In the quest for gender equality, pure biology rules out one area where men and women are the same: health. While men and women do suffer from some of the same health problems and diseases, others affect one gender disproportionately or don’t affect one gender at all. The reasons might be anatomical differences or behaviors more common to men and women. Plus, medical research hasn’t always included women as a part of the studied population.

Although women, in general, live longer than men do, that doesn’t mean they’re healthier. Men have some misconceptions about women’s health, as any woman who’s despaired at hearing a man say, “Oh, it’s just that time of the month,” will understand. This list covers essential details about women’s health than men, which some women or non-binary people might not understand.

Women Aren’t Taken Seriously in the Emergency Room

A long-held systematic belief suggests that women complain more about pain and have a lower pain tolerance than men. Research shows that the healthcare system maintains that bias. Healthcare providers are more likely to discount a woman’s verbal description of pain instantly and treat women less aggressively. Women also wait longer in the emergency room for the same symptoms. Nationally, men with abdominal pain wait an average of 49 minutes while women wait 65 minutes.

Large Breasts Can Cause Debilitating Back Pain

Breasts can cause a wide array of pain and inconvenience to women in their daily lives. Cup sizes D or larger can cause upper back pain by altering the spine’s curvature, with the excess weight resulting in severe and chronic back pain, poor posture, and spinal deformity. Bra straps also dig into shoulders, and women with larger breasts cannot comfortably participate in some activities. In severe cases, breast reduction surgery eases back pain and might be a woman’s only option for a permanent solution.

Excessive Menstrual Bleeding Affects Millions

Excessive menstrual bleeding, known medically as menorrhagia, affects nine to fourteen percent of women of reproductive age in North America. Menorrhagia often goes undiagnosed and untreated because women consider it a heavy period rather than a medical issue. This excessive bleeding can cause anemia. One study found that women suffering from menorrhagia had a significantly lower quality of life, mainly due to decreased physical function and fatigue, not to mention the increased cost for feminine products. These periods aren’t a minor inconvenience that only lasts a couple of days.

Urinary Tract Infections Are Incredibly Uncomfortable and Common

Women are much more likely to have a urinary tract infection than men, about eight times more likely. Women have shorter urethras, making it easier for bacteria to reach the bladder. Intimate relations can lead to bacteria entering the urethra. After a woman has one UTI, she’s more likely to get another one. UTIs can be very uncomfortable. Symptoms include a burning sensation when urinating and a persistent need to urinate. UTIs can lead to serious problems, like permanent kidney damage and sepsis, which could be life-threatening if left untreated. That’s why some women insist on going to the bathroom after intimate relations.

Women Are More Affected By Certain Mental Illnesses

Women are much more likely than men to be diagnosed with certain common mental illnesses, like anxiety, depression, and PTSD. Women are about forty percent more likely than men to develop depression and twice as likely to develop PTSD. While the exact reasons for the increased risk are unknown, possible factors include stress and trauma. With one in four women facing assault, violence against women could be a massive reason behind mental illness. Women also have lower socioeconomic status and regularly face discrimination. Pregnancy and parenting are also possible causes since forty-one percent of women experience postpartum depression.

Birth Control Can Lower Cancer Risks and Ease Period Pain

Birth control pills offer several health benefits to women beyond contraception. The medication can reduce menstrual pain and cramps, stabilize irregular periods, reduce the risk of certain cancers, clear up acne, and reduce cysts in the breasts and ovaries. Birth control can also prevent anemia. Fifty-eight percent of American women on birth control rely on it for more than contraception, with fourteen percent using it exclusively for non-contraceptive reasons. Thousands of young women who have never slept with anyone use the pill for these benefits.

Many Women Are Anemic and Don’t Know It

Anemia is caused by decreased hemoglobin levels in red blood cells. Women are at a greater risk of iron deficiency and anemia, particularly pregnant or of reproductive age. Heavy bleeding during periods causes a lot of red blood cells and is a significant factor in the higher incidence of anemia in women. An estimated twenty percent of women of childbearing age have iron-deficiency anemia. Because the symptoms of anemia can be mild or chalked up to other causes, it’s often left untreated. If left untreated too long, anemia can cause heart problems and pregnancy complications.

HPV is the Leading Cause of Cervical Cancer

HPV, or human papillomavirus, is the most common sexually transmitted infection, with approximately eighty percent of intimately active people having it at some point in their lives. While HPV is more prevalent in men, it doesn’t pose a significant health risk to women as it does to men. Most women who get HPV will not get cervical cancer, but almost all cervical cancer cases are caused by HPV. The disease often has no signs or symptoms, making it difficult to diagnose. A vaccine is available for HPV, and the CDC recommends 11 to 12-year-old girls get two doses of it to prevent cancer.

Women’s health is a lot more complicated than it may seem. Most men assume that women only deal with their periods once a month, and the pain isn’t that bad. However, some women have horrible cramps that make it hard to function from day to day while on their periods. Instead of assuming that women can handle the pain of everything they go through, men should try to be a little more sympathetic and understand women’s health and the issues that come with it.

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