Seven Things You May Not Know about Women's Health
You may be surprised to learn about some health issues that affect millions of women or girls each year. Learn about some of them and what you can do.
1. Asthma occurs more often in women than men, but more often in boys than girls. Older adults, women, and African Americans are more likely to die due to asthma. [5.42 MB]
- Women with asthma should always try to avoid asthma triggers. Known asthma triggers include but are not limited to outdoor air pollution, mold, and tobacco smoke.
- Work with your doctor to develop an asthma action plan that will help you take your medications correctly and avoid your asthma triggers.
2. Heavy menstrual bleeding, lasting more than seven days, affects more than 10 million American women each year. That is about one out of every five women. A bleeding disorder may be the cause of heavy menstrual bleeding.
- Talk to your doctor or nurse if you have heavy menstrual bleeding to determine if you need testing.
- Learn about possible causes, including the signs and symptoms of a bleeding.
3. About 27 million women in the U.S. are living with a disability, a condition of the body or mind that makes it more difficult to do certain activities and interact with the world around them. More than 50% of women older than 65 are living with a disability. The most common cause of disability for women is arthritis or rheumatism.
- Women with disabilities need the same general health care as women without disabilities, and they may also need additional care to address their specific needs. However, research shows that many women with disabilities may not receive regular health screenings, like mammograms or a Pap test, as recommended.
- Learn about tools and health resources for women with disabilities.
4. Infertility affects about 6% of married women ages 15-44 years in the U.S. Also, about 12% of women 15 – 44 years of age in the U.S. have difficulty getting pregnant or carrying a pregnancy to term, regardless of marital status. Infertility is defined as not being able to get pregnant after one year of unprotected sex. Several things increase a woman’s risk of infertility, including age, smoking, excessive alcohol use, extreme weight gain or loss, some untreated sexually transmitted diseases, or excessive physical or emotional stress that results in the absence of a menstrual period.
- Infertility may be treated with medicine, surgically, or using assisted reproductive technology depending on the underlying cause, among other factors. Assisted reproductive technology, also known as ART, includes all fertility treatments in which both eggs and embryos are handled outside the body.
- Learn more about what you can do to be healthy before, during, and after ART treatment. Resources are available for patients preparing for infertility treatment and pregnancy.
5. Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is the most common vaginal infection in women ages 15-44 years. BV is a condition caused when too much of certain bacteria changes the normal balance of bacteria in the vagina. In the U.S. an estimated 21.2 million women ages 14-49 years have BV.
- Having BV can increase your chance of getting an STD, including HIV.
- Although any woman can get BV, it typically occurs in sexually active women. Basic prevention steps that may help to lower your risk of developing BV include not having sex, limiting the number of sex partners you have, and not douching.
6. Sex Trafficking is a serious public health problem that affects the well-being of individuals, families, and communities. The majority of victims are women and girls. Sex trafficking is defined as “the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act” by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000. [393 KB]
- Victims of trafficking share risks and consequences associated with child maltreatment, intimate partner violence, sexual violence, and gang violence. Consequences can be immediate and long term, including physical problems and relationship problems, psychological concerns, and chronic health outcomes.
- Learn about what communities and groups can do to prevent trafficking.
7. The number of overdose deaths from opioids among women has increased substantially. Nearly 48,000 women died of prescription opioid overdose between 1999 and 2010. Women are more likely to have chronic pain, be prescribed opioid pain relievers, and use them for longer time periods than men.
- Women should discuss all medications they are taking with their doctor and use prescriptions only as directed.
- Learn more about opioids in order to protect yourself and your loved ones from opioid abuse, addiction, and overdose.
Healthy Lives for Everyone
In 2018 CDC celebrates 30 years having an office dedicated to reducing health disparities and pursuing health equity. We believe this mission is possible and that we can achieve healthy lives for everyone. Learn more about health equity and public health agents of change.
- CDC Women’s Health
- CDC Reproductive Health
- Women with Disabilities and Breast Cancer Screening
- Disability and Health
- National Human Trafficking Resource Center
- SAMHSA – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
- The National Infertility Association- How do I know if I have an infertility problem?
- Page last reviewed: March 15, 2018
- Page last updated: March 15, 2018
- Content source:
- CDC Office of Women's Health
- Page maintained by: Office of the Associate Director for Communication, Digital Media Branch, Division of Public Affairs