What Worries Women Most About Their Health — and Why

5 minute read

By: Sheryl Kraft|Last updated: May 10, 2022
Medically reviewed by: Sharon D. Malone

Hiding in plain sight within the undisputable facts of life is the indubitable reality that we all worry.

We worry about our kids, our partners, our parents, our jobs — and our health. Indeed, you don’t have to be a major worrywart to think about What Might Go Wrong.

(A quick aside: Ever notice that in general, women worry more than men? Experts see it too and say it stems from gender differences in brain chemistry and hormonal fluctuations.)

Here, we break down the top five things we women worry about the most when it comes to our health — and as a bonus for reading all the way through, we’ll even share some ways to improve our health to we can all keep our worries at bay.

AW138 What Worries Women Most About Their Health — and Why (1) (photo showing woman outdoors at sunset in hoodie with her hand over her chest, eyes closed)

HEART DISEASE

The picture of a man having a heart attack while clutching his chest is so old school. First, women suffer from heart disease, too — in fact, just about as much as men. Second, the symptoms of heart disease can be quite different for women.

Why does heart disease top our list? Because it (and not breast cancer) is the no. 1 killer of women. And yet, research finds that as women, we tend to be both underdiagnosed, which is why it’s so important to know the symptoms of heart disease.

Chest pain? Yes, but not always. Sometimes, there are no signs of trouble at all. And symptoms can also include nausea or vomiting, pain in the neck, jaw, throat, upper abdomen or back or fatigue.

Reduce your risk with healthy food choices and plenty of physical activity. Also, your heart will love you for keeping your blood pressure, cholesterol, blood glucose, stress and alcohol consumption within decent levels.

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What Worries Women Most About Their Health — and Why

BREAST CANCER

The why’s and how’s of breast cancer can’t always be answered, since no one knows its exact causes. But two key factors of impact are gender and age. (Others include genetic mutations, having dense breasts and a strong family history).

The good news is that diagnosis and treatment have both become much more sophisticated and personalized in recent years, enabling more and more women to live longer lives, disease-free.

While you can’t change all the risk factors, there are some that are within your reach: Avoid weight gain, especially after menopause; stay physically active; limit your alcohol consumption and if you take hormones, talk to your doc about how long to stay on them.

OSTEOPOROSIS

Did you know that during the menopause transition, estrogen’s drop can contribute to osteoporosis?

Now that you know, trade in your worry for pro-active action: Get 1,200 mg of calcium each day through a combination of supplements and diet; maintain a healthy body weight, limit alcohol use and if you’re still smoking, toss the butts for good. And don’t neglect resistance and weight-training workouts, which can help rebuild bone and reduce the risk of fracture.

DEPRESSION

Lucky us: depression is more common for women than for men, and hormones (gotta love them!) are one main reason. Indeed, we’re at a higher risk for depression during menopause because our hormones are doing a wild dance, dipping our serotonin (the brain chemical that makes us feel happy) to how-low-can-you-go levels.

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Though you can’t just “snap out of it,” you can follow the advice we offer for the other health worries (a healthy diet, exercise and curbing alcohol can help). Getting a good night’s sleep, limiting caffeine and seeking help if life feels overwhelming are all steps you can take right now to help ease the burden of depression.

And here’s one major thing to feel good about: For many women, mood fluctuations will calm down once hormones level out.

AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE

It’s no coincidence you (or someone you know) knows a woman with lupus, multiple sclerosis (MS), rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease or 100-plus other autoimmune diseases. These conditions, where your immune system mistakenly attacks itself, are much more prevalent among women, sometimes because of changing hormone levels during perimenopause.

Some medical experts also link rising stress as triggering autoimmune diseases, while others blame smoking, environmental toxins, genetics and even our gut biome.

Scientific research and breakthroughs have made living a long, healthy life a reality for more people. It's important to make the best health choices you can along the way to ensure you can enjoy your later life.

Experts agree that for the vast majority of healthy women, supplementing your body's natural hormones is the safest and most effective treatment to ease the symptoms of menopause, including hot flashes and night sweats, and to prevent several major health issues that can develop as you age. Head to our product page to check out your options. A menopause-trained doctor will review your choices to make sure you get the right treatment.

Sources

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3939970/

  2. https://newsroom.clevelandclinic.org/2020/01/31/survey-many-dont-realize-heart-disease-is-1-killer-for-women-pkg/

  3. https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/women.htm

  4. https://www.heart.org/en/news/2020/02/19/what-women-need-to-know-about-breast-cancer-and-heart-disease

  5. https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/consumer-healthcare/what-is-cardiovascular-disease/heart-health-screenings

  6. https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/breast/basic_info/risk_factors.htm

  7. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/breast-cancer/symptoms-causes/syc-20352470

  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5643776/

  9. https://www.breastcancer.org/tips/menopausal/longterm_conc/bone_strength

  10. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/the-best-workouts-for-osteoporosis/

  11. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/can-menopause-cause-depression

  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7292717/

  13. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/autoimmune-disease-and-stress-is-there-a-link-2018071114230

  14. https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/whats-the-deal-with-autoimmune-disease

  15. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29920643/

Written by:

Sheryl Kraft

Sheryl Kraft is a seasoned freelance health writer, who writes, and is passionate about, healthy aging, wellness, fitness, nutrition and just about anything related to improving our lifestyle and personal health. Her work has been published widely in print and online outlets, including AARP, Parade, Family Circle, Weight Watchers, Spry, Prevention, WebMD, Everyday Health and many more. Sheryl lives in Fairfield County, CT., with husband Alan and new puppy Annie, and is the mother of two grown sons, Jonathan and Jeremy.

Medically reviewed by:

Sharon D. Malone

Dr. Sharon Malone is among the nation’s leading obstetrician / gynecologists with a focus on the specific health challenges associated with menopause.