem to affect women more vis-à-vis men. Importantly, mental health disorders in women can also be tied to postpartum depression (occurring after childbirth) or hormonal changes occurring around menopause.

Common symptoms

  • Abrupt mood swings, loss of interest in routine activities that were once pleasurable, anxiety, general discontentment, hopelessness
  • Restlessness
  • Excessive crying
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Excessive sleep
  • Loss of appetite
  • Excessive hunger
  • Fatigue
  • Sudden weight gain or weight loss
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Lack of concentration

Risk factors

  • Past depressive disorders
  • History of depression in the family
  • History of cardiovascular disorders
  • Anxiety linked to substance abuse
  • Use of medicines for high blood pressure or seizures
  • Thyroid disease, vitamin deficiency and other diseases that trigger depression
  • Any stressful life event
  • History of anxiety disorders or eating disorders

How to prevent?

Visit a mental health professional immediately. It is advised to be honest with your symptoms as that will help the doctor prescribe the correct course of medications, antidepressants and therapy (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, for instance). Also, one should tell the doctor if she is or could get pregnant over the course of the treatment.

Experts say that mentally healthy adults, both men, and women, generally partake in nurturing relationships. It is advised to reach out to one’s community in case she does not have a caring relationship to fall back on.

4. Osteoporosis

One of the common women’s health concerns, osteoporosis is marked by brittle and weak bones. In severe (but rare) cases, bones can also break from minor bumps or even sneezing. However, in many cases, symptoms might not be apparent.

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In India, osteoporosis is a prevalent condition, affecting more than 10 million annually.

Common symptoms

  • Back pain, resulting from a collapsed vertebra
  • Shrinking of the body over time
  • Bones breaking easily
  • Stooped posture

Risk factors

  • Increasing age
  • Small frame
  • Ethnicity
  • History of osteoporosis in the family
  • Anorexia
  • Abrupt menstrual cycles and oestrogen imbalance during menopause
  • Deficiency of Vitamin D and calcium
  • Excessive alcohol consumption, smoking
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Use of medications including certain anticonvulsants and glucocorticoids

How to prevent?

Good nutrition habits and regular weight-bearing exercises can help to mitigate the risks of this particular women’s health concern. The key is to manage your weight and keep it within a healthy range. Being both underweight and overweight are the primary risk factors of this condition.

Doctors advise consuming calcium-fortified foods, including low-fat milk and other dairy products, green leafy vegetables, soy products and seafood like sardines and canned salmon. Also, Vitamin D is crucial for improving calcium absorption and bettering bone density. Aim for at least 20-30 minutes of sun exposure regularly.

5. Autoimmune disorders

These refer to a cluster of diseases where one’s immune system turns on the body and attacks tissues, altering their structure.

Chronic disorders clubbed under autoimmune diseases are multiple sclerosis (characterised by the immune system destroying the nerves’ protective sheath), type 1 diabetes (marked by the pancreas producing little insulin) and lupus (inflammatory disease characterised by rash, fatigue and joint pain).

Out of every 100 adults, 75 women are affected by autoimmune disorders. Research cannot put a finger on what causes one’s body to attack itself; however, hormonal, environmental and genetic factors are the chief suspects. In most cases, symptoms are not specific, and risk factors are difficult to point out.

In conclusion

For timely diagnosis of common women’s health issues, the key is to understand one’s body and work in tandem with doctors. It can help one to probe into factors such as family medical history and other typical risk factors that may not be generic after all.

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