Which Medical Conditions or Maladies Are Exclusive to Women?

Women Health

Being a woman is a boon as well as a bane. It is a boon because we are the gender privileged with the ability to bring new life into the world. However, with all the medical conditions and maladies that we have to go through, being a woman can sometimes feel like a bane. Armed with the proper knowledge about these maladies, you will be able to seek treatment early and avoid complications.

Broadly speaking, these women-specific health issues can be classified into:

  • Gynaecological disorders which are generally related to:
      • Menstrual irregularities resulting from changes brought about in a woman’s menstrual cycle and symptomized by
      • Urinary Tract irregularities, which generally refers to either of the two conditions of
        • Infections of the urinary tract symptomized by a burning sensation while urinating and sometimes accompanied with fever; and
        • Urinary incontinence where the capacity to hold urine decreases, resulting in frequent urinations or urine leakage.
      • Disorders of the pelvic girdle occurring primarily due to the weakening of the muscles of the pelvic region. This can result in
        • Urine incontinence with or without
        • Faecal incontinence and
        • Pelvic organ prolapse.
      • Other disorders such as
        • Bacterial vaginosis, which generally occurs in women who have already reached reproductive age. It results in an increased vulnerability to sexually transmitted diseases and may also be the reason behind premature labour.
        • Vaginitis, which is a relatively common disorder of women and is accompanied by painful itching and burning during discharge and a typically bad odour. These symptoms occur due to the inflammation of the vagina and, when found in pregnant women, can induce preterm birth.
        • Uterine fibroids are common non-cancerous tumours found in the uterus of mature women and result in excessive pain and abnormally heavy bleeding during menstruation.
        • Vulvodynia, which results in chronic pain in the vulva accompanied by a feeling of discomfort.
      • Pregnancy issues which relate to disorders occurring primarily due to
        • Not receiving proper preconception and prenatal care;
        • Miscarriage or stillbirth;
        • Going into preterm labour resulting in a premature delivery; and
        • Not being able to breastfeed a new-born properly, resulting in accumulation of milk in the breasts, and making them feel painfully sore and sensitive to touch.
    • Infertility disorders which result in women not being able to conceive normally. This is generally the effect of certain disorders of the reproductive system which prevent pregnancy, such as
      • Uterine fibroids;
      • Polycystic ovary or PCOS which results from certain female hormonal imbalances and also affects the general metabolism of women;
      • Endometriosis, a condition in which uterine tissue which should normally grow within the uterus, grows outside it, resulting in pain in the pelvic region and infertility; and
      • Primary ovarian insufficiency which refers to a condition where ovaries stop their normal functioning even before reaching 40 years of age. This condition has several side-effects including
        • Irregular periods with complete absence of the monthly cycle in some cases;
        • Difficulty in conceiving which also causes an adverse effect on a women’s psychological or emotional health; and
        • Osteoporosis, which results in the weakening of the bones, especially in the region of joints etc.
      • Other women-exclusive disorders are
        • Turner Syndrome which is a result of a chromosomal problem where one X chromosome is partially or wholly missing from the DNA structure of a woman. This absence of the chromosome has adverse physical and psychological effects and causes
          • Absolute infertility with total absence of the menstrual cycle and no development of breasts;
          • Heart ailments and diabetes;
          • Lowering of the levels of thyroid hormone; and
          • Alters a woman’s appearance.
        • Rett Syndrome, also a genetic disorder, which affects the neurological development of girls. It is a disorder primarily affecting the grey matter present in the brain and is sometimes confused with autism due to the similarity of symptoms.
        • Cancers of the ovary and the cervix, both of which cause pain in the pelvic region and excessive vaginal bleeding. Other individual symptoms include
          • Increased vaginal discharge and pains during intercourse in cervical cancer; and
          • Urinary incontinence, bloated abdomen with persistent pain, faecal incontinence etc., are symptoms associated with ovarian cancer.
        • Menopause, which refers to a stage in a woman’s life where she loses her ability to reproduce and completely stops menstruating. This is a natural part of life and not a disorder in itself, but due to lesser production of the female sex hormones Oestrogen and Progesterone, women go through a transition phase which might result in the occurrence of symptoms like hot flashes, vaginal dryness, urinary incontinence, dryness of mouth, eyes and skin, insomnia etc.

Please don’t be overly worried about this list of maladies – you may well not be troubled by any of them in your life, some women even go through menopause without problems. But, by becoming more aware and informed of the symptoms, you’ll be better able to identify them if they do occur. Remember to seek medical attention early if you suffer from any of these symptoms. Stay healthy – stay strong!