Unique Women’s Health Concerns

Women face health concerns unique to their gender, such as gynecological conditions, pregnancy and childbirth. Even diseases that affect both men and women can present differently in women, making diagnosis and treatment more difficult.

For example, heart disease symptoms may appear differently in women than men, leading to underdiagnosis. And certain autoimmune diseases are more common in women.

Breast Cancer

Breast cancer develops when cells in the mammary glands grow abnormally. It can be successfully treated if detected early on.

Women are more likely than males to develop breast cancer. A lump in the breast or nipple, a lump that feels firm and painful, or unusual discharge from the nipple are all symptoms.

In addition to breast cancer, gynecological cancers, such as endometrial, ovarian and cervical cancer, are more common in women. Fortunately, these types of cancer can be detected early and often with regular screenings. Proper treatment, including surgery and hormone therapy, can manage these conditions. Women can often reduce risk by practicing good hygiene and avoiding certain habits.


The menopausal transition occurs in middle age and is triggered by changes in hormone levels. Women can experience many symptoms, including hot flashes, night sweats and vaginal dryness, reduced sex drive and insomnia, and aches and pains. In addition, the risk of bone loss and osteoporosis increases. Decreased estrogen levels may cause the uterus, bladder or urethra to protrude into the vagina (incontinence).

All women will experience the menopausal transition differently, and treatment options are available to alleviate discomfort. Women need to seek help when symptoms interfere with their daily life, as it will improve their quality of life. This fact sheet refers to cisgender women, but transgender people also experience these symptoms.

Preconception Care

Many women may not realize that certain health conditions and risk factors can affect a pregnancy. These include diet, lifestyle, medications, and chronic diseases like diabetes.

Preconception care (PCC) focuses on optimizing the patient and partner’s health and well-being before pregnancy and improving pregnancy outcomes through identifying medical, psychosocial, and behavioral risks that could impact future pregnancies. This is also offered by an abortion clinic Houston. Family physicians are well-positioned to provide this important service.

Every woman of reproductive age should be recommended to take 400 micrograms of folic acid every day. This will aid in the prevention of significant congenital brain and spine abnormalities. Sexually transmitted illnesses (STIs) such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis should also be tested. Tobacco users should be urged to quit smoking before trying to conceive since the risk of bad perinatal outcomes increases with each pack-year of consumption.


Fertility problems affect about 10% to 15% of couples trying to conceive. Being diagnosed with infertility may turn what should be a joyful moment into a stressful one, especially when determining the cause can be challenging.

If a woman has been trying to conceive for a year or more (or six months if she is over 35), she should consult a doctor. They also should seek help earlier if they have painful periods, have a history of miscarriage, or have other symptoms such as endometriosis or pelvic pain.

Treatment for fertility problems can include drugs or assisted reproductive technology. Some medicines can have side effects, including ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome and multiple births. Many people can successfully conceive after getting treatment. However, they should get counseling if they have emotional distress and are struggling to cope with the challenges of infertility.


Obesity is a global women’s health issue, with 15% of women globally living with the condition.2 Obesity is an abnormally excessive adipose tissue accumulation that poses health risks. The causes of obesity are complex, and comorbidities include gastrointestinal and liver disease, kidney disease, obstructive sleep apnea, and venous thromboembolism.3 Pregnancy in women with obesity is associated with increased rates of gynecologic malignancies, and accommodations are needed to ensure preventive health screenings and gynecological outcomes for obese women.

A multifactorial, neurobehavioral disorder, obesity should be treated with an emphasis on health optimization rather than weight loss. Women with obesity should be screened for depression and given appropriate support and treatment.