Even though both women and men are susceptible to many different health conditions, some health issues either affect women only, or they affect women more than men. Some of these issues are often a result of the aging process, including breast cancer, heart health issues and fertility issues.
According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the number one cause of death in women. Cardiovascular disease kills one in five women every year.
Part of the issue with the prevalence of women’s heart disease may be misdiagnosis. Women experience different heart attack symptoms than men. Many men will feel the left side of their bodies go numb and their chests will tighten. However, many women may not experience chest pain as a heart attack symptom, but they may experience jaw pain.
You can help prevent heart disease with regular cardiovascular health screenings. An annual physical exam with a blood pressure test and a cholesterol screening once every 4-6 years can help detect cardiovascular disease before it becomes serious. Your doctor
According to the CDC, more women are diagnosed with breast cancer than any other cancer. Breast cancer may have many different causes, but age is the biggest risk factor.
Early detection may be the most crucial part of treating breast cancer. You should receive annual mammograms once you turn 40, or earlier if your doctor recommends mammograms based on your family history of breast cancer.
If you have a family or personal history of breast cancer, your insurance policy may cover genetic testing for the BRCA-1 and BRCA-2 gene mutations that indicate an increased risk for breast cancer.
The American Cancer Society predicts that over 13,000 new cases of cervical cancer will be diagnosed in 2019. Cervical cancer is most commonly diagnosed in women 35-44, and those women are most commonly Hispanic.
In order to help prevent cervical cancer, you should receive a Pap smear every three years. Your doctor may recommend more frequent Pap tests if you’re at a higher risk for cervical cancer. Safe sex practices, abstaining from smoking, and HPV vaccinations can also help prevent cervical cancer.
According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, osteoporosis affects almost 30 million women. You are more likely to get osteoporosis as you age, and white women receive osteoporosis diagnoses more than any other race.
You can help prevent osteoporosis by eating a healthy diet that’s high in calcium-rich foods and engaging in weight-bearing exercise. Talk to your doctor about your risk of developing osteoporosis and what you can do to avoid issues.
Metabolic syndrome is a term for health markers such as obesity, hypertension, dyslipidemia and glucose intolerance, rather than a disease. According to the Mayo Clinic, these health markers could mean that you have an elevated risk of developing serious health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.
Mental Health Issues
According to the Office of Women’s Health, mental health conditions including anxiety, depression, and bipolar disease show up in women more than men. Mental health issues may affect women more than men because women can develop postpartum depression and depression related to menstruation.
Many mental health issues can be diagnosed and treated. Mental health screenings may be a part of your annual physical exam, but you may have to ask. See your doctor if you experience symptoms of depression or anxiety such as disinterest in normally enjoyable activities or a general fear of something you can’t label.
Issues With Fertility
According to the CDC, about 10 percent of women have difficulty getting pregnant and/or staying pregnant. Many women who struggle with fertility issues may have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or other condition that affects the reproductive system, but sometimes there is no explanation.
Many conditions that cause infertility may not be preventable because they’re hereditary. Sometimes they’re difficult to diagnose. However, some infertility causes are treatable. See your doctor if you have a history of irregular or painful periods, pelvic inflammatory disease, multiple miscarriages, or if you’ve had cancer or endometriosis.
Autoimmune diseases are typically hereditary. Women within the same family may suffer from different autoimmune diseases, but they all have a genetic disposition toward illnesses related to the autoimmune system such as Rheumatoid Arthritis and lupus.
According to the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA), 75 percent of people diagnosed with autoimmune diseases are women.
Autoimmune diseases may not be preventable, but the symptoms can be managed. Your doctor may refer you to a specialist if you display autoimmune disease symptoms.
Preventive Services With Medicare
The likelihood of developing many common women’s health problems such as breast cancer and osteoporosis increases with age, and Medicare offers preventive services to anyone who is eligible. Original Medicare is the health insurance program the federal government created in 1965 to provide coverage for people after they retired.
You can receive a Welcome to Medicare assessment in your first year of coverage. The Welcome to Medicare exam includes a personal and family medical history evaluation, and documenting your current health conditions and prescriptions. Your doctor will also check your blood pressure and make sure you’re current with cancer screenings and immunizations. Your doctor will also order additional screenings if you need them.
You can make an Annual Wellness Visit every year after your first year. Annual Wellness Visits include many of the same preventive screenings as the Welcome to Medicare visit, but they can serve as a roadmap for ongoing treatment plans.
Medicare covers one mammogram every year, and one clinical breast exam every two years. Women who are at a higher risk of developing breast cancer can receive an annual clinical breast exam.
Medicare will pay for one pelvic exam and Pap smear every two years. If you have a high risk of developing cervical cancer, you can get those tests once a year.
Work With Your Doctor
Some conditions that affect women can be prevented or treated. One of the most important things you can do for your health is to have regular health screenings with your doctor, who can diagnose health concerns or refer you to a specialist. Your doctor can diagnose or treat your health conditions if preventive visits are a regular part of your healthcare routine.