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Your Health: Conditions That Affect Men and Women Differently

Reviewed on 7/22/2019

Heart Attack

Women are more likely to experience upper back pressure, jaw pain, and shortness of breath when they have a heart attack.

The telltale heart attack sign of feeling like there's an elephant sitting on your chest isn't as common in women as it is in men. Many women feel upper back pressure, jaw pain, and are short of breath. Or they may feel nauseated and dizzy instead. Though heart disease is the leading cause of death for both genders in the U.S., women are more likely to die after they have a heart attack.

Multiple Sclerosis

Men experience more severe symptoms of diseases that affect the immune system.

Diseases that affect the immune system are often more severe in men. For example, MS affects many more women than men overall, but when it comes to the progressive form (PPMS), men get it in equal numbers to women. PPMS tends to be harder to diagnose and treat than the relapsing remitting form of MS.

Stroke

Women are more likely than men to have unusual symptoms associated with stroke.

Nearly 55,000 more women than men have strokes each year in the U.S. Common symptoms are sudden weakness on one side, loss of speech and balance, and confusion. But women often have additional or different symptoms: fainting, agitation, hallucinations, vomiting, pain, hiccups, and seizures. Women typically have a worse recovery after a stroke, too.

STDs

STDs may have more serious consequences for women than for men.

Women are less likely to have symptoms with sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) like chlamydia and gonorrhea. STDs can also lead to chronic pelvic inflammatory disease in women, causing fertility issues. Men seldom have such complications. The human papillomavirus (HPV) is also the main cause of cervical cancer in women, but it doesn't pose a similar risk for men.

Hair Loss

Men are more likely to experience hair loss than women.

Men are far more likely to lose hair as they age than women. Some 40% of women will have hair thinning or hair loss, but 85% of men will have thinning hair by age 50. Men tend to lose hair in the same pattern -- their hairline goes farther and farther back. (This is called a receding hairline.) They may also get a bald spot on the crown of their head. Women have either thinning all over or random bald patches.

Acne

Women are more prone to acne than men due to fluctuating hormone levels.

Hormones are often to blame for acne. Because women's hormones shift during periods, pregnancy, and throughout menopause, they're more prone to adult acne than men. Treatment can vary based on your sex, too. Doctors tend to prescribe meds that control hormones, like birth control, for women. Creams that you rub onto your skin are more common for men.

Stress

Women may experience more physical symptoms of stress compared to men.

Women are more likely to say they're stressed than men. Both sexes feel anger, crankiness, and muscle tension at near the same rates from stress, but women more often say it causes a headache, upset stomach, or makes them feel like they need to cry. Men are less likely to feel physical symptoms during times of stress than women.

UTIs

Women get more UTIs than men but the condition is more complicated in men.

Although women tend to get urinary tract infections (UTIs) more often, men's UTIs are more complicated. They have different causes, too. Women most often get them because of bacteria from sex or poop (their urethra is shorter and closer to that area). Men's UTIs are more likely to arise from something that blocks their urine stream, like an enlarged prostate or kidney stones.

Pain

Women are more likely than men to experience chronic pain that doesn't respond to treatment.

More women live with chronic pain (pain that lasts longer than 6 months and doesn't seem to respond to treatment) than men. Their pain also tends to last longer and be more intense. Doctors are still trying to figure out why, but they think differences in hormones between the sexes may be to blame.

Osteoporosis

Women are more likely to get osteoporosis and the condition is often overlooked in men.

Because women are more likely to get osteoporosis, it's often overlooked in men. But men who have this lack of bone density and break a hip are twice as likely to die than women with osteoporosis who break a hip.

Your Health: Conditions That Affect Men and Women Differently

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