Eight Facts to Know about Women's Health
Women and girls face unique health challenges across their lifespans. Learn how some of these health conditions affect millions of women and girls each year.
Two out of every three caregivers in the United States are women. Women who are caregivers have a greater risk for poor physical and mental health, including depression and anxiety. The COVID-19 pandemic can add even more stressors to the role of caregiving. Maintaining healthy behaviors, managing stress, and seeking extra support, are important, especially during COVID-19.
- Simple ways to maintain healthy behaviors include participating in regular exercise, practicing good sleep habits, and avoiding excessive alcohol.
- To help manage stress, caregivers should take breaks, make time to unwind, and consider respite careexternal icon as needed.
- Recognize when more help is needed. Support groups provide a safe place for people in similar situations to find comfort. Learn more about coping with stress during COVID-19.
- Changing hormone levels during the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, or menopause may make asthma symptoms worse in womenexternal icon. Asthma can also cause problems for women and their baby during pregnancy.
- Women’s lungs are smaller than men’s, which may make women more sensitive to asthma triggers and make it harder for women to breathe during an asthma attack.
- Persons with asthma should avoid asthma triggers. Known asthma triggers include but are not limited to pets, outdoor air pollution, mold, and tobacco smoke.
- Work with a doctor or health provider to develop an asthma action plan that will help to prevent and control asthma attacks.
Heavy menstrual bleeding, lasting more than seven days, affects more than 10 million American women each year, or one out of every five women. A bleeding disorder may be the cause of heavy menstrual bleeding.
- If heavy menstrual bleeding occurs, talk to a medical provider to determine if testing is needed.
- Learn about possible causes, including the signs and symptoms of a bleeding disorder.
About 36 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. About 44% of women 65 or older are living with a disability. The most common cause of disability for women is arthritis (i.e., osteoarthritis, rheumatism, fibromyalgia, lupus).
- Adults with disabilities report experiencing frequent mental distress almost 5 times as often as adults without disabilities. Frequent mental distress is associated with poor health behaviors, increased use of health services, mental disorders, chronic disease, and limitations in daily life.
- 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. Research shows that many women with disabilities may not receive regular health screenings, such as mammograms or a Pap test, as recommended.
Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is the most common vaginal condition in women ages 15-44 years. BV is caused when there is a change in the normal balance of bacteria in the vagina. In the U.S. an estimated 21.2 million women aged 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 the risk of developing BV include not having sex, limiting the number of sex partners you have, and not douching (rinsing the vagina with water or another fluid).
- BV will sometimes go away without treatment. If symptoms occur make sure to be checked and treated by a health care provider.
Sex trafficking, a type of human 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 2017.
- Victims of trafficking share risks and consequences associated with adverse childhood experiences, 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 (external)external icon to prevent trafficking.
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 prescription opioids for longer time periods than men. Women should discuss all medications they are taking with their doctor and use prescriptions only as directed.
- Learn about helpful resources and how to start the conversation about the risks of opioids.
- There are a variety of ways to help reduce exposure to opioids and prevent opioid use disorder.
The CDC Office of Women’s Health (OWH) promotes public health research, evidence-based programs, policies, and strategies to improve the health and safety of all women and girls. The Office serves as a central point for women’s health and raises visibility of risk factors and other conditions that impact her health. OWH was established in 1994 and authorized by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in 2010.