Originally published May 2020. Updated and medically reviewed on November 29, 2023 by Morgan Spicer, Medical Communications Manager. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.
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Women’s health is a broad category encompassing health issues that impact women and other people assigned female at birth (AFAB).  These health issues can range from abnormal menstruation to conditions such as diabetes.  Unfortunately, there are a few disadvantages that people AFAB need to be aware of when it comes to their health. Read on to learn more.
Research has uncovered some alarming gender disparities that greatly influence how women and other people assigned female at birth use healthcare and are treated in healthcare settings. Despite good intentions in many healthcare settings, a survey found that more than one-half of women believe gender discrimination in patient care is a serious problem.  About 20% of women report feeling as though a healthcare provider has ignored or dismissed their symptoms, and 18% feel they have been treated differently because of their gender.  When comparing treatment and outcomes, research shows that women are less likely to receive the same evidence-based care as men, which can result in poorer outcomes.  Research has also highlighted many health disparities impacting people of color and the LGBTQ+ community, including transgender, genderqueer, and nonbinary people. [3-4] By bringing awareness to unique health concerns and healthcare disparities, the hope is to encourage conversation, self-advocacy, and change.  Read more about the challenges of healthcare.
Heart disease refers to several different types of heart conditions. Symptoms of heart disease include a heart attack, arrhythmia, or heart failure.  Those who have high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, and other conditions are at a higher risk of heart disease.  According to the CDC, heart disease is the number one killer of women, accounting for nearly one in five deaths.  Additionally, a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association states that women are up to three times more likely to die following a serious heart attack than men as a result of receiving unequal care and treatment.  Fortunately, living a healthy lifestyle can help lower your risk for heart disease, according to the CDC. Healthy lifestyle habits include choosing healthy foods and drinks, getting regular physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight, and avoiding smoking. [6-7] The CDC also encourages managing any underlying conditions, such as diabetes, and to check and control your cholesterol and blood pressure. [6-7]
Did you know that there are more than 80 autoimmune diseases?  Autoimmune diseases refer to conditions in which the immune system attacks the body’s own healthy cells, tissues, and organs.  The causes of autoimmune diseases remain a mystery, although data suggests that genetic and environmental factors play a large role.  Research does show that autoimmune diseases are more prevalent in people assigned female at birth, with approximately 80% of all patients diagnosed with an autoimmune disease being women.  Women are also five to eight times more likely than men to have thyroid problems, and one in eight will develop a thyroid disorder during their lifetime, according to the American Thyroid Association (ATA).  Test your thyroid hormones at home >>
Stress is defined as a state of worry or mental tension caused by a difficult situation.  While the cause of stress may vary from person to person, everyone experiences stress to some degree.  How we work to combat and respond to stress can greatly influence health outcomes. For example, chronic stress can lead to back pain, skin issues, headaches, upset stomach, mental health conditions, difficulty sleeping, dietary changes, and more. [12-13] The Office on Women’s Health found that women are more likely than men (28% vs. 20%) to report experiencing a great deal of stress.  Women are also more likely to report feeling symptoms of stress, such as an upset stomach or headache. [12-13] Stress can also worsen some mental health conditions, such as depression or anxiety, which are more commonly seen in women.  If you are stressed and worried about your health, you should know that there are positive ways to manage your stress levels. Some options include [12-13]:
Infertility is defined as the inability to get pregnant after one year or longer of unprotected heterosexual sex.  In cisgender heterosexual couples, infertility may be tied to problems with female, male, or both partners. The unfortunate reality, however, is that the female partner tends to receive a lot of the blame.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 19% of people AFAB of reproductive age in the United States struggle with infertility, and about 26% of people have difficulty getting pregnant or carrying a pregnancy to term, which is known as impaired fecundity.  There are several factors that may increase someone’s risk of infertility, including age, smoking, excessive alcohol use, and emotional stress.  Research also shows that untreated sexually transmitted diseases (STDs, also called STIs) have caused infertility in more than 20,000 women a year.  Concerned about your fertility, reproductive hormone levels, or STD status? Browse Everlywell at-home tests or schedule a telehealth appointment with a provider. If you are struggling with infertility, speak with a provider about your options. Infertility can be treated with medicine, surgery, assisted reproductive technology, and other methods. 
Sexually transmitted infections impact everyone, but data does show that STIs can impact women differently from men in a variety of ways.  In the United States, women disproportionately bear the long-term consequences of STIs. For example, women are less likely than men to have symptoms of some common STIs, like chlamydia and gonorrhea.  This means that an STI may go undiagnosed and untreated for a longer period of time, increasing the likelihood of negative health outcomes. The female anatomy also puts people AFAB at an increased risk for sexually transmitted infection, making it easier for many pathogens to proliferate.  Lastly, the CDC reports that 80% of women will get at least one type of HPV at some point in their lifetime.  Certain types of HPV can progress to cancer (including cervical, anal, or oropharyngeal), but over 90% of cases are cleared by the body, and there are vaccines available to prevent infection from several high-risk strains.  Take the at-home HPV test >>
Research shows that women and other people assigned female at birth may be at an increased risk of some conditions and are disproportionately impacted by some issues. While some factors are out of our hands, there are some things we can do to promote healthy outcomes. If you’re looking for some guidance, Everlywell provides a range of home tests to help you gauge your health and provide you with actionable next steps for many areas of women’s health, including Heart Health, Thyroid, Fertility, and HPV. You can also connect with a healthcare provider online through telehealth visits. Take control of your health today!