A Woman’s Perspective: Unhealthy Outlook for Women Worldwide
This past week we celebrated International Women’s Day. Taking center stage in our thoughts
that day was the empowerment and rights of women, as well as the noteworthy achievements
of women throughout the world, past and present. With the importance of that day still in
thought, I feel the urge to rebuild awareness of global health risks and concerns still facing women
today. Although the severity and pervasiveness vary from country to country, it is troubling for medical
practitioners to know certain factors negatively influencing women’s health on a global level still
exist. The good news is that many of the leading threats to women’s health are preventable —
requiring only access to screenings, education, and health-care services.
On a global level, while many health risks and conditions are the same for men and women — some health risks affect women more severely than men, and some primarily affect women:
• The effect of sexually transmitted diseases, STDs, and sexually transmitted infections, STIs, on women are generally more serious than on men. STDs and STIs often go untreated in women because of less obvious symptoms. Studies show this can lead to infertility in women.
• Although heart disease is the leading cause of death for women and men worldwide, women are more likely to die following a heart attack than men, in part because women more often delay seeking emergency care and more often delay treatments to control their cholesterol levels.
• Globally, more women are diagnosed annually with depression than men. Evidence suggests women are more prone to experience depression, somatic complaints, and anxiety. Further, according to a recent survey by the American Psychological Association, stress has been shown to reduce a woman’s chance of becoming pregnant.
• More women are at risk of developing breast cancer during their lifetime than men. Researchers have concluded less than 1 percent of all breast, carcinomas occur in men.
• While stroke risk factors for men and women include a family history of stroke, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, data shows more women than men suffer from strokes each year. Some risk factors for strokes that are unique to women include taking birth control pills, being pregnant, having frequent migraine headaches, and having high blood fat levels.
• While men are more likely than women to become dependent on and addicted to alcohol, studies show the health effects of alcoholism and alcohol abuse are more serious in women when signs of addiction are present. These health effects include increased heart disease risk, breast cancer risk, and fetal alcohol syndrome risk.
• Arthritis, the leading cause of physical disability globally, affects more women than men.
• Women are more likely than men are to experience urinary tract problems.