Women's Health & Issues Guides & Articles

Kaia Koglin
Last updated:
Erin George, MFT
Medical Editor

What Is Women's Health?

Women’s health primarily refers to the treatment, screening, and prevention of health issues that are unique to women and people assigned female at birth (AFAB). These issues include:

  • Gynecological health, such as menstruation
  • Pregnancy
  • Fertility issues
  • Reproductive health, including birth control and abortion
  • Breast care

It also examines the way certain health conditions impact men and women differently. For example, men experience different heart attack symptoms than women, and women’s symptoms aren’t as well-known. This has led to higher rates of heart attack death in women than men. 1 In some cases, women require different treatments for ailments than men.

From a more systemic point of view, women’s health is concerned with the impacts that gender inequality has on health. Research has found that across all diseases, it takes doctors longer to diagnose women than men. 2 Numerous studies also show that doctors treat pain differently between men and women. 3 Doctors are more likely to see women’s pain as psychological rather than physical. 4

For many years, researchers conducted medical studies on male animals and male cells. This has contributed to female health problems as less is known about women's bodies. Poverty can also have an impact on female health. Girls who are unable to purchase menstrual products are likely to skip school. 5 Likewise, 36% of period-insecure women skip work, adding to mental and financial stress. 6 Poor menstrual hygiene also increases the risk of urinary or reproductive tract infections and pelvic inflammatory disease. 7

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How to Find Help Treating Women’s Health Problems
in Female

When it comes to healthcare, some problems are universal; however, there are other issues that affect women only or that affect women at much higher rates than they do men. According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the leading killer of women and causes the death of one in three women each year. […]

Female-Specific Health Problem Symptoms, Causes and Effects
in Female

Women’s health problems are often misunderstood, and many women don’t get the medical attention they need and deserve because there is simply not enough information available to them. To take control of your health, it is important to first understand the various health issues affecting women at various stages of life. What Are the Types […]

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Living With: Menopause
in Female

Menopause occurs after a woman has her last menstrual cycle. Both menopause and the time preceding it cause significant physical changes in a woman’s body. Women can decrease the undesirable effects of menopause by taking medication, undergoing therapy, and making behavioral changes. Symptoms Most women experience menopause between the ages of 48 and 55. Perimenopause […]

Living With: Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder
in Cognitive

Sharing a life and a home with someone who has premenstrual dysphoric disorder can be a challenge if you are unprepared. The symptoms of PMDD, if left untreated, can be disruptive to the sufferer’s life and the lives of everyone she lives with. Fortunately, there are studies, treatments and support to help everyone cope with […]

Living With: Postpartum Depression
in Depression

What is Postpartum Depression? There are two forms of postpartum depression. The first form is postpartum or maternity blues, which is a mild mood condition that lasts for a short time. A more severe form, called postpartum major depression, is a serious, potentially life-threatening condition. How Can I Recognize Postpartum Blues? The postpartum blues have […]

Depression in Women
in Depression

One in four women will experience an episode of depression at least once in their lives. Depression affects men at a much lower rate. However, many experiences unique to women, such as menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause, trigger depressive episodes. Depression Caused by Menstruation Some women experience severe symptoms of depression before they start menstruating each […]

Living With: Depression During Pregnancy
in Depression

Depression during pregnancy is a very difficult and sensitive subject. Statistics from the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists suggest that between 14 and 23 percent of women suffer from some form of depression during pregnancy. There are many questions that the pregnant woman and her family must struggle with. Is she truly suffering from […]

What Is Menopause?

Menopause is a female health issue that affects nearly all women. It's a natural part of aging that signals the end of a woman’s reproductive years and is caused by a decline in the female hormones estrogen and progesterone that begins at around 40 to 50 years of age. The average age of menopause in the United States is 51. 8

Technically, menopause occurs 12 months after a woman’s last period. The time before menopause is known as perimenopause. It can begin as much as 8-10 years before menopause as the ovaries gradually produce less estrogen. Women begin experiencing symptoms during this time.

Postmenopause covers the rest of the woman’s life. Symptoms can continue for a decade or longer, but most decrease after menopause. Postmenopausal women are at increased risk for several health conditions, including osteoporosis and heart disease. A health care professional can offer advice to reduce these risks.

Signs of Menopause

Signs of menopause include:

  • Hot flashes
  • Night sweats
  • Vaginal dryness that can cause pain during intercourse
  • Urgent need to urinate
  • Insomnia
  • Emotional changes, such as irritability, mood swings, and depression
  • Dry skin, eyes, and mouth
  • Breast tenderness
  • Worsening of premenstrual syndrome symptoms (PMS)
  • Irregular periods
  • Periods that are lighter or heavier than usual

Some symptoms can be disruptive to everyday life. Hormonal and nonhormonal treatments are available to help ease these symptoms.

What Is Postpartum Depression?

Postpartum depression (PPD) is a form of depression that occurs after childbirth. It’s a serious mental illness that affects approximately 1 in 7 women. 9 Scientists are unsure about what causes PPD, but it may have something to do with changing hormone levels after childbirth.

PPD can make it difficult for women to take care of themselves and their new babies. It’s important for a woman who shows signs of PPD to see a health care provider for diagnosis and treatment.

Signs of Postpartum Depression in Women

The "baby blues" are normal for new parents. Taking care of an infant can bring mood swings, crying spells, anxiety, and difficulty sleeping. These symptoms generally last a few weeks. PPD is more intense and lasts longer. It usually develops a few weeks after giving birth, but can also begin during pregnancy or up to a year after childbirth.

Symptoms of PPD include:

  • Depressed mood 
  • Severe mood swings
  • Difficulty bonding with the baby
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Loss of appetite or eating more than usual
  • Insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Fear about not being a good mother
  • Thoughts of harming self or the baby

Postpartum psychosis is a more extreme type of PPD. Women with postpartum psychosis may experience hallucinations, delusions, and obsessive thoughts about the baby.

What Is Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder?

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is a more serious form of PMS. PMDD symptoms are severe enough to cause significant distress and functional impairment. Symptoms of PMDD include:

Women with PMDD also experience physical symptoms, such as bloating and breast tenderness. Untreated PMDD can negatively affect relationships and careers and lead to lasting depression or suicide.

It’s believed that 70-90% of menstruating people experience some premenstrual discomfort, and 5-8% of these have symptoms that qualify as PMDD. 10 The exact cause is unknown, but it’s likely that the decreasing levels of hormones after ovulation play a role. Treatment can include antidepressants, hormonal birth control, and lifestyle changes that help ease depression.

Depression in Women

Depression in women is a major health problem. Women in the United States are twice as likely as men to have depression. 11 The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) also reports that 10% of women report symptoms of major depression. 12 Factors contributing to this difference may include hormones, social pressures, and body image issues. 13

Women also produce more stress hormones than men, and progesterone keeps the stress hormone system turned on. This makes women more susceptible to depression triggered by stress. The best treatment for depression often involves medication, therapy, and lifestyle changes. For some women, a change in hormonal medication, such as birth control, can make a big difference.

Signs of Depression in Women

Symptoms of depression include:

  • Lasting sadness or anxiousness
  • Hopelessness
  • Pessimism
  • Loss of interest in hobbies or activities
  • No energy
  • Insomnia or sleeping more
  • Change of appetite
  • Gaining or losing weight
  • Suicidal thoughts

Women with depression often exhibit strong feelings of guilt and worthlessness. They're likely to sleep more, eat more, and gain weight during a depression episode, while men are more likely to sleep less, eat less, and lose weight. Women are also more likely to experience depression in the winter months.


  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6112736/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6368599/
  3. https://www.dovepress.com/the-roles-of-gender-and-profession-on-gender-role-expectations-of-pain-peer-reviewed-fulltext-article-JPR
  4. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/prm/2018/6358624/
  5. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/10598405211069601
  6. https://www.slu.edu/news/2019/january/menstrual-products-access-research.php
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8575198/
  8. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/menopause/symptoms-causes/syc-20353397
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK519070/
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK532307/
  11. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/in-depth/depression/art-20047725
  12. https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/depression/index.htm
  13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4478054/