Ovarian cancer, menopause and the health changes of pregnancy are just a few of the health concerns that women face. Other health issues can affect both men and women but occur more frequently in women, such as breast cancer, depression and osteoporosis.
One of the most prevalent women's health issues is breast cancer. This form of cancer, which affects one in every eight women, is the second leading cancer killer among women, preceded only by lung cancer. Women also run the risk for other cancers that are unique to them, such as ovarian and uterine cancers.
Some women's health issues are experienced by almost all women. Pregnancy, for example, creates a number of changes to the body as a woman prepares to give birth. And women go through menopause at some point in their lives, when their menstrual periods stop and a number of other changes begin to take place in the body.
Though the bone disease osteoporosis affects both men and women, eight of every 10 cases of osteoporosis occur in women. This is partially due to the hormonal changes that occur during menopause. Some mental health issues are also more common in women than in men. Women are twice as likely as men to develop depression, and women are also at risk for unique mental disorders such as premenstrual syndrome and postpartum depression, which can develop after giving birth to a child. Women also are more likely to be in abusive relationships and have violence committed against them by a spouse or another member of their household.
Though many women's health issues are unique, some of the general tips for preserving good health into old age are the same for women as they are for men. This includes maintaining a healthy weight, eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly and abstaining from smoking. Having a good relationship with a trusted health care provider is also very important. This helps ensure that women get the care, physical exams and screenings that they need as they age.
SOURCES: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; U.S. Office on Women's Health; U.S. National Cancer Institute; Mental Health America; American Heart Association