Increasingly, medical researchers are finding that when it comes to the health and well-being of men and women, there is indeed a difference. That’s why it’s important to find trusted sources of information that report the latest health findings and directives geared specifically toward women.
It's important to differentiate between men’s and women’s health issues because women face a variety of health concerns during their lives that men do not. Women are also at higher risk for many shared conditions, such as heart disease, osteoporosis, depression and sexually transmitted diseases. Awareness of these health challenges is important, as knowledge is the first step toward prevention and treatment.
- Health news sites such as HealthScout and ScienceDaily have pages devoted to women’s health where you can keep up with the latest headlines.
For health differences between women and men …
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
, a division of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, has a “Women’s Health” section that provides extensive information written specifically for women on issues like medications, breast cancer surgery, smoking cessation and more.
In many cases, disease prevention starts with taking care of you. That includes having a healthy diet, getting enough sleep and exercising regularly. Though these things might not sound difficult to do, the reality is that with all the daily pressures women face, it’s not always easy to take care of the little things. In this section learn about the elements of wellness and how to make sure they’re part of your routine.
For fitness and physical activity …
The National Women’s Health Information Center
has a “Frequently Asked Questions” page about physical activity. According to the site, being active has a number of benefits: it can help you deal with stress, have more energy, sleep better, look better and have less anxiety. Regular physical activity can also lower your risk for a variety of medical problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, depression and bone fractures. This page also describes how much activity women need, how they can prevent injuries and offers tips to get started.
The Center for Young Women’s Health
at Children’s Hospital Boston has worksheets young girls can fill out to learn what motivates them, and to keep track of their exercise progress. Complete the first worksheet by filling in what motivates you to become fit, what you do already and your fitness goals. The second worksheet offers activity ideas.
For nutrition …
The National Women’s Health Information Center
has an excellent nutrition overview that discusses the benefits of a healthy diet and the components of good nutrition. This page, in question-and-answer format, also explains the good and bad types of fat, offers portion size guidelines and defines terms such as fat free, low fat and cholesterol free.
has an article that describes six “super foods” women need, and how they help. Learn why low-fat yogurt, beans and berries are among the top foods that can help keep a woman healthy.
For nutrition advice for girls and teens …
was developed by students and faculty at Brandeis University. Read about the nutritional needs
of a woman in her late teens and early 20s, get healthy food tips or find a dietician. The information is useful but be aware that some of the interactive tool links below the pyramid are broken.
A woman’s reproductive health can have a profound influence on her well-being. These sites discuss different aspects of reproduction, such as the conditions that can affect the uterus, fertility, birth control, pregnancy and menopause.
- Even if having children isn’t in your plans, it’s important to keep your reproductive system healthy. According to the Cleveland Clinic, regular screenings and treating diseases are important for good health.
For birth control and emergency contraception …
has a comprehensive guide to birth control that can help a woman select a birth control method that is comfortable and fits her lifestyle. The specific types are described in-depth, along with the pros and cons of each method.
has a page for teens that describes the effectiveness of different birth control methods, and links to more in-depth descriptions of them. Of 100 couples who use birth control pills, for example, only five to eight will get pregnant in a year; 85 of 100 couples who use no contraception will become pregnant in a year.
Our Bodies Ourselves
explains the different types of emergency contraception available and has a question and answer section. Our Bodies Ourselves is a Boston-based nonprofit organization that publishes a women’s health book of the same name.
For abortion …
presents an excerpt from a pamphlet put out by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Read about the different types of medical and surgical abortion procedures, and some of the complications that can occur.
For teens and STDs …
has a page that describes what sexually transmitted diseases and infections are; why they are dangerous; and how they are spread. Sexual activity at a young age and unprotected sex are two factors that increase a person’s chance of getting an STI or STD. Scroll down the page for links that describe specific conditions.
For cervical cancer …
The American Cancer Society
has an in-depth cervical cancer guide. Besides describing the disease, the guide also addresses causes, prevention, diagnosis and the variety of standard, complementary and alternative treatments available for it; use the links on the right to access these topics.
For uterine conditions …
has an interactive tutorial on endometriosis that covers what it is and how it’s caused, diagnosed and treated. The tutorial is also available in a PDF
Osteoporosis is one of many conditions that are more likely to affect women than men. With other conditions, women have different symptoms than men. Learn more about common conditions and how they can affect women in this section.
- Many of the topics addressed below do not appear exclusively in women, but rather affect women in different ways than they do men. Some occur in women with greater frequency, such as multiple sclerosis, whereas others may have symptoms that are specific to women.
- For more information on reproductive health issues, such as uterine cancer, endometriosis or sexually transmitted infections, see this guide’s “Reproductive Health” section.
For cardiovascular disease …
The National Women's Health Information Center
provides an explanation of heart disease and how to prevent it, as well as important information on issues specifically for women, such as how birth control pills, the birth control patch and hormone replacement therapy can affect your risk of heart disease.
is the online home of the National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease, and has the latest heart news and cardiac information (such as conditions, treatments, facts and stats) as well as advice on keeping fit and healthy. Stop by the “Get Support” section for support networks, an online community, personal stories from those with heart disease and an area especially for friends and family of women suffering with it.
The Cleveland Clinic
hosts the Center for Women and Heart Failure whose “goal is to focus more attention on women in heart failure research so that we can eventually tailor therapy to meet individual needs.” The Web site examines the heart failure issues specific to women as well as causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and the prognosis/outlook for the future.
For heart attacks …
has an article “Women and Coronary Artery Disease” that points out that coronary artery disease is the number one killer of women in the United States. The article deftly illustrates why it is so important for women to learn about this disease, and it goes on to discuss the factors that lead to coronary heart disease in women, what women can do to prevent the disease and what medications are commonly prescribed. Another article, “Her Guide to a Heart Attack: Recognizing Female Heart Attack Symptoms
” says that women have more unrecognized heart attacks, and their symptoms are sometimes different from men’s.
has an article on the risks of heart attacks in women. While the WebMD article focuses more on symptoms and misdiagnosis in women, MedicineNet acknowledges these factors and goes on to discuss treatment options as well as the correlation between estrogen levels and coronary heart disease in women.
For hypertension …
The American Heart Association
has specialized hypertension information for women. Learn what blood pressure is, what the different levels mean and how your blood pressure is affected if you're taking the contraceptive pill, are pregnant, overweight, postmenopausal, African American or have a family with a history of high blood pressure.
For hair loss in women …
has an article titled, "Women and Hair Loss: The Causes," that explains the difference between male and female pattern hair loss, the physiological process that can cause hair to stop growing back regularly, the change that has occurred in the medical community in regard to the perceived causes of female hair loss, and some of the possible medical conditions (such as polycystic ovary syndrome) that may cause female hair loss.
Men and women both suffer from emotional and psychological problems, though women are diagnosed with anxiety disorders and depression more often than men, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, a health policy organization. Below are links to learn about common mental health disorders. Domestic violence prevention resources can also be found in this section. Women who are in abusive situations are at risk for depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health issues according to the National Women’s Health Information Center.
- Depression is a treatable, common illness and not “female weakness” or a “normal part of being a woman,” according to Mental Health America.
For depression …
The National Institute of Mental Health
has an overview of how depression can affect women starting in adolescence and on throughout their lives. Discover how life events, such as marriage, having children, living in poverty, suffering abuse and even cultural differences, can influence a woman’s risk for experiencing clinical depression.
For violence prevention …
The National Women’s Health Information Center
has an extensive site that discusses violence against women and how to prevent it. NOTE: The site warns women who may be in an abusive situation that their computer use can be tracked. It’s impossible to completely erase sites that have been visited. If you’re in an abusive situation, use another computer, such as at a library, friend’s house or school computer lab to explore this site safely. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is 800-799-7233, or for the TTY line, 800-787-3224. Learn the signs of abuse
and ways to stop it
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